LIVE UFC PHILADELPHIA REPORT: Real-time results & analysis of Barboza-Gaethje, Branch-Hermansson

By Cole Henry, mmatorch Contributor

UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Gaethje
March 30, 2019
Philadelphia, PA from Wells Fargo Center
Live on ESPN + (3:30 PM ET) and ESPN (5 PM ET Prelims, 8 PM ET Main Card)

ESPN+ Prelims

Mark de la Rosa vs. Alex Perez (Bantamweight/135)

Round 1: Perez leans in with a left hand and eats a combo in return for his efforts. Its weird that Paul Felder isn’t calling this card considering that we’re in Philadelphia. Back to the fight… Perez is controlling the octagon and looking to move the fight against the fence when he can. Perez scores with a takedown and follows it up with some serious hammer fists. De la Rosa is looking to get into a better position and work from his back but he’s paying for it. Perez is sitting in de la Rosa’s half guard and he’s just battering the hell out of him. De la Rosa is content to take these shots and try to set up something with his Jiu Jitsu, but it just isn’t working. Perez lands another huge shot as the round ends. (10-9 Perez) De La Rosa seems happy to fight off his back, but it was ineffective in this round and he would probably be best served to avoid that position if he can. I love watching a guy work his BJJ from the back, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there and it just doesn’t always pay off.

Round 2: After a bit of a back and forth Perez shoots in for a single and de La Rosa is down. De la Rosa is turtled with Perez attempting to take his back. De la Rosa recovers guard.  Perez is doing a good job of controlling the wrist, he only let’s go of the them to land punches. De la Rosa is starting to throw punches from the bottom rather than look for subs, sweeps or escapes. He’s just losing points here and allowing Perez to rest as well as win the round without a lot of output. (10-9 Perez) Perez controlled the round from start to finish. Dom Cruz just said it best on commentary… does De La Rosa want to survive, or does he want to win? As of now all he is doing is trying to survive.

Round 3: De La Rosa has managed to avoid the ground so far, but Perez hasn’t really attempted to take it there. De La Rosa is looking for a way in, he attempts a takedown, but Perez avoids it. Perez connects with a grazing right hand and changes levels to complete a takedown. De la Rosa has one-minute left to make something happen with his guard. Perez is sitting in it, but his control of the wrist is preventing De La Rosa from doing anything. (10-9 Perez) (30-27 Perez)

Result: Alex Perez def. Mark de la Rosa via Unanimous Decision

Analysis: Alex Perez had a very well-rounded performance, but it was his wrestling that really told the story here tonight. It allowed him to control the fight and get into a good position to land some really nice ground and pound. As for de la Rosa, it’s unfortunate to see him up at Bantamweight and hopefully he will have the chance to continue his career at 125.

Maryna Moroz vs. Sabino Mazo (Flyweight)

Round 1: Moroz closes the distance quickly with a clinch but she can’t do anything with it. Moroz is staying on her opponent though. She has a body lock and she’s attempting to take the fight down. Moroz completes the takedown. Mazo is busted open but she has managed to recover guard. She has very long legs and she’s using them to control Moroz to some degree. Mazo pushes Moroz away at the hips but can’t get up and Moroz is right back on her. (10-9 Moroz)

I just found out The Rolling Stones cancelled a show that I have tickets for… Words cannot begin to describe the feeling of utter devastation that I am now dealing with… anyway here’s round 2.

Round 2: Moroz closes the distance right out of the gate and she secures a body lock… She’s looking to take the fight down, and does, but Mazo stands right back up. Mazo has managed to create separation but she still can’t keep Mazo off of her. Mazo connects with a couple of punches before closing the distance yet again. She secures an under hook and is using it to control Mazo in the final moments of the round. (10-9 Moroz) So far this fight is anything but competitive. Moroz seems to have an answer for anything that Mazo has to offer.

