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UFC Fight Night 223 ‘Dern vs. Hill’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

Sherdog's live UFC Fight Night 223 coverage will begin Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Themba Gorimbo (170) vs. Takashi Sato (170.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Sato (-110), Gorimbo (-110)

Round 1

The last UFC card before a much-needed weekend off is upon us, and it will be in the form of a dozen-fight showcase at the UFC Apex. There are two ranked fighters on the entire billing, both coming in the main attraction, but with any luck, those numbers will not matter when the cage doors close and the competitors all get after it. The first match of the evening comes in the welterweight division between two men who would very much like a win. With three losses in his last three appearances, Sato (15-6, 2-4 UFC) may need to get his hand raised to stay on the roster. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Gorimbo (10-4, 0-1 UFC) is hoping to have a second chance to make a first impression. This classic Japan vs. South Africa (or Zimbabwe, if you prefer birth nation) battle will be overseen by referee Chris Tognoni and his sweet mustache, and the combatants do not touch gloves before getting started. Gorimbo leads the dance with a head kick early, and follows it with a few punches while Sato bears down on him. Sato blocks another high kick before it can reach his head, and Gorimbo mashes forward to attempt a takedown. Sato stonewalls him and nearly shoves Gorimbo to his back, but he decides instead to stand back up and Gorimbo follows him to the clinch. Gorimbo looks to muscle his man down, and Sato turns the corner and dumps him to his back for a moment. Gorimbo explodes right back up, and he manages to suck Sato’s legs out beneath him and drag him to his seat. Sato moves to his knees while Gorimbo hooks his foe’s legs between one of his own, and he wall-walks to stand back up as Gorimbo continues to jam him up. Gorimbo looks for a trip that does not succeed, and he lifts up a knee to the chest to get a strike off in this position. This allows Sato to turn him around for a second, but Gorimbo powers him back around. “The Answer” answers a potential ref request for more action with another solid knee, and Sato replies with a half-hearted throw that he abandons when he realizes he will need to use much more energy than he is willing to succeed. Gorimbo drills another knee to the solar plexus, and Sato uses a sweep and a body lock to toss his foe to the floor. Gorimbo scrambles wildly, doing enough to get Sato down and circling around to take the back. The South African fighter hooks up a body triangle and starts fishing for a rear-naked choke, and Sato is wise to the attempt and tries to turn to a side to escape. Gorimbo softens him up with short strikes to the side of the head, and he hands on with back control until the horn blares.

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Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo

Round 2

Sato initiates the second round aggressively, pressuring forward and hoping to turn the tables on Gorimbo after giving up the last round. Gorimbo cocks back a right hand and releases it, blasting the charging Sato in the face and knocking him down to the floor. Sato hits his back and tries to clear out the cobwebs, and Gorimbo leaps down on top of him and tries to jack him up with hammerfists. Sato gathers his thoughts enough to consider a takedown, perhaps in a desperation effort, and the two end up standing up in the clinch. Sato starts driving several knees to the body, and Gorimbo works for another takedown as he turns the Japanese fighter around. Gorimbo looks to hook up a single-leg takedown, and Sato reverses him brilliantly with a head-and-arm throw that deposits Gorimbo to the floor. “Ten” starts fishing for a scarf hold in the advantageous position, and when there is no submission to be found, he sits up. Gorimbo threatens off his back with a leglock, but it does not come anywhere near close before Sato starts smacking him in the face with ground strikes. Gorimbo tugs his toes on the fence to get enough leverage to work his way to his knees and then upright, where he stays bent over to go for a takedown. Sato defends with a series of elbows to the side of the head, and even when he is pulled down to his knees, he continues doing some work with elbows. Gorimbo keeps grinding on him and defends a throw from Sato to stay in this grueling position. Sato breaks away from the clinch and gains some space, but Gorimbo gives chase and wings punches at him until changing levels. The round ends with Gorimbo trying to take the fight down again.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo

Round 3

With Sato advancing as per usual to start off the round, Gorimbo is prepared and goes after another huge right hand. This time, Sato does not walk face-first into it, and he ducks it to tie the African fighter up. Gorimbo is glad to get back into the close range, where he turns Sato around and drags him down to a knee for a moment. When Sato springs back up, Gorimbo redoubles his effort and hits the takedown he is seeking. Sato falls to his back, with a cut around his right eye starting to bleed. Sato does not remain on his back for long before shifting enough to get to a knee, and Gorimbo again works his way around to take the back. “The Answer” locks his legs around the waist, and Sato grimaces in pain as the position must be causing him no small amount of discomfort. Sato attempts to turn and spin around, but Gorimbo has him locked down. Gorimbo lands occasional punches to both sides of the head to keep Sato guessing, with the strikes more frustrating than damaging. Gorimbo uses one moment to snake his right forearm around the chin, but he cannot sink it under it to lock down the rear-naked choke before Sato defends it. Sato cannot get out of this miserable position, and Gorimbo turns to the side and looks for a side choke. Sato takes advantage of this momentary lapse of judgment and flips Gorimbo to his back, and he starts shelling the African fighter with punches and elbows. Sato unloads a final barrage of blows, with few actually getting through the guard, and time expires before a stoppage is even close. It may have been too little, too late for the Japanese fighter, as the fight is over.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo (30-27 Gorimbo)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo (30-27 Gorimbo)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Gorimbo (30-27 Gorimbo)

The Official Result

Themba Gorimbo def. Takashi Sato via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Victoria Leonardo (124.5) vs. Natalia Silva (124.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Silva (-800), Leonardo (+575)

Round 1

Moving things right along, flyweights take center stage when finish-minded Brazilian Silva (14-5-1, 2-0 UFC) tackles her next test in the form of tough out Invicta FC vet Leonardo (9-4, 1-2 UFC). Silva will close as the most significant betting favorite by a wide margin, coming in at astonishing -1000 odds or so. The two ladies will toe the line as referee Kerry Hatley takes charge of the situation, and they decide not to touch ‘em up before engaging. The hands fly fast and furiously, with both women testing one another immediately. Silva backs away to toss up a high kick, and Leonardo blocks it and comes forward to swing her fists. Silva chambers and unloads another head kick that bounces off the guard, and Leonardo steps in with a left hand. Silva responds with a three-punch salvo and a missed high kick, and Leonardo already shows some swelling on the corner of her right eye. Silva strings together a one-two down the pipe, and when her foe reaches out with a front kick, she is there to reply with a similar short combo. Silva strings punches together effortlessly in masse, beating Leonardo to the punch in these exchanges and reddening up the nose as well. The Brazilian reaches out with three punches, and she catches Leonardo coming in with a left hook. Silva sets up another high kick that is inaccurate, and she stomps with a kick to the knee. Silva loads up on three punches, and the third catches Leonardo right on the chin and dumps her to the floor. Leonardo’s nose immediately starts bleeding, and she attempts a takedown to try to gather her wits. Leonardo manages to work her way up, and Silva works her over with high kicks from both legs. Even with them connecting on the guard, the impact alone is hurting Leonardo repeatedly. Silva slams her fists on the jaw, and Leonardo shells up and is just taking damage at this point. Silva busts her on the nose with a left hand, and Leonardo bends over and winces in major pain. The massive favorite pounds on Leonardo with a right hook and wraps her left foot around the guard to force Hatley to step in and waves the fight off for a standing TKO. This is a statement performance for Silva, who announces she might be ready for primetime.

