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UFC Fight Night 215 Prelims: Jennifer Maia Upends Favored Maryna Moroz in Las Vegas

Jennifer Maia still wants a say-so in the future direction of the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s flyweight division.

The former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder outboxed and outfoxed American Top Team’s Maryna Moroz to a unanimous decision in the featured UFC Fight Night 215 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges sided with Maia (20-9-1, 5-5 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

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Maia managed distance beautifully for much of the bout, stringing together efficient punching combinations that were often punctuated by thudding right hands. She sprinkled in kicks here and there—some to the body, some to the head and some to the legs—and reduced Moroz (11-4, 6-4 UFC) to single strikes through superior timing and movement. The Ukrainian rallied in the third round, where she stepped into a right hand, knocked Maia off-balance and started to connect with more than one punch at a time. Alas, her efforts fell short of the intended mark.

Johns Outduels Tepid Morales


Glory MMA rep Miles Johns won for the third time in four outings, as he took a unanimous decision from Vince Morales in a forgettable three-round bantamweight clash. A short-notice replacement for Jose Johnson, Johns (13-2, 4-2 UFC) carried all three scorecards: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Morales (11-7, 3-5 UFC) struggled to shift out of neutral throughout a lukewarm first 10 minutes. Johns stayed busy enough to keep his head above water, his efforts highlighted by chopping right hands, leg kicks and a takedown late in the second round. Morales finally got going in Round 3. There, he connected with counter right hands, body kicks and a stiff jab that left his opponent with a bloody nose. However, it was not enough to escape the hole he had dug for himself through inactivity.

The 32-year-old Morales has dropped back-to-back bouts.

Turcios Edges Reeling Natividad


“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 29 winner Ricky Turcios bounced back from a July 9 defeat to Aiemann Zahabi with a split decision over Kevin Natividad in a three-round bantamweight affair. All three members of the judiciary struck 29-28 scorecards: Anthony Maness for Natividad, Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato for Turcios.

Neither man gained a discernible edge in a 15-minute battle marked by wild scrambles and positional changes. Natividad (9-4, 0-3 UFC) executed takedowns in all three rounds and staggered his counterpart badly with a left hook midway through the second. However, his inability to corral Turcios on the canvas proved costly and left their exchanges open to interpretation. Turcios (12-3, 2-1 UFC) made his move late in Round 3, where he scrambled onto the Arizona Combat Sports product’s back, secured a body triangle and alternated between punishing ground-and-pound and near-miss rear-naked choke attempts.

Natividad, 29, remains winless inside the Octagon.

Surging Demopoulos Downs Oliveira


Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Vanessa Demopoulos leaned on takedowns, sublime topside grappling and damaging ground-and-pound, as she laid claim to a unanimous decision over Maria Oliveira in a three-round women’s strawweight tilt. Demopoulos (9-4, 3-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28 marks from all three judges.

The first two rounds were blowouts. Demopoulos struck for takedowns, climbed to full mount on multiple occasions and cut loose with slashing elbows. She also decked Oliveira (13-6, 1-2 UFC) with an overhand right. Demopoulos lost some steam across the final five minutes, where the Brazilian pressured her into an almost perpetual backpedal. Volleys of straight punches from Oliveira followed once contact with the fence as made. Demopoulos, however, managed to stay out of real danger and arrived at the finish line with her lead intact.

The 34-year-old Demopoulos has rattled off three consecutive victories.

Resilient Hiestand Handles Garcia


Timely takedowns, suffocating control and an active submission game carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 29 finalist Brady Hiestand to a unanimous decision over Fernando Garcia in a three-round bantamweight tilt. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Hiestand (6-2, 1-1 UFC).

Garcia (10-3, 0-2 UFC) sat down the Sikjitsu rep with a counter right hand inside the first minute, swooped into top position and lined up a rear-naked choke. Hiestand withstood those efforts, pressed the reset button during the respite between rounds and forced his Fortis MMA-trained counterpart out of his comfort zone. He rattled Garcia with a pair of head kicks in Round 2 and turned the tide further with takedowns, consolidating them with control and attempted chokes while bleeding valuable time off the clock.

Hiestand has won two of his past three bouts.

Silva Kick Vaporizes Bleda


Former Jungle Fight champion Natalia Silva put away Tereza Bleda with a spinning back kick to the face and follow-up punches in the third round of their women’s flyweight pairing. Silva (14-5-1, 2-0 UFC) brought it to a spectacular close 1:27 into Round 3.

Bleda (6-1, 1-0 UFC) rolled through a head-and-arm throw, landed in top position and applied her ground-and-pound from half guard in the first round. Silva executed a sweep soon after but wandered into a triangle choke and was forced to defend her neck and exposed arm. She survived the exchange, pushed Bleda into deeper water and let fatigue do the rest. Silva snapped back the 20-year-old Czech prospect’s head on more than one occasion in the middle stanza, connecting with powerful shots from both hands. By the time the round concluded, it became evident that Bleda was a spent force. The 2022 Dana White’s Contender Series graduate ducked at the wrong time in the third, absorbed a perfectly timed spinning back kick from Silva and succumbed to subsequent punches.

Silva, 25, will ride an eight-fight winning streak into her next assignment.
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