Round 3: Mazo looks very out of her element here to start the round. She is leaving herself open to lots of counter shots here. Moroz is staying in her face. Mazo connects with a big knee but her shots just don’t have a ton of power on them. She connects with a knee to the midsection and then a couple of jabs and straights. She seems to be finding her range a bit here towards the mid-way point of the round. Moroz closes the distance again and secures an under hook, she may be looking for a body lock but either way she is killing clock in a round that she is clearly winning. Moroz connects with a nice uppercut underneath a misplaced jab by her opponent. Mazo returns fire with a kick to the midsection though and follows it up with another one. Mazo connects with a grazing Headkick! Decent round here for Mazo, no question there, but Moroz should walk away with the win here. (10-9 Mazo) (29-28 Moroz)

Result: Maryna Moroz def. Sabino Mazo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Analysis: Moroz looked great in the first two rounds but the third was all Mazo. Still though it’s a three round fight and Moroz looked much better overall. Mazo looked like she has potential but she needs more experience.

 Ray Borg* vs. Casey Kenney (Bantamweight)

*Missed weight

Round 1: Ray Borg was in a tight spot to start the fight, he was down with Kenney on top, but he has since recovered and is now controlling Kenney against the fence. Borg locks his hands behind Kenney and takes him down. Kenney is up though and closes the distance. He forces Borg against the fence with a clinch and takes him right down from there. Kenney has mount but only briefly as Ray Borg scrambles and sweeps Kenney to end the round in top control. (10-9 Kenney) Very close round. Both guys had takedowns, but Kenney was just a bit better.

Round 2: Borg closes the distance. He has a body lock and he is looking to take Kenney down. Kenney is looking for an under hook, but Borg briefly gets him down. Kenney is back up and looking to break Borg’s grip but that’s proving to be a difficult task. Borg completes another takedown, and Kenney stands right up! Borg takes his back and Kenney might be in trouble here! Kenney escapes the bad position and ends up on top of Borg with just under two minutes left in the round. Borg is up but Kenney is still in control. He has an under hook and he’s controlling the wrist of the opposite arm. Kenney attempts a foot sweep, but Borg counters and lands a hard-left hook! Kenney returns a shot of his own but Borg changes levels for a takedown and completes it. Borg takes the back, but Kenney will survive the round. Wow… These guys are making lots of quick movements and its quite a task keeping up with them. (10-9 Borg) This round could be a draw. Kenney had lots of good moments, but he gave up two key takedowns that cause me to lean towards Borg.

Round 3: Borg scores with an early takedown. Kenney recovers guard but Borg pushes through it and moves towards mount. Kenney stands right up though and secures an under hook, using that to reverse the position. Both guys are working for a dominant position against the fence. Borg completes a double leg and takes the back. He has two hooks with just over two minutes left in the round. Kenney shakes him he’s now in top position. He’s now taken Borg’s back and he is threatening with a rear naked choke! Borg escapes though and attacks again with a double leg! Kenney is defending, in a way… Borg is taking him down, and Kenney is standing right back up, wash and repeat. They’re exchanging in the final moments of the round! Borg is landing shot after shot! Great fight! (10-9 Borg) (29-28 Borg)

Result: Casey Kenney def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision

Analysis: Well I don’t agree with that decision. Kenney’s post fight speech isn’t going to earn him any fans either. But with that being said it was a very close fight and I don’t think the judges got it wrong. Kenney looked great in his debut, especially considering that it took place on 6 days’ notice.

ESPN Prelims

Kevin Holland vs. Gerald Meerschaert (Middleweight)

Round 1: Meerschaert scores early with a takedown but falls right into a guillotine. He escapes and moves right into mount. He attempts an arm-triangle but Holland escapes. Meerschaert has a guillotine and Holland is in trouble here! Holland is staying patient though and he escapes. Meerschaert takes the back in the scramble but Holland shakes him. Meerschaert recovers position though and takes Holland down with a body lock… scramble after scramble… He takes the back, but Holland shakes him. Meerschaert has a bulldog choke but Holland counters with a rear naked choke… I can’t even explain what just happened. Holland is now in mount with 10 seconds left in the round. (10-9 Meerschaert) Hard round to score… Meerschaert had some tight subs but Holland escaped all of them and landed some nice ground and pound. If the last fight told us anything its that fighters should be looking for finishes tonight.

