UFC 197 Prelims: Sergio Pettis Handles Game But Outgunned Chris Kelades

By Brian Knapp Apr 23, 2016
Sergio Pettis had too many weapons for Chris Kelades.

Crisp counterpunching, timely takedowns and some effective work in the clinch spurred Pettis to a unanimous decision over Chris Kelades at UFC 197 “Jones vs. St. Preux” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three judges arrived at the same conclusion, striking 30-27 scorecards for Pettis (14-2, 5-2 UFC).

Kelades (9-3, 2-2 UFC) remained aggressive and pressed forward throughout the bout but lacked the necessary firepower to give the Roufusport star pause. Pettis struck beautifully from the outside and secured takedowns in the first and third rounds. The 22-year-old flyweight saved some of his best stuff for the final five minutes, as he outworked Kelades in close quarters and threatened with a standing guillotine.

Related » UFC 197 Round-by-Round Scoring

Roberts Streak Reaches Seven

Cage Warriors Fighting Championship veteran Danny Roberts posted his seventh consecutive victory, as he claimed a unanimous decision against former CES MMA champion Dominique Steele in their preliminary welterweight confrontation. Roberts (13-1, 2-0 UFC) drew 29-28 marks on all three scorecards.

Steele (14-7, 1-2 UFC) dropped the Blackzilians rep with a two-punch combination, slammed out of an attempted triangle and settled in side control in the first round. However, he could not sustain his success. Roberts weathered his attacks, pushed the fight deeper and took advantage of his superior conditioning. The 28-year-old Englishman staggered Steele with a left hook and overhand right in the second round and turned away his bid for clinches and takedowns in the third, outstriking him down the stretch.

Returning Esparza Upends Lima

Repeated takedowns, a suffocating top game and some mild ground-and-pound carried former UFC woman’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza to a unanimous decision over Juliana Lima in their 15-minute undercard scrap at 115 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Esparza (11-3, 2-1 UFC), who replaced the injured Jessica Aguilar on short notice.

Lima (8-3, 2-2 UFC) found herself pinned beneath the “Cookie Monster” for much of their encounter. Esparza operated effectively in full guard, half guard and side control. Lima tried to keep her at bay with upkicks and activity off her back but was largely unsuccessful. The Brazilian swept into top position late in the third round -- a golden opportunity that would pass her by, as Esparza survived a few tense moments on the bottom and avoided Lima’s advances.

Having recovered from shoulder surgery that kept her on the sideline for more than a year, the 28-year-old Esparza has rattled off six wins in seven appearances.

Unbeaten Vick Downs Franca

James Vick kept his perfect professional record intact with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 4 winner Glaico Franca in a three-round undercard tilt at 155 pounds. Vick (9-0, 5-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 marks from the judges.

Franca (13-4, 1-1 UFC) secured multiple takedowns in the first round but also was on the receiving end of an inadvertent eye poke that altered the direction of the fight. From there, Vick picked apart the Brazilian with clean punching combinations, a consistent jab, occasional leg kicks and a few sneaky aerial attacks. Franca’s lack of head movement played right into Vick’s hands, and the Astra Fight Team export grew more and more desperate as time ticked away, a flying knee and front kick to the face late in round three sealing his fate.

The loss snapped Franca’s three-fight winning streak.

Harris Spoils East Debut

American Top Team’s Walt Harris disposed of former Legacy Fighting Championship and King of the Cage titleholder Cody East with first-round punches in their preliminary heavyweight clash. A dazed and bloodied East (12-2, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:18 into round one, his nine-fight winning streak at an end.

Harris (8-4, 1-3 UFC) walked through substantial fire to secure his first victory in four starts inside the Octagon. The 32-year-old absorbed kicks to the legs and body before taking part in a wild punching exchange along the fence. Once the two heavyweights reset, Harris clipped the Jackson-Wink MMA standout with a straight left that sent him crashing to the canvas. East found no refuge on the mat, where he was met with thudding lefts and rights, hammerfists and elbows. By the time referee Mark Smith decided to rescue him, he was a bloody mess.

De Lima Arm-Triangle Submits Hester

Marcos Rogerio de Lima submitted “The Ultimate Fighter 17” graduate Clint Hester with a first-round arm-triangle choke in a preliminary light heavyweight pairing. Hester (11-6, 4-3 UFC) bowed out 4:35 into round one, as he suffered his third consecutive defeat.

De Lima (14-3-1, 3-1 UFC) floored Hester with a crushing right hand during one of their initial standup exchanges, jumped into half guard, briefly achieved full mount and then got busy with his ground-and-pound. Punches and elbows had Hester wincing in visible pain and left him susceptible to the choke. De Lima obliged, and the tapout followed soon after.

The 30-year-old de Lima has won three of his last four fights.

Lee Sinks Escudero on Scorecards

Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts prospect Kevin Lee won for the fifth time in six outings, as he captured a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero in a three-round undercard battle at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Lee (12-2, 5-2 UFC).

The first and second rounds were competitive. The third was not. As he had done throughout the fight, Lee fed the MMA Lab rep a stinging jab before executing a pivotal takedown with roughly three minutes to go in the match. From there, he utilized a stifling top game and applied his ground-and-pound in half guard and full guard. Escudero (24-11, 5-7 UFC) -- who did his best work in the closing moments of rounds one and two, where he moved forward and unleashed punching combinations -- failed to return to his feet and saw his situation deteriorate when it mattered most.


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