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UFC 301 ‘Pantoja vs. Erceg’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

The Ultimate Fighting Championship hosts its next pay-per-view spectacle in the vibrant seaside city of Rio de Janeiro. UFC 301 is set to unfold on May 4 at Farmasi Arena, with a showdown between reigning champion Alexandre Pantoja taking on the challenge of streaking contender Steve Erceg. Stay tuned to Sherdog.com at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. ET to catch live play-by-play coverage and round-by-round scoring of the entire event.

Kevin Borjas (125.5) vs. Alessandro Costa (125)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Costa (-125), Borjas (+105)

Round 1

The UFC is back for its annual trip to Brazil, and it stacked the deck for the home nation by putting one Brazilian combatant against a foreigner in every bout. As a result, betting lines are lopsided towards the locals, with those from Brazil favored in 10 of the 13 fights. As most know, anything can and often does happen in MMA once the cage door closes, so it’s time to buckle up. The first of a baker’s dozen matchups comes in the flyweight division between two South American men that could both use a win. Costa (13-4, 1-2 UFC) has had the misfortune of facing two elite 125ers in his three walks to the Octagon thus far, while Borjas (9-2, 0-1 UFC) ran into the Burmese wall that was Josh Van in his promotional debut. The two will receive oversight from referee Joao Claudio Soares in this curtain jerker, and they get after it following a swift touch of gloves. The two flyweights measure one another early, trying to draw the other out with little more than movement and a pump-fake or two. Borjas paws out a range-finding jab, and Costa suddenly fires back with a one-two and a low kick. Costa surges ahead, stringing together a number of punches that bounce off and through the guard of his opponent. Costa whips a kick low to intercept Borjas coming in at him, and he stalks his man down. The Brazilian swarms forward, and Borjas shifts and rolls to avoid the damage. Costa changes levels for a takedown shot from a wide distance, and “El Gallo Negro” shucks it off before it turns into anything. Borjas paws out a few jabs, and he finds himself in a brief slugfest that gets his jaw jacked. Costa stands back to admire his work, and then blazes ahead to hammer his man with three punches on the side of the head and they crash heads together. A cut has opened up above Borjas’ ear, but he does not acknowledge it and tries to counter the advancing Costa with two flying knees. Costa shrugs them both off and lets his hand fly, and sporadic chants for “uh vai morrer” rain down from the fans. Costa takes the energy of the crowd and rifles off a jab that knocks Borjas off his feet, and he lets Borjas recover so that he can ring his bell with a pair of hooks. Borjas stumbles and gets back to his feet to leap in the air with a knee, and the round ends with Costa returning fire with his own flying knee that slams into the chest. Borjas throws his foe to the floor, and the round ends.

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Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Costa
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Costa
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Costa

Round 2

The two men bump fists to open the round, and Costa gets right back to his advancing attack. Costa lays into his man with punches to the head, and he mixes up one to the body that appears to hurt the Peruvian. Costa sees and opening and unleashes a number of leg kicks that do serious damage and make Borjas limp. Borjas tries to tough it out, but Costa sweeps him off his feet with vicious low kicks. Costa chains a few punches together as Borjas backs himself against the fence, and he knocks Borjas to the ground again with a mighty calf kick. Seeing the finish might be around the corner, “Nono” leaps on top and drops jackhammering fists as Soares takes a close eye on the action. Borjas tries to scramble and nearly gives up his back, and as he turns over, Costa jumps on top of him into full mount. Costa finishes the job with a long series of hammerfists and punches, and Soares has seen enough and waves off the fight to put Brazil on the board first. This is an important win for the Brazilian, who evens his UFC record to .500 while also evening his distribution of knockouts to submissions at six apiece.

The Official Result

Alessandro Costa def. Kevin Borjas R2 1:35 via TKO (Punches)

Ismael Bonfim (156) vs. Vinc Pichel (156)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Bonfim (-535), Pichel (+400)

Round 1

Despite being on the roster since 2012, Pichel (14-3, 7-3 UFC) has averaged less than one fight a year and will only be entering into his 11th UFC fight tonight. He draws a tough ask in the high-flying powerhouse Bonfim (19-4, 1-1 UFC), who will throw everything and the kitchen sink at him before it is all said and done. Referee Mike Beltran draws the charge for this lightweight affair, and despite any bad blood, the fighters opt to clap hands before going to battle. Pichel is the initial aggressor, walking Bonfim down and throwing a stern leg kick that draws a head tilt from his opponent. Bonfim responds with his own low kick, and then strikes on the inside of his foe’s leg twice. Pichel comes up short with a one-two, and Bonfim smacks him with a left hand. Pichel lets loose a body kick, and Bonfim takes it flush and fires back with a right hand over the top. Pichel stays composed and trips the Brazilian up with a high calf kick, and he shrugs one off that comes back his way to swing back a calf kick. The two throw hands, and Pichel targets the top of the calf very specifically. Pichel checks a kick and gives one back, and the two engage in a back-and-forth trading leg kicks. Bonfim goes to the inside with a kick, and Pichel does the same. “Marreta” hammers the body and goes up top, and Pichel does not bat an eye as he counters with an overhand right. Bonfim connects with another body shot, and he reaches a left hand over the top. Bonfim stays busy with numerous leg kicks when Pichel changes stances, and he sits down on a left hand that slams into the side of the elder fighter’s dome. Pichel fakes a jump and pushes forward with a right hand, and Bonfim staggers back and gathers himself to let loose with punches and a sneaky head kick. Pichel scores one low kick before the counters of Bonfim come flying at him. The powerful fists of the Brazilian have reddened the nose of his adversary, and he blocks a slow low kick and rifles off a number of sharp, potent jabs to follow. Bonfim shoots in for a takedown, ultimately hurling Pichel to the mat and then jumping to a guillotine choke to catch Pichel in the waning seconds of the round. Pichel pops his head out, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim

Round 2

There is a touch of gloves to initiate the second stanza, and Pichel once more puts his foot on the gas right out of the gate. Bonfim welcomes this as he times three accurate punches that loop around the guard, and he gets in a low kick to boot. Pichel retaliates with a leg kick, steps forward and scores another. Bonfim pops the mustached man with punches, and he catches a kick and twirls Pichel around. Pichel laughs and offers a glove touch that is accepted, and he backs off and starts prodding out front kicks. Pichel sticks out jabs, and Bonfim answers with more powerful ones. When Pichel toes into a combination, Bonfim whips three punches over the top that get the veteran’s attention. Pichel throws a low kick and pulls it for some reason, and Bonfim takes advantage of this by jabbing his face up. Bonfim releases another head kick, and he blasts the body with a left hand and cracks Pichel with a right over the top. Pichel wobbles but steels himself and starts swinging back with his legs, and when he throws wild hands, Bonfim beats him to the punch and stings him again. The Brazilian wraps four hands together around the guard, and as Pichel looks for a counter, Bonfim batters the body with a clean left hand. Bonfim hits Pichel with four straight left hands, and when Pichel dips to the other side, Bonfim lets go with a right. Bonfim jabs a few times and has his lead leg kicked hard, and he stumbles and gathers his thoughts to throw back with bad intentions. Pichel eats a number of jabs with his hands low, and he changes stances but does not capitalize on the different angle. Bonfim allows him to do this so he can measure a left and a long right, and he spins with a jumping wheel kick only to fall to the ground. Pichel leaps on top of him to do some damage, but the round ends before anything comes of it.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim

