LAS VEGAS — One of the fastest-rising prospects in mixed martial arts, «Suga» Sean O’Malley, suffered the first loss of his professional career on Saturday at UFC 252 — under strange circumstances.
O’Malley (12-1) suffered a TKO loss to Marlon «Chito» Vera (18-6-1) in the first round of their 135-pound bout at UFC 252. The bout served as a co-main event to the heavyweight title trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.
Vera, who picked up his 10th win in the UFC, deserves credit for finishing the fight with hard elbows after O’Malley went down, but the bout was obviously compromised by some kind of injury to O’Malley’s right leg early on. O’Malley, who had suffered a foot injury previously, was carted away from the Octagon.
«When he was throwing kicks at me, he landed one calf kick and I made an adjustment and then checked one,» Vera said. «My foot hurts every single fight.
«He has a big right hand. I was thinking, in the first round, let’s see what he’s got. He has a lot of hype, good for him. But he doesn’t have the dog in him that I have.»
The fight really never had a chance to get going. O’Malley looked to be active with kicks, but injured the leg early and could barely balance afterward. He tried to throw a combination in spite of the leg issue and ended up falling over, and Vera followed him to the floor and landed two hard ground strikes.
O’Malley appeared to be still be defending himself, but referee Herb Dean called a stop to the bout and O’Malley immediately rolled over, grabbing his right leg.
Vera has now won five of his past six. The only loss, a decision to Song Yadong, came with some controversy, as many felt he won that fight.
«He was waiting on me to go crazy, but that’s not how I fight,» Vera said. «I feel like if you find the right coaches, your technique will be at a high level. I try personally to be a high-level black belt, a high-level wrestler and a high-level striker.
«Joe Rogan has the best advice — don’t read comments, don’t read negativity. I feed myself with positivity, my family, my friends. I know who are the real fans, who are the hardcore ones. I don’t have time to be going back and forth with people, those guys are empty guys. Every time you answer them, they win, if you don’t answer them, you’re winning in life, so I’m in a good spot. I’ve said this before the fight, I’ll say this right now, I’m in good spirits. I’m a person that works hard for me, for my family, for my country and when you work the way I work, your dreams come true.»
— Brett Okamoto
The debate over who is the greatest heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts history has long raged. That discussion might be over, at least for now.
Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) to retain the UFC heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 252 on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Miocic broke his own record of most title defenses in UFC heavyweight history (four) with the victory. This was the third fight between the two men and Miocic broke the tie, winning the trilogy.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 16, 2020
If Rozenstruik’s presence near the top of the UFC heavyweight division wasn’t already certain, «Bigi Boy» left no doubt.
Rozenstruik smoked the former heavyweight champion dos Santos with a TKO at 3 minutes, 47 seconds of the second round. Rozenstruik caught dos Santos up against the small cage with nowhere to go and clipped him with a left hook-right hook combination. Dos Santos fell to the mat and Rozenstruik pounced until referee Dan Miragliotta pulled him off.
Coming in, ESPN had dos Santos ranked No. 5 among MMA heavyweights and Rozenstruik at No. 9.
Great win for BIGI BOY tonight 👏 .
I’ll like to see him against Blades next or against any other wrestler#UFC252
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) August 16, 2020
In the first round, Rozenstruik had a good start. He was able to time and counter dos Santos’ big overhand right with a nice left hook, his trademark technique. Dos Santos got his boxing rhythm in the second, landing two hard right hands and a solid jab. But when Rozenstruik pressed forward, dos Santos seemed to run out of room in the smaller cage at the UFC Apex. And Rozenstruik made him pay for it with a thunderous combination that did not miss.
Rozenstruik, 32, has won five of his six UFC fights — all by KO/TKO. The Suriname native was coming off his first career loss, a first-round knockout defeat to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249 in May.
«I went back to the gym right away,» Rozenstruik said in his postfight interview. «Me and my team, we discussed things. This was the result we were looking for. I needed to get that back — I needed to set it straight.»
Dos Santos, 36, has lost three straight. The Brazil native, who lives and trains at American Top Team in Florida, has dropped them all to elite heavyweights: Curtis Blaydes, Ngannou and now Rozenstruik. Dos Santos was the UFC heavyweight champion in 2011 and 2012 and was a perennial contender in the division.
— Marc Raimondi
It had been six years since Pineda fought in the UFC. He worked his way back — and now has his first UFC victory since 2013, and a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
Pineda stopped Burns via TKO at 4:37 of the second round on the UFC 252 main card. It was a strong effort against the up-and-coming Burns, the brother of welterweight star Gilbert.
«Y’all keep counting me out, betting against me,» Pineda. «That’s OK — I’ll make more money.»
