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Alistair Overeem blocked the path of another young lion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division.
The former Dream, Strikeforce and K-1 World Grand Prix champion put away Augusto Sakai with destructive ground-and-pound in the fifth round of their UFC Fight Night 176 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Overeem (47-18, 12-7 UFC) drew it to a close 26 seconds into Round 5, authoring the 42nd stoppage of his remarkable career.
Sakai jumped out to an early lead with bursts of punches, knees and elbows at close range, at times appearing to befuddle “The Demolition Man” in their stop-and-start exchanges on the feet. Overeem shifted momentum in the third round, where he took down the Brazilian and opened a vertical cut on his eyebrow with a well-placed hammerfist. Sakai drew blood with a short standing elbow in the fourth but again conceded a takedown and found himself pinned beneath the hulking Dutchman. Overeem plowed ahead with more ground-and-pound—including a karate chop to the face—and closed in on a finish. He secured another takedown at the start of Round 5 and hacked away with elbows and punches until referee Herb Dean had seen enough.
The loss was Sakai’s first in more than three years and halted his run of consecutive victories at six.
St. Preux Counter KOs Menifield
Ovince St. Preux knocked out Fortis MMA’s Alonzo Menifield with a beautiful counter left hook in the second round of their light heavyweight co-main event. Menifield (9-2, 2-2 UFC) kissed the canvas 4:07 into Round 2, as he lost for the second time in as many outings.
St. Preux (25-14, 13-9 UFC) utilized his height and reach advantages, picked his spots from the outside and employed a kick-heavy approach. He withstood a late punching burst from Menifield at the end of the first round, then hunted the finish with patience and purpose. Menifield’s output dropped to alarming levels in Round 2, where he continued to absorb leg and body kicks while circling haplessly on the perimeter. He pressed forward with roughly a minute to go, led with his chin and walked into the left hook. The impact froze him instantly, as he faceplanted at St. Preux’s feet.
The 37-year-old has won two of his last three fights.
Pereira Choke Vanquishes Imadaev
Scorpion Fighting System stalwart Michel Pereira submitted Zelim Imadaev with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their welterweight showcase. Referee Chris Tognoni rescued a battered and bloodied Imadaev 4:39 into Round 3, though no obvious tap was visible.
Pereira (24-11, 2-2 UFC) dominated virtually every second of the bout. The Brazilian hit Imadaev (8-3, 0-3 UFC) with both traditional and more exotic techniques, including a Showtime Kick and a springing Superman punch off the cage. Pereira stunned his counterpart with a flying knee in the first round, staggered him with a right hand in the second and tied the bow on a stellar performance in the third. There, in the final minute of the fight, he executed a belly-to-back suplex, jumped immediately to the back and cinched the no-hooks choke for the finish.
The win closed the book on Pereira’s two-fight skid.
Muniz Armbar Submits Fabinski
Tata Fight Team’s Andre Muniz submitted Bartosz Fabinski with an armbar in the first round of their brief middleweight encounter. Fabinski (15-4, 3-2 UFC) bowed out 2:42 into Round 1, as he lost for the second time in three appearances.
Muniz (20-4, 2-0 UFC) remained calm under duress. Fabinski drew him into the clinch, attacked with a few knees and struck for a takedown, the Polish judoka’s game plan playing out as he had hoped. However, Muniz countered with a guillotine, bailed on the choke and transitioned to a triangle before shifting his legs into position for the armbar.
The 30-year-old Muniz will carry a six-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Kelleher Guillotine Dismisses Rodriguez
Former Ring of Combat champion Brian Kelleher submitted Ray Rodriguez with a guillotine choke in the first round of their impromptu pairing at 145 pounds. A short-notice substitution for Kevin Natividad, Rodriguez (16-7, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 39 seconds into Round 1. It was the second-fastest submission—tied with Thiago Tavares’ guillotine against Clay Guida on Nov. 7, 2015 and Danny Henry’s guillotine against Hakeem Dawodu on March 17, 2018—in the history of the UFC featherweight division.
After a brief standup exchange, Rodriguez shot for an ill-advised takedown and wandered into a trap from which there was no escape. Kelleher (22-11, 6-4) snatched the guillotine, wrapped him in full guard and cut off any exits that remained. Rodriguez tapped soon after.
The submission was the 10th of Kelleher’s career and the seventh via guillotine choke.
Araujo Batters De La Rosa to Decision
A devastating jab, punishing kicks to the lower leg and thudding overhand rights carried former Pancrase champion Viviane Araujo to a unanimous decision over Montana De La Rosa in a three-round women’s flyweight battle. A replacement for Maryna Moroz, Araujo (9-2, 3-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
De La Rosa (11-6, 4-2 UFC) elected to stand and trade with the Brazilian muay Thai stylist, and she paid a significant cosmetic price for her efforts. By the start of the second round, the Elevation Fight Team rep was bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth and dealing with multiple facial cuts and abrasions. Araujo maintained a steady pace throughout Round 3, where she scored with the jab, connected with a powerful overhand right and defended a takedown with little trouble.
Araujo, 33, has won six of her last seven fights.
Smith Rebounds, Outpoints Azure
Fight Ready export Hunter Azure bounced back from a May 13 knockout loss to Brian Kelleher with a unanimous decision over Cole Smith in a three-round bantamweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Azure (9-1, 2-1 UFC).
Smith (7-2, 1-2 UFC) spent much of the fight on his heels. Azure floored him with a left hook-right cross combination in the first round, secured multiple takedowns and grinded on the former Battlefield Fight League champion in the clinch. He withstood a late rally from Smith in the third round, where the Canadian advanced to his back, secured his position with a body triangle and fished for chokes and neck cranks. However, the finish never materialized.
The 31-year-old Smith has suffered back-to-back defeats.
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