The Official Result

Natalia Silva def. Victoria Leonardo R1 2:58 via TKO (Punches and Head Kick)

Nick Fiore (154) vs. Chase Hooper (156)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Fiore (-140), Hooper (+120)

Round 1

No longer the youngest fighter on the roster, the baby-faced 23-year-old Hooper (11-3-1, 3-3 UFC) will be moving up to lightweight to support his growing frame. With a perfectly alternating record in the Octagon – his next result in that pattern would be a victory – he comes to blows with New Hampshire’s Fiore (6-1, 0-1 UFC) and his 100% finish rate. Referee Jason Herzog is prepped and ready should this fight need intervention at a moment’s notice, but it does start with a sign of respect at the competitors clap hands first. The fighters immediately start throwing hands, and Fiore lands a pair of solid right hooks. Hooker crashes forward and pursues a body lock takedown, and Fiore walks through it to stand back up and get pushed to the wall. Hooper hunts for a trip, and Fiore turns through to stand up. Hooper angles himself to an unusual position to start setting up a leglock, and he isolates Fiore’s leg to set up a calf slicer. Fiore twists around and out of it, and Hooper chains into a heel hook that allows him to stand up. Hooper winds up on his back when rolling for a submission, as Fiore shucks off the attempt and moves to side control and steps into north-south. Fiore sets up an inverted triangle choke until Hooper escapes, and the youngster fights his way back to his feet. Hooper lets his hands go, ignoring an elbow to drive Fiore back with punches and a body kick. Fiore slashes with an elbow up close to break off, and he blocks a high kick that zips at him when Hooper retreats. They bump heads together when attacking, and Fiore stands firm and tags “The Dream” with a right hand. Hooper connects with a few looping left hands, catching Fiore unaware, and he considers a takedown. Fiore reverses him and takes him to the floor, only for Fiore to fall a crucifix. Fiore turns out of it after taking three hammerfists to the side of the head, and these two work their way upright again. The exchanges are wild and furious, and they lead into striking battles on the feet as well. Hooper marks Fiore’s nose up with his fists, and he jams Fiore up against the wall only to get pushed back and taking knees. Hooper stings the New Hampshire-based fighter with a long combination of punches and elbows, and Fiore is rocked and bloodied up from the blows. Hooper keeps on attacking right to the horn, and Fiore may be saved by the bell as he is wobbled and looking for his corner.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Hooper
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hooper
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Hooper

Round 2

Hooper comes out aggressively, swinging too hard and walking into a right hand. Hooper tosses out a kick to the body, and Fiore catches it and dumps the youngster down to his back. Fiore climbs on top, where he is quick to move to side control and mount with an arm-triangle choke in the middle. Hooper lifts his legs up to pull Fiore back out, and he threatens with a heel hook under his armpit. Fiore rolls all the way through to get out of it, and he sits up and bowls Hooper back over to break it up. Hooper sits up and pursues a single to stand up, and Fiore backs off and absorbs a front kick in the midsection. Hooper flails with punches, but his short, sharp elbows are having some impact. Hooper spins with a wheel kick as he lets go with his hands, backing Fiore up to the wall and unloading with punches and elbows. Fiore blocks against the wall, defending from much of the damage, but he gets rocked. A kick from Hooper dislodges Fiore’s mouthpiece, and Herzog is quick to replace it so Fiore does not lose any teeth getting struck. Hooper ties him up to land strikes, and he breaks to get off a front kick and a step-in elbow. Fiore’s nose is busted up badly, leaking down his face and Hooper’s shoulder as they remain clinched. Fiore looks for a knee on the break, and he loops a few punches at his foe before Hooper gains a full head of steam. Hooper nails his man with elbows and a kick, and Fiore is on rubber legs and appears quite fatigued. Hooper fires off a head kick, and Fiore stings him with a single right hand in response. Fiore sits down on another right hand, only for Hooper to shake it off and lash out with an elbow and a few body kicks. Hooper bends down, throwing the Quinton Jackson-style “bungalows,” and Fiore takes them on the chin or off his arms to defend the majority of them. Hooper winds up on his back when attempting a takedown, and Fiore flirts with a guillotine choke and tries to take Hooper’s back. Hooper gets his back taken and is nearly set up in a crucifix right as the bell rings.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Hooper
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hooper
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Hooper

Round 3

The last round kicks off with a clap of hands, and Fiore winds up with a power right hand and catches a subsequent Hooper kick. Fiore throws the youngster to the mat and immediately has to fight off a triangle choke setup. Fiore shucks it off and starts opening up with punches to the body and elbows to the head, all while Hooper threatens with anything he can find with his offensive guard. Hooper succeeds in pushing Fiore off of him with upkicks, and Fiore lets him up so that he can unload power punches. Hooper wings hooks, and he tosses a kick that gets caught. Instead of getting taken down, Hooper somersaults away like Chael Sonnen against Anderson Silva. Hooper gathers his thoughts and shoots in for a single, and Fiore allows him to do this so that he can tie up Hooper in a crucifix. Both men take a moment to recover, even with Hooper trapped, and Hooper is the fresher fighter and sits up to roll Fiore to his back. Hooper drops down punches and further bloodies up Fiore’s nose, and he practically ignores a Fiore triangle that is nowhere near set. Fiore stands up and fights off a standing back take to squeeze Hooper into the wire. Fiore breaks with an uppercut, and Hooper unloads with several punches, elbows and body kicks. Hooper scores a solid low kick, and Fiore whiffs with a knee. Hooper crashes forward to secure a double-leg takedown, sitting Fiore on his seat with a minute to spare. Fiore turns to his side, and Hooper gets off several right hands from up close. Fiore posts off both his arms, and Hooper drags him back down and sends a message with a few more punches. Hooper controls his man from behind right to the final horn, and it appears that his jaunt to lightweight will be a successful one.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Hooper (30-27 Hooper)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hooper (30-27 Hooper)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Hooper (30-27 Hooper)

The Official Result

Chase Hooper def. Nick Fiore via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