Wow crazy turn of events, Burns was dominating the first part of that round. Gassed and gets TKOd
— Funky (@Benaskren) August 16, 2020
Pineda went right into Herbert Burns’ strength of grappling in the first round, taking him down and smashing him with ground-and-pound against the fence. Burns nicked Pineda’s left eye with a knee in the first and opened up a nasty cut, but Pineda was no worse for wear.
In the second round, Burns came out with a right hand into a smooth trip takedown. He wasn’t able to stay on top long. Pineda was able to sweep, get into top position and then slip into a dominant, mounted crucifix position. From there, Pineda rained down blows until Burns could no longer defend himself and the bout was ruled a TKO.
Pineda, 35, was coming off a controversial run in the Professional Fighters League last year. He came in as a late replacement for the PFL playoffs and won two fights in one night last October. But those bouts were overturned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) due to Pineda’s failed drug test for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone level. The commission suspended Pineda for six months.
Burns, a 32-year-old Brazilian who trains out of Sanford MMA, saw a five-fight winning streak snapped. Burns missed weight by 3.5 pounds Friday.
Even when Dvalishvili’s wrestling doesn’t work, it works.
The bantamweight powerhouse cruised to a decision win over Dodson via unanimous scores of 30-27. It was a dominant performance, despite the fact Dvalishvili converted only two of 20 takedown attempts. Normally, that stat would seem to favor his opponent, but Dvalishvili’s relentless pressure appeared to simply fold Dodson up over 15 minutes.
This fella can set a pace!! #ufc252
— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) August 16, 2020
Dvalishvili, who fought on just June 13 and has now won five in a row, attempted 142 strikes compared to just 86 from Dodson. Dodson proved to be nearly impossible to take down as he scrambled out of almost all of Dvalishvili’s takedown attempts, but Dvalishvili smiled it off and walked straight forward, constantly placing the former flyweight challenger on his back foot.
In the second round, Dvalishvili, who trains under Ray Longo and Matt Serra on Long Island, New York, threw a wild spinning backfist that did not come close to hitting Dodson, but he followed it beautifully with a right hand that landed flush. As the fight progressed, it was evident Dvalishvili was the far more confident fighter in the cage.
The 29-year-old said he wishes to continue to stay active. Going into Saturday, he was ranked No. 15 in the bantamweight division. Dodson was No. 12.
Pichel outgrinded one of the most accomplished grinders in UFC history.
In a grueling, back-and-forth fight, Pichel gutted out a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) win over Miller in the UFC 252 featured prelim. It was the most high-profile victory of Pichel’s career and marked by how much success Pichel had on the ground against a mat specialist in Miller.
«Jim Miller is a tough, tough dude,» Pichel said. «That was a tough fight.»
Pichel is the grindiest grinder
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) August 16, 2020
Miller had the advantage early. He was able to take Pichel down in the first round and work for submissions. Before the first-round bell sounded, Miller was working on a calf slicer. In the second, Pichel was the fresher fighter. He landed a head kick that Miller walked through, leading into a takedown. But Pichel was able to get into top position and land ground-and-pound.
Pichel was able to escape from two Miller guillotine choke attempts in the third round and absolutely chewed Miller up in the clinch, landing hard knees to the body and elbows to the head. Pichel closed strong, standing over a prone and bloody Miller while landing blows. Pichel outlanded Miller 17-1 in significant strikes in the third round, per UFC Stats data.
Pichel, 37, has won two straight and six of his past seven. The California native has fought only five times since 2014, but is one of the more durable, underrated men in the UFC lightweight division. Miller, a 36-year-old New Jersey native, came in with the most wins in UFC lightweight history (19) and the third-most wins in UFC history, period (21).
The already deep women’s strawweight division has a newly christened contender.
Jandiroba absolutely ran through the returning Herrig via submission (armbar) at 1:44 of the first round. It was the fourth-quickest submission in UFC women’s strawweight history and earned Jandiroba a $50,000 performance bonus.
Jandiroba, a grappling master, made it look easy. She took Herrig down right away, got into a dominant position on the ground, then slipped to mount. From there, she transitioned to an armbar. Herrig fought it at first, but Jandiroba got a better grip and torqued on the arm. Herrig had to tap.
— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) August 16, 2020
«Everybody knows I’m a BJJ [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] girl,» Jandiroba said. «That’s always my Plan A. But I have a Plan B, too. UFC, let me fight. I still have a lot left to show you guys.»
She added that she’d like a top-10 or even top-five opponent next.
