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Rising featherweight contender Bryce Mitchell had to dig deep to prevail against Bobby Moffett in a fight that was fought tooth-and-nail until the very end.
It seemed as though “Thug Nasty” was going to crush Moffett (14-4) when he rocked him with a clean punch upstairs in the first, but “The Wolfman” never wavered and fought the Arkansas native with everything he had in the UFC Fight Night 148 featured preliminary bout. They traded takedowns, exchanged punches and threatened with submissions in every round. However, when Mitchell (11-1) scrambled from a takedown and seized the Illinois fighter’s back, he threatened with and nearly finished him with a rear-naked choke. Moffett eventually escaped, but the late peril allowed Mitchell to steal the round and win the fight.
All three judges favored “Thug Nasty” 29-28 to cap off a solid preliminary card.
Vera Makes Quick Work of Saenz
Ecuador’s Marlon Vera continued his surge up the bantamweight rankings as he vanquished Frankie Saenz in the first round. “Chito” was aggressive early with vicious leg kicks and when he goaded Saenz (13-6) into an exchange, he disguised a short, straight left hand behind a right low kick.
The punch forced Saenz to crumble onto his knees and Vera unloaded a series of punches until referee Jimmy Neely had to pull him off. It was the third straight win for Vera, who improved to 13-5.
Maia Notches First Octagon Win
Former Invicta Fighting Championships ace Jennifer Maia nabbed her first win inside the Octagon by edging durable veteran Alexis Davis (19-9) over three rounds.
Maia (16-5-1) busted “Ally-Gator” up with two barrages of punches in the first, was taken down and controlled in the second and did just enough in the third on her feet to offset Davis’ charges. In the end, Maia walked away with the judges’ verdict with a score or 29-28 across the board.
Markos Shocks Hill with Hard-Fought Armbar
In a battle of two strawweights who loathe each other, it was Iraqi-Canadian Randa Markos who prevailed over Angela Hill.
“Quiet Storm” tossed Hill (8-6) to the canvas and landed in side control. From there, Markos (9-6-1) slithered onto Hill’s back and threatened with a rear-naked choke. When “Overkill” defended it, Markos transitioned to an armbar, which she landed after a violent struggle for the limb. Once it was locked in, Hill couldn’t escape and bowed out, officially ending the bout at 4:24 of the first.
Gutierrez Takes All Three Rounds From MacDonald
Chris Gutierrez made sure that Ryan MacDonald not only didn’t win, but he made certain that he was never in their bantamweight fight. “El Guapo” moved brilliantly inside the cage and destroyed MacDonald’s left leg for three rounds, slamming dozens of nasty kicks into it. MacDonald (10-10) was cut on his hairline and eventually was limping badly down the stretch and never got anything going.
In the end, Gutierrez (13-4) won easily, getting the judges’ nod 30-27 across the board.
Espinosa Denies Shelton
In the opening bout of the evening, Jordan Espinosa used timely striking and excellent movement to nullify Eric Shelton’s gameplan.
Espinosa (14-5) darted in and out and side-to-side for three rounds, landing scattered kicks to the legs and punches to the head. “Showtime” was never able to find a rhythm until it was virtually too late in the flyweight contest and Espinosa walked out of the Octagon the winner of a unanimous decision. Two judges saw it 30-27 and the third had it 29-28, giving Espinosa his first official win for the UFC. Shelton fell to 12-6.