Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

UFC 224 features a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. The card will also showcase a face off of  middleweight contenders Ronaldo Souza and Kelvin Gastelum. The pay-per-view portion of the card opens with UFC veterans Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida  tangling in a middleweight clash.

Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass)

Middleweight Markus Perez(9-1) vs. James Bochnovic(8-2)

Round 1: Bochnovic lands a body kick, Perez goes to the ground, but grabs a guillotine. Perez takes Bochnovic’s back they stand. The lock up at the cage. Perez wraps up Bochnovic and slams him. After some grappling, Perez ends up on top. Perez goes for a rear-naked choke, but does not get it fully locked. Bochnovic with some hand fighting. Perez now locks in the RNC, and Bochnovic taps.

Result: Perez via submission at  4:28 of round 1

Welterweight Alberto Mina(13-0) vs. Ramazan Emeev(16-3)

Round 1: Emeev lands a hard right hand. They exchange kicks. Emeev intercepts some punches into a takedown. They stand still locked and Emeev lands another takedown. They stand. Mina uses a soft Emeev kick cause a trip. Mina goes for a leg lock but is never able to get it cinched in.

Round 2: Emeev pushed toward the cage, they end up locked up,  Emeev lands a takedown from behind, they stand but remain locked.  As they break Emeev lands a punch combination. Mina grabs a foot, but Emeev goes for a spinning backfist. Emeev lands a standing throw, gets on top. Mina attempting a guard.  After grappling Emeev lands punches from behind.

Round 3: They periodically exchange punches, but neither man gets an advantage. They get locked up at the cage. Mina goes for a forward summer salt. Pretty tepid round.

Result: Emveev via unanimous decision (30-27,  3x)


Middleweight Thales Leites(27-8) vs. Jack Hermansson(16-4)

Round 1: Thales Leites is looking for a takedown early. He’s got it and he’s working to take Jack Hermansson’s back. Nice work by Hermansson to get work back to his feet though. Quick takedown by Hermansson and he’s on top. Leites quickly works to his feet though and has a body lock against the fence. He’s trying to drag Hermansson down, but he isn’t having much luck. Nice hip toss by Hermansson! He doesn’t seem nervous to fight with Leites on the ground. Bold. 10-9 Hermansson but it was close.

Round 2: Thales Leites gets a quick takedown and Hermansson is showing sign of pain. He is grimacing and appears to be in a lot of pain. Thales Leites is looking for an arm-triangle choke, and its deep. Hermansson is not tapping though but the choke does not look fun. Nice escape by Hermansson, that was impressive especially considering who he’s fighting. I’m still curious about that injury that Hermansson appeared to suffer, he seems fine now but it will be interesting to watch. Leites is working his way out of Hermansson’s half guard and moves to north/south. Full mount by Leites and Hermansson could be in trouble but the clock will probably save him. 10-8 Leites

Round 3: Leites looking for a takedown early, but Hermansson counters with a guillotine attempt. He doesn’t have a guard though so Leites should be able to escape. Leites pops out and slaps on an anaconda choke but can’t get it. Hermansson is on top, and now has the mount. He is landing some big shots on Leites and its over! Wow that was a nice comeback!

Result: Jack Hermansson def. Thales Leites via TKO (Punches) Round 3, 2:10

Welterweight Warlley Alves(12-2) vs. Sultan Aliev(14-2)

Round 1: Lots of work against the fence at the start of the round. Warlley Alves is landing some hard knees to the body of Sultan Aliev. Nice elbow by Alves. He’s spent most of the round controlling the upper body of Aliev. Right hook by Alves lands but Aliev holds tough. Aliev throws Alves to the canvas as the round ends but can’t follow up with anything. 10-9 Alves

Round 2: More clinch work early. Alves has a strength advantage, and this type of fight is allowing him to show that. He is landing lots of shots in the clinch. Aliev is busted open badly above the right eye. 10-9 They might stop this fight, Aliev has a second head underneath his eye. Yep it’s over, that’s a really brutal injury and one worth looking at if you can.

Result: Warlley Alves def. Sultan Aliev via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) Round 2, 5:00

Prelims (FX)

Welterweight Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos(18-5) vs. Sean Strickland(18-2-1)

Round 1: Back and forth boxing early. Elizeu dos Santos lands a nice right hand but Strickland fires back one of his own. Both guys are looking to set something up. Elizeu dos Santos lands a big spinning back kick to the neck area of Strickland and he’s looking for a finish! Strickland is hurt, and dos Santos is pouring it on and its all over! Huge performance for dos Santos and that was probably the biggest win of his career so far!