Ilir Latifi (249.5) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (264.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Nascimento (-200), Latifi (+170)

Round 1

Heavyweights grace the cage tonight in the only battle contested above 185 pounds, when ex-light heavyweight Latifi (16-8, 1 NC; 9-6 UFC) comes in looking every bit of 250 solid pounds. He will tangle with someone larger, both because Nascimento (9-1, 1 NC; 2-1, 1 NC UFC) is several inches taller but also 15 pounds heavier not counting any weight cutting. While Latifi has been slow but generally effective up in weight, the Brazilian is anything but, with six of his nine pro wins coming before the four-minute mark. Minding his P’s and Q’s will be referee Herb Dean, who watches on as the big men touch ‘em up. Nascimento is the immediate aggressor, pressing the Swede back but not throwing much. The two clash together twice, but their heads bump together before any punches land. Latifi looks for a clubbing left hook, and Nascimento is well out of harm’s way. Latifi digs a right hand to the body, and he blocks a front kick. Nascimento stings his man with a few punches, and he stops a level change from “The Sledgehammer.” Latifi looks to drop down low again for an entry, only for Nascimento to meet him with his fists. The short punches of the Brazilian are giving Latifi pause, in the form of uppercuts or hooks from a close proximity. Latifi backs him off with one, and he has a low kick checked and hobbles back. Latifi charges for a takedown that is easily rebuffed, and Nascimento lumbers towards him slowly and drills him with a left hook. Latifi goes over the top with his own left, with a strike that has been ignored, and he goes low with a kick. Nascimento keeps his man backing up with pressure, walking through leg kicks and popping Latifi with a left hook. Nascimento jabs the body and takes a solid leg kick that forces a brief stance switch, but he bears down on the longtime veteran and throws clubbing punches. Latifi attacks the lead wheel once more, and he evades the punches that come at him for the most part. “The Sledgehammer” looses a sledgehammer of a left hand, and ducking over with it, this allows Nascimento to bust him in the chops with a few short punches. Nascimento strikes the body and dodges a sweeping kick, and Latifi lunges at him with a left. Nascimento rings Latifi’s bell with a shovel uppercut, and Latifi gets it back with a pair of punches. Nascimento gains a head of steam and whips a few punches at his foe, and Latifi takes them on the chin before the bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento

Round 2

The heavyweights clap hands to start off the second frame, and it is again Nascimento that paws out punches first. Latifi leans forward to score a few punches, and Nascimento sits down on a few in response to back Latifi off. Nascimento connects with a quick leg kick, and he hops back when Latifi throws a few punches at him. Nascimento greets him with an uppercut, measuring the shorter man that continues to duck down when engaging. Latifi lands twice, and Nascimento connects with a low kick as the volume has diminished greatly. Latifi gets off a leg kick, and Nascimento bears down on him and looses a couple short punches on the inside. Nascimento reaches with a left hook, but it is one-and-done. Latifi goes for two leg kicks, and only the first reaches the target. Latifi lunges with a left hook, and the single blow fails to register. Latifi turns the corner to trip the Brazilian out and land a takedown, and he plants Nascimento on his seat and turns him away from the fencing to prevent any immediate wall-walking. Dean is quick to tell the two to work, and Nascimento fights with all his might to get back to the fence. Nascimento locks his man down in the closed guard, wrapping his arms around Latifi’s in hopes of forcing a standup. Dean claps to implore for more action, and Latifi answers with a couple punches to the body and a left to the head. Latifi drops down an elbow and hangs on for the remainder of the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Latifi
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Latifi

Round 3

Both men meet in the middle to begin the final frame, and Nascimento is the one pushing the pace and throwing a right hand. Latifi greets him with a pair of punches back, and he swats away a front kick. Nascimento jabs his way in, and he checks a low kick to force Latifi to stumble away. Nascimento plods forward, reaching with jabs, and Latifi secure a right hand on the chin. Nascimento immediately counters with a power left hand, and Latifi blinks several times as he appears to be struggling to see. Nascimento lets him off the hook, walking forward but not striking with much, largely pacing himself. Nascimento scores a low kick and dances back from a pair of punches, and he sinks in another kick that makes Latifi change his stance. Latifi dives in for a single, and that attempt and a second effort fail to succeed. Dean sternly warns Latifi to stop grabbing shorts in pursuit of takedowns, and he tells him that he will take a point on the next time. Latifi acknowledges this and decides to wrap his arms around Nascimento, and he kicks Nascimento’s leg out beneath him and slams him to the floor. The Brazilian scoots his way to the wall, fighting to a knee and getting upright again. Latifi grinds his foe against the wall, pressing his full body weight in the position. Latifi explodes to get hold of a single, but the larger Nascimento stonewalls him. Latifi clings to his opponent like Saran wrap, and until Nascimento wriggles his arm out with 25 seconds to spare. Latifi flails forward, and Nascimento tags him with a few punches. Latifi reaches a left hook, but Nascimento greets him with punches of his own. The two throw labored combinations at one another right to the final horn, and the judges might have mixed opinions on the victor of this grueling contest depending on the scoring of the last two rounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento (30-27 Nascimento)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento (29-28 Nascimento)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Nascimento (29-28 Nascimento)

The Official Result

Rodrigo Nascimento def. Ilir Latifi via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Orion Cosce (172.5: Missed Weight) vs. Gilbert Urbina (170)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Cosce (-120), Urbina (+200)

Round 1

The first of a pair of unplanned catchweight contests is on the docket, when a welterweight matchup between Cosce (8-1, 1-1 UFC) and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 29 finalist Urbina (6-2, 0-1 UFC) went awry after the former missed weight by a pound and a half. Urbina, the brother of ex-UFC fighter Hector Urbina and up-and-comer Elias Urbina, will gladly accept 20% of Cosce’s purse and the chance to fight a potentially compromised Cosce. The fight begins when Cosce offers an apologetic glove touch in front of referee Kerry Hatley, and Urbina accepts it. The two, in alternating stances, paw their hands at one another, until Cosce surges into action with a blitz. Urbina dodges the strikes and backs away, and Urbina appears to catch him with a left hook to drop Cosce to a knee. Urbina tags his man with a few more punches, and Cosce retreats. Urbina gives chase and ties him up to drill several knees to the body, and he lets go so that he can do more work with his hands. Cosce tosses out a low kick for a range-finder, and Urbina replies with a front kick and narrowly misses a left hook. Cosce whiffs on a big right hand, allowing Urbina to jab to the body and back him away with a jump knee. A huge left hand from “Galaxy” blasts into Urbina’s chin, and Urbina wears it well and takes another in rapid succession. Urbina drives a knee to the chest, and he changes levels in pursuit of a single. Lifting Cosce all the way up off the ground, Urbina slams his man down. Urbina moves to a better position to drop down right hands, and Cosce scrambles to work his way up. Urbina lands a mat return shortly thereafter, and he secures full mount when landing. Cosce thinks about turning around, but Urbina threatens him well enough and flattens him out. Urbina rains down a barrage of vicious elbows, and Hatley is taking a close eye on the matters. Urbina shifts to side control and drills Cosce with a few more punches for good measure. Urbina shifts back to the mount so that he can soften Cosce up with more blows, and Cosce bucks and kicks but cannot get the Texan off of him. Urbina sets up an arm-triangle choke, and he squeezes with all his might while in mount and moves his leg to pin Cosce’s left arm down. Urbina bails on it to posture up and hammer Cosce with punches, and he is warned repeatedly for punches to the back of the head while Cosce is turning. Cosce works towards his stomach, and Urbina batters him all the way to the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Urbina
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Urbina
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Urbina