Round 2: Meerschaert takes Holland right down. He’s looking to move into mount, but Holland is constantly looking to scramble. Holland is up and Meerschaert is very tired here. He still manages to take Holland down again though. Holland is looking for a triangle but Meerschaert escapes and takes his back. Holland now has a kimura but Meerschaert escapes and takes the back again… This fight is an absolute mess and I mean that in the best way possible. Holland takes the back in the final seconds of the round and lands a few punches as the round ends. Meerschaert been in a bad spot at the end of both rounds now. You have to wonder how the judges are looking at that. (10-9 Holland?) This fight is so difficult to score… Meerschaert spent most of the round in a better position but Holland kept up nearly constant submission attempts.

Round 3: Holland is looking for a takedown early and he gets it. Meerschaert appears to be exhausted. Just as I say that he locks on a guillotine, but Holland is in okay shape here. Holland pulls out of it but Meerschaert attacks the leg, looking for a takedown. Holland sprawls though and lands a few shots. Meerschaert needs to move or he is going to lose here. Meerschaert sweeps though and takes top control again. This is a great, back and forth fight. Meerschaert is landing some short ground and pound, but he seems all out of power by this point. (10-9 Meerschaert) (29-28 Meerschaert) Who knows… great fight though.

Result: Kevin Holland def. Gerald Meerschaert via Split Decision

Analysis: They should stop asking fighters really any questions post fight… they’re all cringe worthy. Holland is ranting that he doesn’t want people to “hump” him, or something like that. He wants somebody that will stand and strike with him… he should perhaps consider being a kickboxer if he doesn’t like grappling.

Kevin Aguilar def. Enrique Barzola via Unanimous Decision (Featherweight)

My apologies. I had an incident in my kitchen right as this fight started that I had to take care of. I’m not asking for your sympathy but just know that my prized coffee maker is no more.

Ross Pearson vs. Desmond Green (Lightweight)

Round 1: Green lands a Headkick to start the fight. Ross Pearson looks like a dock worker that just beats people up on the weekends. Pearson moves in and eats a counter left hook! He was briefly down but now both guys are back in the center. Pearson connects with a low kick and follows it up with a hook to the body. Green scores with a single leg takedown against the fence! He is unleashing a flurry if punches and Ross Pearson can’t defend himself! Green is keeping up the pressure and this fight is all over!

Result: Desmond Green def. Ross Pearson via TKO (Punches) Round 1, 2:52

Analysis: Well that was quick. Once Green took Pearson down it was all over.

Jessica Aguilar vs. Marina Rodriguez (Strawweight)

Round 1: Aguilar is the aggressor early on. She secures a body lock as she forces the action against the fence. Rodriguez has a clinch and she is looking to land some knees but Aguilar trips her down to the mat for her efforts. Aguilar is attacking with an armbar, but Rodriguez is not in a ton of danger. The ref stands the fighters up and Rodriguez almost immediately pokes Aguilar in the eye. We see a break in the action and the ref will take a point from Rodriguez. Back to the action and Rodriguez lands a big right hand that sends Aguilar down to the mat! That was a clean drop there for Rodriguez and should give her the round. Unfortunately, she lost the point for the eye poke though so this round will likely be a draw. (9-9 Rodriguez)

