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Brad Riddell had to walk through heavy artillery to earn the biggest victory in his Ultimate Fighting Championship career to date.
The City Kickboxing product went toe-to-toe with Drew Dober for three thrilling rounds at UFC 263, earning a unanimous decision triumph in their preliminary lightweight bout at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on Saturday night. Riddell rallied to secure a trio of 29-28 scorecards for his fourth consecutive triumph in the Octagon. Dober has dropped back-to-back fights for the second time in his UFC tenure.
Dober (23-11, 1 NC, 9-7, 1 NC UFC) nearly put Riddell (10-1, 4-0 UFC) away early when he buckled his opponent with a left hand near the fence in Round 1. Riddell wisely shot for a takedown and was able to stall long enough to regain his bearings. Over time, Riddell began to consistently find the range on his laser right hand, twice wobbling the durable Dober in the final stanza. During a furious final sequence, Riddell sent his foe stumbling backward, stuffed a takedown and then ended the fight landing standing-to-ground punches until the final horn.
Anders Gets Closure in Stewart Rematch
After their first meeting ended prematurely, Eryk Anders got the result he wanted in his rematch with Darren Stewart, taking a unanimous decision triumph in a light heavyweight scrap. The former University of Alabama linebacker received scorecards of 29-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in his first 205-pound bout since April 2019.
The first two rounds were largely forgettable, with clinch-heavy exchanges drawing boos from those in attendance. Anders (14-5, 1 NC, 6-5, 1 NC UFC) authored a dominant final frame, as he took “The Dentist” down within the first minute and maintained a dominant position while landing ground-and-pound from above. Anders ended the fight pummeling Stewart (12-7, 2 NC, 5-7, 2 NC UFC) with left hands as the British fighter worked his way back up near the cage.
It was a far cry from their frantic first bout, where Anders floored Stewart before landing an illegal knee that ended the middleweight clash 4:37 into Round 1 at UFC Fight Night 187 this past March.
Murphy Wins Fifth Straight Flyweight Bout
Lauren Murphy might have just punched her ticket to a flyweight title shot.
“Lucky” won her fifth consecutive bout, taking home a hard-fought split-decision triumph over Joanne Calderwood in a 125-pound matchup. Junichiro Kamijo and Dennis O’Connell submitted 29-28 scorecards in favor of Murphy, while Derek Cleary had it 29-28 for Calderwood.
Murphy (15-5, 6-5) relied on her physicality to get the better of Calderwood (15-6, 7-6 UFC). When the fight was at range, the Scottish muay Thai stylist had success landing a variety of kicks to the legs and body, spinning backfists and straight punches. Murphy, meanwhile, snapped her foe’s head back with a one-two combination in Round 1 before making a lasting impression in the second stanza, when she took Calderwood down near the fence, moved to full mount and rained down ground-and-pound. Round 3 was Calderwood’s best, as she was able to deny Murphy’s telegraphed takedowns and land enough offense at range and in the clinch to cause significant swellling near her opponent’s right eye. Ultimately, it was too little, too late for the Syndicate MMA representative, who has lost three of her last five promotional outings.
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Evloev Outwrestles Dawodu, Survives Late Rally
Hakeem Dawodu will be having nightmares about Movsar Evloev on his back for weeks to come.
The former M-1 Global champion suffocated Dawodu with his wrestling for two rounds, then survived a late push from his opponent to win a unanimous decision in a featherweight bout. All three scorecards favored the 27-year-old Russian: 29-27, 29-27 and 29-27. Dawodu saw a five-bout UFC winning streak snapped in defeat.
Evloev (15-0, 5-0 UFC) overwhelmed Dawodu (12-2-1, 5-2 UFC) with pressure, takedowns and positional control for the first 10 minutes of the fight. He spent much of the first two rounds attached to his adversary’s back, peppering the Canadian with punches to the head while periodically threatening with chokes. That work drained Evloev’s gas tank, however, and Dawodu was able to keep the action upright for the majority of the third frame. The World Series of Fighting veteran twice wobbled Evloev with left hands in the period but succumbed to one final takedown with 45 seconds remaining, essentially ending his hopes of a comeback.
