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Sijara Eubanks was simply too much for Julia Avila on the ground.
“The Ultimate Fighter 26” veteran took control down the stretch of their bantamweight bout at UFC Fight Night 177, earning a unanimous decision triumph at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. All three judges submitted 29-27 scorecards in favor of Eubanks (6-4, 4-2 UFC(, who has won back-to-back Octagon appearances.
Each period began with a wild exchange, as both bantamweights traded willingly in the pocket. While Avila (8-2, 2-1 UFC) seemed to get the better of those momets, Eubanks asserted herself on the canvas. Her grappling edge was especially evident in Round 2, when she moved to full mount and threatened with a pair of arm-triangle chokes and a rear-naked choke. It was more positional control for Eubanks in Round 3, and she punctuated her victory with heavy ground-and-pound in the waning seconds of the fight as her opponent clung to a kneebar.
“I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu for 15 years so I’m always confident on the ground no matter how the fight’s going,” Eubanks said.
Debuting Croom Shocks Roberts
Kevin Croom made the most of his first UFC appearance.
The 34-fight veteran pulled off the biggest upset on the card, as he submitted Roosevelt Roberts (10-3, 4-3 UFC) with a guillotine choke in the opening stanza of their lightweight clash. The end came 31 seconds into Round 1, making it the fastest finish by a newcomer in the history of the 155-pound division.
“I’ve waited 13 years to be here,” Croom said. “I’m elated.”
Croom (22-12, 1-0 UFC) set the stage for the finish when he floored Roberts with a left hook to the chin. He was able to snatch the neck as Roberts attempted to return to his feet, locking in a modified guillotine. Croom tightened the squeeze and shortly thereafter, a stunned Roberts was forced to tap out.
Romanov Continues Finishing Streak
Alexander Romanov completely dominated Rizin Fighting Federation veteran Roque Martinez in a battle of heavyweight newcomers, winning via arm-triangle choke 4:22 into the second stanza. The 29-year-old Moldovan has ended all 12 of his professional victories inside the distance.
Romanov (12-0, 1-0 UFC) had his way with Martinez for the duration of the bout. The 29-year-old known as “King Kong” landed takedowns at will and transitioned from side control to full mount with ease. Martinez survived a barrage of hammerfists in Round 1, but he found himself grounded once again early in the second stanza. From there, Romanov was able to secure the arm-triangle choke and pass to side control. It was only a matter of time before Martinez (15-6-2, 0-1 UFC) was forced to call it a night.
Turner Overwhelms Weaver
Jalin Turner dominated fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Brok Weaver en route to a second-round submission victory in a 165-pound catchweight matchup. “The Tarantula” used a rear-naked choke to elicit a tapout from Weaver at the 4:20 mark of Round 2. All 10 of Turner’s (10-5, 3-2) professional triumphs have come inside the distance.
Turner was in control from the outset, as he wobbled his opponent with a left hand during an initial exchange. He later dropped Weaver (15-6, 1-2 UFC) with a two-punch combination late in the frame, but was unable to secure the finish before the horn. A massive right hook in Round 2 dropped Weaver, but Turner didn’t immediately look to put his foe away during a bizarre sequence, instead walking away from his dazed adversary.
“I thought he was out. So I was like, ‘No need to punish him.’ It is what it is,” Turner said.
It ultimately didn’t matter. Turner allowed Weaver back up, then dragged him to the canvas, took his back and secured a rear-naked choke in short order.
Barberena Returns, Thwarts Ivy
Bryan Barberena returned to active competition for the first time in more than a year to garner a unanimous verdict against Anthony Ivy at welterweight. Two cageside judges submitted 30-27 scorecards, while a third saw it 29-28 — all in favor of the MMA Lab representative, who was fighting for the first time since undergoing back surgery last year.
Ivy’s primary objective was to get the fight to the canvas, but Barberena (15-7, 6-5 UFC) was able to stuff the vast majority of his foe’s takedown attempts. When the combatants were standing, Barberena landed the more impactful punches and elbows, with Ivy (8-4, 0-2 UFC) often shelling up to defend against his opponent’s onslaught.
Mazo Head Kicks, Chokes Out Kish
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Sabina Mazo earned her third consecutive triumph, submitting Justin Kish in a flyweight encounter. The 23-year-old “Colombian Queen” locked in a rear-naked choke to bring a halt to the bout at the 3:57 mark of Round 3.
Kish (7-3, 3-3 UFC) landed with greater volume over the first two rounds, as she attacked with a varied arsenal that included leg kicks, spinning back fists and knees. Mazo’s best moment was a head kick in Round 1, which opened a small cut near the outside of Kish’s left eye. That move foreshadowed the finishing sequence, because Mazo (9-1, 3-1 UFC) dropped her opponent with a more powerful high kick late in the final frame before jumping on Mazo’s back and securing the fight-ending maneuver.
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