Neil Magny moved into sole possession of second place on the UFC’s all-time list for welterweight wins on Saturday, trailing only the greatest welterweight in the sport’s history in Georges St-Pierre.
Magny (24-7) defeated former champion Robbie Lawler (28-15) via unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night inside the Apex facility. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Magny, who now has more wins in the UFC’s 170-pound division than the likes of Matt Hughes, Thiago Alves, Matt Brown and Josh Koscheck. Magny has won 17 welterweight fights, two fewer than St-Pierre’s record of 19.
«Man, it feels great,» Magny said of moving up the all-time list. «I was being put in a category of St-Pierre, Matt Hughes. Things are moving in the right direction, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m world champion.»
Magny, 33, neutralized Lawler as much as he beat him. Lawler simply could not get anything going due to Magny’s pace and forward pressure. Magny converted 4 of 7 takedown attempts, according to UFC Stats, and spent long stretches of time either holding Lawler down or smothering him against the fence. He gave Lawler no space to work with, and it showed, as he out-landed Lawler in total strikes by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.
Coming off a year on the sideline, Lawler turned up his aggression in the final round, as it was obvious he was down on the scorecards. He scored a takedown of his own and landed a few left hands to the body along the fence, but that patented Lawler flurry that has made him one of the most entertaining fighters of the past two decades never came.
Late in the third, Magny put the finishing touches on his win, landing a combination on top and then a beautiful step-in knee up the middle.
Magny, who was originally supposed to fight Geoff Neal on Saturday, picks up his third win in a row. Neal is an up-and-comer in the division but was forced to pull out of the matchup earlier this month after being hospitalized with an infection. — Brett Okamoto
Women’s flyweight: Alexa Grasso (12-3) def. Ji Yeon Kim (9-3-2) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Bigger was better for Grasso.
Making her flyweight debut after having competed as a strawweight ever since joining the UFC in 2016, the 27-year-old from Mexico did nothing spectacular but looked strong and solid in earning three 30-27 scorecards against Kim.
«I feel amazing,» said Grasso. «This new weight class is like starting from zero for me.»
The fight was scheduled for June but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to that, in January, Grasso had a fight canceled the day before it was scheduled for the Octagon. She was slated to face Claudia Gadelha, but Grasso badly missed the strawweight limit at weigh-in. Her last fight to make it to the cage was a decision loss to former 115-pound champ Carla Esparza last September.
Kim is 30 and from South Korea. She was coming off her first UFC knockout, finishing Nadia Kassem with a body punch last October. But on this night, she always seemed a step behind against Grasso, who landed heavy shots to the head, body and legs.
But what Grasso seemed most proud of was a third-round takedown, her first in seven UFC bouts.
«Every time I step in the cage, you can see that I’m evolving,» said Grasso. «This time, I wanted to do that takedown so much, and I achieved it.»
— Julia Avila (@RagingPandaMMA) August 30, 2020
— Jeff Wagenheim
Men’s featherweight: Ricardo Lamas (20-8) def. Bill Algeo (13-5) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
«The Bully» has more than just a little fight left in him.
After getting rocked and nearly finished in the second round after a nasty knee strike, Lamas rallied with a monster third round to outpoint Algeo by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27). Lamas, a longtime UFC featherweight contender, was finally able to get Algeo to the ground in the third round and blasted Algeo with big ground-and-pound in what amounted to a 10-8 round.
Lamas said in his postfight interview that his coach told him in the corner in between the second and third rounds that his son was waiting at home for him to get the win. So, that’s what Lamas went out to ensure.
«I had to do it,» Lamas said. «I just had to pull it out. I knew I had to take him down, and once I got him there, I could control him.»
Lamas said that he has been «wrestling with the idea» of retiring and this could have been his final fight, but he wants to further discuss the topic with his family.
«If this is the last time you see me in the cage, thank you so much,» Lamas said.
