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Brandon Moreno removed the last remaining obstacle standing between him and a shot at the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown.
Moreno was awarded a technical knockout over Brandon Royval in the first round of their featured UFC 255 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Royval (12-5, 2-1 UFC) appeared to suffer a dislocated shoulder during an intense ground exchange and could not physically defend himself, resulting in the stoppage 4:59 into Round 1.
Both men had their moments in a brief but frenetic confrontation. Royval connected with a few standing knee strikes and a spinning back elbow but conceded a takedown that seemed to alter the direction of the fight. Moreno (18-5-1, 6-2-1 UFC) eventually jumped to his back and threatened with a rear-naked choke, his efforts giving way to the scramble that caused the injury. With Royval clutching his right arm in agony, a merciless Moreno let loose with the punches and hammerfists that finished the job.
Buckley Buries Undefeated Wright
Joaquin Buckley — the man already responsible for the “Knockout of the Year” frontrunner — cut down the previously undefeated Jordan Wright with punches in the second round of their middleweight encounter. Buckley (12-3, 2-1 UFC) brought it to a close 18 seconds into Round 2.
Wright (11-1, 1-1 UFC) held his own during his initial exchanges with the St. Louis native. However, a burst of Buckley power punches forced “The Beverly Hills Ninja” into survival mode near the end of the first round. Wright was never the same. Early in the second round, Buckley backed him to the fence and uncorked a left hook that rolled back the still-dazed Californian’s eyes, folded him where he stood and punctuated another stellar performance.
The 26-year-old Buckley has won four of his past five bouts.
Shevchenko Rebounds, Dominates Lipksi
Antonina Shevchenko bounced back from her May 30 decision defeat to Katlyn Chookagian and did so in resounding fashion, as she disposed of former KSW champion Ariane Lipski with punches in the second round of their women’s flyweight affair. Finished for the first time in more than six years, Lipski (13-6, 2-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:33 into Round 2.
Shevchenko (9-2, 3-2 UFC) set the tone with a head-and-arm throw in the first round, where she progressed to half guard and seized control with a surprisingly effective top game. Lipski snapped back the Tiger Muay Thai star’s head with a clean right hook in the middle stanza but failed to maintain a manageable distance. Shevchenko bullied her to the mat, advanced to side control and applied her ground-and-pound. She did not stop there. Shevchenko, 36, eventually moved to mount and battered the Brazilian with punches until referee Chris Tognoni had seen enough.
The loss closed the book on Lipski’s modest two-fight winning streak.
Dalby Sinks Replacement Rodriguez
Buoyed by a commitment to leg, body and head kicks, former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby captured a unanimous decision over Daniel Rodriguez in a three-round welterweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it for Dalby (19-3-1, 3-2-1 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
A short-notice replacement for Orion Cosce, Rodriguez (13-2, 3-1 UFC) struggled to find a pace and range with which he was comfortable. He was most effective when he pushed Dalby backward and cut loose with power punches, but he often engaged from outside and allowed the Rumble Sports standout freedom of movement. Dalby continued to attack with kicks to all levels and survived a brush with danger late in the third round, where Rodriguez appeared to daze him with an overhand left.
The loss was Rodriguez’s first in nearly three years.
Active Jouban Denies Gooden
Blackhouse mainstay Alan Jouban won for the second time in three outings, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Jared Gooden in a three-round welterweight scrap. Jouban (17-7, 8-5 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks across the board.
Gooden (17-5, 0-1 UFC) handled himself well in his Octagon debut, though his best weapon — a sharp jab — was enhanced by an inadvertent head butt that left Jouban with significant damage to his right eye in the first round. Fortunately, the accidental foul played no role in the outcome. Jouban pieced together three-, four- and five-punch combinations, mixed in powerful body kicks and exploited a noticeable speed advantage. He almost secured a finish late in the third round, where he countered a takedown with a guillotine choke and tightened his squeeze with 15 seconds left on the clock. Gooden was in visible stress when the horn sounded, perhaps a second or two away from either tapping or losing consciousness.
The setback halted Gooden’s run of consecutive victories at three.
Daukaus Spoils Stoltzfus Debut
An overpowering clinch, airtight takedown defense and clean punching combinations carried former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Kyle Daukaus to a unanimous decision over Dustin Stoltzfus in a three-round middleweight tilt. All three judges sided with Daukaus (10-1, 1-1 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Stoltzfus (13-2, 0-1 UFC) enjoyed little success. Daukaus punched into clinch range, pinned the Frankers Fight Team representative to the fence and piled up points with short punches, elbows and knees to the body. The scene repeated itself over and over again during their 15 minutes together. Stoltzfus moved toward a last-ditch-effort leg lock late in the third round, only to be met with punishing ground-and-pound. The two men ultimately separated, giving Daukaus another chance to let his hands fly. He sprawled on a takedown in the waning moments, threatened with a brabo choke and settled for the decision.
The loss snapped a 10-fight winning streak for Stoltzfus.
Resilient Palatnikov Upends Cosce
Syndicate MMA representative Sasha Palatnikov put away previously unbeaten Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Louis Cosce with punches in the third round of their welterweight pairing. Palatnikov (6-2, 1-0 UFC) drew the curtain 2:27 into Round 3.
Cosce (7-1, 0-1 UFC) emptied his tank in the first half of the first round, and it nearly paid off. The Combate Americas alum caught a kick, forced Palatnikov into an ill-advised forward roll and unleashed hammerfists and punches. Later in the round, Cosce knocked down the promotional newcomer with a crackling right hand and swarmed with punches. However, his movements soon grew labored, and it became clear fatigue had taken hold. Palatnikov made the most of the opening. The former Angel’s Fighting Championship titleholder cut loose with clean combinations, spinning elbows and crisp jabs. Midway through the third round, Palatnikov buried a right hand into Cosce’s face, sprawled on a takedown and put the exhausted Californian on all fours, at which point he fired sweeping punches from both hands and prompted the stoppage.
Palatnikov, 31, has rattled off six wins in seven appearances.