Nobody on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster maximizes their ability any better than Neil Magny.
Filling in for the injured Matt Brown, Magny took a split decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum in the UFC Fight Night “Magny vs. Gastelum” headliner on Saturday at the Monterrey Arena in Monterrey, Mexico. All three cageside judges scored it 48-47, two of them for Magny (17-4, 10-3 UFC), who started strong and withstood a late surge from Gastelum.
Neither man was willing to break. Magny controlled the early stages with his length and pace. He advanced to full mount and the back in the first round, struck for multiple takedowns in the second and dictated the terms of the engagement for much of the third. Gastelum (11-2, 6-2 UFC), perhaps sensing the fight was slipping away, made his move in the fourth, as he floored Magny twice, once with a right hook and later with a left. The Kings MMA export maintained his momentum in round five, as he delivered a takedown inside the first minute and later scrambled into top position when Magny responded with a takedown of his own. Still, at least on two of the scorecards, it was not enough to overcome the deficit he faced.
Magny has compiled a stellar 9-1 record across his last 10 outings.
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Lamas Spoils Sanchez Return
In the featherweight co-main event, MMA Masters rep Ricardo Lamas won for the seventh time in nine fights, as he took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 winner Diego Sanchez. Lamas (16-4, 7-2 UFC) drew 30-27 scores from all three judges.
Sanchez (25-8, 14-8 UFC), who had not fought since June 2014, was a step slow. Lamas connected with a wheel kick in the first round and then further compromised the Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay in the second, where he chipped away at his base with a series of kicks to his lower leg. Sanchez fought through the pain but could not hide the fact that he was in distress, even as the two men exchanged dominant positions on the ground. Lamas steered clear of the firefight his opponent desired, and the Chicago native cracked Sanchez with a spinning back elbow in the third round that opened a cut near the right eye and sent blood streaming down the side of his face and onto his chest.
The 33-year-old Sanchez has lost four of his past six bouts.
Unbeaten Cejudo Edges ‘Formiga’
Henry Cejudo took what appears to be the final step toward a shot at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, as the 2008 Olympic gold medalist picked up a split decision decision over Jussier da Silva in their featured three-round clash at 125 pounds. Scores were 30-27 and 30-27 for Cejudo, 29-28 for da Silva.
Cejudo (10-0, 4-0 UFC) was superior in all phases. Two- and three-punch combinations lifted the Legacy Fighting Championship veteran past da Silva, along with takedowns in the first and third rounds. “Formiga” was competitive throughout but never forced Cejudo to deviate from his plans. The Olympian generated effective offense at range -- he dropped da Silva with an overhand right in the first round -- and also did some excellent work in the clinch, where he cut loose with knees to the body and standing elbows to the head.
Montano Last ‘Ultimate Fighter: Latin America’ Welterweight Standing
Erick Montano leaned on active standup and some timely takedowns, as he captured a split verdict from Enrique Marin in “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2” welterweight final. All three judges saw it 29-28, two of them siding with Montano (7-3, 1-0 UFC).
Marin (8-3, 0-1 UFC) spent much of the fight moving forward but struggled with output, as his Mexican adversary kept him at bay with sneaky punching combinations and kicks to the legs, body and head. The Spaniard delivered a takedown inside the first minute of round two and bottled up Montano on the canvas, only to squander his momentum in the third. There, Montano picked up his pace on the feet and landed a tactical takedown in the final 20 seconds to steal it.
The loss brought an end to Marin’s six-fight winning streak.
Barzola Crowned ‘Ultimate Fighter: Latin America’ Winner
In “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2” lightweight final, Enrique Barzola rolled to a unanimous decision against Horacio Gutierrez behind repeated takedowns, a merciless pace and punishing ground-and-pound. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, all for Barzola (11-2-1, 1-0 UFC).
Gutierrez (2-2, 0-1 UFC) had no answer for the aggression with which he was confronted. Barzola executed takedowns in all three rounds and tore into his Mexican counterpart with punches, short hammerfists, elbows and forearm strikes. Gutierrez’s hopes waned as the fight and the cut on his forehead deepened, as he seemed to focus more on survival than victory.
Barzola, 26, has won four of his last five fights.
‘Buscape’ Silva Outduels Escudero
Effective punching combinations, body kicks and some opportunistic grappling spurred American Top Team’s Leandro Silva to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero in a three-round lightweight showcase. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Silva (19-3-1, 3-1 UFC).
Escudero (24-10, 5-6 UFC) enjoyed some success, particularly in the second round, but could not match the Brazilian’s skills on the feet. With the outcome still in doubt, Silva did his best work in round three, where he shut down the MMA Lab rep’s takedowns, struck in combination and scrambled onto Escudero’s back late. From there, he maintained control and hunted the choke, never allowing Escudero to get to an advantageous position.