Round 2

The fighters meet in the middle, and Cosce strikes first with a high kick that is blocked. Urbina responds with a front kick that Cosce slaps away, and he misses with two straight punches. Urbina stays active with kicks, and he is backed to the fence with punches but does not eat one. Urbina lunges with a right to the body, and Cosce is out of the way in time. Cosce reaches out with a right hand, and it bounces off the shoulder to no effect. Both men appears to have lowered their intensity, as Cosce slaps a low kick that Urbina turns with. Urbina’s offense has lulled, and Cosce is not much more active. Urbina scores a jab and a front kick, and he steps in with a knee but does not release it. A body shot from Urbina draws a bad reaction on Cosce’s face, and Urbina sees it and slowly walks him down. Cosce attempts to back him off with a high kick, and he recovers enough to jab with a right to the body. Urbina counters with a right and a front kick, and the ball of his foot lands square on the potentially compromised ribcage of his opponent. Cosce grunts in pain and doubles over, and Urbina knows the finish is right around the corner. Urbina latches on to Thai plum, and he drives a pair of knees on the dome to drop Cosce to the floor. Hatley waves the fight off, seeing that Cosce has nothing more to offer, with the body shot taking all of the wind out of his sails. This comeback is a big deal to Urbina, who is back in his standard weight class of welterweight and sends a message to whomever he will be fighting next.

The Official Result

Gilbert Urbina def. Orion Cosce R2 2:55 via TKO (Front Kick and Knees)

Vanessa Demopoulos (117.5: Missed Weight) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (115.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Kowalkiewicz (-130), Demopoulos (+110)

Round 1

Having improved her UFC record to .500 with two wins in 2022, former strawweight title challenger Kowalkiewicz (14-7, 7-7 UFC) will be attempting to run her streak to three in a row tonight. In her way steps Demopoulos (9-4, 3-1 UFC), who checked in 1.5 pounds over the 116-pound cap. With the purse deduction for Demopoulos taken care of, all that is left is the fight itself. The matchup will be officiated by referee Chris Tognoni, and it kicks off with no glove touch from the two ladies. Kowalkiewicz starts off the fight aggressively, getting in Demopoulos’ face early and throwing hands. The punches from Kowalkiewicz are having an early, appreciable effect as they drive the American back to the wall. Kowalkiewicz catches a kick and nails Demopoulos in the face with a few right hands before setting it down, and she attempts to do this a second time. Kowalkiewicz puts together punches in bunches, and she reddens Demopoulos’ nose up with her strikes. Demopoulos sits down on a big left hook, getting Kowalkiewicz’ attention for a moment. Kowalkiewicz shakes it off and grabs Demopoulos from behind, and she cannot change levels with her and instead lets her go so that she can strike. Kowalkiewicz snaps the head back with a right hand, as she pushes forward fearlessly. The Polish woman plants her foot on Demopoulos’ chest a pair of times, and she chains a few effective punches together to follow it. Demopoulos winds up on single power punches, and Kowalkiewicz sees them coming and beats her to the punch or avoids it. Kowalkiewicz punches her way into a clinch, and she considers a takedown as she wraps her arms around the waist. Demopoulos fights off the attempt, only to get busted in the chops with a pair of elbows on the break. Kowalkiewicz connects with a clean right hand to buckle the knees of her foe for a second, and she strides in confidently throwing fists. Demopoulos backs her off momentarily with a couple hooks, but Kowalkiewicz is more accurate and active. Kowalkiewicz blocks a head kick, ignores a low kick and tags Kowalkiewicz with a punch combination. Demopoulos drives her back with her own strikes, and she whiffs with a standing hammerfist before the bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz

Round 2

The ladies come out of the corners, and Kowalkiewicz is the one to push the pace first and force Demopoulos to fight off her back foot. Kowalkiewicz chains a low kick into an overhand right, and she bends over to stuff a takedown. Kowalkiewicz counters with a quick left hand to bust up a Demopoulos combination, and she hurts Demopoulos with a salvo of strikes. Demopoulos gathers her thoughts, spins with a back fist and backs away, all while Kowalkiewicz is closing in on her and landing accurately and efficiently. Demopoulos shoots from a wide berth with a takedown, and Kowalkiewicz easily pushes her to the floor and walks away. Demopoulos stands, steps in with an elbow, and Kowalkiewicz does not register it and strings several punches across the forward bow. Demopoulos reaches with a left hand, and she cannot quite catch a retreating Kowalkiewicz with body work. Kowalkiewicz punches her way into a head kick, and Demopoulos replies with a right hook. Kowalkiewicz chips at the lead leg and darts away from a pair of kicks soaring at her in response. They crash together, landing strikes, and Demopoulos misses with a standing elbow but somehow manages to catch Kowalkiewicz with a back elbow. Kowalkiewicz blocks the kick and jabs the body, where she keeps wading forward without a care in the world. Demopoulos misses on jabs and an elbow, but Kowalkiewicz does not miss, with a combination that knocks Demopoulos off-balance. Kowalkiewicz stays in Demopoulos’ face and does not walk into elbows, and she marks Demopoulos’ face up with her fists. The former title challenger kicks low and punches high, and he springs back from a big right hand from Demopoulos. Kowalkiewicz cracks her foe with a few right straight hands, but Demopoulos is tough and fights through everything. The ladies trade leather right to the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz

