UFC on Fox 23 Prelims: Sam Alvey, Raphael Assuncao, Jingliang Li Notch Mile-High Victories

By Brian Knapp Jan 28, 2017
Sam Alvey tapped a few more grains of sand out of the Nate Marquardt hourglass.

Straight punching combinations and leg kicks were the weapons of choice, as the Team Quest standout claimed a unanimous verdict over Marquardt in the featured UFC on Fox 23 prelim on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Alvey (30-8, 7-3 UFC) was awarded 29-28 marks across the board, as he posted his fourth consecutive victory.

After a tepid first round, Alvey seized control in the second. There, he sent probing jabs and straight lefts crashing through Marquardt’s defenses, resulting in two cuts and substantial damage to the former Pancrase and Strikeforce champion’s left eye. Marquardt (35-17-2, 13-10 UFC) responded in Round 3, where he dragged his opponent to the mat, transitioned to his back and set his hooks. Alvey stayed calm under duress, escaped to his feet and rode out the remaining time to a decision.

Marquardt, 37, has lost seven of his last 10 fights.

Related » UFC Denver Round-by-Round Scoring

Split Decision Sends Assuncao Past Sterling

World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Raphael Assuncao won for the eighth time in nine appearances, as he escaped with a contentious split decision over Serra-Longo Fight Team export Aljamain Sterling in a three-round undercard showdown at 135 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Ron Mann and Ben Ramirez for Assuncao, Hale Hilsabeck for Sterling.

Neither fighter seemed eager to lead the dance, which resulted in periods of inactivity and a restless crowd. Sterling (12-2, 4-2 UFC) stayed busy with kicks to the legs and body, even as his opponent returned fire with punches upstairs. Assuncao (24-5, 8-2 UFC) countered effectively for much of the match, but, as has been the case throughout his career, he struggled with output. Sterling exploited that opening in the third round, where he landed with more regularity, pressured the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by moving forward and uncorked simple but effective two-punch combinations. Nevertheless, the scorecards favored Assuncao.

Li Stops Nash in Barnburner

China Top Team’s Jingliang Li disposed of organizational newcomer Bobby Nash with punches in the second round of their preliminary welterweight confrontation. A fill-in for the injured Yancy Medeiros, Nash (8-2, 0-1 UFC) met his end 4:45 into Round 2.

Both men were in trouble in the first round. Li (12-4, 4-2 UFC) had the Michigan State University graduate reeling with a pair of overhand rights and tore into his lead leg with a series of well-conceived kicks. Not to be easily outdone, Nash floored the Tiequan Zhang disciple with a clean left hook, jumped to his back and cinched a tight rear-naked choke before moving to full mount. Li somehow survived.

Nash let his hands fly in the middle stanza and seemed to have effectively turned the tide. However, late in the round, Li connected with a mean right cross and followed with an overhand right to the temple that sent his adversary crashing to the canvas in a dazed state. He mopped up what was left with a diving right hand and one final hammerfist.

Unbeaten Johnson Manhandles Silva

Onetime Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Jordan Johnson made a strong first impression in his promotional debut, as he manhandled Luis Henrique da Silva to a three-round unanimous decision in an undercard bout at 205 pounds. Johnson (7-0, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-27 marks.

Virtually nothing went right for Silva (12-2, 2-2 UFC). A two-time NCAA All-American at the University of Iowa, Johnson struck for repeated takedowns, smothered the Brazilian with top control and buried him with sustained ground-and-pound. Johnson, 28, operated behind a stinging jab and occasional uppercuts when the two light heavyweights were upright and methodically drained his counterpart’s resolve with a relentless but efficient approach.

After a 12-0 start to his career, Silva has lost back-to-back fights.

Lima Dismisses Replacement Kimball

American Top Team’s Marcos Rogerio de Lima put away Jeremy Kimball with punches in the first round of their undercard scrap at a 209-pound catchweight. A replacement for the injured John Phillips, Kimball (14-6, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:27 into Round 1.

Lima (15-4-1, 4-2 UFC) rose to his feet after being shoved to the ground and capitalized on a narrow opening. Kimball slipped while attempting to elude the Brazilian and was met with a glancing right hook behind the ear that drove him to all fours at the base of the cage. Lima then pounced and delivered a volley of unanswered rights that brought it to a close.

Pantoja Outduels Shelton to Win 10th Straight

Former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Alexandre Pantoja eked out a split decision over Eric Shelton in a preliminary flyweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Pantoja (17-2, 1-0 UFC).

The 26-year-old Pantoja weaved in and out of danger, as he leaned on kicks to the legs and body, offset his opponent’s successful takedowns with a few of his own and fired off a handful of submissions. The Nova Uniao rep advanced to Shelton’s back in the first and second rounds, threatening with rear-naked chokes on both occasions. The combination of activity and altitude took its toll on the two Octagon rookies, as they emerged weary and flat-footed at the start of Round 3. Shelton (10-3, 0-1 UFC) appeared to be the fresher fighter down the stretch and ran the Brazilian into his punches, only to fall short on the scorecards.

Pantoja has won 10 fights in a row.

Gonzalez Choke Submits Cottrell

Millennia MMA export Jason Gonzalez submitted former King of the Cage champion J.C. Cottrell with a first-round brabo choke in an undercard pairing at 155 pounds. Cottrell (17-5, 0-2 UFC) conceded defeat 3:54 into Round 1, as he suffered his second straight defeat.

Gonzalez (11-3, 1-1 UFC) unleashed kicks with both legs, staggered his counterpart with a left uppercut and swarmed with punches. However, he wandered into a takedown and spent significant time pinned underneath Cottrell, who floated between side control and full guard. Gonzalez freed himself from an ill-advised inverted triangle and caught the fight-ending choke in the scramble that followed.

The 30-year-old Gonzalez has rattled off seven wins in eight appearances.


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