Round 3

The lightweights hug it out to start the last round, clearly letting go of any ill will shared between them for their previous canceled engagement. Pichel tosses out a front kick to reintroduce himself, and he jabs from both sides while switching stances often. Bonfim stands right in front of him and lets his hands go with powerful blows that knock Pichel back again and again. Pichel’s right eye has some swelling thanks to the left hands of his opponent, and Bonfim measures his jab and lands on the same spot. Bonfim walks Pichel around the cage, and his jab opens a cut on the bridge of Pichel’s nose. Bonfim settles down to jab Pichel up, and a right up top and left to the ribcage do some damage. Pichel is tough as nails, and he pushes his hand out to get some space as his fingers slide into Bonfim’s eye socket. Pichel calls out to Beltran of his mistake, and Beltran issues him a hard warning for the foul. The two get right back to striking after less than 30 seconds of recovery time, with Bonfim firmly in the driver’s seat. Bonfim leaps forward with a left hook that staggers Pichel, and he unloads with punches and body kicks as Pichel retreats to put his back to the wire. Pichel tries to throw back to keep Bonfim honest, and Bonfim does not fall into a reckless slugfest and allows them to reset in the center of the cage. Bonfim spins with a back fist that grazes the hair, and Pichel breathes a sigh of relief that the strike did not knock his block off. Pichel looks for a stutter-step long punch, and Bonfim slides out of the way and lays into him with four rapid-fire punches. Bonfim attacks the body and head indiscriminately, and as he appears to hurt Pichel again, he allows Pichel to bend over so he can leap at him with a knee. To mix things up, the Brazilian shoots in for a single-leg takedown and puts Pichel on his back. Pichel keeps a high guard and uses his legs to push Bonfim off of him, and he sits up to back up against the fence. Pichel counters a strike by shooting for a single of his own, and Bonfim sprawls and stops it. Pichel hangs on, and the fight ends as the fighters embrace after 15 minutes of combat.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim (30-27 Bonfim)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim (30-27 Bonfim)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Bonfim (30-27 Bonfim)

The Official Result

Ismael Bonfim def. Vinc Pichel via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Dione Barbosa (126) vs. Ernesta Kareckaite (125.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Barbosa (-205), Kareckaite (+170)

Round 1

In the next matchup on the early prelims, a classic battle of Brazil vs. Lithuania plays out in the women’s flyweight category. Two women signed on the 2023 season of Dana White’s Contender Series will test their mettle against one another, as “The Witch” Barbosa (6-2, 0-0 UFC) looks to bewitch the heavy-handed Kareckaite (5-0-1, 0-0 UFC). Striker faces grappler, while referee Fernando Portella watches on. The ladies share a cordial tap of the gloves before getting after it. They both try to find their range with jabs early, and Barbosa strikes first with a sweeping low kick. Kareckaite reaches out with a right hand, and she comes up short and hops away from another leg kick. The two whiff on their strikes until Barbosa connects with a loud body kick, and she slides out of the way of the long punches of the Lithuanian. Barbosa jabs the body and sticks Kareckaite with a straight right hand, and Kareckaite is surprised and needs a moment to blink it out. Kareckaite gets off a right hand around the guard, and they both land sing leg kicks. Barbosa tosses out a one-two and shoots in for takedown, and she rushes Kareckaite to the fence and looks for a trip and throw. The Brazilian easily slings her to the mat despite Kareckaite grabbing the cage, and she slips around to take Kareckaite’s back in a hurry. Before Kareckaite knows what is going on, Barbosa sneaks an arm under the chin, and Kareckaite has to fight it off while a body triangle cinches around her waist. Kareckaite sits up to break up the body lock, and Barbosa floats along and lands a number of short right hands before hunting for another choke. When Kareckaite defends, she leans over and tries to slide Barbosa out the back door. Barbosa hunts for a rear-naked choke and softens Kareckaite up with punches, and she keeps hooks in to thwart the turning Kareckaite from bucking her off. The Brazilian keeps smacking Kareckaite with short but effective right hands, and she turns over willingly to snatch up an armbar. Kareckaite keeps her stacked up and rides out the round in the position.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Barbosa
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Barbosa
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Barbosa

Round 2

The ladies quickly bump fists before getting back to it, and Kareckaite lunges forward almost immediately with long punches. Barbosa strings together a short combination to wobble the long legs of her opponent, and she spins with a back elbow that hurts Kareckaite and drops her down to both hands. Kareckaite pushes off the mat, and Barbosa pushes forward to take her down. Kareckaite grabs the fence to stay upright, and Portella warns her for the foul. Kareckaite manages to break out of the position, and Barbosa rushes forward to strike the body and fake a spinning strike. Barbosa does a delayed step forward and surprises Kareckaite with a takedown effort, successfully grounding the Lithuanian. Kareckaite turns the corner and reverses the position, and she stands back up and starts smacking Barbosa’s legs with kicks. This exchange continues for quite some time, as Portella stands there instead of forcing Barbosa to stand up. Kareckaite keeps kicking until Portella finally gets between them. Barbosa stands up, and Kareckaite catches her with a clean one-two. Kareckaite looks for a right hand over the top, and she gets popped with another spinning back elbow. Kareckaite uses the momentum of her opponent to bowl her over to the ground, and Barbosa hits her back and snags hold of a heel hook. Kareckaite lowers herself down and turns the right way to get away from the leglock, but Barbosa speedily takes her back. Kareckaite attempts to turn through it, and Barbosa lines up an armbar setup. Kareckaite maintains heavy top pressure to disallow Barbosa from locking the armbar down, and she shucks the arms and legs out of the way to move into the guard. The horn sounds with them in this place.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kareckaite
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Barbosa
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Barbosa

Round 3

The women go strike-for-strike when the round begins, with one landing and the other responding. As Kareckaite gets off a solid right hand, Barbosa shoots for a telegraphed takedown. Kareckaite is able to sprawl effectively to shut it down, and she stands up and allows Barbosa to do so and flicks a head kick at her. Barbosa gets her guard up in time, but she gets backed up by the striking of her opponent. Kareckaite stings the Brazilian with a one-two, and Barbosa shoots in again. The takedown shot fails, and Kareckaite backs away and lands a few more times. A failed level change from Barbosa makes her just stumble, but she regains her footing and spins with a back kick that lands square on the ribcage. Kareckaite ignores it and slings a head kick at her and a series of long, rangy punches. Kareckaite shuts down another takedown, lets Barbosa up and rings her up with a hard one-two. Four quick punches land flush from the Lithuanian, and Barbosa is showing serious signs of fatigue. Kareckaite marches her down, tagging her with crisp punches and stopping Barbosa in her tracks from attempting takedowns. Kareckaite pushes Barbosa away after another takedown try, and she puts fists to face as Barbosa swings back. Barbosa comes up short on another takedown, but a second effort puts them down on the mat. Kareckaite turns through and winds up on top, where Barbosa hunts for a leglock almost immediately. Kareckaite holds onto the fence while turning herself through it, and she stands up and steps around to lower down two heavy punches on the jaw. Barbosa goes for another submission, but Kareckaite backs off and motions for her to stand up. Kareckaite walks face-first into a right hand, and she wings a right hand back that grazes the cheek. Kareckaite loads up on a right hand and forces Barbosa to dip down into a head kick. The Brazilian shoots desperately for a takedown at the 10-second slapper, and Kareckaite stifles her until the final horn blares. This could be a close one.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kareckaite (29-28 Kareckaite)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Kareckaite (29-28 Barbosa)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kareckaite (29-28 Barbosa)