Round 2: Aguilar is having a difficult time closing the distance to start the round. Rodriguez is doing a good job of keeping her at a distance. Aguilar tries closing the distance but Rodriguez circles away from her and lands a knee. Aguilar returns fire with an overhand right that just misses. Aguilar moves in and connects with a hook to the body. Rodriguez secures a clinch and lands a hard knee to the body, causing Aguilar to recoil! Aguilar’s face is an absolute mess… Rodriguez connects with a teep kick and Aguilar is on her heels! Rodriguez is staying on her though and just landing shot after shot! She secures a clinch and nails Aguilar with several hard knees to the body! That really looked like it was going to lead to the stoppage, but Aguilar is surviving. (10-8 Rodriguez) If I was Aguilar’s corner I would throw in the towel. Just no reason to send her back out there. She is being out classed by a younger, quicker, and more technically skilled opponent.

Round 3: Aguilar is attempting to move forward but she can’t close the distance. Rodriguez secures a clinch and nails Aguilar with another hard shot to the body. Rodriguez is not nearly as aggressive in this round, but Aguilar can’t manage any offense, so it doesn’t really matter. Rodriguez connects with another knee to the body. Rodriguez continues to attack with teep kicks and jabs. Aguilar manages to land a nice right hand with just over a minute left in the round. Rodriguez connects with another knee; her output has been very impressive tonight. She’s just been absolutely relentless. Aguilar lands a right hand in the final seconds of the round. What a performance for Rodriguez… as for Aguilar, her prime is clearly behind her, but she is a tough as they come. She took a beating and really after the second round it wasn’t necessary. (10-9 Rodriguez) (29-26 Rodriguez)

Result: Marina Rodriguez def. Jessica Aguilar via Unanimous Decision

Analysis: I think I would have stopped this after the second round. Aguilar took a beating and it really wasn’t competitive after the first round. With that being said, Rodriguez appears to be a very good fighter.

ESPN Main Card

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Sheymon Moraes (Lightweight)

Round 1: Yusuff is targeting the lead leg early on. Moraes is checking them here and there but most of them are landing. Yusuff closes the distance against the fence and secures a body lock. The ref steps in and separates the two. Moraes lands a low kick but he otherwise. Moraes trips Yusuff down but the Nigerian stand right back up. Very tedious round where neither fighter really gained much of an advantage but Yusuff did have some success with his low kicks. Moraes is getting caught standing still be he certainly is landing the more powerful strikes when he connects. (10-9 Yusuff)

Round 2: Moraes attacks the body and follows it up with a high kick. Yusuff just managed to get his guard up. Moraes is doing a better job of setting up combos here in the second round. Moraes lands a head kick cause Yusuff to move in to close the distance. From the clinch, Yusuff trips Moraes down to the mat. But Moraes is right back on his feet with just over a minute left in the round. (10-9 Moraes) This fight is more of a chess match than a lot of people expected.

Round 3: Yusuff is working the jab early on. He just seems to be lacking any sense of urgency here tonight. He is mostly just letting Moraes work his game. With that being said its still a very close fight. Moraes connects with a front kick. Very good defensive performance by Moraes tonight… This is the type of fight that you need to watch for yourself if you really want to appreciate it. Yusuff grabs Moraes in the clinch and they exchange knees and then low kicks as they separate. Yusuff hasn’t had as much success with low kicks since the first round, Moraes is doing a good job of checking them. Yusuff lands a nice 1-2, but Moraes returns fire with a short elbow. Yusuff connects with a right hand and Moraes is down! Yusuff follows him to the ground but Moraes recovers and he is back on his feet. (10-9 Yusuff) (29-28 Yusuff)

Result: Sodiq Yusuff def. Sheymon Moraes via Unanimous Decision

Analysis: It was a tedious fight at times, but things started to pick up in the second round. It was very close, and you can pretty much pin point the moment in each round where the winner was determined. Post-fight, Yusuff called out Kron Gracie which would be a fantastic fight for the UFC to make

Paul Craig vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (Light-heavyweight)

