February 17, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona from Talking Stick Resort Arena
Live on ESPN+ (5:30 PM ET), and ESPN (7 PM ET)
Emily Whitemire vs. Aleksandra Albu (Strawweight/115)
Round 1: They come out early and immediately start trading shots! Whitemire changes levels and lands a power double leg on her opponent. Albu recovers guard but Whitemire is ferocious! Albu attempts a scramble but Whitemire takes her back and wraps her up! She sinks in a rear naked choke and this fight is over!
Result: Emily Whitemire def. Aleksandra Albu via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 1:01
Analysis: Emily Whitemire absolutely smashed Aleks Albu tonight… Albu really didn’t have any notable moments before being finished. Good stuff by Emily Whitemire.
Renan Barao vs. Luke Sanders (Bantamweight/135)
Favorite: Luke Sanders -150
Round 1: Barao connects early with a side kick to the body and follows it up with a well placed inside low kick. Sanders connects with a left hook and just misses with a follow up right hand. Barao is starting to rip into the body with kicks to the midsection. They are both landing big shots early on here but Barao is getting the better of the exchanges. Sanders closes the distance with a jab and secures a pair of under hooks but Barao quickly circles off the cage and we’re back in the center. Barao lands a grazing body kick but eats a counter left hook for his efforts. Barao connects with a big left straight! Sanders is concerned with blocking the body shots and Barao is starting to mix up his strikes and land with more success. Barao throws a kick to the midsection in the final seconds of the round, Sanders catches it though and trips Barao to the mat as the bell sounds. (10-9 Barao)
Round 2: Sanders is having success with his boxing in the early part of the round. He’s turned up the pressure a bit and he’s forcing Barao backwards. Sanders connects with a big 1-2 right down the middle and Barao is down! Sanders drops and lands a couple of strikes, but this fight is all over. Sanders clearly lost the first round, made the proper adjustments for the second, and now has the biggest win of his career under his belt.
Result: Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via KO (Punches) Round 2, 1:01
Analysis: Huge win for Luke Sanders. Renan Barao is not what he once was but beating a former World Champion is always going to be a feather in the cap for any fighter. As far as Barao, its hard to say where he goes from here. This means four straight losses for the former Bantamweight king… people usually don’t recover from that.
Nik Lentz vs. Scott Holtzman (Lightweight/155)
Favorite: Scott Holtzman -180
Round 1: Lentz opens up early with a 1-2 and follows it up with a grazing knee. Lots of quick exchanges so far with mixed results for both guys. Lentz drops for a takedown but Holtzman is keeping himself up with the fence. Lentz completes the takedown but Holtzman jumps right back to his feet, he’s still trapped against the fence though. Lentz has a body lock and he’s really working to get this fight down but Holtzman is making it difficult. Holtzman can’t seem to break the body lock, but Lentz can’t keep him down with any of his takedowns. Lentz is working to take the back, but he has less than twenty seconds to make something happen. (10-9 Lentz)
Round 2: Holtzman is a bit more aggressive with his forward movement in this round so far. He connects with an uppercut and then a knee to the body! Holtzman is starting to connect with his punches! Lentz drops for a takedown but Holtzman maintains his footing. Holtzman lands a right hand, but Lentz is still coming after him! Lentz secures a body lock and scores with a takedown! He’s looking for a guillotine and Scott Holtzman might be in trouble here! Nice escape by Holtzman and they’re back on the feet! Lentz still has a body lock though and Holtzman still can’t find a way to break it. Lentz trips him down again and we are back on the mat with twenty seconds left in the round. (10-9 Lentz)
Round 3: Holtzman connects with a right hand right out of the gate. He knows he is likely down two rounds here. Lentz is landing some nice counter shots. Holtzman is starting to land his left hook at will. Lentz secures a body lock which is right where he needs to be. He goes for a takedown but can’t get it and Scott Holtzman is head hunting! Lentz drops for a takedown and he gets it! Lentz has the back, but no hooks and he is going to lose control if he doesn’t fix that. He’s showing clear signs of fatigue. Holtzman is landing some big downward elbows and punches on Lentz! Lentz gives up his position against the fence to avoid those big shots! Holtzman is going after him though! Lentz just avoids a big knee and takes the fight down again! The crowd isn’t happy but avoiding that knee was crucial for Lentz. (10-9 Lentz) (30-27 Lentz)
Result: Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via Unanimous Decision
Analysis: Holtzman honestly looked better in every part of the fight except the wrestling exchanges and that’s where he lost. He couldn’t stop the takedowns, but he did manage to stay active and nearly hurt Lentz with several big shots in the later part of the fight. Holtzman is good, but Lentz is crafty, and he did enough to avoid the big shots and walk away with the win here after a hard-fought fight.
Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Andrea Lee (Flyweight/125)
Andre Lee -185
Round 1: They’re trading early. Lee is attacking the lead leg of Evans-Smith. Lee is starting to land with frequency here! Evans-Smith is switching stances after nearly every low kick, but Lee is attacking whichever leg is leading. Lee is landing lots of combinations and Evans-Smith isn’t throwing much back. Counter left-hand lands for Lee and she follows it up with a hook. Evans-Smith is starting to return some shots of her own, still no takedown attempts though. Evans-Smith is getting thoroughly outclassed here on the feet. Left hand lands for Lee and she follows up it up with another low kick. Lee changes levels for a takedown but Evans-Smith maintains her balance. (10-9 Lee) I would score it 10-8 but I doubt the judges will. Lee clearly won on the feet and Evans-Smith made no serious attempts to take the fight down. She telegraphed a lot of her shots and seemed to be a bit slower than Lee. It will be interesting to see what adjustments she makes.
Round 2: Lee lands a body kick and then a series of big hooks! Evans-Smith drops for a takedown, but Lee defends and lands a big body shot! Lee has a clinch but gives it up to land a few straight punches! Lee circles off the fence and completes her first takedown of the fight! Evans-Smith is in side control but she’s just controlling for now. Good control but Evans-Smith but Lee still manages to get back to her feet. Evans-Smith shoots for another takedown but Lee easily sprawls this one. Evans-Smith is starting to show signs of fatigue with a minute and a half left in the round. Lee connects with a hard body shots with thirty seconds left in the round. Evans-Smith shoots for a takedown but Lee sprawls as the round ends. (10-9 Lee) Evans-Smith seems tired, her wrestling isn’t working, and she is getting out struck. Lee just needs to keep doing what she is doing.
Round 3: Evans-Smith seems refreshed to start the round. Lee is continuing to beat her up though with low kicks, and hooks. Lee attacks the body with a 1-2 but Evans-Smith returns a shot of her own. Evans-Smith drops for a takedown, but Lee defends and keeps the fight standing. Evans-Smith misses with another takedown attempt, she has one minute to make something happen. Lee lands a body shot and then quickly secures a body lock. (10-9 Lee) (30-27 Lee)
Result: Andrea Lee def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Analysis: Andrea Lee looked fantastic tonight, especially on the feet. Her takedown defense held up and she even tried some offensive grappling of her own. She may have a background in Muay Thai, but she is certainly a well-rounded martial artist and she makes for an interesting contender in the division. A fight with Valentina Schevchenko could be very interesting at some point in the future.
Benito Lopez vs. Manny Bermudez (Bantamweight/135)
Round 1: Bermudez scores with a quick takedown against the fence. Lopez is up but Bermudez is on him and pressuring him against the fence. Bermudez has a headlock and drops to the mat with it. Bermudez is threatening the neck with a guillotine and its all over! Fantastic finishing sequence there by Bermudez.
Result: Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via Submission (Guillotine Choke) Round 1, 3:08
Analysis: Manny Bermudez made quick work of his opponent here tonight. He set up the guillotine with a fantastic transition and remains undefeated. Post-fight he asked for Sean O’Malley or Brad Katona next.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Aljamain Sterling (Bantamweight/135)
Favorite: Jimmie Rivera -140
Round 1: Sterling shoots for a takedown right out of the gate. Rivera is defending though with the aid of the cage. Sterling is looking for under hooks, both men are looking for a dominant position. Sterling shoots again but Rivera manages to get his back against the fence. Sterling nearly had a takedown, but Rivera is defending. Sterling is controlling the wrist of Rivera and he’s landing knees in the openings, but the ref separates them anyway… Rivera forces the fight against the fence with a takedown attempt, but Sterling is defending. (10-9 Sterling) Neither guy really got anything going in round one, but Sterling did seem to control more of the round, and when neither guy lands much, control usually becomes pretty important.