The Official Result

Dione Barbosa def. Ernesta Kareckaite via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Jamie Mullarkey (155) vs. Mauricio Ruffy (156)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Ruffy (-175), Mullarkey (+145)

Round 1

A striker’s delight at 155 pounds will treat fans to conclude the early preliminary portion of the fight card. With all of his wins and losses coming via knockout, Ruffy (9-1, 0-0 UFC) makes no bones about what he wants to do to willing brawler Mullarkey (17-7, 5-5 UFC). Fists are sure to fly in high quantity and intensity, but before they do, referee Mike Beltran checks them in. Before fists meet faces, they come together sportingly. Ruffy drops down to the floor to drill Mullarkey’s low calf with a Mortal Kombat-esque sweeping kick, and Mullarkey just looks at him. Mullarkey looks for a head kick that misses the mark, and Ruffy hammers his lead leg with a more traditional kick. Ruffy pokes out a jab that reddens the nose of his opponent, and he lands another that gets Mullarkey’s attention. Ruffy puts power behind his strikes, and multiple parts of Mullarkey are red in a hurry. Mullarkey slaps a body kick home, and it is one-and-done as he slips away. Ruffy turns to roll with a heavy right hand just in the nick of time, and he powers out a jab and a winging right hand. Ruffy hammers the lead wheel, and another jab of his opens a cut on the bridge of the nose. Ruffy slips a punch and nails Mullarkey with a right hand, and Mullarkey is tough as a two-dollar steak after eating that without flinching. Mullarkey pursues his own jabs, and Ruffy spins with a wheel kick that gets around the guard. Mullarkey crowds him with a punch salvo, and Ruffy shifts and moves and throws back with a few. Mullarkey keeps powering forward, and Ruffy’s defense is able to keep him safe from most of the harm. Mullarkey fakes a takedown, but Ruffy ignores it and smashes Mullarkey in the face with a ruthless right hand. Ruffy has a right hand skim the top of the head, and he ignores a left hand coming back at him. Ruffy dodges a wide right hand, and he leaps forward to trip Mullarkey up with a flying scissor sweep. Both men hit the ground, but they stand back up and trade. Ruffy beans Mullarkey with two stern right hands, and he times a perfect jump knee that smashes open Mullarkey’s nose. Beltran thinks about stopping the fight but lets it play out a bit longer, and Ruffy does not miss a beat as Mullarkey falls to the ground and climbs back up. The Brazilian fearlessly marches forward, and he unloads with a long string of punches until Mullarkey collapses in a heap. With Mullarkey on his hands and knees about to take some unnecessary damage, Beltran calls a stop to the fight to save the tough Aussie from himself and the onslaught of the UFC newcomer. This is a statement introduction for Ruffy, who dons the thick-rimmed glasses of his camp, The Fighting Nerds. Ruffy leaps on top of the cage to celebrate his handiwork, and the crowd goes wild in support of their fighter.

The Official Result

Mauricio Ruffy def. Jamie Mullarkey R1 4:42 via TKO (Punches)

Drakkar Klose (156) vs. Joaquim Silva (155.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Klose (-162), Silva (+136)

Round 1

Despite a name of “Netto BJJ,” Silva (13-4, 6-4 UFC) has not landed a submission in over a decade and would vastly prefer to throw hands. He draws a willing and able dance partner in Klose (14-2-1, 8-2 UFC), a technical brawler who has very quietly and slowly pieced together a solid 8-2 run since joining the organization in 2017. The lightweight punchers meet in the middle as referee Marc Goddard commences the match, with no interest in tapping gloves. Silva gets off first with a body kick, and a second one bounces into the cup. Silva apologizes as Klose protests, and Goddard pauses the action. After less than 30 seconds, they return to action. Klose pushes the pace, stomping down ta the knee and letting go of his own body kick. The two hand-fight, and Klose blocks a head kick as Silva skirts on the outer edge of the cage. Klose just misses a right hand, and he walks through a body kick to deliver one on the dome. They clinch up, but Klose pushes off to get out of the tie-up. Klose goes high with a kick again, and Silva kicks low. Klose continues to plod forward, scoring a low kick as he looks for an uppercut. Klose blocks a high body kick and dodges a looping left hand, and he crowds Silva against the cage without throwing much. Klose grabs the wrist and lands a right hand with his free hand, and Silva protests but it is a legal thing to do. A solid right hand from Klose finds its home on the jaw, and Silva wears it well but it got his attention. Klose scores another long right hand, and he strings to after it to press ahead. Klose digs a knee to the body and rips a right hand from up close, and Silva’s chin is holding up but it might not be able to stand up to many more like that. Klose sneaks in another right, and Silva tries to back him off with body kick. Klose drives two punches to the head and several knees to the body, and he squeezes the Brazilian against the cage before separating with an elbow on the break. The horn sounds with them at open space.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Klose
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Klose
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Klose

Round 2

Klose comes out of his corner, blocks a head kick and immediately presses forward. Klose lands a body kick as he backs Silva off, and he connects with two hooks after absorbing a body shot. Klose stomps the feet hard when they are clinched up against the fence, and Silva knees him hard to the belly before turning him around. Klose spins him back and spams short knees, and the crowd grows restless in this stalemate position. Klose considers a takedown, and Silva lowers his hips to shut it down. Klose grinds and lands knees, and they trade uppercuts on the inside. Klose breaks off and backs away, and Silva connects with a solid left hand that makes Klose take a funny step back. Klose gathers his thoughts and shoots for a takedown, and he manages to circle around to take Silva’s back standing. Silva turns himself about, and Klose pins him to the wire. Silva tries for a single, but Klose shuts it down and gains a little space. Klose lands a left hand and ends up plowing forward, re-engaging in the clinch. As they remain tied up, Klose’s eyebrow swells up from the big left hand landed earlier. Klose uses his knees to work the body until the tepid round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Klose
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Klose
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Klose