Round 3

The last round begins with Kowalkiewicz light on her feet, dodging a few big punches and a full cartwheel from Demopoulos. When Kowalkiewicz lands a few strikes of her own, Demopoulos pulls guard and drags her to the floor. Kowalkiewicz welcomes this so she can open up with punches, and Demopoulos attempts to roll for a leglock. The Polish woman shuts this down and shifts to half guard, and she quickly steps into side control and elbows Demopoulos on the forehead. Demopoulos turns to her stomach in hopes of reversing position, only for Kowalkiewicz to bowl her over and drop down several more punches in rapid succession. Demopoulos sets up another leglock, and Kowalkiewicz spins all the way through and stands back up. Demopoulos follows her, and she wings a left hook that catches Kowalkiewicz square on the temple. Kowalkiewicz does not bat an eye, instead throwing back with a fire and a fury, with jabs and uppercuts that are mimicked by Demopoulos. Kowalkiewicz strafes away from the power punches, and she greets Demopoulos with an overhand right. Kowalkiewicz gets off a one-two, and she works from the outside. Demopoulos lands two punches and a low kick while Kowalkiewicz tries to engage, and she overcommits to a left hook that throws her off. Kowalkiewicz sticks her with a jab, busting that nose up and forcing it to bleed further. Kowalkiewicz intercepts her advancing foe with an uppercut and a right hand, and the right opens a cut on the corner of Demopoulos’ left eye. Demopoulos is loading up with everything, hoping to change the tide of the match with one big blow, but Kowalkiewicz is floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Demopoulos keeps attempting these home run punches, and one while Kowalkiewicz was in motion knocks Kowalkiewicz to her seat. Kowalkiewicz obliges her with a few exchanges, and the entertaining strawweight scrap ends with a hug.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz (30-27 Kowalkiewicz)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz (30-27 Kowalkiewicz)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kowalkiewicz (30-27 Kowalkiewicz)

The Official Result

Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Vanessa Demopoulos via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Viacheslav Borshchev (154.5) vs. Maheshate Hayisaer (155.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Borshchev (-165), Maheshate (+140)

Round 1

While the rates may not be the same, both of these lightweights’ preferred method of victory is the knockout, and neither one has ever been stopped by strikes before. China’s Maheshate Hayisaer (9-2, 1-1 UFC) will be looking to rebound after a decision loss in December, and still remembers his knockout of Steve Garcia last year. On the other hand, Team Alpha Male’s Borshchev (6-3, 1-2 UFC) may need this win at all costs, as falling to a three-fight skid on the first contract off Dana White’s Contender Series may not be in his best interest. The two meet in the middle and without bumping fists together before swinging them for the fences, and referee Jason Herzog has donned his proverbial hard hat for what’s to come. Borshchev is the one that pushes the pace immediately, striding forward with a leg kick and eating a one-two that comes back at him. Maheshate flings out a front kick, and Borshchev continues to plod forward. Borshchev misses with a high kick, and Maheshate does the same with a front kick aimed at the jaw. Borshchev chips at the lead leg a few more times, and Maheshate jabs in response. Borshchev kicks both legs when Maheshate switches stances, and he fights off a takedown attempt. Borshchev sticks with a jab, and Maheshate reaches him with an uppercut. “Slava Claus” does not let off with low kicks, and Maheshate dings him with a clean head kick that does not make him flinch. Maheshate gets off an uppercut, and Borshchev replies with two jabs and a right hand over the top. Borshchev jabs with the ball of his foot, and he digs a left to the body and right to the head. They trade jabs at range, and Borshchev rips a kick to the body that makes Maheshate drop his elbow slightly. Borshchev blitzes, landing a few punches but getting caught on the way out with a counter left. Maheshate pushes off with his fingers outstretched, and they jam into Borshchev’s eye, causing Herzog to pause the match. Blood starts flowing from that eye as a result, and Herzog is quick to call in the doctor. Borshchev needs a cloth to wipe his eye, as there is a cut on his eyelid, and he takes all the time he needs. Herzog clocks them back in after nearly two minutes of break, and Borshchev is immediately blinking out of it when they start fighting again. Borshchev ducks a big punch and kicks the body twice, and Maheshate reaches him with a right hand around the guard. They trade body kicks, and jabs land at the same time. Borshchev commits to a leg kick that forces a stance switch, and he gets stung with a right hand that he might not be able to see because of his eye. Borshchev wades into a brawl, cracking Maheshate with power punches but getting driven back with a step-in knee. Borshchev hammers the lead leg again, and Maheshate lands his solid right hand. Borshchev cocks back a right hand and sends the Chinese fighter crashing to the mat. Maheshate bounces back up, but Borshchev is not done yet. The Team Alpha Male fighter pummels his man with punches right until the horn splits them up.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Borshchev
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Borshchev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Borshchev

Round 2

Borshchev is amped up to start off the round, and he tosses out with right hands and body kicks. When Borshchev plants his leg, he spins around with a back fist that slaps the younger fighter on the cheek. Maheshate shoots in for a double, and Borshchev stuffs him and just misses with a front kick on the way up. Borshchev has opened up cuts on both sides of Maheshate’s mouth in strange positions, and blood trickles down his face. Borshchev aims a right hand square on that spot, clubbing the Chinese fighter with his fist and chaining a few more into it. Borshchev just misses with an uppercut, and Maheshate stands firm and backs him away with a pair of punches. Borshchev wings a big right hand that sends Maheshate crashing to the mat once more, and the youngster still works his way back up without issue. Borshchev beats on him until Maheshate tries to spin with a back elbow, and this leads to a clinch and a few knees. Borshchev breaks off with a big right hook, and Maheshate does the same. Borshchev digs a left to the ribs, and a right over the top chops the tree down as Maheshate collapses to the mat. This time, Maheshate’s circuits are scrambled, and he does not appear to know where he is. Borshchev drops down hammers, and Maheshate turns to his side and is done. “Slava Claus” delivers a few more presents in the form of his fists to the side of the doomed Maheshate’s head, and Herzog steps in to call a halt to the fight. With obscured vision, Borshchev still managed to record three knockdowns and the impressive knockout to conclude the prelims with style. In victory, he celebrates with a traditional Russian prisyadka dance, and admits in his post-fight interview that he cannot see out of his left eye.

