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Derek Brunson made another would-be contender look like a pretender.
The Sanford MMA standout moved one step closer to his desired goal, as he submitted Darren Till with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 191 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Brunson (23-7, 14-5 UFC) drew the curtain 2:13 into Round 3, then set his sights on reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya.
Till (18-4-1, 6-4-1 UFC) was once again betrayed by his takedown defense. Brunson put him on his back less than 90 seconds into the first round and unleashed a hellacious barrage of ground-and-pound that resulted in significant damage to the Brit’s right eye. He minimized Till’s gains on the feet with another takedown midway through Round 2, a clear narrative taking shape. The Team Kaobon export made his final stand early in the third, where he had Brunson reeling with a burst of straight left hands. That brief glimmer of hope vanished in an instant. Brunson secured the last of his takedowns, moved to full mount and advanced to the back, where he cinched the choke and forced the tapout.
The 37-year-old Brunson has won five fights in a row and still poses a clear-and-present danger to all who populate the top of the 185-pound weight class.
Surging Aspinall Smashes Spivak
Team Kaobon’s Tom Aspinall put away Sergey Spivak with a short-range elbow strike and follow-up punches in the first round of their heavyweight co-main event. A late-notice fill-in for Sergei Pavlovich, Spivak (13-3, 4-3 UFC) bowed out 2:30 into Round 1, the setback slamming the door on his three-fight winning streak.
Aspinall (11-2, 4-0 UFC) kept the former World Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder off-balance with feints and stance switches, leaned on his hand speed and hunted for openings. He connected with a knee to the body while exiting a clinch and followed it with the elbow. Spivak retreated to the mat, only to be met with a burst of punches that brought about the stoppage.
The 28-year-old Aspinall has delivered all 11 of his wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, 10 of them inside one round.
Replacement Morono Outstrikes Zawada
Fortis MMA’s Alex Morono made the most of his opportunity as a short-notice replacement for Sergey Khandozhko, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over David Zawada in a three-round welterweight feature. Morono (20-7, 9-4 UFC) drew 30-27 marks on all three scorecards.
Zawada (17-7, 1-4 UFC) enjoyed some success when he targeted the body but otherwise lacked the weaponry necessary to give his adversary pause. Morono followed crisp jabs with overhand rights, proved effective on the counter and managed to mix in a few crowd-pleasing spinning attacks. By the time the 15-minute battle reached its conclusion, Zawada’s face told a tale of a man who had absorbed far too much punishment to get his hand raised.
Morono has recorded six wins across his last eight outings.
Rountree Leg Kick Cripples Bukauskas
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 23 finalist Khalil Rountree took out Modestas Bukauskas with a crippling kick to the knee in the second round of their light heavyweight attraction. Bukauskas (11-5, 1-3) met his end 2:30 into Round 2, his string of consecutive losses now at three.
Rountree (9-5, 5-5 UFC) raced out to a hyperaggressive start and repositioned the Gintas Combat rep’s nose with a series of left hooks in the first round. Midway through the middle stanza, he sent a stomping side kick crashing into Bukauskas’ planted lead leg. The result was immediate and devastating, as the Lithuanian collapsed downward—his knee appeared to explode inward—in audible and visible distress. He was removed from the cage on a stretcher.
The victory was Rountree’s first since April 13, 2019.
Debuting Pimblett Buries Vendramini
Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Paddy Pimblett cut down Luigi Vendramini with punches in the first round of their lightweight showcase. Vendramini (9-3, 1-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:25 into Round 1, suffering his third defeat in four outings.
Not all went according to plan for Pimblett (17-3, 1-0 UFC). The hubris-infused Next Generation MMA prospect ran into a left hook from the Brazilian that buckled his knees and led to his being taken down. To his credit, Pimblett stayed composed, regained his faculties and returned to his feet. He turned the tide with a blistering right hook, swarmed with punches and pinned Vendramini to the cage. From there, Pimblett continued to fire punches until the job was done.
Pimblett, 26, has rattled off three straight wins.
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