Round 3

The lightweights meander towards one another to start the last round, and Klose tries a hook kick to keep things spicy. Silva ignores it and tries to throw back big punches, but Klose slips to the side. Silva slaps a few low kicks on the inside and out, and he has a right hand roll over the shoulder. Silva loads up on two hooks, and these two find their intended target. Klose slings low kicks to back Silva away, and Silva catches him with another right hand. Silva just misses a left hook, and Klose jumps in and out to trade. Klose snaps the head back with a straight right hand, and Silva aims a right hand to the midsection in response. Both men aim single strikes at one another, and Silva comes up short on two looping shots. Klose flicks out a jab and lands a low kick, and Silva bears down on him with his right hand coiled up and ready to strike. Silva wings a left hand, and Klose rushes at him for a possible level change. Silva jumps guard with a guillotine choke, and Klose unexpectedly throws himself to his back, allowing Silva to be in mount on top of him with the submission locked. Klose slithers his way out of the danger, and they both climb back to their feet and start slugging. Silva jacks Klose’s jaw, sending the American face-first to the mat, and he leaps after him in search of another guillotine choke. Klose escapes again, and he fights back to his feet. The two trade again, and Klose pursues a takedown only to get stuck in a 50/50 position with their elbows linked. They rise to their feet once more, and Klose presses hard in the clinch, and Silva turns him around as they are up close and personal. Klose pushes off and spins with a kick to the body right before the bell, ending an unusual fight. This very well could spell Brazil's first loss of the night, as Brazilian fighters went 4-0 up to this point.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Silva (29-28 Klose)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Silva (29-28 Klose)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Silva (29-28 Klose)

The Official Result

Drakkar Klose def. Joaquim Silva via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Elves Brener (156) vs. Myktybek Orolbai (155.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Orolbai (-285), Brener (+230)

Round 1

The two lightweights about to collide combine for 28 wins, with 25 of those coming before the final bell. Referee Fernando Portella will need to be on his A-game as Brener (16-3, 3-0 UFC) represents his home nation against well-rounded Kyrgyzstani combatant Orolbai (12-1-1, 1-0 UFC). Someone will suffer their first loss in the Octagon when the dust settles—barring something strange—and they gladly touch gloves before trying to bestow that defeat to the other. Orolbai tries to work forward with a pawing low kick, swaying back and forth to find a way in. Brener stays moving on the outside, strafing back and forth without a pattern, before sitting down on a leg kick. Brener comes up short with punches to the body, but a right hand over the top finds its home. Orolbai powers his way into a left hand and a takedown shot, and a stunned Brener grips hold of a guillotine choke that does not go anywhere. Orolbai lands on top, and he hacks down with an elbow. Brener tries to push himself off the fence, and Orolbai drops down stern ground-and-pound. Brener pushes off the chest with his foot, and Orolbai lower himself back down violently with a right hand. Brener throws his legs up high in search of an omoplata shoulder lock, and he sweeps the fighter from Kyrgyzstan and winds up on top in side control, landing strikes. Orolbai turns to his side and sits up, and Brener looks to grab him from behind but is unable to hold him before Orolbai stands. Brener threatens with a trip, and Orolbai stops it and winds up a left hand that dings the Brazilian again. Orolbai goes low in pursuit of a double-leg takedown, and Brener keeps himself upright until the third effort sets him down. Orolbai lands in half guard, keeping his shoulder down pressed on the throat. Orolbai sits up and hangs his fingers on the fence, ultimately getting slapped by Portella to release it. Orolbai drives an elbow into the philtrum, and he pressure Brener and beats on him with punches and elbows until the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai

Round 2

The fighters bump fists before engaging in the second round, and Orolbai introduces himself with a left hook that misses the mark by a matter of inches. Orolbai loads up on a kick that sends Brener tumbling to the mat, and Brener climbs back up and absorbs a flush right hand that rocks him down to his core. Brener looks around wide-eyed as his balance nearly betrays him, and Orolbai decides instead of striking that he will engage in more grappling. Orolbai drags him to the mat and shrugs off a guillotine choke so he can elbow the Brazilian with cruel strikes. Orolbai steps easily into mount and works Brener over with elbows and punches. Brener bucks valiantly but Orolbai turns the proper direction to remain on top. Brener keeps his guard up as Orolbai pummels him with punches, and he pushes off to work back to his feet with all of his energy. Orolbai clings to him from behind, and he looks to isolate a leg but Brener splits off. Orolbai jabs the body with the ball of his foot and shoots in for a double, and he strips up the legs and dumps Brener to the floor. Brener jumps right back up, his back against the wall as Orolbai presses on him heavily. Brener breaks free once more, and he tosses out a high kick and then one low as he tries to get a little space and catch his breath. Brener kicks low, and then jumps with a switch kick only for Orolbai to grab hold of him and jam him up against the fencing. Brener frees himself and surges forward with a long line of punches, and a few get through. Orolbai backs him away with a long jab, and he suffocates Brener with two body shots and a takedown attempt. Brener uses the momentum to flip Orolbai over and land on top, where he quickly takes side control and full mount. Brener thinks about an arm-triangle choke but elects to sit up to drop down punches and elbows right as the bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Orolbai

Round 3

Orolbai pumps the crowd up between rounds, and the two men come together in the middle of the cage to embrace. Orolbai takes a step back to land a right hand, and Brener comes out firing and hits him back. Brener surges forward, pursuing a takedown and dragging the man from Kyrgyzstan to the mat. Orolbai gets to a knee, but Brener wrenches him back down and gets a hook in from behind. Brener secures the other hook, and Orolbai sits up and tries to slide him out the back door. Brener steps back and pursues a takedown from another angle. Orolbai grabs hold of the fence, and Portella deducts one point without breaking them up. Brener gets the fight down, but Orolbai muscles back to his feet and knees Brener cleanly in the breadbasket. This blow hurts the Brazilian badly, who appears to wilt as Orolbai drags him to the mat. Brener gathers all of his remaining energy to climb around to a position that allows him to get on top. Orolbai frantically moves, and Brener falls off as they stand up and reset. Both men appear totally gassed, their hands low and strikes sloppy. Orolbai closes the distance and leans on Brener, and Brener pushes him off and jabs. Orolbai responds with his own jab, and they take deep breaths. Brener wings a punch and a body kick, and he spins with a wheel kick that brushes off the chest. Brener takes a left hand and returns fire with a big right hand, and he sucks wind and kicks the lead leg. Orolbai wings inaccurately with a left hand, and Brener bops him with a light uppercut. The two swing recklessly, and Orolbai knocks Brener off his seat with a right hand. The final horn blares, and the fight could go down to how this last round is scored—a draw is in play here.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 9-9 (29-27 Orolbai)
Christian Stein scores the round: 9-9 (29-27 Orolbai)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 9-9 (29-27 Orolbai)

The Official Result

Myktybek Orolbai def. Elves Brener via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)

Karolina Kowalkiewicz (116) vs. Iasmin Lucindo (116)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Lucindo (-425), Kowalkiewicz (+330)

