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Pat Sabatini has quickly established a firm foothold in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight division.
The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder grounded and controlled Tucker Lutz to a unanimous decision in the featured UFC Fight Night 198 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Sabatini (16-3, 3-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 nods from the cageside judges.
A short-notice substitution for Gavin Tucker, Lutz (12-2, 1-1 UFC) never managed to get himself in gear. Sabatini short-circuited his efforts with takedowns, stifling control, positional advances and submission attempts. He was at the peak of his powers in Round 2, where he struck for a takedown inside the first 15 seconds, moved to a mounted guillotine and ultimately advanced to the back. Lutz denied his bids for chokes but offered little else in terms of resistance.
The loss halted Lutz’s run of consecutive victories at 12.
Garcia Sinks Unbeaten Levy
Repeated takedowns, sneaky counters and intermittent power punching combinations drove former Combate Global champion Rafa Garcia to a unanimous decision over the previously undefeated Natan Levy in a three-round lightweight duel. All three judges arrived at the same verdict: 29-28 for Garcia (12-2, 1-1 UFC).
Levy (6-1, 0-1 UFC) stayed active with kicks—those aimed at the body were particularly effective—but overextended on his punches and created unnecessary openings for his counterpart. The opportunistic Garcia landed takedowns in all three rounds, frustrated the Syndicate MMA-trained Israeli with his persistence and did more than enough to get by in the standup exchanges.
Garcia now holds a 4-2 mark in bouts that reach the judges.
Ubiquitous Godinez Subdues Suphisara
Onetime Legacy Fighting Alliance titleholder Lupita Godinez made her third appearance in 43 days and emerged no worse for wear, as she took a unanimous decision from Konklak Suphisara in a three-round women’s strawweight battle. A short-notice replacement for Cheyanne Buys, Godinez (7-2, 2-2 UFC) carried all three cards with 30-27 scores.
Suphisara (6-3, 3-2 UFC) could not stay upright long enough to make headway. Godinez punched into clinch range, took down the Tiger Muay Thai standout repeatedly and consolidated those efforts by transitioning to dominant positions and applying her ground-and-pound. Faced with exhaustion and inevitability, Suphisara grew less and less effective as the fight moved forward.
The setback snapped Suphisara’s two-fight winning streak.
Dogged Durden Downs Aori
Former Valor Fighting Challenge champion Cody Durden returned from reconstructive knee surgery and an 11-month layoff that resulted to nail down a unanimous decision over Qileng Aori in a three-round lightweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Durden, who rebounded from his Dec. 19 submission loss to Jimmy Flick.
Durden (12-3-1, 1-1-1 UFC) made his intentions known at the outset, as he doggedly pursued takedowns and clinches. Aori (18-9, 0-2 UFC) managed distance effectively in the second round, threw heat in the Covington, Georgia, native’s direction and appeared to turn the tide in his favor with uppercuts, overhand rights and occasional knee strikes. Durden, however, fought through fatigue and did just enough to get his hand raised across the final five minutes, delivering two takedowns and more often than not keeping himself glued to the onetime Wu Lin Feng titleholder.
The victory was Durden’s first since July 18, 2020.
Shayilan Outgrapples Struggling Soriano
China Top Team export Nuerdanbieke Shayilan leaned on takedowns, positional control and ground-and-pound, as he laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Sean Soriano in a three-round featherweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Shayilan (20-7, 1-1 UFC).
Soriano (14-8, 0-5 UFC) held the advantage for much of the first round with superior standup and an effective sprawl. However, the Sanford MMA rep lost his way in Round 2. Shayilan reversed into top position after being taken down, achieved full mount and piled up valuable control time. More importantly, he brought doubt into the equation for Soriano. Shayilan delivered multiple takedowns and scored with a belly-to-back suplex in a largely one-sided third round, where he advanced to the back, secured his position with a body triangle and snuffed out whatever hope remained for the former Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder.
Shayilan has won three of his last four fights.
Surging Pinheiro Handles Hughes
Head-and-arm throws, jabs to the body and timely punching combinations carried Nova Uniao’s Luana Pinheiro to a unanimous decision over Sam Hughes in a three-round women’s strawweight affair. The once-beaten Pinheiro (10-1, 2-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the cageside judges.
A short-notice substitution for Jessica Penne, Hughes (5-4, 0-3 UFC) failed to get dialed in. Pinheiro set the tone in Round 1, where she executed multiple throws, scored with some ground-and-pound and even made a pass at a Peruvian necktie. The Brazilian capped an otherwise uneventful middle stanza with a late flurry that sat down Hughes and kept momentum in her corner. All was not lost for the Sikjitsu rep, who enjoyed a strong third round that saw her capitalize on a cautious Pinheiro and her decision to steer clear of danger.
Pinheiro, 28, has rattled off eight consecutive victories.