Round 2: Rivera scores with a takedown to start the round, but Sterling pops up and puts Rivera against the fence. Sterling throws a high kick and misses, but Rivera returns a solid shot to the body and the chin. Sterling cracks Rivera with a big shot and he’s hurt! Sterling lands an uppercut and a left hook! Rivera needs to regain his composure here and create some space. Jimmie Rivera just dropped his mouth piece and got a warning for it, but we are right back to the action. I should mention that’s the third time Rivera has dropped his mouth piece. Sterling shoots for a takedown but Rivera sprawls and secures a front headlock. They’re up and Rivera connects with a nice left hook! Starling is using his length well, but Rivera is starting to deal with it a bit better as the round progresses. (10-9 Sterling) Close fight but Sterling is just a bit quicker, and he seemed to hurt Rivera in this round. Needless to say, Rivera likely has some work to do if the judges and I are on the same page.
Round 3: Rivera connects with a kick to the body. He told his corner he just wasn’t feeling right… Sterling shots for a single but Rivera defends. Sterling is the aggressor, he’s using front kicks to keep Rivera against the fence and off his game. Sterling slips and Rivera jumps on top of him. He has two minutes to make something happen. Sterling is up though, and they are back in the center. Rivera connects with a left hook to the body but misses with the follow up shot. Sterling is landing lots of kicks and Rivera can’t get past them. Great win for Aljamain Sterling. (10-9 Sterling) (30-27 Sterling)
Result: Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x 3)
Analysis: Jimmie Rivera just never really got anything going. Aljamain Sterling seemed to get better as the fight progressed, and by the end of the fight he was picking Rivera off with straight punches and front kicks. Great work by Sterling and he is a serious contender at 135 pounds.
ESPN Main Card
Andre Fili vs. Myles Jury (Featherweight/145)
Favorite: Myles Jury
Round 1: Fili is landing some hard-low kicks early in the round. Jury lands a grazing right hand but doesn’t get much out of it. Fili lands a hard jab that busts Jury’s nose open. Myles Jury seems very hesitant to make any moves and he’s allowing Fili to pull ahead. Jury lands a hard-low kick, he’s starting to find some success with it. Fili lands a big right hand, but Jury appears to be okay. Jury lands a left hand that seemed to knock Fili off balance a bit! Jury seems to be a bit more focused than he was earlier in the round. He lands a nice right hand as the round ends. (10-9 Fili)
Round 2: Fili is having more success with his jab. Jury lands a nice over hand right counter shot and then follows it up with a left hook! Jury is starting to string together combos. Fili is busted open now as well. Fili lands a left hook, he’s just a bit quicker than Jury at this point. Jury lands a big spinning back fist and Fili is down! Jury takes the mount with thirty seconds left in the round! Fili recovers guard though and he will survive the round. (10-9 Jury) I was leaning towards giving that round to Fili but that spinning back fist changed my mound and the round. Once Jury dropped Fili, he pounced on him like a cat and landed several large elbows.
Round 3: Jury lands a low kick to start the round. He’s doing a better job of avoiding the jab in this round, but Fili is still throwing it. Fili connects with a kick to the midsection, and then a nice jab. Maybe I spoke to soon, Fili is finding his range with the jab again. Nice slip by Myles Jury and he comes underneath with an uppercut and left hook combination. Jury is taunting Fili a bit… he doesn’t seem like the type. Fili lands another hard jab as Jury misses with a spinning back fist. Fili looks crisp at this point in the fight, while Jury looks like he’s been in a fist fight. Jury lands a right hand with about forty seconds left in the round, he almost definitely needs a finish if he wants a win. (10-9 Fili) (29-28 Fili)
Result: Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via Unanimous Decision
Analysis: Good back and forth fight. Andre Fili had a lot of success with his jab and Jury just couldn’t figure it out.