Round 1

The gap in age between these next two strawweights will be among the widest of any women’s match in UFC history. Turning 39 in October, Kowalkiewicz (16-7, 9-7 UFC) finds herself on her best run since starting her career at 10-0, and she draws 22-year-old wunderkind Lucindo (15-5, 2-1 UFC) with a potential spot in the top 10 up for grabs if all goes well. The Octagon ranger for this 115-pound tilt will be referee Osiris Maia, and he starts off the fight as the ladies respectfully touch ‘em up. There is little from either woman in the early going, with neither willing to engage in the first 30 seconds. Lucindo lands a low kick, and Kowalkiewicz responds with a right hand over the top. When Kowalkiewicz looks to engage, Lucindo beats her to the punch with three heavy punches. Kowalkiewicz backs away from a flying knee, and she walks into a massive right and left hook. The left hand shuts Kowalkiewicz’ right eye immediately, and Lucindo marches forward and knees her in the body. Lucindo looks to grab hold of a standing guillotine choke, and when Kowalkiewicz leans back up against the fence, Lucindo drives several knees to the face. Lucindo sells out on the choke, dropping down to her knees, but Kowalkiewicz is tough and keeps taking these strikes without thinking about tapping. Lucindo releases the submission and presses her tightly against the wire, where she knees the Polish woman in the stomach again and again. Lucindo has a trip attempt thwarted, and she leans heavily and cannot drag her down. Kowalkiewicz gains some space, wipes her eye and throws hands. Lucindo backs off, and Kowalkiewicz scores a right hand. Lucindo crashes the pocket and tackles her to the ground, where she moves directly to mount in the blink of an eye. Lucindo elects to keep very heavy pressure instead of sitting up to land much, and she ever so often drops down a punch or two. Kowalkiewicz tries to set up an armbar with her legs, but the round ends before she can get anywhere.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo

Round 2

The strawweights touch ‘em up to start the second round, and the damage of Kowalkiewicz’ right eye was mitigated between rounds. Kowalkiewicz swats away a switch kick, and she fakes a front kick to draw out a counter. Kowalkiewicz strings three punches together, and Lucindo fires back with bad intentions. Lucindo chops at the lead calf, and she times a jump knee that bounces off the chin of her foe. Kowalkiewicz fights her way into a brawl, landing a few punches but Lucindo shrugs her shoulders and throws back with greater power and accuracy. Lucindo scores another low kick, and she slides forward only to miss on two looping shots. The Brazilian spins with a back kick that lands cleanly, spurring Kowalkiewicz into action with a long flurry of punches. Lucindo stops it with a solid knee to the chest, but Kowalkiewicz does not take more than one step back before rushing forward to trade hands again. Lucindo hits harder, but Kowalkiewicz is not flustered even as her face begins to swell. Lucindo misses with a haymaker right hand, but she does get off a check left hook when Kowalkiewicz comes her way. Lucindo winds up on a power punch and catches the Polish woman cleanly, and she backs her away with a jumping switch kick followed by a turning back kick. Kowalkiewicz steps face-first into a well-timed knee, and she does not show any concern as she stands right in the pocket ready to trade. Lucindo backs her away with a front kick and a flying knee, but Kowalkiewicz is ready to crowd her again immediately. Kowalkiewicz lands a few times, but Lucindo catches her more cleanly and drills her in the jaw with a flying knee. Kowalkiewicz plods ahead, and the round ends as they hug it out.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo

Round 3

The double glove touch from the two leads to a final embrace, and Kowalkiewicz is ready and rearing to go. She rushes ahead throwing hands, and Lucindo ignores that her face is being punched so that she can clinch Kowalkiewicz up and shove her against the fencing. The Brazilian trips up her opponent and body locks her to the mat, landing in half guard. Kowalkiewicz wall-walks to allow her to kick off the chest and make Lucindo stand up. Lucindo winds up on low kicks until lowering herself down, and Kowalkiewicz flirts with a leglock but gets punched cleanly with a right hand that cuts her on the corner of the eye. A thin trickle of blood leaks out of the slight laceration, and Lucindo targets it with clubbing right hands. Kowalkiewicz jabs and tosses out low kicks, and she chains a few punches together until Lucindo grapples her and takes her from behind in an effort to sling her to the canvas. Lucindo clings to the former title challenger before jumping on to take her back. Kowalkiewicz tries to peel her off and elbows from one side before punching on the other. Kowalkiewicz looses her leg grip around the waist, but the Brazilian maintains the hand lock that deposits Kowalkiewicz to the mat on her second effort. Kowalkiewicz uses her legs to buck Lucindo off of her again, and she stands back up and marches forward. Lucindo looks for a jump knee that does not find its home, and Kowalkiewicz walks her down and is forced to absorb a spinning back kick to find her preferred boxing range. Kowalkiewicz lets her hands go to slug it out right before the fight ends, but Lucindo drills her in the side of the head with heavy fists that make Kowalkiewicz reassess her final situation. Kowalkiewicz takes a step back, unsure of her footing, and the 15-minute match draws to a close.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo (30-27 Lucindo)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo (30-27 Lucindo)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Lucindo (30-27 Lucindo)

The Official Result

Iasmin Lucindo def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Joanderson Brito (146) vs. Jack Shore (145.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Brito (-148), Shore (+124)

Round 1

A place in the top 15 at the talent-rich featherweight division may loom for the victor between Welshman Shore (17-1, 6-1 UFC) and the ultraviolent Chute Boxe fighter Brito (16-3-1, 4-1 UFC). Finish rates of 76% for the former and 87% for the latter mean that the judges might be able to take off this preliminary headliner, while referee Joao Claudio Soares should be ready to step in at a moment’s notice. Before they try to lop the other’s head off at the neck, the heavy hitters bump fists. Brito is the initial aggressor, landing long strikes and finding his range early. Shore throws back to back him away, and he checks a low kick. Brito jabs his way in, and he has another calf kick checked hard. Brito swings for the bleachers, and Shore barely dodges it. The low kick that follows separates Shore from his balance, and he drops to a knee and pops back up. Shore gathers himself and ties the Brazilian up to slow him down, and Brito is quick to turn him around and pepper him with knees. Brito breaks off to throw big hands, and Shore slides away but cannot get away from a heavy leg kick. Brito shreds the front leg again and loads up on power punches, and Shore clinches him up as Brito smiles and sticks his tongue out. Brito pursues a single when turning his man around, kneeing the inner thighs when the takedown is not there. Shore chucks him to the side and looks for a takedown, but Brito hip-checks him and pushes him back to the wire. Shore attempts another level change and hangs on tight to slow Brito down, and they both lower themselves to the ground in a minute when locked up. Brito gets up first and pursues a double, and Shore elbows him in the side of the head to have him knock it off. Brito shoulder strikes his foe while up close and personal in the clinch, and he takes a knee to the belly as the grinding round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Brito
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Brito
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Brito

Round 2

Brito offers a glove touch that is accepted, and he gets right back to his forward momentum. Brito lands a couple leg kicks, completely no-sells getting kicked in the head by the Welshman, and clinches him up. Brito hammers knees on the legs of his opponent and slings him to the mat, and Shore climbs back up without issue. Brito remains stuck to him like he was made of Saran wrap, and Shore pushes him away with a knee up the middle. Brito scores a couple calf kicks, and he ducks when punches are aimed at his face. Shore tries to check a kick and the skin tears open from the impact, as the swelling and welting makes that left leg a horror show less than halfway through the match. Brito sells out for a takedown, and Shore defends it with elbows on the sides of the head. Brito lands a few more short knees as blood leaks out of Shore’s shin. Brito doggedly presses ahead, and he punches the shin several times to further rip open the cut. The apparent damage is so significant that Soares calls in the doctor, who examines the roughly inch-long wound that is at this point gaping. The physician wipes the blood away and feels the bone beneath it, and determines that the bout should not continue. Soares waves the fight off. It is unclear if there is a broken bone, or what the specific reason for the stoppage is, but it will go down as a technical knockout victory for the Brazilian—who hands Shore his first loss by knockout, however unusual.