The Official Result

Viacheslav Borshchev def. Maheshate Hayisaer R2 2:37 via TKO (Punches)

Diego Ferreira (154.5) vs. Michael Johnson (155)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Ferreira (-155), Johnson (+135)

Round 1

Backs may be against the wall in this lightweight main card opener, when Fortis MMA product and Kenny Loggins aficionado Ferreira (17-5, 8-5 UFC) comes to blows with Kill Cliff FC rep Johnson (21-18, 13-14 UFC). These two veterans, age 38 and 36, respectively, have among the most Octagon experience of any fighter on this card. They will duke it out under the oversight of referee Herb Dean, and they start off their 15-minute engagement with a sporting tap of fists. Johnson moves to the center of the cage as they swirl around one another, and he strikes first with a jab. Ferreira misses with a front kick, as he looks to find his range early. Johnson tosses out a low kick that misses, and Ferreira slams his shin on the upper thigh. The Brazilian then strikes the body twice with his leg, and he backs off when Johnson walks him down. Ferreira kicks up high, and Johnson barely blocks it and pushes through a front kick to stick out a jab. Ferreira swings with a huge right hand, and Johnson evades it and stings his man with three punches. Ferreira boots his man upside the head, and Johnson rolls through it and puts his fists on Ferreira’s dome. Ferreira counters a jab to the body with a kick, and he misses a second when Johnson is out of the way. Ferreira dives forward for a takedown, and Johnson tosses him aside with ease and lets him back up. Johnson eats a right hand and stuns Ferreira with a one-two, and Ferreira tries to follow with another body kick that is not able to reach the target. Johnson absorbs one such kick to the ribs to land two punches, and he stutter-steps only to get his leg kicked out. The two lightweights trade hands, and Ferreira smiles at him and lets out a whoop. Johnson just misses a step-in knee, and he gets caught with a right hand in the midst of a flurry. Johnson sits down on a right hand that shakes the Fortis MMA fighter up briefly, but Ferreira gathers his bearings and goes back to targeting the kick to the side. Johnson shrugs another off and strikes with a right. Ferreira finds his man with a jab, and Johnson does the same except to the body. Ferreira kicks the lead leg again, and the two trade hands in a short but effective exchange. Ferreira strings a body kick into a few punches, and both fighters land strikes after the bell but apologize for the inadvertent blows.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Johnson
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Johnson
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Johnson

Round 2

The lightweights decide to briefly tap hands together before getting started, and Ferreira is the one who looks for early offense in several jabs and an overhand right that all miss. Johnson shrugs off a jab to wing three punches, and Ferreira shrugs them off and kicks the side. When Johnson replies with his own body kick, Ferreira makes a funny face at him. Ferreira kicks high, and the strike partially gets through the guard. Ferreira charges for a takedown, and Johnson fights it off effectively but gets pounded in the ribs with a shin on the way up again. Ferreira stabs his toes to the midsection with a front kick, and he measures his next action. Winding up a windmilling right hand, Ferreira launches a missile at Johnson’s chin. It explodes on the perfect spot, and Johnson is out before he even hits the ground, with his body locked up falling backwards, frozen in time and reminiscent of Terry Etim against Edson Barboza. Ferreira, in the heat of the moment, sprints forward to hammer an unnecessary nail, slamming one single hammerfist on the destroyed Johnson’s jaw before Dean can reach them. Dean splits them apart as Ferreira comes to his senses, and the victor places his hand behind the back of Johnson's head to not let it bounce off the mat repeatedly. Dean brings in the medical professionals, who tend to and revive the unconscious fighter. Johnson comes to, much to the delight of the crowd, and he may need to be explained what just happened. A “knockout of the year” contender just happened, and Ferreira is back in the win column in a huge way.

The Official Result

Diego Ferreira def. Michael Johnson R2 1:50 via KO (Punch)

Joaquin Buckley (170.5) vs. Andre Fialho (169.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Buckley (-225), Fialho (+190)

Round 1

A welterweight striker’s delight is about to be on display between the power-punching Fialho (16-6, 1 NC; 2-3 UFC) and furious finisher Buckley (15-6, 5-4 UFC). With 24 knockouts across their 31 pro wins, referee Kerry Hatley will need to bring his A-game to the party. Interested solely in trying to knock the other’s block off shortly, they do not share a glove touch. The offense is relatively muted for the first 30 seconds, until Buckley engages with a swift body kick. Buckley attempts a kick on the other side, and Fialho watches him closely without striking back. “New Mansa” skims the top of the head with his shin, and Fialho shakes it off and keeps his arm high to block it. The kicks keep coming from Buckley, and he darts forward with a looping right hand that Fialho turns his face to barely avoid. Buckley throws two punches and a kick, and he spins with a wheel kick. Buckley charges with another spinning kick, and Fialho finally attempts to counter with a check hook. Buckley runs at his foe, throwing fists, and Fialho sits down on his punches to respond. They trade fierce fists, and Fialho kicks Buckley in the head when Buckley is leaned over. The former middleweight eats it like a steak, and he walks forward to throw two booming hooks. Fialho backs him off with a jab, and he dodges a flying knee and a right hand to score a short left when Buckley lands. Buckley explodes into a takedown attempt, dumping the Portuguese fighter to the mat. Fialho is not on the ground for more than a second before climbing back up. Buckley spins without throwing anything, and he absorbs a loud body kick on the way out. Buckley gets tagged on the way forward, and he runs from one side of the cage to the other to deposit Fialho to the canvas. Once more, Fialho works his way up, and he is thrown to the mat right as the horn sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Buckley
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Buckley
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Buckley

Round 2

The welterweights meet in the middle, and Fialho loops a left hand around the guard and follows it with a body kick that bumps into the cup. Buckley immediately protests as the fight is paused by Hatley, and he takes about 25 seconds before going again. Fialho starts off again with a head kick, and he reaches his foe with a straight right hand. Buckley shakes it off and is tagged once again, and he rushes out with a barrage of inaccurate punches. The two trade punches, with Buckley ending the exchange with a right over the top. Buckley races in with a flying knee, and he wings a right hand and a left that bangs into the temple. Fialho appears no worse for wear, and Buckley kicks up to the same spot but it is blocked. Buckley, in a blitz, reaches Fialho and makes the Portuguese fighter bounce off the wall. Fialho gathers his bearings and lets off another body kick that hits the cup. Buckley shakes it a few times and they get back to trading. Fialho looks to time an advancing Buckley with a right hook, and Buckley attacks awkwardly without a lot of telegraphing to take advantage of. Fialho walks Buckley down with straight punches, but Buckley backs him away before long with a looping right hand and a spinning kick to the ribs. Buckley dances on the outside and sprints in, and he bangs his head into Fialho’s chin. Fialho takes a few seconds to clear his thoughts, and Buckley is on him. Releasing a vicious head kick that slams square into the ear, Buckley knocks Fialho clean off his feet and down for the count. Fialho, grinning but barely clutching to his consciousness, succumbs to one follow-up right hand with Buckley lording over him that knocks him senseless. Hatley, who considered stopping the fight from the kick itself but waited an extra second, moves in to shove Buckley off of the downed Fialho when that last fist bashes into Fialho’s skull, with that blow arguably a late hit as Hatley had his hands on Buckley at the time. There will be a question of whether Fialho should have taken some extra time after the clash of heads, but the head kick sealed the deal and then some. Buckley, in his victorious post-fight interview, maximizes his mic time by calling out the UFC sponsor of Prime and the Paul brother that runs it, telling them to sponsor athletes and not just the promotion itself.