What a fight congrats @RicardoLamasMMA 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) August 30, 2020
Both men had moments in the first round. Lamas had a lot of success landing calf kicks that did damage to Algeo’s lead leg. But toward the end of the round, Algeo landed a big flurry against the cage that impacted Lamas. Algeo’s big blow in the second was a knee up the middle that Lamas walked right into. Lamas was clearly rocked, but Algeo went for a takedown — perhaps ill-advised — rather than pour on the damage.
That left the door open for Lamas to go to his wrestling and brutal ground and pound in the third round.
Lamas (20-8) has won two of his past three fights. The 38-year-old Chicago native is a former UFC featherweight title contender. Algeo (13-5) had won 5 of 6 coming into this bout, his UFC debut. The only loss during that time for the 31-year-old Pennsylvania native was on «Dana White’s Contender Series» to Brendan Loughnane.
— Marc Raimondi
Welterweight: Impa Kasanganay (8-0) def. Maki Pitolo (13-7) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Impa Kasanganay’s success continues to come ahead of schedule, as the 26-year-old picked up his first UFC victory in a unanimous decision over Maki Pitolo.
Kasanganay (8-0), who has been fighting professionally for only 20 months, looked sharp in his UFC debut, which came just 18 days after he earned a contract on «Dana White’s Contender Series.» All three judges scored the 185-pound bout a shutout for Kasanganay 30-27.
Pitolo (13-7) looked good in the opening minutes of the fight, landing several clean counterpunches as Kasanganay tried to come forward. Eventually, Kasanganay started beating Pitolo to the punch, though, and hurt him with a flurry late in the first round that opened a cut over Pitolo’s left eye. Kasanaganay built on that momentum in the second round with plenty of lead left jabs and hooks.
Kasanganay out-landed Pitolo in total strikes 63 to 42, according to UFC Stats, and he appeared to land the harder shots, as well. He showed remarkable poise against Pitolo, who came in with more than double the experience. Kasanganay trains out of North Carolina and has now won his past four fights by decision.
Kasangany looked deadly in the opening round. If I may though, mix in some body shots when you have a guy hurt against the fence.
— michael (@bisping) August 30, 2020
Middleweight: Zak Cummings (24-7) def. Alessio Di Chirico (12-5) by unanimous decision (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Eventually, referee Mark Smith got his point across. Three times during a lackluster first 14 minutes or so, he called upon the fighters to engage. To that point, Cummings and Di Chirico had been circling and circling, with only the occasional trading of punches and kicks.
But in the final minute, each fighter stunned the other with a punch. And then, right at the horn, Cummings landed a head kick that dropped the 30-year-old Italian. Di Chirico jumped right back to his feet but had no equilibrium, staggering to his corner. But the ref did not signal a knockout. The horn had sounded.
Cummings thought he had gotten the knockout; he had to settle for a decision win, getting the nod from two judges by 29-28 scores and from the third judge by 30-27.
«He didn’t know where he was, couldn’t really get up,» said the 36-year-old Cummings, of Kansas City, Missouri. «So I figured they had called it. But we got the decision.»
It was the first fight of the night not to go to submission.
For Cummings, it was his third win in four fights since moving up from welterweight in 2018.
For Di Chirico, it was his third straight loss. He was 9-0 when he joined the UFC nearly five years ago but is 3-5 ever since.
Catchweight: Alex Caceres (17-12 1 NC) def. Austin Springer (10-3) by first-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
There was a time when Caceres was considered exclusively a striker. Known for flashy kicks and his «Bruce Leeroy» nickname, Caceres was always thought to be an exciting standup fighter — and not a whole lot more.
Saturday showed just how far Caceres has come. Caceres stopped Springer by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:38 of the first round. It was Caceres’ first submission win since 2014.
«I think my ground game is just very underrated, and I’m glad I could prove that here tonight,» Caceres said.
The sequence really started when Caceres landed a brutal right shovel hook to Springer’s body. At that point, Springer clearly wanted to take Caceres down. When he shot in, Caceres stuffed it, got in position on the ground, took Springer’s back and locked in the choke.
Springer was Caceres’ third opponent of the week. Caceres’ original opponent was Giga Chikadze, who withdrew due to a positive COVID-19 test, according to the UFC. Kevin Croom was signed by the UFC to replace Chikadze, but Croom also tested positive for the coronavirus, according to his manager, Jason House.