Pannie Kianzad Outstrikes Davis, Earns Unanimous Verdict
Pannie Kianzad earned a significant feather in her cap, taking a unanimous verdict over former bantamweight title challenger Alexis Davis at 135 pounds. In a contest that was closer than the scores indicated, the 29-year-old Swede secured tallies of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for her fourth-consecutive triumph within the Las Vegas-based promotion. The 36-year-old Davis has lost four of her last five Octagon appearances.
Kianzad (15-5, 4-1 UFC) appeared to be quicker to the punch throughout the contest, as she attacked with jabs, crisp left hooks and counter right hands. Davis (20-11, 7-6 UFC) never backed down, however, and she was able to slow her opponent’s movement with a series of calf kicks in Round 2. The two combatants went back-and-forth in Round 3, but ultimately Kianzad’s ability to land punches in combination proved to be the difference.
McKinney Scores Seven-Second KO of Frevola
Terrance McKinney made the most of his short-notice opportunity, knocking out Matt Frevola in record time in their lightweight clash. It was the fourth consecutive first-round KO/TKO for McKinney (11-3, 1-0 UFC), who brought the show to a close with a clean one-two combination and approximately six follow-up hammerfists on the canvas seven seconds into Round 1.
While that stoppage checks in as the fastest in UFC lightweight history — and the fourth-fastest ever overall — the shine of McKinney’s first Octagon triumph lost some luster when he jumped on the cage and then landed awkwardly to suffer an apparent knee injury in the midst of a post-fight celebration. Frevola (8-3-1, 2-3-1 UFC), who was originally slated to face Frank Camacho, suffered the second KO loss of his promotional tenure.
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Peterson Handles One-Dimensional Hooper
Fortis MMA representative Steven Peterson navigated the dangerous guard of Dana White’s Contender Series alum Chase Hooper with relative ease, capturing a unanimous decision triumph at featherweight. All three judges saw the fight in favor of the former Legacy Fighting Alliance competitor: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. Peterson, who missed weight by 2.5 pounds, is the owner of a modest two-fight winning streak in the Octagon.
As soon as Peterson (19-9, 3-3 UFC) hurt him with a body kick and right hand early in Round 1, it was clear that Hooper (10-2-1, 2-2 UFC) wanted no part of his opponent on the feet. However, his attempts to suck Peterson into clinches and into his guard backfired, particularly on the canvas, where Peterson battered him with purposeful hammerfists and elbows. While Hooper occasionally threatened with leg locks and even took Peterson’s back at the end of Round 3, “Ocho” was simply too crafty and physical to fall into any of his adversary’s traps.
Tactical Ziam Holds Off Vendramini
Fares Ziam racked up an early lead on the scorecards and then held off Luigi Vendramini to earn a narrow majority decision in a lightweight encounter. The 24-year-old Frenchman earned a pair of 29-28 scorecards from the cageside judges, while a third submitted a 28-28 tally. Ziam has gone the distance in all three UFC appearances.
Ziam (12-3, 2-1 UFC) was very technical in the early going, as he kept Vendramini (9-2, 1-2 UF) at bay behind his jab and lead left hook while displaying stout takedown defense. The Brazilian known as “The Italian Stallion” threw caution to the wind in Round 3, swarming with heavy power punches to put Ziam on the defensive before tossing his foe to the canvas. From there, Vendramini spent a significant portion of the frame in top position landing ground-and-pound, which earned him one 10-8 scorecard. It wasn’t enough to offset Ziam’s early work, however.
Felipe Edges Collier, Wins Third Straight
Carlos Felipe won his third consecutive Octagon appearance, earning a split verdict over Jake Collier at heavyweight. Two judges saw the fight 29-28 for the 26-year-old Brazilian, while a third had it 29-28 for the Pit MMA representative. Collier, who has competed at middleweight and light heavyweight in the UFC, lost for the second time in three outings in the big man’s division.
Punching combinations to the head and body and forward movement won the day for Felipe, who shook off a slow start against his fading foe. Collier (12-6, 4-5 UFC) had the superior volume in Round 1, when he attacked with a variety of kicks and worked behind a stiff jab. As the bout progressed, Felipe (11-1, 3-1 UFC) assumed control, while Collier took multiple opportunities to glance at the clock and twice had his mouthpiece fall to the canvas.