Marvin Vettori cut through all the noise, focused on the task at hand and made sure he was the man who got his hand raised when the dust settled.
The Kings MMA rep stayed relevant in the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division and rode a high-pressure, high-volume attack to a unanimous decision over Paulo Costa in the UFC Fight Night 196 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges scored it 48-46 for Vettori (18-5-1, 8-3-1 UFC), who accepted the bout at 205 pounds due to the Brazilian’s inability to meet their originally contracted weight requirements.
Costa (13-2, 5-2 UFC) fought well despite the extra baggage and seemed to relish his role as the villain. He rattled Vettori with multiple head kicks and zeroed in on the body with brutal kicks and hooks from both hands. Still, Costa had no real answer for the Italian’s relentless output and also had to deal with being deducted a point for a second-round eye poke. Vettori controlled the vast majority of the fight with clean combinations and occasional bursts of power punches, then withstood a considerable surge from the former Jungle Fight champion in Round 5.
Dawson, Glenn Battle to Stalemate
Glory MMA’s Grant Dawson fought to a majority draw with former World Series of Fighting Champion Ricky Glenn in the three-round lightweight co-main event. Judge Douglas Crosby saw it 29-28 for Dawson, while Sal D’Amato and Chris Lee scored it even at 28-28.
Dawson (17-1-1, 5-0-1 UFC) appeared to be headed to a clear-cut unanimous decision after he controlled the first 10 minutes with takedowns and positional control. He even threatened with a shoulder choke in the middle stanza. Glenn (22-6-2, 4-3-1 UFC) was undeterred. He denied Dawson’s bids for takedowns in the third round, settled in top position and tore into the Dana White’s Contender Series Season 1 graduate with damaging ground-and-pound. Glenn made a late pass at a finish with a brabo choke in the waning seconds, only to have time run out on his efforts.
The draw snapped Dawson’s eight-fight winning streak.
Clark Stymies Frustrated Edwards
Repeated takedowns and suffocating top control carried Jessica-Rose Clark to a unanimous decision over former King of the Cage champion Joselyne Edwards in a three-round women’s bantamweight confrontation. All three judges sided with Clark (11-6, 4-2 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Edwards (10-4, 1-2 UFC) scored occasionally in open space but failed to keep her Australian adversary at a safe distance. Clark moved into clinch range without much difficulty, struck for takedowns and went about bleeding time off the clock. She achieved full mount in the second round, incorporated some mild ground-and-pound and shifted into cruise control in her first outing in more than a year.
Clark has posted back-to-back wins since her November 2019 decision defeat to Pannie Kianzad.
Caceres Choke Submits Choi
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 quarterfinalist Alex Caceres submitted Seung Woo Choi with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their featherweight feature. Caceres (19-12, 14-10 UFC) sealed the deal 3:31 into Round 2, extending his current winning streak to five bouts.
Choi (10-4, 3-3 UFC) had the Miami native reeling on the end of a crushing counter right hand in the first round but followed up with an illegal knee strike. The foul cost him a point but perhaps more importantly allowed Caceres to regain some of his faculties. Choi pressured forward early in the middle stanza, wandered into the clinch and soon found himself in grave danger. Caceres climbed onto his back, secured his position with a body triangle and snaked his arms in place for the fight-ending choke. Choi collapsed, struggled briefly to free himself and waved the white flag.
The setback was Choi’s first since July 27, 2019.
Resurgent Trinaldo Edges Grant
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 1 quarterfinalist Francisco Trinaldo survived a point deduction for a third-round eye poke and eked out a contentious split decision over Dwight Grant in their welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 29-27: Sal D’Amato for Grant (11-4, 3-3 UFC), Adalaide Byrd and Ron McCarthy for Trinaldo.
Neither man did much to separate himself, though Trinaldo (27-8, 17-7 UFC) peaked in the aforementioned third round. A short-notice replacement for Gabriel Green, the 43-year-old Brazilian responded with aggression after being penalized, struck for a takedown, moved to half guard and ultimately transitioned to full mount. Trinaldo applied his ground-and-pound and fished for a potential arm-triangle choke but failed to find the finish. Nevertheless, he had built a substantial enough lead to withstand the deduction on the scorecards.
Trinaldo has won four of his past five bouts.
Negumereanu Buries Villanueva in 78 Seconds
Nicolae Negumereanu put away former Fury Fighting Championship titleholder Isaac Villanueva with punches in the first round of their light heavyweight attraction. Negumereanu (11-1, 2-1 UFC) drew the curtain 1:18 into Round 1, as he won for the second time in as many appearances.
The two men engaged briefly in the clinch, separated and started firing punches at one another. It became a matter of who connected first. Negumereanu staggered his counterpart with a right hand, backed him to the fence and let his hands go. Villanueva (18-13, 1-4 UFC) dropped to all fours and turtled in a defensive shell, only to be met with a volley of hammerfists that necessitated the stoppage.
The 37-year-old Villanueva has lost four of his last five fights.
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