Nice finish by Caceres! Put em back in there man he’s on a roll. #UFCVegas8
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) August 29, 2020
With Croom out, Springer — who owns a «Contender Series» win over Chikadze — got the call. Springer missed weight by five pounds Friday, and the featherweight bout was instead fought at a catchweight.
Caceres (17-12, 1 NC) has won three straight. The 32-year-old Miami native has been in the UFC since 2011, but this is his longest UFC win streak. Springer (12-4), a 33-year-old Washington native, had his three-fight winning streak snapped.
Welterweight: Sean Brady (13-0) def. Christian Aguilera (14-7) by second-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Sean Brady is looking like a potential problem in the UFC’s welterweight division.
The Philadelphia native extended his perfect record to 13-0 with a second-round submission over Christian Aguilera (14-7). The finish came at the 1:47 mark, courtesy of a mounted guillotine. It appeared Aguilera tried to tap to the choke, but the squeeze was so tight, he ended up going unconscious before referee Herb Dean could intervene.
Even prior to the finish, Brady looked very good in his third UFC appearance. He popped Aguilera with a handful of hard left hooks and was successful getting to the fight to the ground when he wanted it there.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Brady has surprisingly collected only three submission wins in his professional career. The 27-year-old has now defeated Court McGee, Ismail Naurdiev and Aguilera in the Octagon, and said post-fight that he would like an opponent with name recognition in his next bout.
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) August 29, 2020
Women’s flyweight: Polyana Viana (11-4) def. Emily Whitmire (4-4) by first-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Viana reversed her fortunes in a hurry.
The 28-year-old, of Brazil, came into the fight having lost three in a row after winning her UFC debut in 2018. She had not fought in a year, and within the first minute of the bout, she was taken town and Whitmire had her in side control.
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But Viana quickly gained full guard and immediately began throwing elbows from the bottom. At the same time, she locked up Whitmire’s right arm. Then, she went for an armbar, getting Whitmire to verbally submit 1:53 into the fight.
«The elbows were part of the strategy,» Viana said through a translator. «If I didn’t get her with the armbar, I would have managed to cut her.»
Whitmire, 29, was fighting in her adopted hometown of Las Vegas. She last fought in June 2019, losing by submission to Amanda Ribas.
The strawweights were scheduled to meet in March, but Whitmire — who had missed weight — was hospitalized on the day of the fight, and the bout was canceled.
Strawweight: Mallory Martin (7-3) def. Hannah Cifers (10-7) by second-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Martin took Cifers’ back, sunk in a choke, forced Cifers to tap and then let out a blood-curdling scream.
The show of emotion was well-earned. Cifers battered Martin in the first round, nearly finishing her with big punches. In the second, Martin rallied, getting things to the ground and working her grappling. The result was a Martin submission (rear-naked choke) win at 1:33 of the second round.
«I have adversity in my life all the time,» Martin said. «It’s nothing new to me. I come back from it all the time — stronger and stronger.»
Cifers dropped Martin with a right hand in the first, and Martin could never recover from there. Cifers slammed her out of guard on the ground and continued an onslaught of punches up against the cage. Martin could only defend — until the second round.
«I was still conscious,» Martin said. «She landed a big shot, whatever. It was good. I’m not gonna take that from her at all. I was still fully in the fight.»
Martin’s corner told her to go back to her game, and she wisely took things to the ground quickly, working her super Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Martin got into dominant position, took Cifers’ back and then quickly put the squeeze on a choke.
Didn’t see rd 1 going that way for Cifers. Wonder how jello-like her arms will feel for rd 2 #UFCVegas8
— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) August 29, 2020
Martin (7-3) has won six of her past seven fights. This was the 26-year-old Colorado native’s first UFC win. Cifers (10-7) has lost four straight — all in 2020. The 28-year-old North Carolina native was on a two-fight winning streak prior to the skid. Cifers missed weight by one pound (117 pounds) Friday for this women’s strawweight fight.
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