Kamaru Usman wanted to make a statement in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter 28” Finale Friday night and he did. “The Nigerian Nightmare” dominated former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for five rounds, pulverizing him from start to finish en route to a unanimous decision win.
Usman (14-1) outstruck the Brazilian on a nearly three-to-one ratio and scored 11 takedowns in the battle. Dos Anjos (28-11) was never allowed to get anything going offensively and wound up losing virtually every minute of every round. In the end, Usman won the unanimous verdict via tallies of 50-43, 49-45 and a puzzling 48-47.
Related » TUF 28 Finale Round-by-Round Scoring
Start to finish, Juan Espino with the statement making win! pic.twitter.com/uH5d7yCpMY— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 1, 2018
Espino Takes TUF Heavyweight Crown
At 38 years-old, Juan Francisco Espino Dieppa looked like a 25-year-old beast as he torched Justin Frazier with ease. Espino (9-1) immediately scooped up and slammed Frazier down hard onto the canvas and from there, he mauled the much larger man. “El Guapo” was relentless with his wrestling pressure and after scoring a second takedown, Espino landed in side control.
Once he trapped Frizaier’s right arm in a crucifix, Espino sunk in the straight arm lock and forced the tap. Frazier (10-3) bowed out 3:36 into the first, allowing Espino to walk away as the winner of TUF 28’s heavyweight bracket.
Nothing but respect after this big time Featherweight battle. pic.twitter.com/cpDYNZarvt— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 1, 2018
Chiasson All Business in Featherweight Finale
She was the first pick of Team Gastelum in the TUF House and she wrecked shop inside it. And on Friday night in Las Vegas, Macy Chiasson dominated opponent Pannie Kianzad to win the TUF 28 Women’s Featherweight Finale.
Chiasson (4-0) was relentless against her Swedish counterpart, controlling the pace from the start. The Dallas fighter nearly submitted “Banzai” in the first via rear-naked choke, but time expired. After dropping Kianzad (11-4) with a missile of a right hand to the face early in the second, Chiasson had to escape a dangerous armbar attempt.
However, Chiasson expertly stepped over Kianzad, slithered to her foe’s back and sunk in the rear-naked choke, this time for good. Kianzad couldn’t escape and tapped out at the 2:11 mark of the second.
Munhoz Folds Caraway
In a matchup of two excellent grapplers, it was Brazilian Pedro Munhoz who won, but it was via strikes. Opponent Bryan Caraway (21-10) tried early and often to bring “The Young Punisher” to the canvas, but Munoz thwarted his every move. Munhoz (17-3) forced the Las Vegan into a slugfest and busted Caraway’s face up in the process.
After stuffing another takedown and dishing out punches on top, Munhoz slammed a kick to Caraway’s body during the ensuing scramble. Once the kick landed, “Kid Lightning” doubled over and turtled up. Munoz pounced, but referee Chris Tognoni stopped him, ending the bantamweight battle 2:39 into the opening frame.
Highly-touted middleweight prospect Edmen Shahbazyan was expected by many to tear apart Darren Stewart. “The Golden Boy” Got the win, but it was not a walk in the park. The young knockout artist tore into “The Dentist” early and often, but the Stewart (9-4) fended off many of the Californian’s takedown attempts.
Shahbazyan (8-0) was relentless throughout, but his gas tank was nearly empty in the third, which allowed the Englishman to rally. Stewart dropped Shahbazyan with a flurry of punches, but he was unable to put him away. Shahbazyan nearly had to be rescued by referee Mark Smith, but the Ronda Rousey-managed fighter scrambled and saved the fight. In the end, two judges favored Shahbazyan 29-28 while the third had the same score for Stewart.
Flyweight Antonina Shevchenko took the first step toward leaving older sister Valentina Shevchenko’s shadow as she dominated South Korea’s Ji Yeon Kim for three rounds. “La Pantera” used her world championship-caliber muay Thai prowess to keep Kim at bay, tagging her with kicks to the body and legs and picking her apart with lead and counter punches.
