Kai Kamaka III def Tony Kelley via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A fantastic first round of the night as Kai Kamaka applies a ferocious pace and lands some beautiful punches to take the round comfortably. His left hook is landing perfectly and he’s throwing it to the head and body, while using excellent footwork to avoid Kelley’s attacks. His wrestling is stronger and he’s countering Kelley’s jab perfectly. Great round. 10-9 Kamaka.
A much more competitive second round in the APEX as Kamaka comes out and continues to try and throw bombs away at Kelley’s body. Every shot is hurting him but Kelley is fighting back hard and starts to land some shots of his own with Kamaka’s footwork slowing down and a lack of head movement. Strong end to the round from Kelley but I’d still give the round to Kamaka. 20-18.
The third round begins with Kelley coming out extra aggressively and throws a big left hook that lands flush. Kelley engages in a clinch and drops down for a guillotine but Kamaka escapes immediately and starts landing some vicious ground and pound. The fight gets back to the feet and Kelley is landing big knees in the clinch to the body, but he catches Kamaka below the belt and the fight is paused. After the restart both men exchange jabs and hooks but the fight fizzles out. 29-28 Kamaka for me.
Chris Daukaus def Parker Porter via Knockout, Round 1 (4:28)
What a great performance by Chris Daukaus! Both fighters come out and exchange nice punches and clinch work, with Parker opening up a cut on the head of Daukaus. Daukaus though is just that bit quicker and lands a huge right hand that drops Parker, who grabs a single leg and survives back to his feet. Daukaus stays patient for a short while before landing a huge combination that ends with a knee to a hurt Parker for the knockout win. Superb performance.
Livinha Souza def Ashley Yoder via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Fight starts slowly and Yoder immediately tries to scramble onto the back of Souza, but she’s too high up and ends up under Souza who lands some nasty ground and pound before letting her back up. Not much happens between that and the end of the round, although Souza landed a few nice looping hooks. 10-9 Souza.
A more grapple heavy second round but again pretty uneventful. Yoder was better defensively and they had lots of exchanges against the cage to take each other down but nothing of any significance landed. 20-18 Souza for me, but this round could go either way with the judges.
Yoder doing well in this round to fight at range and use her longer limbs to land strikes first. Souza seems to be trying to box more than anything but is also throwing a lovely inside leg-kick that is causing Yoder some problems. A rather uneventful fight ends with a scramble to the ground and Souza in top position with a front headlock on, which should be enough to win her the fight. 30-27 Souza.
Danny Chavez def T.J Brown via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A fun opening round as both guys come with power and speed in their punches, with Chavez throwing huge leg kicks to great effect. Brown trying to out-wrestle Chavez but he is defending very well and landing those big leg kicks to counter it. Good round for Chavez. 10-9.
Second round begins with more heavy leg kicks from Chavez, who’s speed is seriously impressive here. More leg kicks force Brown to change to a southpaw stance and Chavez throws a big right hand that drops him! He goes for the ground and pound but Brown uses his wrestling skills to scramble out and survive. Great round for Chavez again, Brown needs a finish in the final round. 20-18 Chavez.
Final round and Brown comes out very aggressively to shoot for the takedown. Once again Chavez defends it well, so Brown starts swinging wildly against the cage and lands some nice shots but Chavez eats them well. Once again Brown tries to get the fight to the ground but Chavez manages to reverse the position and be dominant on the ground, allowing Brown to get up before suplexing back down to the ground until the horn goes. Big win for the Chavez.
Virna Jandiroba def Felice Herrig via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (1:44)
An immediate takedown by Jandiroba starts this fight off, with a very tight top pressure for the entire first minute. Jandiroba transitions to the back and then to full mount and lands some big elbows forcing Herrig to roll over onto her back. Jandiroba then spins out and quickly transitions to a straight armbar and forces Herrig to tap immediately. Hugely impressive win from the Brazilian.
Vinc Pichel def Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)
A fun, tactical first round in this prelim main event. Pichel used his reach advantage to strike from range to begin with and defended against the clinch perfectly. Eventually however, Miller is able to secure the takedown and takes the back very quickly. He works for a rear-naked choke, before going for an arm-in guillotine and then a calf slicer before the buzzer. Takedown and submission attempts make it a Miller round for me. 10-9.
Pichel goes for a big head kick to open the round but Miller runs through it and gets a quick takedown. Pichel rains down elbows from the bottom but Miller eventually starts to control. A burst from Pichel sees him get back to his feet and he enters a clinch before then getting his own takedown. He lands some good ground & pound and also controls the top position for the remainder of the round. Excellent round, level going into the final round.
Immediate takedown in the final round for Pichel as he shows his big physical strength advantage to hold Miller down and dominate. Pichel transitions around Miller, passing his guard and eventually taking his back but Miller spins out and ends up on top. Both fighters exchange positions on the ground before eventually separating. Pichel lands a few strikes before Miller goes in for a big guillotine submission and it’s in tight. Pichel manages to squeeze his head out though and the round ends with him on top once again. 29-28 Pichel for me.
Merab Dvalishvili def John Dodson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
First round is a tentative affair to begin with, with Dodson looking to counter any attacks and Merab faking to get a read on his takedowns. Eventually he charges forward after a barrage of strikes and into a takedown attempt but Dodson does well not to go down. Merab throws big knees to the thighs of Dodson in an attempt to soften him up but he doesn’t get the takedown but he’ll take the round. 10-9.