Jandiroba, 32, has won two straight after dropping her UFC debut to former champ Carla Esparza in April 2019. The Brazil native is a former Invicta FC strawweight champion with 13 submissions in 16 pro victories. Herrig, a 35-year-old Illinois native, was fighting for the first time since October 2018 due to knee surgery. The 11-year MMA veteran and women’s MMA pioneer has lost three consecutive fights.
A decadelong journey to the UFC culminated in an impressive win for 33-year-old featherweight Chavez.
Chavez, of Miami, defeated Brown via unanimous scores of 29-28. He terrorized Brown’s lead leg with kicks so badly in the first and second rounds that Brown was forced to fight nearly the entire final round from a southpaw stance. Chavez also dropped Brown with a hard right hand in the second round.
To his credit, Brown, who fell to 0-2 in the UFC, showed absolutely no quit. He looked to close space in the final round, to smother Chavez’s leg kicks and potentially land a Hail Mary haymaker to steal the fight. In the end, he wound up winning a round, but Chavez went into a little bit of a conservative style and finished out the victory.
Chavez fought on the regional circuit for the first 10 years of his professional career. He is now riding a four-fight win streak.
Souza was not so active with her punches or kicks, but the ones she did throw landed at a good clip, and that accuracy earned her the nods from all three judges for the Brazilian’s fifth win in her past six bouts.
The 29-year-old out of Sao Paulo, a former Invicta FC champion, relied on big, winging right hands, some of which landed but never cleanly, and also delivered low leg kicks throughout. She was less active than Yoder in all three rounds, but while Souza landed at around 70% in two of the rounds, Yoder only once reached 30%.
Yoder advanced throughout but never could put Souza in a bad position. Souza, who had not fought since July 2019, defended well the whole way.
Yoder, a 32-year-old out of Temecula, California, has been streaky during her UFC career. She lost her first three inside the Octagon, won two in a row and now has dropped two straight.
Daukaus is no small man. He’s weighed in for MMA fights at above the 250-pound mark. But when it comes to speed and agility, Daukaus operates like a much smaller human being.
Using some impressive boxing and footwork, Daukaus, a Philadelphia police officer, stopped Porter by TKO at 4:28 of the first round in a battle between heavyweights debuting in the UFC.
Daukaus dropped Parker earlier in the round with a slick combination. To set up the finish, he slipped a combination and landed a sharp right cross to put Porter on his heels. Daukaus poured it on with combinations and Porter shrank away toward the fence, which led to Daukaus landing a big knee that sent Porter crashing to the canvas. Referee Herb Dean had to step in at that point.
— UFC (@ufc) August 16, 2020
In his postfight interview, Daukaus said while his peers are «big heavyweights throwing bombs» he’s focused on «staying tight» with clean boxing honed at Martinez BJJ in Philadelphia.
Daukaus, 30, has won two straight now. His brother, Kyle, also fights in the UFC. Porter, 35, saw a two-fight winning streak snapped. The barrel-chested Connecticut native weighed 290 pounds last week, per his manager Tyson Chartier, and was able to make weight at 264.5 pounds Friday.
«It feels great to get something I’ve been working for close to 10 year now, so I couldn’t be happier with the results,» Daukaus said. «That’s just things we worked on, you obviously game plan for every opponent, so we seen that he was going to throw a little bit wild punches, big overhand followed by a big left, so we stayed tight, everything down the middle.
«I knew he was going to be fast, so I dropped a lot of weight for this fight. Just changing the diet, changing everything, so I knew that I was faster than him and I knew I could definitely land with a simple one-two down the middle. I’ll get back in as soon as I can, get cleared with medicals, get cleared with work, get cleared with the UFC and whoever wants to throw down in the cage, I’m down.»
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The 145-pound bout was incredibly high-paced and saw Kamaka become the first fighter in UFC history to land 100 significant strikes and score five takedowns in his UFC debut. Kamaka, 25, won the bout via scores of 29-28. The performances were good enough to earn each fighter $50,000 as his share of the fight-of-the-night bonus.
Great scrap!! Those liver body shots 💥 Way to kick off the card💯 #UFC252
— Charles Rosa (@CharlesRosaMMA) August 15, 2020
Fighting out of Pearl City, Hawai’i, Kamaka seized control of the fight early, as he walked Kelley down with right hands and body work. Kelley responded well at times with outside leg kicks and the jab, but Kamaka’s strikes had far more weight behind them, and he seemed to find his range well.
Kamaka showed off his ground game in the second round, working some good ground-and-pound throughout. Kelley responded in a big way in the third, however, as he repeatedly reached for the clinch and threw stinging knees to Kamaka’s midsection. Kamaka responded with flurries to the body of his own, but Kelley landed the better offense in the third.
Kamaka earned a UFC roster spot on short notice, after the UFC lost a main card bout to a positive COVID-19 test earlier this week.
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