Round 1: Craig shoots right out of the gate and pulls guard. Kennedy is up but Craig is right back on him! Craig completes another takedown, but Kennedy is working to get back up. Craig is pressuring him against the fence and looking to take him down again. He settles for pulling guard, and attacks the foot of Kennedy, but Kennedy pulls right out. Craig is starting to look a bit tired. Kennedy connects with a high kick! Craig hits the mat, but I think it was in a bid to get Kennedy to follow him. (10-9 Craig) Craig was the aggressor so I am scoring the round for him, but he looks tired. Kennedy remained patient through Craig’s takedown attempts and he looks to be in good shape moving into the second round.

Round 2: Craig connects with a lunging right hand to get things started. He changes levels for a single leg but can’t complete it. He dives in for another takedown and this time gets Kennedy down to his knees but still can’t compete it. He continues working at it, and finally drags Kennedy down. Kennedy winds up on top though and he is landing some big shots to the body. He’s mixing in punches and elbows, but then elects to let Craig up. Kennedy is stalking but he isn’t throwing a lot of volume. Both guys seem more concerned with calling out the fouls of the other fighter than actually fighting… Craig shoots late in the round but can’t complete the takedown. (10-9 Kennedy)

Round 3: Craig is 1-12 on takedowns so far in this fight. He’s elected to stand so far here in the third. Kennedy just isn’t showing any urgency, he’s mostly just moving forward. Craig changes levels for a takedown but can’t quite get it and Kennedy just steps away from him. Kennedy just poked Craig in the eye for like the fourth time… he’s also been constantly warned for grabbing the fence. The ref needs to take a point, either that or just ignore the rules all together. And the ref takes a point… Kennedy almost surely needs a finish now. Kennedy connects with a nice jab, perhaps his most notable strike of the fight. Craig briefly changes levels for a takedown, but Kennedy shakes him. Craig grabs the leg again though, looking for a single, but Kennedy is showing that he has very good takedown defense. They’ve fallen into a weird sort of crucifix position with Kennedy in the more dominant. Craig sweeps him though, right into a triangle! Kennedy taps! Wow! That was a nice finish to what had been an absolute shit show of a fight. Kennedy tried saying he didn’t tap post stoppage, but it was clear. Kennedy showed he is very inexperienced, he made a lot of mistakes when it comes to positioning and understanding of the rules of the octagon. But he will be back I am sure.

Result: Paul Craig def. Kennedy Nzechukwu via Submission (Triangle) Round 3, 4:20

Analysis: It was a sloppy fight, but Craig did what needed to be done. He had a clear game plan from the start and never let up from it. Kennedy needs a lot of work if he is going to have a successful UFC career.

 Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Michelle Waterson (Strawweight)

Round 1: 10-9 Waterson

Round 2: Waterson is attacking the lead leg here in the early part of the round. Kowalkiewicz secures a clinch but Waterson ends up taking her down. Waterson is now working from side control. Waterson may be looking to isolate an arm but so far Kowalkiewicz is defending herself. Waterson attacks with an armbar but Kowalkiewicz spins out of it… it really seems like armbars are becoming ineffective unless you are a really good BJJ guy, that has a good grip, and the ability to truly lock the arm in place. I can’t even count how many “deep” armbars people have pulled out of over the last few cards. (10-9 Waterson)

Round 3: It needs to be noted that Michelle Waterson was a World Champion at Atomweight while in Invicta… That is two weight classes below where she is currently competing. Waterson continues to attack the lead leg of her opponent. Kowalkiewicz connects with a switch kick to the body and follows it up with a nice 1-2 combo. She forces the fight against the fence, she may be looking for a takedown, but either way she is in total control here. Waterson reverses the position and secures a clinch, and from there she is able to land several solid knees before Kowalkiewicz manages to escape. Waterson changes levels and takes the fight down. This is the best performance of Waterson’s MMA career, she is out classing a perennial top 10 fighter, and former title challenger. Kowalkiewicz is back on her feet and Waterson connects with a side kick. (10-9 Waterson) (30-27 Waterson)

Result: Michelle Waterson def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz via Unanimous Decision

Analysis: It wasn’t really a bad showing for Kowalkiewicz, but Waterson was just on point tonight and its hard to imagine anybody beating her if she keeps fighting like this. She could be close to a shot at the title with this latest win. Hard to not be a fan of Michelle Waterson… She might be the kindest person in MMA.

