UFC on Fox 22 Prelims: Paul Craig Armbar Submits Luis Henrique da Silva in Sacramento

By Brian Knapp Dec 17, 2016
Paul Craig handled his business like a seasoned vet.

The onetime British Association of Mixed Martial Arts titleholder submitted the previously unbeaten Luis Henrique da Silva with a second-round armbar in the featured UFC on Fox 22 prelim on Saturday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California (online betting). Craig (9-0, 1-0 UFC) drew the curtain 1:59 into Round 2, as he made an immediate splash in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight division.

Silva (12-1, 2-1 UFC) spun his wheels. Craig got his attention with clinch uppercuts, secured a takedown and tore into him with elbow-laced ground-and-pound before threatening with a guillotine choke inside the first five minutes. Silva retreated to his corner at the end of the Round 1 visibly winded and with significant damage to both eyes. Early in the middle frame, Craig pulled the Brazilian into his guard, wrapped him a triangle choke and then transitioned to the armbar.

Hirota Nets First Octagon Victory

Former Deep and Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota successfully navigated significant height and reach disadvantages to register a unanimous decision against Cole Miller in a preliminary featherweight pairing. Hirota (18-7-2, 1-2-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 marks from the judges.

Miller (21-11, 10-9 UFC) stunned the Japanese veteran with a right hand in the first round but was otherwise a non-factor. Hirota assumed top position in all three rounds, either through takedowns or superiority in the scrambles, and lit up the American Top Team export with ground-and-pound. He kept Miller pinned to the mat for roughly four minutes in Round 3, removing any chance of a rally for “The Ultimate Fighter 5” graduate.

Covington Upends Frustrated Barberena

Repeated takedowns, a smothering clinch game and improving standup spurred American Top Team’s Colby Covington to a unanimous verdict over Bryan Barberena in a 15-minute confrontation at 170 pounds. The once-beaten Covington (11-1, 6-1 UFC) drew 30-27 scores across the board.

Barberena (12-4, 3-2 UFC) had no answer for the NCAA All-American wrestler. Covington executed multiple takedowns in all three rounds, grinded away in the clinch and was surprisingly effective in the striking exchanges. Barberena did everything in his power to push the 28-year-old out of his comfort zone, only to find himself on the mat or against the cage in what became a rinse-and-repeat nightmare.

Covington has pieced together a three-fight winning streak since his submission loss to Warlley Alves a little more than a year ago.

Morono Wins Seventh Straight

Former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Alex Morono overcame a rough start to earn a unanimous decision against James Moontasri in a preliminary welterweight affair. Morono (13-3, 2-0 UFC) prompted 29-28 nods from the three cageside judges.

Moontasri (9-5, 2-4 UFC) battered the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with kicks to the body, legs, arms and head in the first round. Morono was undeterred, switched gears over the final 10 minutes and blew past the Black House export. The 28-year-old closed the distance, pinned Moontasri to the cage and shredded him with punches and standing elbows. Morono had the taekwondo stylist reeling with an overhand right in the third round, and while the bloodied and dazed Moontasri withstood a follow-up barrage that might have finished lesser men, he was nevertheless a spent force.

Morono has rattled off seven consecutive victories.

Unbeaten Emmett Outlasts Holtzman

Team Alpha Male rep Josh Emmett remained undefeated, as he pocketed a unanimous verdict over former Xtreme Fighting Championships titleholder Scott Holtzman in a three-round undercard tilt at 155 pounds. Emmett (11-0, 2-0 UFC) was awarded 29-28 marks by all three judges.

Holtzman (9-2, 2-2 UFC) put together a strong first round, where he leaned on punishing ground-and-pound and close-quarters knees to the body and head. However, Emmett turned to corner in Round 2. There, he drew Holtzman into a brawl, landed heavy power punches and executed tactical takedowns. Early in the third, Emmett dropped the MMA Lab export to a knee with a sneaky overhand right, parlayed his momentum into multiple takedowns and walked away with a hard-fought and well-earned decision.

Smith Spoils Aldana Debut

Leslie Smith won for the third time in five appearances, as she captured a unanimous decision from Lobo Gym prospect Irene Aldana in a preliminary women’s bantamweight battle. All three cageside judges scored it for Smith (9-7-1, 3-3 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

Smith overwhelmed the promotional newcomer with pressure and pace, utilizing punching combinations to the body and head. She decked Aldana (7-3, 0-1 UFC with an overhand right in the first round and nearly forced the stoppage with the blows that followed. Once it became apparent the finish was not forthcoming, Smith reset herself and got back to work on the feet. Aldana had her moments -- she pieced together two-, three- and four-punch combos on occasion -- but could not match the volume the Californian brought to the table.

The loss snapped Aldana’s two-fight winning streak.

Resurgent Wineland Dispatches Mizugaki

Onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Eddie Wineland disposed of Takeya Mizugaki with first-round punches in their undercard scrap at 135 pounds. Wineland (23-11-1, 5-5 UFC) brought it to a close 3:04 into Round 1.

Mizugaki (21-11-2, 8-6 UFC) connected with jab-cross combinations, a few left hooks and stinging leg kicks. However, a run-in with Wineland’s potent right hand led to his undoing. Mizugaki hit the deck after being clipped behind the ear and never recovered. Wineland allowed him to stand on unsteady legs, floored him again with another slashing right to the face and finished him with punches and hammerfists.

Wineland, 32, has posted back-to-back wins for the first time since 2012.

Sandoval Outduels Olympian Serrano

Crisp counterstriking and surprising takedowns carried former Tachi Palace Fights titleholder Hector Sandoval to a unanimous decision over Fredy Serrano in a preliminary flyweight affair. Sandoval (13-3, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 marks from the judges.

Serrano (3-2, 2-2 UFC), a world-class wrestler who represented Colombia at the 2008 Olympics, threw heat but missed the strike zone far too often. More importantly, he failed to secure a single takedown. Sandoval’s punches, particularly his counter right hand, forced the 37-year-old to retreat throughout their 15-minute encounter and offset the success the Colombian enjoyed with kicks to the body and legs. He also mixed in takedowns in the first and third rounds, held his own in the clinches and threatened with a guillotine choke the middle stanza.

Returning Aliev Edges Velickovic

American Top Team’s Sultan Aliev made a triumphant return to the cage following a lengthy layoff, as he claimed a split decision over former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Bojan Velickovic in a three-round undercard clash at 170 pounds. Two of the three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Aliev, while a third saw it 29-28 for Velickovic.

Velickovic (14-4-1, 1-1-1 UFC) was effective on the feet, as he cut loose with leg kicks and fired probing straight left hands behind his jab. However, he was never allowed to accelerate. Takedowns and positional dominance provided the backbone for the Aliev attack. The 32-year-old sambo practitioner drove into top position in all three rounds and bottled up Velickovic on the canvas. Aliev (14-2, 1-1 UFC) spent more than half the fight blanketing the Elevation Fight Team rep with intermittent ground-and-pound and suffocating top control.

Aliev has won five of his past six bouts.


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