Result: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Sean Strickland via TKO (Kick and Punches) Round 1, 3:12


Lightweight Davi Ramos(7-2) vs. Nick Hein(14-2, 1nc)

Round 1: Hein strikes first landing a left hand that knocks Ramos down. He allows Ramos to get back to his feet, clearly wanting no part of him on the ground. Ramos lands a head kick, and a double leg and Hein is on his back. Ramos is working for a kimura from half guard and if anybody can finish it he can. He quickly transitions to the back, and Hein is in trouble. He is defending the RNC well, but Ramos has a tight body lock and 60 seconds to get something done. He has the RNC over the jaw but that’s all it takes. Hein taps ending his three-fight win streak. Nice win for Ramos and that’s two straight for the BJJ ace, and both have come via rear naked choke.

Result: Davi Ramos def. Nick Hein via Submission (RNC) Round 1, 4:15

Heavyweight #10 Oleksiy Oliynyk(52-11-1) vs. Júnior Albini (14-3)

Round 1: Oleinik is cut early from a Albini right hand. Albini is having success with his jab. Oleinik is busted open badly. He grabs a clinch and slaps on an Ezekiel choke standing and pulls Albini down on top of him. Wow Albini tapped! That was a nice submission win for the vet! That’s the second time he has pulled off an Ezekiel choke in the UFC. Nobody else has ever managed even one.

Result: Aleksei Oleinik def. Junior Albini via Submission (Ezekiel Choke) Round 1, 1:45

Middleweight Cezar Ferreira(13-6) vs. Karl Roberson(6-0)

Round 1: They exchange shots early and Ferreira gets a quick takedown but Roberson pops right up. Ferreira knows where he has his best chance to win though and gets another double leg. He is in side control looking for mount. Roberson has him caught in half guard, neither guy is doing much with three minutes left in the round. Roberson briefly gets back to his feet, but Ferreira puts him right back down. Ferreira seems content to control and hasn’t looked for a submission, he hasn’t even thrown much ground and pound for that matter. He transitions to the mount with a minute left in the round and lands some nice shots from the top. He has an arm triangle with a minute left, and Roberson is out!

Result: Cezar Ferreira def. Karl Roberson via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) Round 1, 4:45

Main Card (pay-per-view)

Middleweight #9 Vitor Belfort26-13, 1NC) vs. #12 Lyoto Machida (23-8)

Round 1: Long feeling out process to start the fight. 2 minutes in and neither fighter has done anything significant. Belfort rushes in with a left hand but Machida makes him miss and they reset in the center. Machida lands a grazing hook kick, but Belfort shakes it off. Belfort rushes in and lands a left hand but Machida stays composed. Slow round with very little action and I don’t think either fighter landed more than a strike or two. DRAW

Round 2: Long feeling out process again, neither guy has done much so far. Front kick by Machida and Belfort is out cold! WOW! That front kick was the first notable strike by either guy of the fight and man was it explosive. Belfort now has two KO losses by front kick in the UFC and both took place in Brazil. If this is the last fight for Belfort it’s a rough way to go out.

Result: Lyoto Machida def. Vitor Belfort via KO (Front Kick) Round 2, 1:00

Side-Note: Vitor Belfort laid down his gloves post fight and announced his retirement. It goes without saying that he is one of the best and has been very exciting to watch. Quite a moment despite the KO loss.

Men’s bantamweight #6 John Lineker(30-8) vs. Brian Kelleher(19-8)

Round 1: John Lineker comes out early looking for the KO. He lands a big right hook and Kelleher is down. Lineker drops down into Kelleher’s guard but they are quickly back on the feet. And Lineker puts Kelleher down with another shot. He recovers quickly, and they are back in the center. Kelleher went for a double leg but Lineker stuffed it easily. Lineker lands a big left body hook that sends Kelleher scrambling! Lineker is on him and they’re working against the cage with 20 seconds left. Big left hand by Lineker! Impressive round for the Brazilian. 10-9 Lineker

Round 2: John Lineker has “UFC” edged into his hair. Interesting fashion choice. He lands a hard-left hook to start the round. Kelleher throws a lazy kick to the body and Lineker counters with a body shot and left hook combination. Lineker is landing lots of shots here and Kelleher just doesn’t have an answer. He’s landing body shots whenever he feels like it. Kelleher is taking the shots well but just isn’t returning any offense of his own. A total departure from his usual style. Lineker’s output is impressive though and perhaps its throwing Kelleher off. 10-9 Lineker

Round 3: Kelleher goes for a double leg early but Lineker catches him and he’s caught in a front head lock. He powers forward though and puts Lineker on his back. He can’t keep him down for long though and they’re back in the center. Lineker appears to have slowed down a bit but he likely knows he’s up two rounds. Just as I say that Lineker rushes in with a flurry of strikes! He lands a big left hook and Kelleher is out!