Kim (8-2-2) never got her offense going and Shevchenko, from Kyrgyzstan, pulled away down the stretch. All three judges favored Shevchenko 30-27, allowing her to win her UFC debut and improve to 7-0 in MMA.
In a thrilling fight to complete the preliminary portion of the TUF 28 Finale, it was Kevin Aguilar who survived a war with Rick Glenn after three grueling rounds.
The two featherweights tore into each other with punches and kicks from the opening horn, but it was Aguilar who had his hand raised in the end. Aguilar (16-1) busted up Glenn’s face in the first and nearly took him out with a cascade of punches in the third, but “The Gladiator” stayed true to his nicknamed and survived.
Glenn (21-6-1) buckled his foe’s knees with a right to the temple with about 20 seconds remaining in the fight, but he couldn’t put Aguilar away. In the end, Aguilar won via tallies of 30-27 across the board.
In one of the rarest occurrences inside the Octagon, longtime veteran Joseph Benavidez nabbed two stoppages in the first round.
After dropping opponent Alex Perez with punches midway through the opening frame, Benavidez rained down punches from on top; Perez (21-5) was flattened out on his belly and referee Yves Lavigne intervened. However, as soon as the veteran third man broke up the fight, Perez fought back and Lavigne allowed the fight to continue. Benavidez (26-5) turned and walked away, but quickly realized that Lavigne had changed his mind. He was able to avoid Perez’s charges and eventually placed him the same position and poured on punches from on top.
Eventually, Lavigne jumped in and stopped the fight for good, officially ending the flyweight tilt -- again -- at 4:19 of the first.
Heavyweight prospect Maurice Greene made quick work of 2008 Cuban Olympian Michel Batista. Batista, as expected, scored a rather easy takedown, but the much larger Greene remained calm off his back.
With Batista trying to make something happen in The Pirate’s guard, Greene slowly locked up a triangle choke. Batista (4-2) tried to power his way out of it, but there was nowhere to go. Greene (6-3) squeezed his knees together to tighten the choke and eventually forced the tap. The end officially came at 2:14 of the opening stanza.
Leah Letson improved to 5-2 with a plodding, workmanlike performance against Lithuania’s Julija Stoliarenko. “Nidas” landed the far cleaner punches throughout the three rounds of action and while Letson was caught in a tight guillotine in the third, she largely controlled the pace of the bout.
The featherweight encounter was close but Letson did more than enough to win and was awarded the victory via split decision. While one official had it 29-28 for Stoliarenko (4-4-1), that score was offset by the other two judges who favored Letson with the same tally.
Rising lightweight contender Roosevelt Roberts remained unbeaten as he submitted Darrell Horcher in the opening frame of their contest. The two traded solid strikes for a few minutes, but once “The Predator” rocked Horcher with a right to the jaw, the end was near.
Horcher (13-4) tied his foe up and pressed him into the fence, but it wasn’t long before Roberts (7-0) locked in a standing guillotine and forced the tap. “The Saint” bowed out at the 4:50 mark.
Tim Means has been around for a long time and the last two times he stepped into the Octagon, he took the fights on short notice. While he came up short in those contests, he had a full camp to prepare for fellow welterweight Ricky Rainey and it showed; “The Dirty Bird” tore apart Rainey (13-6) and stopped him in the first round.
Means (28-10-1) scored a powerful takedown early and brutalized his foe with punches from on top. “The Sniper” was unable too properly defend himself and eventually had to be rescued from referee Mark Smith, the end coming in just 78 seconds.
Bantamweight contender Raoni Barcelos took some time getting into a rhythm but once he did, he was nearly unstoppable. The Brazilian scored an early takedown of Chris Gutierrez (12-3-1) in the second, but he suffered a nasty gash above his right eyebrow from an elbow. With bloody gushing everywhere, Barcelos (13-1) poured on the ground-and-pound.
After unleashing a furious barrage of elbows and punches from on top, Barcelos seized Gutierrez’s back, sunk in the rear-naked choke and forced the tap. The end officially came at 4:12 of the second.