The Official Result

Joaquin Buckley def. Andre Fialho R2 4:15 via TKO (Head Kick)

Emily Ducote (119.5) vs. Lupita Godinez (119.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Godinez (-150), Ducote (+130)

Round 1

On short notice, former Invicta FC champ Ducote (12-7, 1-1 UFC) now finds herself meeting Godinez (9-3, 4-3 UFC) instead of Polyana Viana. As a result, the fight is set as a 120-pound pre-planned catchweight, and neither woman had any difficulty reaching that target. The 29-year-olds will battle it out as referee Chris Tognoni stands at the ready, and they decide not to touch gloves first. Ducote is the aggressor, with a leg kick fired off before Godinez strikes back. Godinez pushes her back with punch combinations, and she lands at the end of a right hand to make Ducote blink it out. Godinez pushes through a body kick to land with a left, and she moves towards her opponent threatening with jabs and follow-up punches. Godinez stings her with a sudden overhand right, and she ducks down for a takedown effort. Ducote stands her up and gets smacked in the side of the head, and she chains a few punches together that mark up the nose of “Loopy.” Both women have red noses after about two minutes of exchanges on the feet, and Godinez looks to make them worst with a few more punches and a chopping leg kick. Ducote gets off a tripping leg kick in response, and she pops her fists off the raised guard of her foe. Godinez lands with the fourth punch in a combination, and Ducote slips to counter with a left hook. Godinez connects with a loud leg kick, and they trade hands in rapid succession. Ducote springs into action with a few punches, and Godinez stops her from advancing and fires right back. The ladies connect with leg kicks, and Godinez puts several punches on the chin. Ducote fakes for a takedown, and Godinez does not bite and instead punches her square in the face. Ducote gets off another effective low kick, only for Godinez to make her pay with a long series of punches. Ducote attempts a takedown in earnest, and she drives “Loopy” to the wall and gets off an elbow. Godinez responds with one of her own before the break, and she checks a leg kick when separated. Godinez swats away a punch to the body and one up high, and she scores a sweeping kick at the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Godinez
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Godinez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Godinez

Round 2

The second round begins with Ducote showing some damage around her right eye as well as her nose. She initiates the inaugural exchange, and Godinez is there to stand firm and belt her in the face with right hands. Ducote flicks a kick low and then lands one high, and Godinez hops back and strings a few punches together in a speedy response. Godinez chains her fists into a low kick, and they both land alternating hooks. Godinez digs a kick to the liver when Ducote throws at her, and she knocks Ducote’s head back with a straight right hand down the pipe. Godinez lunges with two punches, and leans back as Ducote cannot reach her with a reply. Godinez rattles off a two-punch salvo before Ducote can think, and she sprawls in the nick of time to shut down a Ducote takedown. Godinez catches the takedown well enough to set up a knee, and she lets go to kick Ducote in the face. Ducote walks her down, tough as nails, and she punches high and kicks low. Godinez replies in kind without much effort, and she lashes out a heavier combination that gets Ducote’s attention. Ducote shakes her head and the two keep trading one after the other. Godinez shrugs off a few punches and finds Ducote bearing down on her with more and a subsequent head kick. Godinez blocks them and throws back, with active head movement and greater volume. Ducote pushes off with a front kick, and she slips in an uppercut and a left to the body. “Gordinha” then attempts another failed takedown, and Godinez cannot make her pay before she stands up again. Godinez scores a pair of punches and leans into a head kick, and Ducote backs her off with a few quick punches. Godinez looks to land a body lock takedown, and Ducote kicks off to the side and keeps her balance well enough to stand up. Godinez pops her foe with two right hands, and the close round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Godinez
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Godinez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Godinez

Round 3

Ducote starts out the round fired up, throwing heat immediately and backing Godinez away. Ducote scores a few punches when Godinez kicks low, and she absorbs a right to the head and blocks a quick high kick that follows. Godinez strings a few punches together, and Ducote strides forward with a hefty right hook. Ducote chains three straight punches in a row, and Godinez responds with a prodding front kick. Ducote gives keeps moving forward, punching in bunches and mixing in calf kicks that are starting to have an impact. Godinez swings so hard she almost topples over, and she gathers her balance without Ducote going after her. Ducote catches a body kick to slap one to the lead leg, and they both remain active on the feet with decent numbers. Ducote blinks out a right hand to split the guard with an uppercut, and she surprises Godinez with a right hook. Godinez bites down on her mouthpiece and starts slinging leather, and she backs Ducote up to the wall with her power. They both remain trading fists, and Ducote goes to the body to mix things up. Another leg kick from Ducote lands with a thud, and she fakes her way forward with a takedown try so that she can surprise Godinez with a left hand. Godinez stands her ground and wings punches back, and she has to block a high kick. One after the other, they land punches, and Ducote rushes to pursue a takedown. Godinez hits her knees but never goes down, and as she stands, a large hematoma forms on the side of her right eye. Ducote loads up on a right hook and shoots in, and Godinez stands her up with a knee and a left hook. Ducote is on her with a right hand, and she plants the ball of her foot on the midsection. Godinez rings her foe’s bell with a one-two and charges into a takedown, and she lands in the guard. Ducote throws her legs up for a desperation armbar or triangle choke, but time expires before anything comes of it.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Godinez (30-27 Godinez)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Godinez (30-27 Godinez)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Godinez (30-27 Godinez)

The Official Result

Lupita Godinez def. Emily Ducote via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Anthony Hernandez (186) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (185.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Hernandez (-240), Shahbazyan (+200)

Round 1

It’s an all-California middleweight rumble in the co-main attraction, as the resurgent Shahbazyan (12-3, 5-3 UFC) looks to halt the impressive but brief win streak of “Fluffy” Hernandez (10-2, 1 NC; 4-2 UFC). Finish rates of 92% for the former and 80% for the latter mean that while the judges might not be needed for the bout’s duration, referee Herb Dean very well may be required. Before the action begins, the two 185ers try to touch gloves and miss, so they abandon it. Shahbazyan lands the first blow with a right hand, and Hernandez responds with a takedown entry. Shahbazyan loads up with a right hand to hurt “Fluffy” and bends him over, and Hernandez backs away to the wall as Shahbazyan unloads with a series of punches. Hernandez backs away, shells up, sticks his tongue out and counters. Hernandez then goes for a takedown, and he gets tossed out of the way and tagged with a serious jab from his foe. Shahbazyan steps in with a one-two that knocks Hernandez back, and Hernandez rolls with it to take away the worst of it but he cannot buy a takedown at this point. Shahbazyan counters an entry with a knee and stands his foe up when trying, and he scores an elbow and looks to counter with a takedown of his own. Hernandez jumps guard with a guillotine choke, and he bails on it to stand when it is not close. When both are up again, Shahbazyan kicks his foe in the chest, and Hernandez gives chase and drills him the face with a right hand. Hernandez jams his man into the wire, where he looks for a body lock takedown or a throw. Hernandez chains his attempt to a single, and he runs his foe from one side of the cage to the other but cannot ground him. Shahbazyan defends well and plants a knee on the chest, and Hernandez slashes an elbow over the top to cut open the left eyebrow. Hernandez shoots and finds himself in guillotine choke danger, and he turns all the way through it to get out. Shahbazyan rolls to his back to go after an armbar, and he loses the grip and winds up in choke danger on his own side. Hernandez looks for a modified arm-in guillotine choke, and he lets it go so that he can take the fight down on his own terms. Shahbazyan works his way up, and he eats a few elbows and succumbs to a double with 20 seconds to spare. Hernandez sets up a rear-naked choke while his foe is seated, and Shahbazyan stands up and takes a knee on the chin before the horn sounds to end the wild frame.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Hernandez
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hernandez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Hernandez