The Official Result

Joanderson Brito def. Jack Shore R2 3:35 via TKO (Doctor Stoppage)

Caio Borralho (186) vs. Paul Craig (185)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Borralho (-550), Craig (+410)

Round 1

Kicking off the main card is a middleweight matchup that features the most lopsided betting odds of any tonight. It comes as no surprise that bettors are expecting that Craig (17-7-1, 9-7-1 UFC) will get the raw end of the deal as around a +400 underdog, but he has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat more than once so no one can feel too comfortable until referee Marc Goddard waves the fight off. “Bearjew” battles Brazilian bomber Borralho (15-1, 1 NC; 5-0 UFC), who will take everything Craig throws at him with a smile. Before Borralho can reach the cage, CABMMA has to cut off his ankle brace with a dull pair of scissors, resulting in an awkward and pointless situation that should have been resolved backstage. When they are able to get to the cage, the fighters touch gloves, with intensity but no bad blood behind their gazes. Borralho is southpaw, Craig orthodox as they begin the feeling-out process under the watchful eye of Goddard. Borralho goes upstairs with a kick that just misses the Scot’s head. Craig changes levels and drives Borralho to the cage and looks close to securing a takedown, but Borralho drops some heavy shots to the side of his head, forcing him to bail on the attempt. They disengage and move away from the fence, but Craig stays stuck to his man and tries again to bring the fight to the canvas, even trying a guard pull. Borralho slips away, forcing Craig to get up and follow. Borralho scores with a left hand and Craig responds with a nice body kick. Craig steps into the pocket, grabs hold of Borralho and looks for another guard pull, but there’s nothing doing. Borralho eludes a kick up the middle. Ninety seconds left and Craig has had little to offer but body kicks and not-very-close takedown attempts, but neither has Borralho done much damage despite controlling the action. The middleweights are bouncing around at range, exchanging single shots as the round expires.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Borralho
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Borralho
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Borralho

Round 2

Both men remain tentative to open the second frame, standing at kicking range as Craig reaches out with long kicks and Borralho bounces into range to land punches. Craig lands a hard body kick that Borralho parries with his arm. Borralho throws a flurry of punches that mostly glance. Craig throws a high kick that is blocked, and Borralho comes back with a hard straight left that drops him to the canvas. Borralho declines to follow, and Craig is forced to get back up. They clinch and Borralho lands a crushing knee up the middle, rocking Craig badly. Craig somehow recovers, staggering away, but Borralho follows him and scores with a blistering right hand that lands behind Craig’s ear. The big Scot crumples to the mat in a daze and Goddard is there in seconds to wave it off. Nasty work by “The Natural.”

The Official Result

Caio Borralho def. Paul Craig R2 2:10 via TKO (Punches)

Michel Pereira (186) vs. Ihor Potieria (185)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Pereira (-535), Potieria (+400)

Round 1

Keeping the action pushing, surging wild man Pereira (30-11, 2 NC; 8-2 UFC) is ready to push his win streak to eight at the expense of struggling Ukrainian Potieria (20-5, 2-3 UFC). Since moving to middleweight, Pereira has appeared to have leveled up, while Potieria also shows that changing gears to 185 pounds did him some good. Referee Fernando Portella will see who makes it out of this encounter, and before it begins, the fighters sternly bump fists together. Pereira hops from side to side, his hands not particularly high, and he ignores a low kick coming his way to jab the body and follow it with a straight punch to the same target. Potieria retaliates with a slapping leg kick, and Pereira leaps at him with a straight right hand that knocks Potieria off his feet. The maniac Brazilian back flips and lands with his knee on Potieria, which is an illegal blow as Potieria is grounded. Nevertheless, Portella stands back, marveling at the move pulled off before his eyes. Pereira decides to latch onto a guillotine choke, and he allows Potieria to stand up and wrench the neck on the way up. Pereira squeezes with all his might, and “The Duelist” frantically taps out. As Pereira releases the grip, Potieria falls to his back, completely unconscious. Before Portella can reach him, Potieria’s head clatters lifelessly off the canvas. Pereira solemnly walks away, until he sees that Potieria has regained consciousness, and he starts dancing to celebrate. Meanwhile, commission officials speak to UFC brass about the foul, determining whether or not it impacted the result and if Pereira should be penalized for it. Given the nature of the strike, a disqualification is not off the table--although Portella did not call the foul during the action, so that may be unlikely--and a post-fight review might also find another result.

The Official Result

Michel Pereira def. Ihor Potieria R1 0:54 via Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Vitor Petrino (206) vs. Anthony Smith (205.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Petrino (-520), Smith (+390)

Round 1

In what could be a passing of the torch opportunity at light heavyweight, former title challenger Smith (37-19, 12-9 UFC) wants to show he still has life left in his veins. While he has lost three of four, opponent Petrino (11-0, 4-0 UFC) has never tasted defeat as a pro. With a combined six decision wins across their 48 victories, the fighters’ ledgers have put referee Osiris Maia on high alert. They have no ill will towards one another as they touch gloves before competing. Smith moves right to the center of the cage, and he backs away from a jab that nearly splits his guard. Smith keeps his lead leg high, as if to anticipate a low kick or set something up. He does not do anything with it, and instead both men land jabs. The Smith jab has marked up Petrino’s nose in a hurry, and Petrino pays him back with a high kick. Smith kicks the lead leg, and he dips back away from the looping hooked aimed at his midsection. Petrino loads up on a right hand, and he catches Smith with it and then fires off two more. Smith rolls with them successfully and chops at the lead leg of the Brazilian. Petrino takes a funny step, and he shifts away from a power punch. Petrino digs to punches to the midsection, and he shoots for a double. Smith grips hold of a guillotine choke, and Petrino lands hard on top but is trapped by the dangerous submission. The unbeaten fighter wriggles and tries to shift, but the two are bone dry and the Brazilian has no way out. Petrino taps once on the side, and it is unseen and he keeps struggling. After a second or two, he taps repeatedly, and this time, Maia recognizes the tapout and intervenes. This is a sensational win for Smith, who has a laugh when announcer Bruce Buffer nearly calls the wrong name for the victor. Smith proudly declares during his post-fight interview that there are “levels to this s--t,” and that he is happy to be right and “not so f---ing old.”

