Former title challenger Sara McMann completely neutralized Jessica Eye with wrestling and positional control, taking a unanimous verdict over her former training partner in a 135-pound encounter at UFC Fight Night “Almeida vs. Garbrandt” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday night. The Olympic silver medalist swept all three judges’ scorecards by identical 30-27 tallies.
Perhaps wary of her opponent’s wrestling, Eye struggled to pull the trigger throughout the contest, often waiting for countering opportunities that never arrived. Meanwhile, McMann (9-3, 3-3 UFC) got stronger as the bout progressed. After grinding her opponent against the fence in a tepid opening stanza, McMann landed takedowns in both the second and third rounds. From there, Eye (11-5, 1-4 UFC) was helpless as her foe won virtually every transition and positional battle while attacking with periodic ground-and-pound.
McMann halted a two-fight skid, while Eye has lost three straight in the Octagon.
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Trujillo Holds Off Short-Notice Foe Rinaldi
Abel Trujillo relied on power punching and timely takedowns to capture a unanimous decision over short-notice opponent Jordan Rinaldi in a lightweight tussle. All three cageside judges scored the contest 29-28 in favor of Trujillo, who has won five of his last six promotional appearances. Rinaldi (12-5, 0-1 UFC), meanwhile, saw a five-fight winning streak come to an end.
It was a more measured approach from Trujillo (15-6, 6-2 UFC) than usual, as he picked his spots to attack with powerful hooks to the head while landing takedowns in each frame. “Killa” found his rhythm in the final stanza, when he appeared to rock Rinaldi with several hard left hooks before punctuating his triumph with one final takedown. Rinaldi's best moment occurred when he was able to take Trujillo’s back and flatten his foe out late in round two, but he did little else to sway the judges in his Octagon debut.
Collier Spinning Back Kick Crumples Pereira
Jake Collier survived a rough start to earn a second-round technical knockout victory over Alberto Emiliano Pereira at middleweight. A spinning back kick to the body clinched the triumph for the 27-year-old Pit MMA representative at the 1:06 mark of period, making it the fourth-such finish in promotion history.
“Uda” (9-1, 0-1 UFC) had Collier reeling early when he appeared to break his opponent’s nose with a knee in the first frame. Collier (10-3, 2-2 UFC) did his best to shake off the damage and eventually returned to the offensive. He turned the tide for good in round two with a big knee in the clinch and a multi-punch combination near the fence. The decisive kick arrived moments later.
Koch Chokes Out Campbell After Two-Year Hiatus
Erik Koch made a successful return to the Octagon, submitting Shane Campbell with a rear-naked choke 3:02 into the first frame of their preliminary lightweight tilt. It was the Koch’s first appearance since a loss to Daron Cruickshank in May 2014. Campbell, meanwhile, has lost three of his four promotional outings.
Koch (15-4, 4-3 UFC) displayed no visible signs of ring rust, landing smooth combinations at range in round one before ending the period on his opponent’s back. That was a precursor of what was to come. After running into a Campbell (12-5, 1-3 UFC) elbow to begin the second, “New Breed” landed a takedown before transitioning to his foe’s back once again. With plenty of time to work, Koch secured both hooks, slid his right forearm under Campbell’s neck and sunk in a deep choke to force the tapout.
Caraway Takes Gritty Split Verdict Over Sterling
Bryan Caraway didn’t care about Aljamain Sterling’s considerable hype. “Kid Lightning” authored a gritty comeback performance to take a split-decision triumph over the previously unbeaten Sterling in a competitive bantamweight showdown. Judges Dave Hagen and Tony Weeks scored the fight 29-28 for Caraway (20-7, 6-2 UFC), while Adalaide Byrd saw it 29-28 for Sterling (12-1, 4-1 UFC).
In the early going it appeared as though Sterling was going to dominate. The Serra-Longo Fight Team product took his opponent’s back, locked in a body triangle and spent half of the first round in that position in what was arguably a 10-8 frame. Caraway rallied over the final 10 minutes, taking down a fading Sterling in both the second and third stanzas in a grinding effort. Meanwhile, “The Funk Master” offered little in the way of offense as his opponent gradually took control.
“I’m not the same person I used to be,” Caraway said. “This is a warning to the bantamweight division; I’m coming for that belt. I’m the underdog in every single fight and I keep winning.”
Milstead Batters, Bloodies de La Rocha in UFC Debut
Heavy punches and stout takedown defense carried Adam Milstead to a successful UFC debut, as he earned a second-round technical knockout stoppage over Chris de la Rocha in a preliminary heavyweight clash.
A series of five to six unanswered blows -- including one nasty elbow -- from Milstead (8-1, 1-0 UFC) forced referee Chris Tognoni to intervene on de la Rocha’s behalf at the 4:01 mark of the period even though the bloody-faced Washington native remained on his feet.
Milstead was clearly the superior athlete from the start, and he found success landing counter right hands in the opening stanza. De la Rocha (4-2, 0-2 UFC) attempted to slow the assault by taking Milstead to the canvas, but the Stipe Miocic sparring partner thwarted most of his opponent’s shots throughout the bout. Milstead has finished all eight of his professional triumphs within two rounds.