Michael Johnson vs. Josh Emmett (Lightweight)

Round 1: This is the first fight for Emmett since he suffered some pretty serious injuries during the Jeremy Stephens fight. It seems like he doesn’t use the same sort of footwork that he did earlier in his career. Much less side to side movement. Johnson connects with a quick left hand, Emmett just misses with his counter. Johnson lands a left hand in the final seconds of the round. (10-9 Johnson)

Round 2: Emmett connects with a nice right hook to get things started. Johnson is still moving forward but Emmett is proving to be elusive. Emmett attacks the body with a hook. Johnson connects with a short uppercut. Johnson is leading most of the exchanges so far, Emmett is having very little success connecting at this point in the fight. Emmett connects with a kick to the groin and we see a break in the action. Back to the action and Johnson connects with another nice uppercut. He’s probably ahead two rounds. He’s landing and Emmett is swinging at air.  (10-9 Johnson)

Round 3: Emmett rushes forward towards Johnson to start the round but doesn’t connect with anything notable. Johnson is feinting and Emmett is biting every single time… Johnson connects with a straight right. Emmett moves in and Johnson tags him with a couple of good shots! Emmett swings again and Johnson avoids it, only to counter with another right hand. Johnson is looking very good on the feet here tonight, really good boxing, he’s very evasive, and he’s regaining some of his former shine. Johnson connects with a nice right hand that wobbled Emmett a bit! Emmett returns a massive right hand! Oh my God! Michael Johnson just went out like a fainting goat! Walk away KO for Josh Emmett! What the hell did I just see! Everybody went silent… that was insane. I really don’t think people even realized what happened at first… I sure didn’t.

Result: Josh Emmett def. Michael Johnson via KO (Punch) Round 3, 4:14

Analysis: Well that was… sudden. Johnson was leading every second of that fight until Emmett smashed him with that shot! Josh Emmett hits you and you’re in trouble… that much we know.

Jack Hermansson vs. David Branch (Middleweight)

Round 1: Hermansson is very aggressive early on. He secures a clinch and hip tosses Branch to the mat. He secures head control and he is looking for a guillotine. David Branch circles right into it and he is in serious trouble here! Branch taps! Wow!

Result: Jack Hermansson def. David Branch via Submission (Guillotine) Round 1, 0:49

Analysis: Well that was quick… David Branch is a very good BJJ Blackbelt but Hermansson just chopped through him like it was nothing.

Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje (Lightweight)

Round 1: They’re trading leg kicks…. Gaethje connects with a big right hand and Barboza is hurt! Gaethje is looking for the finish but Barboza is surviving. Nice left-hand lands for Gaethje! Gaethje connects with two big hooks! Barboza is looking to return fire but he is very defensive. They’re exchanging shots on the feet! Right HOOK lands for Gaethje! Edson Barboza is out cold! Justin Gaethje has ended two straight fights with that exact same punch! So much happened there that it was hard to keep up. Gaethje is a buzzsaw… If you can’t beat him down, he is going to absolutely take your head off.

Result: Justin Gaethje def. Edson Barboza via KO (Punch) Round 1, 2:30

Analysis: That was a phenomenal fight. Barboza just couldn’t stop the forward pressure and once he got hurt, he stayed moving backwards. It was short but damn it was fun…

Thanks for joining us here tonight. I’ll be covering One later in the evening/morning so come back if that’s something you’re interested in.

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