Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 147

By Brian Knapp Mar 16, 2019

Jorge Masvidal found the off switch on Darren Till.

The longtime American Top Team representative strengthened his footing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division and blew away Till in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 147 headliner on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. Masvidal brought it to a shocking close 3:05 into Round 2, halting a two-fight losing streak with his first win in more than two years.

After Till dropped the Miami native with a straight left in one of their initial exchanges and went on to control the majority of the first round, Masvidal changed the conversation in an instant. He drew out the Brit’s defenses with a right jab, switched stances and connected with a devastating left hook. Till froze, collapsed and absorbed another blow on the way down, his head bouncing violently off the canvas. Masvidal landed one more punch on his already-unconscious victim before referee Marc Goddard arrived on the scene.

The story did not end there, as Masvidal then went about potentially sabotaging all his good work. While conducting a post-fight interview with ESPN, Masvidal confronted Leon Edwards -- a split decision winner over Gunnar Nelson in the co-main event -- and punches flew. Initial reports indicated Edwards suffered cuts in the confrontation, which could have disciplinary repercussions for “Gamebred” in the days ahead.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Till vs. Masvidal,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren: In his first appearance since November 2017, Masvidal made a statement in the loudest possible terms and became the first man to stop Till with strikes. The well-traveled 34-year-old called for a title shot afterwards. However, it seems unlikely he would be awarded such an opportunity against newly minted champion Kamaru Usman, seeing as though he entered the cage on the heels of back-to-back losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. Masvidal should nevertheless find himself paired with another Top 10 opponent later this year. A former Bellator MMA and One Championship titleholder, Askren made his long-awaited Octagon debut at UFC 235, withstood a hellacious beating and submitted Robbie Lawler with a first-round bulldog choke to improve to 19-0.

Leon Edwards vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos: Edwards rode a near-finish in the second round to a split decision over Nelson in the welterweight co-main event. Judge Howard Hughes saw it 29-28 for Nelson, while Anders Ohlsson and Andy Roberts scored it for Edwards, 29-27 and 29-28. After a closely contested first five minutes, Edwards made his move in Round 2. He floored Nelson with a counter elbow at close range, swooped into top position and unleashed short punches, elbows and hammerfists. The Icelandic grappler withstood the assault but emerged with a massive hematoma near his right eye. Nelson showed his resilience in the third round, where he followed a straight right hand to the face with a takedown and climbed to full mount. Edwards managed to stay calm while pinned beneath a world-class grappler and denied the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt the finish he needed. Zaleski dos Santos extended his winning streak to seven fights with his third consecutive finish at UFC Fight Night 146, where he submitted Curtis Millender with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their co-main event on March 9.

Dominick Reyes vs. Johnny Walker: The undefeated Reyes pushed his record to 11-0, as he eked out a contentious split decision over Volkan Oezdemir in a pivotal showdown at 205 pounds. All three judges struck 29-28 scorecards: Andy Roberts for Oezdemir, Mark Collett and Paul Sutherland for Reyes. Oezdemir forced the Joe Stevenson protégé to fight off of his back foot with relentless forward pressure and strong punching combinations. Reyes focused his attack on the body, head and legs, kept his composure under duress and capitalized when the Swiss standout seemed to dial down his aggression in the third round. Walker has rattled off nine wins in a row, eight of them finishes. The charismatic Brazilian last competed at UFC 235 on March 2, when he cut down Misha Cirkunov with a flying knee and follow-up punches at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Walker has needed just 2:50 combined to defeat his first three UFC opponents.

Nathaniel Wood vs. Frankie Saenz-Marlon Vera winner: Wood continued his climb on the 135-pound ladder, as he submitted Jose Alberto Quinonez with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their bantamweight feature. Quinonez bowed out 2:46 into Round 2, his four-fight winning streak having run its course. Wood slowly but surely tightened his grip on the match in the first round, where he snapped back “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” Season 1 finalist’s head with sweeping left hooks and probing right hands, struck for a takedown and threatened with a brabo choke. “The Prospect” closed the deal in the middle stanza, as he tripped Quinonez to the floor, transitioned to the back and cinched the choke. Saenz and Vera have been booked opposite one another at UFC Fight Night 148 on March 23.

Claudio Henrique da Silva vs. Vicente Luque: Henrique da Silva withstood a gnarly cut above his right eye and extended his winning streak to 13 fights, as he dispatched Danny Roberts with an armbar in the third round of their welterweight showcase. Roberts verbally submitted 3:37 into Round 3. Henrique da Silva, 36, now owns a perfect 4-0 record under the UFC flag, his latest conquest having followed victories over Edwards, Nordine Taleb and Bradley Scott. Luque has emerged as one of the promotion’s most reliable action fighters and put his fourth straight win in the books at UFC on ESPN 1, where he disposed of the notoriously durable Bryan Barberena with third-round knee strikes and punches on Feb. 17.
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