The Official Result

Anthony Smith def. Vitor Petrino R1 2:00 via Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Jose Aldo (136) vs. Jonathan Martinez (136)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Martinez (-162), Aldo (+136)

Round 1

Nearly two years after his so-called retirement, the greatest featherweight of all time is back for one more go-round in MMA. Having moved to bantamweight, where he ended up fighting for that division’s belt as well, Aldo (31-8, 13-7 UFC) wants to give the fans in Rio something a bit extra to cheer for. He faces fellow striker Martinez (19-4, 10-3 UFC), who wants to show “The King of Rio” that his leg kicks hurt too. The crowd is practically deafening in support of their beloved fighter, so much so that referee Mike Beltran can scarcely hear himself think. While “uh vai morrer” chants echo through the building, the 135ers bump fists. Aldo blocks a front kick, and he snaps out a jab. Martinez replies with another high kick that ricochets off the guard, and he scores a low kick. Aldo counters another leg kick with a three-punch salvo. Aldo looks to check one kick, and he pushes a right hand down the sternum. Martinez kicks on both sides of the leg, and Aldo is prepared to check but is not quick enough to succeed. Aldo comes out swinging, but he misses the mark on his blows. Aldo lands a jab down the middle, and he stuffs a half-hearted takedown and slings a head kick back at him. Martinez returns in kind, and when it is blocked, he slips and topples over. Aldo lets him up and stings him with a straight right hand and a hard low kick. As Martinez replies with his own chopping attack, Aldo checks it. Aldo crashes the pocket and lands a few punches, and he has a high kick bounce off the shoulder. Aldo blocks a kick and puts a right hand on the chest of his foe. Aldo goes to the body with a left and throws a right to the head, and Martinez backs off and lets go with a body kick. Aldo swings back so hard he nearly throws himself off-balance, and Martinez lets him recover and kicks at him. Aldo connects with a hard, straight right hand that splits the guard, and Martinez gives him something to think about with a few sharp jabs. Aldo goes to the body and head, and he keeps his guard up to block a high kick. The crowd has practically not stopped chanting for him, and he takes advantage of their energy by landing a harsh leg kick. Aldo lands another kick on the inside, and he pushes off the knee a few times to disrupt Martinez’ movement until the bell rings.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Aldo
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Aldo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Aldo

Round 2

The bantamweights share a glove touch to start the second round, and Martinez tries to hand-fight in their alternating stances. Aldo kicks the body and Martinez looks for a head kick that is blocked. Aldo drives home a leg kick and chases his man with a short string of punches. Aldo digs a left to the body and knees to follow. Martinez shoots for a single-leg takedown, and he backs Aldo up against the wall as boos rain down. Beltran asks for more activity as Martinez is stalling without a snowflake’s chance in Southtown of taking the fight down from this angle. Martinez clings to the former champ and lands a few knees, and Beltran calls for more action before separating them. Aldo thanks him by landing two punches through the guard, and Martinez tries to throw back but is unable to get there. Aldo unloads with a right hand that hurts “Dragon,” and Martinez is a willing brawler and surprises the Brazilian with his counter. Aldo continues to throw, blazing him with an uppercut, and the chants boom through the building loud enough to shake the floor of the Octagon. Aldo goes to the body and head successfully, and Martinez flicks out a few jabs and changes stances mid-combo to land a left hand. Aldo swipes at him with a left hook and pushes off, and he snipes Martinez with a straight left and a body kick. Aldo cuts through the guard with a one-two, and he hammers the body with a right hand and a step-in knee. Martinez kicks the body and spins suddenly with a back fist, and the fist does enough damage to make Aldo back off. Aldo circles away and avoids a subsequent spinning strike, and he keeps his guard up to block most of the punched aimed at his dome. Aldo sticks out a right hand and Martinez does the same, and Martinez elbows him flush on the jaw. Aldo strikes back, and the round ends with a high-five.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Aldo
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Aldo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Aldo

Round 3

The two men hug to start the last round, and Martinez aims his jab to start things off. Aldo strings a few punches together to break up the rhythm, and he lands a right hand that makes Martinez backpedal. Martinez pressures forward, and Aldo ducks a strike and attempts a takedown. “Dragon” staves it off and pushes the former champ away, where he settles down with a few jabs and a left to the ribs. Martinez jabs several times, keeping Aldo honest, and he steps forward to put an elbow through the guard. Aldo takes body kick and blasts the body with several punches. Aldo slams out a piston-like jab, and he circles away to reset. When Aldo advances, he ties up, and Martinez meets him with a knee to the jaw and a left hand. Aldo gives it back in spades with a right and a left, and Martinez trades with him with a few heavy punches in response. Aldo snaps a right hand down the pipe, and he ducks a spinning strike and slides to the side. Martinez pecks with a jab, only for Aldo to sit down on a straight right hand. Aldo’s guard stays up to block a high body kick, and he connects with a hard series of punches that make Martinez do the stanky leg. Aldo lays into his hurt opponent with a knee and a number of fiery fists, and he lifts Martinez and slams him down to the mat with emphasis. Aldo starts unloading with ground-and-pound when he gets there, and Martinez recovers and drags Aldo back to his guard. Aldo stays active punching from on top and he passes to half guard as the audience gives it up for him. Aldo is pulled back to the guard position, and Martinez flails with punches and elbows off his back. Aldo lays into his opponent with punches on either side of the head, and Martinez attacks back but his strikes do little-to-no damage from his position. The round ends, and the elated crowd erupts in expectation that the Brazilian has done enough to get the job done.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Aldo (30-27 Aldo)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Aldo (30-27 Aldo)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Aldo (30-27 Aldo)

The Official Result

Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Martinez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

UFC Flyweight Title Fight:
Alexandre Pantoja (125) vs. Steve Erceg (125)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Pantoja (-185), Erceg (+154)

Round 1

The evening concludes in the flyweight division, as extremely violent champion Pantoja (27-5, 11-3 UFC) welcomes the next challenge of his belt. That comes in the form of relative neophyte Erceg (12-1, 3-0 UFC), who was not on the UFC roster one year ago. Make no mistake, Erceg has shown he has the skills to be a legitimate contender, and he is calm as a cucumber in the biggest fight of his life. Referee Marc Goddard receives the honor of officiating the final bout of the evening, and it begins with the two coming together to bump fists as they receive instructions. Pantoja immediately surges into action, chasing the challenger around the cage with reckless flurries of punches. One such press bullies Erceg to the wall, and he fights off a takedown attempt and gains some separation as his nose is already reddening. Erceg keeps his jab outstretched to keep the champ at bay, and he lines up several punches and a head kick to surprise Pantoja. Pantoja gathers himself and lets loose with a number of body shots, and they tie up and knee at the same time to force them apart. Erceg jabs with his foot, toes outstretched. Pantoja comes in close, stringing together three punches and a knee that cuts the challenger on the top of his forehead. They trade low kicks, and Erceg looks for a right hand but is beaten to the punch when Pantoja gets off a left hand and a leg kick. Pantoja lands a big right hand, and he races forward and tackles Erceg to the mat. Erceg utilizes a butterfly guard to keep Pantoja from claiming top position, and he bucks the champ off momentarily. Pantoja rushes at him and knees him in the chest before smothering down to get into half guard and climb on top. Pantoja drops down a few punches before Erceg works his way back upright, only for Pantoja to drag him down from behind. Pantoja holds Erceg’s leg in a strange position to keep him pinned to the mat, and he knees Erceg in the side and forces Erceg to turn the other direction to nearly surrender his back. Pantoja unleashes a blitz of ground-and-pound, and Erceg steels himself and works back to his feet, although Pantoja still has the waist lock behind him. Pantoja wrangles Erceg down to his seat again, and Erceg scrambles madly to climb back up. Erceg walks Pantoja down with seconds left in the round, and he misses with a knee before the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja

