Eddie Wineland showed he could still compete with some of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s best bantamweights.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting champion disposed of Frankie Saenz with third-round punches in the featured UFC on Fox 20 prelim on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago. Wineland (22-11-1, 4-5 UFC) brought it to a close 1:54 into round three, delivering his first win since a Jan. 25, 2014 technical knockout against Yves Jabouin.
Saenz (11-4, 3-2 UFC) withstood his initial encounter with Wineland’s notorious punching power -- he buckled but survived being hit with a right hand in the first round -- and settled into a pace with which he was comfortable. The Fight Ready representative tagged Wineland with repeated leg kicks and threw punches at a much higher rate. Still, power provided the difference. Wineland floored the former King of the Cage titleholder with a searing right cross early in the third round, swarmed with punches and forced the standing TKO.
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Elkins Slows Castro’s Rise
The rinse-and-repeat approach for which Darren Elkins has become known paid dividends yet again, as the Team Alpha Male export leaned on takedowns and ground-and-pound in pocketing a unanimous decision over Godofredo Castro in a three-round undercard duel at 145 pounds. Elkins (21-5, 11-4 UFC) drew 29-27, 29-27 and 30-26 nods from the judges.
Castro (12-4, 4-4 UFC) enjoyed some early success -- he reversed into mount and threatened with a kimura in the first round -- but could not keep the relentless Indiana native at bay. Elkins benefitted from a point deduction for an illegal knee to the head in the second round and slowly but surely tightened his grip on the match. The 32-year-old kept the dangerous Castro grounded for much of the final 10 minutes, navigating his guard while feeding him punches, hammerfists, elbows and forearm strikes.
The setback put a stop to Castro’s three-fight winning streak.
Surging Usman Steamrolls Yakovlev
“The Ultimate Fighter 21” winner Kamaru Usman had no issues with Alexander Yakovlev, as the Blackzilians standout cruised to a unanimous decision in a preliminary welterweight encounter. A replacement for the injured Ryan LaFlare, Usman (8-1, 3-0 UFC) earned 30-25 marks on all three scorecards.
Nothing went right for Yakovlev (23-7-1, 2-3 UFC), who was docked a point for repeatedly grabbing the fence in the first round. His situation only worsened. Usman delivered one takedown after another and chewed up the M-1 Global veteran with methodical, elbow-laced ground-and-pound. He twice achieved full mount in round three, giving Yakovlev little room with which to breathe, much less work. Though a finish did not materialize, the performance was nevertheless dominant.
Usman, 28, has won seven straight fights.
Prazeres Overwhelms Newcomer Cottrell
Michel Richard Cunha dos Prazeres utilized repeated takedowns and superior topside grappling, as he took a unanimous decision from former King of the Cage champion J.C. Cottrell in their three-round undercard battle at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges sided with Prazeres (20-2, 4-2 UFC): 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27.
Prazeres executed takedowns in all three rounds, and Cottrell (17-4, 0-1 UFC) -- a short-notice replacement for the injured Tony Martin -- seemed powerless to stop them. The Brazilian threatened with an omoplata and armbar in the first round but more often than not appeared content to bleed the clock from top position, staying active enough with positional advancements and ground-and-pound to avoid referee restarts. Known for fading late in fights, Prazeres saved some of his best work for the third round, where he connected with crushing body kicks and heavy power punches to the head.
The loss snapped a six-fight winning streak for Cottrell.
Oliveira Dominates Overmatched Moontasri
Tata Fight Team rep Alex Oliveira registered his fourth victory in five appearances, as he captured a lopsided unanimous verdict over James Moontasri in a preliminary welterweight confrontation. Oliveira (14-4-1, 4-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25 marks from the judges.
Moontasri (9-4, 2-3 UFC), who absorbed a crippling knee strike to the groin in the first round, struggled to stay competitive. Oliveira crowded him in the clinch, where he blasted away with knees to the body and short uppercuts. The Brazilian dragged Moontasri to the ground in the second and third rounds, turning the fight into a rout. Punches, hammerfists and elbows allowed Oliveira to remain in top position for minutes at a time, as he forced the two-time national taekwondo champion into a defensive shell.
Split Verdict Sends Knight Past Alers
A persistent jab, a steady diet of kicks and a hyperactive guard carried Jason Knight to a split decision over former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jim Alers in a three-round undercard clash at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Knight.
Knight (14-2, 1-1 UFC) overwhelmed the MMA Masters export with output, mixing jabs with two- and three-punch combinations and vicious kicks to the legs and body. Alers’ offense was limited to a left hook inside the first five minutes -- it opened a horizontal gash under Knight’s right eye -- and takedowns in all three rounds. However, once the action spilled onto the floor, Knight cut off his counterpart’s advances with his spidery guard.
Alers (13-3, 1-2 UFC) twice wobbled Knight in the third round with right hands and snapped back his head with a two-punch volley, but the finish he needed was nowhere to be found.
Oliveira Choke Taps Smoliakov
Tata Fight Team prospect Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira submitted the previously unbeaten Dmitry Smoliakov with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary heavyweight affair. Smoliakov (8-1, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 3:58 into round two.
Oliveira (9-2, 1-1 UFC) struck for a takedown with a little more than a minute to go in the first round, applied his ground-and-pound and methodically chipped away at the Russian newcomer. Smoliakov’s cardio -- untested through his first eight pro bouts -- failed him in the second, where Oliveira tripped him to the canvas, moved to the top ride position and hammered away with steady punches and hammerfists. Oliveira cinched the choke as soon as Smoliakov exposed his neck, resulting in an almost immediate tapout.
The 22-year-old Oliveira has rattled off seven wins in eight appearances.