Result: John Lineker def. Brian Kelleher via KO (Punch) Round 3, 3:43

Women’s catchweight (123 lbs) Mackenzie Dern(6-0) vs. Amanda Cooper(4-3)

Round 1: They are trading strikes early. Dern is throwing some wild hooks and they aren’t landing. Just as I say that she lands one and Cooper is down! Dern has the back and she slaps on a rear naked choke! This is trouble and its all over! Wow that was impressive! She missed weight by a lot but damn that was an impressive performance.

Result: Mackenzie Dern def. Amanda Cooper via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 2:27

Middleweight #2 Ronaldo Souza(25-5, 1NC) vs. #5 Kelvin Gastelum (15-3, 1NC)

Round 1: Souza goes for a takedown early but can’t quite get it. They briefly lock up in a clinch and Jacare gets Gastelum down. Jacare has side control on Gastelum and is working for mount. He briefly gets it but Gastelum recovers half guard. Jacare easily gets back to mount, and this is bad for Gastelum. He is offering almost nothing on the ground right now and Jacare is having his way. Jacare is looking for an armbar, but Gastelum is defending. Dangerous game him for Gastelum but the round is coming to an end. 10-9 Souza

Round 2: Jacare lands a big left hook as the round starts, but Gastelum is finding the chin with his jab. He shakes a takedown attempt from Jacare and is forcing him to strike. Jacare may be tired after that first round. Jacare goes for a takedown, and Gastelum sprawls it but eats a few hooks for his efforts. Gastelum lands a big left hook and Jacare is down and he’s in trouble. He’s up but he’s tired. Gastelum is landing lots of shots here. Souza returns a big left hand of his own, and a right but he is clearly tired. He appears to have caught a second wind and is landing some big shots as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum

Round 3: They are exchanging short shots early. Souza is 0-2 on takedowns so far in this round and we are only a minute in. Nice right hand by Souza as he closes the distance. This third round is very hard to score so far. Souza lands a head kick and goes for a single leg and gets it, Gastelum is down! But not for long and they are back in the center. Jacare lands a right hook and goes for a takedown and completes it with less than 10 seconds left! But Gastelum is right back on his feet as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum but in Brazil its possible it could go Jacare’s way. Close fight either way and both guys deserve a W. (29-28 Gastelum)

Result: Kelvin Gastelum def. Ronaldo Jacare Souza via Split Decision

Women’s bantamweight championship  (c)Amanda Nunes (15-4) vs. #2 Raquel Pennington (9-6)

Round 1: Nunes comes out early with a big leg kick that knocks Raquel Pennington down, but she quickly recovers. Pennington looks like a deer in head lights after that shot. Nunes lands another leg kick and again Pennington falls but quickly recovers. Pennington is a punching bag right now and really needs to make something happen. Nunes lands a hard-right hand, she is showing no respect for Pennington whatsoever. Pennington goes for a takedown with 30 seconds left but can’t get it. 10-9 Nunes and it’s not even close right now. They were a league apart in that first round, so hopefully Pennington can figure something out.

Round 2: Pennington goes for a takedown early and even though she doesn’t get it she does land a solid uppercut. More leg kicks by Nunes and Pennington just doesn’t have an answer for those. Pennington ducks under a Nunes uppercut and attempts a high body takedown but can’t find it. Pennington goes for another takedown, but she just can’t get it and isn’t setting them up with strikes anyway. She is telegraphing them and Nunes just isn’t going to fall for one of them at this point. Not when she’s this fresh. Pennington eats a hard knee but manages a takedown. Nunes pops up but Pennington is controlling her against the fence. Pennington gets Nunes down and briefly has side control, but they are back up and swinging as the round ends. 10-9 Nunes but it was a much closer round than the first.

Round 3: They exchange early and Nunes lands a hard-left hand. Pennington rushes forward with a flurry and though they didn’t land it might have been the first time that Nunes has moved backwards all night. Nunes lands a hard leg kick and scores a takedown. Nunes is in half guard with both hands on the mat. The ref stands them up and they are back in the center as the round ends. 10-9 Nunes

Round 4: Pennington lands a few shots to start the round. Nunes lands a nice leg kick and follows it up with a left hook. Pennington returns a few of her own but Nunes gets a takedown. Back on the feet and they are exchanging shots in the center. Pennington is looking for a takedown of her own but can’t her it and eats a knee for her efforts. Nunes lands another hard knee, but Pennington grabs the leg and is looking for a takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Nunes

Round 5: Nunes gets a takedown early. Nunes has the back and is landing some hard shots and its all over.

Result: Amanda Nunes def. Raquel Pennington via TKO (Punches) Round 5, 2:36

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