Round 2

The flyweights clock in, and Erceg looks to establish his jab only for the champion to bull-rush him with an unorthodox slew of punches, elbows and knees. Pantoja uses his aggression to tie Erceg up and consider a single, but he breaks off so he can knee Erceg in the guts. Pantoja jumps forward to land a jab, and Erceg pushes him away with a front kick. Pantoja crowds the pocket with flying fists, and Erceg struggles to land in response. Erceg gets in a few jabs, breaking up the looping shots from Pantoja. Pantoja wanders into a firefight, and he chucks Erceg to the mat just when Erceg lands cleanly on him. Pantoja climbs over to full mount, and Erceg sits up in an effort to escape it and recover back to half guard. Erceg sweeps the champion, and Pantoja does not mind as he knees Erceg in the belly twice before they split apart, back on their feet again. Erceg lets go a left hook that bangs into the temple, and he dips down with an uppercut and shoots for a takedown. Pantoja lets him do this so he can snatch up a guillotine choke, and Erceg bails on the attempt immediately to get out of the submission danger. Erceg lands first and last during an exchange, and he brushes past the face with a front kick. Pantoja lashes out with a right hand, and he catches Pantoja coming in with a vicious elbow and a powerful left hand. Pantoja decides to shoot for a takedown, but Erceg shuts it down and starts walking the champion down. Erceg pops out a jab, and he elbows Pantoja as Pantoja strides forward. Erceg scores rapid strikes and only slows when Pantoja slaps him with a body kick. Pantoja grabs hold of Erceg, slinging the challenger to the mat with seconds to spare. Pantoja rains down punches, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Erceg
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Erceg

Round 3

Pantoja is ready to attack to start off the round, and Erceg intercepts him on the way in immediately with a stern elbow. Pantoja still manages to tie him up and knee the body a few times before they split. Erceg loops a left hand around the guard, and he scores a low kick and lands a few punches before escaping to avoid the counter. Erceg catches his man with a right hand, and Pantoja races after him and plants a kick on the lead calf. Erceg flicks his jab out, and he eats several body shots and gives back a left hand over the top. The challenger misses with a high kick and barely reaches with a front kick, and he backs off when Pantoja charges him. Pantoja goes to the body and head, and Erceg answers the call with a right hand. Erceg lands a few shots, slides to the side and evades the counter. Erceg slips a looping punch, and Pantoja catches him on the way out with a pair of hooks. “The Cannibal” sprints forward and clinches up, and he has a knee bounce off the cup as Erceg grimaces. Goddard is about to pause the action, and Erceg calls him off. The fighters split up, and they throw bombs and detonate them on one another. Erceg lands a body shot, and Pantoja attacks with mighty punches. Pantoja takes an elbow on the forehead that splits him open, and he shoots for takedown and touches the cut that has already started bleeding. Pantoja settles to pursue a body lock takedown, and he gets the challenger down to the mat and lands in half guard. Blood leaks into Erceg’s mouth as Pantoja lords over him, and he takes the back during a mad scramble. Erceg fights and shifts, and Pantoja pounds him with punches until Erceg stands up. Pantoja lands a trip takedown right at the bell, and he holds the wound on his forehead until the cutman tends to it.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja

Round 4

Erceg leads off in the championship rounds aggressively, and Pantoja meets him in the middle ready to counter and let fly a kick. Pantoja overswings with a right hand, and Erceg is composed and jabs while kicking low. Pantoja lands two jabs, and Erceg tries a trip takedown that Pantoja is easily able to get away from. Erceg lands at the end of a right hand, and he scores an elbow as well. Pantoja tries for a takedown that is shut down, with Erceg making him pay courtesy of an uppercut and left hand. Erceg lands first in the battle of the jab, and Pantoja races into action with three punches that appear to sting the challenger. Erceg tries for a takedown, and Pantoja again tosses him to the side. Erceg sticks him with a jab and a right hand to follow, and he snaps the head back with his sharp jab. Pantoja kicks low, and it is one-and-done as is volume has taken a downturn as he appears to be taking the round off, relatively speaking. Pantoja throws three punches, and the cut opens back up on his forehead as crimson fluid leaks into his eye. Pantoja wipes at it and clips Erceg with a right hand, and Erceg fearlessly moves forward before shooting for a takedown. Pantoja staves it off and considers a guillotine choke, but opts to release it and circle away. Erceg gives chase and hammers the liver with a left hand, and blood obscures Pantoja’s vision in his left eye. Pantoja whiffs on big hooks, and the few that follow land flush. Pantoja jabs, and he ducks right into an uppercut but does not flinch. Instead, Pantoja grabs hold of the challenger, landing a right hand when Erceg breaks. The round ends, and it could all be up for grabs in the next five minutes.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Erceg
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Erceg
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Erceg

Round 5

Erceg has plenty of pep in his step, as he practically runs towards the champion to engage. Pantoja meets him standing firm, throwing big hands, and Erceg stumbles as he tries to escape the assault. Erceg switches gears and throws Pantoja off his feet, landing a takedown but finding himself in an uncomfortable position with Pantoja pushes off his groin with his foot. Pantoja turns the tables, works his way back around to take the challenger down, and he circles around to take the back. Erceg stands back up, grabbing the fence to keep himself upright. Pantoja clings to him from behind, looking to drag him down, and Goddard warns Erceg about fouls. Erceg elbows him a few times without looking, and Pantoja drags him down from behind. Erceg spins during a scramble, and he manages to free himself from the grip and back to striking range. Erceg scores an uppercut, and he gets knocked back with a left hand. Pantoja sticks out a left hand as he gets kicked in the head, and he blasts the challenger with a good left hand. Erceg slashes open Pantoja with another elbow, opening a cut on the other side of the head. Pantoja digs a body shot and chains it into a right hand that stuns “Astro Boy.” Pantoja defends a takedown by allowing Erceg to attempt it and roll through it to wind up on top. Blood from the Brazilian pools on the chest of his opponent, with him residing in half guard until Erceg tries to explode and get away. Pantoja drags him back down, and he works the body while Erceg looks to twist and turn. Erceg gives up his back as he moves, and Pantoja follows him and leaps into mount. The champion drops punches on the Aussie until Erceg sits up, and the bloody battle comes to a conclusion. Scorecards could be all over the map here, but no matter the victor, Erceg proved he is among the best 125-pounders in the world.

The victorious Pantoja gives Brazilian fighters 10 wins in 13 fights tonight, in a nailbiter that might look quite different if they run it back in a year or two. The defending flyweight champion now is tied with the active record of consecutive title defenses in the UFC with two, and it remains to be seen who will challenge him next. Pantoja asks for some time off, given his high level of activity. When “The Cannibal” returns, we will be here for it. We hope you are too.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja (48-47 Pantoja)
Christian Stein scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja (49-46 Pantoja)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Pantoja (48-47 Pantoja)

The Official Result

Alexandre Pantoja def. Steve Erceg via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
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