Vicente Luque vs. Bryan Barberena (Welterweight/170)
Favorite: Vicente Luque
Round 1: Luque is starting the fight with quite a bit of aggression. He is tagging Barberena and keeping him against the fence. Luque connects with a big right hook, both guys are landing, but Luque is landing some serious power shots. Barberena moves forward with an elbow and a left hook but Luque avoids most of it and lands an elbow of his own. Bryan Barberena secures a clinch, but he can’t hold it, and Luque nails him with a right hand. Barberena lands a big shot and Luque is down! Barberena swarms him but Luque ends up taking his back! What a recovery! Luque has a rear naked choke and its deep! Wow Barberena rolls out of it! Luque attacks with a Darce! Barberena pulls out of it and lands some huge elbows and punches as the round ends! (10-9 Luque) Best round of the night without question.
Round 2: Barberena is landing some shots early in the round and Luque is just covering up! Luque returns a left hand though and Barberena backs off a bit. Barberena is moving forward throwing punches and elbows! Wow this is a good fight. Barberena is clinching and landing hard punches and elbows! Barberena connects with a big jab! They are trading big shots! Big hook lands for Luque! Barberena is just walking through these punches like they aren’t even phasing him. This is a dirty, messy, sloppy, very fun fight. Barberena is slowing down a bit but still moving forward. Luque unleashes a series of hard strikes but Barberena eats them and keeps moving forward! Luque lands a big knee and Barberena is briefly down! Luque swarms him just as the bell sounds! (10-9 Luque) Barberena started off strong but he couldn’t keep it up in the later part of the round and Luque started tearing into him. Luque may be landing more shots overall but Barberena is throwing a lot himself.
Round 3: They are back to trading leather to start the round. Luque connects with a nice kick to the body, but Barberena returns a knee. Barberena connects with a 1-2 right on the chin, both of these guys have taken some crazy punishment tonight. Luque lands a nice left hand and then a right hook. Luque smashes the body with a hard-left hook, Barberena seems almost impervious to pain though and he’s barely even reacting to most of his opponents’ shots. Luque attempts a flying knee and eats a left hand for his troubles with just under a minute left in the round. They are trading punches to the face, Luque lands a big knee and Barberena is down! Luque lands one or two more shots on the ground and this fight is over! The finishing sequence was a right straight that led to the big knee that dropped Barberena. Fantastic ending to what was already a fantastic fight.
Result: Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena via TKO (Knee and Punches) Round 3, 4:54
Analysis: That would have been a very interesting fight to judge had it got to that point. The finish was incredible considering how much Barberena took up to that point. Luque is saying he is top 10 in his post-fight speech and he just might be.
Kron Gracie vs. Alex Caceres (Featherweight/145)
Favorite: Kron Gracie -400
Round 1: Gracie lands a grazing right hook. Gracie ducks under a punch and takes the back, Caceres moves towards the fence for leverage, but he currently has a Gracie on his back… Gracie takes him down and locks in a body triangle, he’s now looking for the choke and its all over! What a grip! Great debut for Kron Gracie, we already knew he was good at BJJ but its still nice to see him pull off a submission in the octagon. No Gracie has done that since UFC 4.
Result: Kron Gracie def. Alex Caceres via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 2:06
Analysis: It was exactly what was expected of Gracie. He is going to be a threat to anybody as long as he can get the fight to the ground. It will be interesting to see how his striking develops going forward.
Cortney Casey vs. Cynthia Calvillo (Strawweight/115)
Favorite: Cynthia Calvillo -335
Round 1: Long feeling out process to start the fight, both fighters are just looking for range. Casey lands a nice uppercut counter against the fence. Casey is throwing some wild shots, but none are landing. They’re keeping Calvillo uncomfortable though. Not a whole lot is landing but Casey is doing a good job at keep Calvillo off her. Calvillo is managing to get inside here in the later part of the round. (10-9 Calvillo)
Round 2: Calvillo fakes a takedown and lands a nice shot. She grabs a body lock and forces Casey against the fence. Casey creates come space and uses it to find some separation. Calvillo lands a hard-left hook, Casey landed one as well, but it wasn’t as effective. Calvillo rips off a nice combo, striking the head and body. Casey is having a hard time landing anything of note, she’s moving Calvillo back but its mostly just with forward movement. They trade a few shots as the round ends. (10-9 Calvillo) I’ll admit it… after back to back exciting fights, this one is a bit of a letdown. But that doesn’t chance the fact that Calvillo is putting on a good performance. Casey just can’t get anything going.