More of the same in this second round as Merab pushes the pace well and Dodson is more worried about stopping his output than putting together any of his own attacks. Big right hands into takedown attempts for Merab but Dodson keeps bouncing straight back up to his feet. Clear size advantage in this bout and it’s showing. 20-18 Merab.
Third round and it’s a familiar pattern but with Dodson struggling a bit with the pace of the fight. Merab is landing his right hand a bit more frequently now but still cant hold Dodson down anytime he gets the takedown. It’s a carbon copy of the first two rounds and should be a comfortable decision win for the Georgian. 30-27.
Daniel Pineda def Herbert Burns via Knockout, Round 2 (4:37)
A round that showed why this fight was initially supposed to be on the undercard. Burns went in for a wild takedown that had no real intent behind it and Pineda lands a big right hand. Burns then secures the back position in a scramble but Pineda spins and ends up in the Brazilian’s guard. He lands some vicious ground and pound from the top position while avoiding submission attempts from Burns as he controls for over half the round. 10-9 Pineda.
Straight into the second round and Burns lands a right straight and then goes straight into a takedown with a trip. Keeping heavy on top, Burns takes the back and Pineda starts landing big elbows to the leg of Burns, which forces him to move to a different position and allows Pineda to scramble up. Burns somehow keeps hold of the back control but then once again Pineda spins and ends up on top with a dominant ground and pound performance. Pineda transitions into a crucifix position and starts raining down heavy elbows on Burns. Herbert trying very hard to escape but he can’t and the referee is forced to stop the fight. Huge win for Pineda, amazing performance.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Junior Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 3 (3:47)
A stalemate of a first round. Both men spend the majority of the round sending out feelers for each other and trying to make reads. Into the final minute of the round, Dos Santos throws a body kick but Rozenstruik catches it and charges forward with several punches of his own that land. Rozenstruik throws a jab followed by a low kick but catches Dos Santos below the belt. Fight resumes and Dos Santos throws a spin kick as the round ends. Tight one, but I’ll give it JDS. 10-9 Dos Santos.
More feelers and feints in the second round but it’s Dos Santos who’s getting the better of any exchanges so far. He’s got a bit of a speed advantage and his overhand right is landing well, plus his jab and kicks seem to be putting Rozenstruik on the back foot. Jairzinho starts stepping forward now and applying pressure and he forces Dos Santos back to the cage. He lets his hands fly and fakes a left before landing two big right hands that drop Dos Santos. He pounces and lands big strikes to force the referee to stop the fight. Big win for Rozenstruik.
Marlon Vera def Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 1 (4:40)
Lots of feeling each other out in this first round as O’Malley throws lots of fakes and some heavy low kicks. O’Malley seems to slip twice in the centre of the octagon and may have injured himself. He’s seriously struggling with movement and now goes for a big right hand, misses and loses balance and falls over. Chito gets on top and lands a HUGE elbow to the head, then two more punches and the referee ends it prematurely. The injury significantly played into that stoppage because the ground and pound wasn’t that bad. Probably a good decision though, O’Malley was done.
Stipe Miocic def Daniel Cormier via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)
Slow start to this title fight as both guys circle and try to figure out the range and feints of their opponent. Miocic lands a jab followed by a left hook to the body, just like the second fight, which makes Cormier shoot for the takedown immediately. Miocic scrambles well and ends up in a front face lock but then he powers out and avoids. Time gets paused as DC pokes Miocic in the eye (again) but once we’re back in it Miocic lands the cleaner strikes. As the round closes, Cormier rushes in and lands a big overhand right that wobbles Miocic but the horn goes. 10-9 Stipe for me but it’s close.
A very tactical fight this one. Both fighters throwing nothing leg-kicks when out of range but DC more aggressive in this round than the first. Any sort of clinch attempt sees Cormier throw big combinations that end with a right hook or overhand, the same punch that won him the first fight. Stipe comes forward and lands two big right hands and Cormier goes down! Miocic gets on top and lands strikes but DC is holding on to him and the round ends. 20-18 Miocic, DC is still very hurt.
Cormier comes out in the third round but he’s still a bit wobbly. Miocic comes forward but with patience. The two meet in the middle and clinch, and Stipe pushes him back to the cage and uses his size to control the position and land a few body shots. They separate and DC lands two big right hands. Miocic throws a one-two that misses and Cormier complains of an eye-poke, but the referee says it didn’t happen as the round ends. 30-27. Replays show that Miocic DID eye-poke Cormier, and badly too.
A great fourth round sees both guys really going for it and throwing bombs. Surprisingly Cormier has barely wrestled so far but he’s landing some heavy shots, Miocic is just eating them and throwing his own. Miocic engages in the clinch again and uses his power advantage to push Cormier back to the cage. DC’s round, but I think he needs the finish. 38-36 Miocic.
Final round and Cormier is looking to wrestle, but Miocic is just too strong and fresh this late on. Clinching against the cage again and Miocic using his power to keep him held there and as they separate, Cormier lands a jab and two big hooks. Miocic throws his own combo and then looks for a takedown that DC stuffs. A stalemate of a final round that I give to DC for landing the bigger shots, but I think Stipe takes the win. 48-47.