Round 3: Casey is landing some nice low kicks. Calvillo forces the fight against the fence but can’t keep her there. Casey is cutting Calvillo off and forcing her to trade with her. Left hook lands for Casey. Casey is still moving forward but Calvillo is proving elusive. This is the definition of a back and forth round… its almost like they’re trading strikes back and forth. Casey lands a big left hand with thirty seconds left in the round. They’re winging it in the final seconds, both fighters are looking to land a big shot! (10-9 Casey) (29-28 Calvillo)
Result: Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via Unanimous Decision
Analysis: It was what it was. Calvillo looked good, but so did Casey. Calvillo was just a bit quicker.
James Vick vs. Paul Felder (Lightweight/155)
Favorite: James Vick -125
Round 1: Vick opens up with a kick to the midsection, but Felder wears it well. Felder connects with a mean right hook! Vick returns a side kick to give himself a bit of room. Spinning back elbow lands for Felder but just barely. Vick connects with a straight right, but Felder returns a low kick. Felder secures a body lock and forces Vick against the fence. Vick shakes him though and they’re back in the center. Felder tags Vick with a right hand and Vick is wobbled! Felder is chasing him, but Vick hits the fence and secures a clinch! Good round. That last sequence probably won the round for Felder. (10-9 Felder)
Round 2: Felder went for a single and Vick went for his neck! Felder pulls out though, but Vick forces him against the fence. Vick lands an elbow as they separate. Felder lands a right hand against the fence, but Vick returns a straight right! He has a hell of a reach. Vick lands a spinning elbow, and forces Felder against the fence with a clinch. (10-9 Vick) Lots of time spent against the cage but Vick was mostly in control of those grappling exchanges, and he also landed some nice strikes. Close fight going into the third.
Round 3: Felder lands a nice spinning back kick to start the round! Felder lands a left hand and then secures a body clinch! He forces Vick against the fence but can’t keep him there. Low kick lands for Felder and Vick is limping! Short left-hand lands for Felder! Vick has slowed considerably! Felder lands a nice combination with 2:40 left in the round. Vick is actually jumping to try to avoid the low kicks. Big left hook lands for Felder to the body of James Vick! Felder is pulling away here… Vick lands a right hand, and he’s looking to take Felder down but so far, no dice. Vick just jumped right into a spinning right elbow! Felder’s timing is on point tonight. They have a final exchange just before the bell sounds. Nice performance for Paul Felder. (10-9 Felder) (29-28 Felder)
Result: Paul Felder def. James Vick via Unanimous Decision
Analysis: Paul Felder has now won four straight fights as a lightweight and looked very good in defeating James Vick. As for Vick, this makes two straight losses for him and he’s now even farther back in line. He had a hard time getting respect from the UFC in the past, and this won’t help him get any in the future.
Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou (Heavyweight/265)
Favorite: Cain Velasquez -190
Round 1: Velasquez opens up with a body kick, and then he throws a Headkick! Ngannou forces the fight against the fence! Cain drops for a takedown but Ngannou is swinging! Ngannou connects with a downward right hook and Velasquez is down! Ngannou lands a few on the ground and its all over! Wow…
The replay shows that Cain Velasquez’ knee gave out, and he says it was from one of the shots that landed. Weird ending, but Francis Ngannou is looking very good again.
Result: Francis Ngannou def. Cain Velasquez via TKO (Punches) Round 1, 0:26
Analysis: Sorry for the shoddy breakdown of this fight but it was really a cluster… it seemed like a weird idea for Velasquez to come out throwing kicks because he doesn’t have a lot of length and he was in Ngannou’s range when he threw them. We’ll have to wait and see if Velasquez has any sort of serious knee injury but as for Ngannou, I would say he deserves a shot at DC, or a title eliminator bout with Stipe Miocic if DC is still hurt or set on fighting Brock Lesnar.