Round 2

The middleweights meet in the center of the cage, and Hernandez lands a punch, a kick and shoots in for a takedown. When Shahbazyan turns it around on him, Hernandez goes for his unorthodox guillotine again. Shahbazyan turns through to get to a knee, and he stands up and pushes off with a right hand. The two trade jabs, their pace slowed momentarily, and Hernandez chains a jab into an elbow. When Shahbazyan backs into the cage, Hernandez rings his bell with a straight right hand. This leads to a tie-up, and both men fight to get a takedown and drop to a knee. Shahbazyan drops down for a single, and Hernandez dumps him on his face, turns the corner and hits a double. Hernandez lets him sit up so he can punch him in the face, and he stays pinned to a fatiguing Shahbazyan and looks to pick him up and throw him down again. Shahbazyan stands up and gets kneed in the chest, and he is fading fast as Hernandez is on him, smothering him or landing punches. Hernandez grabs hold of a guillotine choke, and he flips his foe over to full mount. When Shahbazyan scrambles, Hernandez transitions the choke to another side, and then to an anaconda. Shahbazyan escapes them all, winding up on top, but Hernandez is on him with another guillotine in the blink of an eye. Hernandez takes his back and looks for a choke, all while working Shahbazyan over with elbows when he can find one. Hernandez goes for another one of his strange guillotine chokes, and he lets it go to take the back and fish for a rear-naked choke. Shahbazyan turns and defends properly, but he cannot get Hernandez off of him. Hernandez sits up with fierce punches and elbows, and he thumps Shahbazyan with elbows to the head, body and thigh until the horn blares.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Hernandez
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hernandez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Hernandez

Round 3

The fighters have reached the last round, and Hernandez reintroduces himself to his foe with a head kick. It does not take more than about 12 seconds for Hernandez to hit a takedown, and he sits up and starts belting the spent Shahbazyan with punches and elbows. The elbows from “Fluffy” have opened up another cut on the face of his opponent, and he sits up and keeps beating on his doomed adversary. Hernandez, seeing that he has Shahbazyan at the end of his rope, slashes down with elbows and adds in few punches to seal the deal. Dean, seeing that Shahbazyan is completely cooked, intervenes for a merciful stoppage, saving the young fighter from any further punishment. “Fluffy” made a seriously statement to the rest of the middleweight division with this gutsy performance, and he might have a number next to his name next week, now celebrating four stoppages in row.

The Official Result

Alexander Hernandez def. Edmen Shahbazyan R3 1:01 via TKO (Elbows and Punches)

Mackenzie Dern (115) vs. Angela Hill (114.5)

BETTING PREVIEW | SCOUTING REPORT | ODDS: Dern (-170), Hill (+145)

Round 1

A place among the top 10 looms for the victor of this headlining strawweight tilt, in a cliched but accurate grappler vs. striker affair. With the majority of her wins coming by submission, Dern (12-3, 7-3 UFC) wants to get her hand raised at all costs to keep any championship hopes alive for the foreseeable future. On the other side of the equation, fan-favorite “Overkill” Hill (15-12, 10-12 UFC) is one significant strike away from passing Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the most landed of any female fighter to enter the Octagon. Something’s gotta give in this final fight of the card, and it will play out after the final instructions are given by referee Jason Herzog. There is intensity but plenty of respect, as the women bump their fists together before preparing to engage. Dern loads up immediately with fierce fists, and Hill is surprised by the sudden power coming her direction. Dern punches her way into a clinch, and Hill pushes her back to the wall but does not want to be locked up here. Dern grinds her elbow on her foe’s face, and they jockey for position in the clinch. Hill drives a knee to the body, and Dern responds with one to break free. Dern swings with all her might and hurts Hill with wild hooks, and she looks to throw Hill to the ground when they get close. Dern lands on her back in the process, and she activates her offensive guard and looks for a submission. Hill escapes smoothly, but Dern follows her and busts her in the chops with a left hand. A shocked hill hits her seat, and Dern instantly gloms onto her and looks to take her back while Hill is still clearing the cobwebs. Hill turns to her back, and leans up against the fence to keep leverage and protect herself from further harm. Dern steps through to half guard, and she looks to pass to the side or mount. Hill kicks her off and uses upkicks to keep her honest, and she hooks her toes in the fence. Dern drops down for a kneebar or a toe hold. Hill fights it off, but Dern secure full mount with seconds to spare, Dern batters Hill with elbows and punches, and she sets up an armbar with 20 seconds on the clock. Hill defends with every bit of energy, and she grits it out wildly before the horn saves “Overkill.”

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Dern
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-8 Dern
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Dern

Round 2

Dern begins the second round confidently, and her big right hand immediately clips Hill. Hill welcomes the brawl, and Dern kicks her in the midsection and charges at her with flailing fists. Hill escapes one clinch, and Dern is following her relentlessly with heavy swings. Hill lets her overswing to take Dern’s back, and this slows Dern down and stops her from hitting her in the face repeatedly. Hill grinds from the side and back, getting in an occasional right hand and knee while forcing Dern to carry her weight. Hill grips her arm around Dern’s jaw and releases it at the right moment to knee her in the face, and Dern gets her back to the wall and knees in response. The two trade knees, and Herzog asks them to keep working. Hill lands knees to the body and an elbow on the break, and she backs off. Dern throws with bad intentions, and Hill’s head movement keeps her face from a long exchange. Dern sits down on a leg kick, and the two clinch up again. Hill grinds her opponent up against the cage, with knees to the midsection and short left hands getting in. Dern looks for a throw but is shut down, and they knee one another in the chest. Hill stays more active with knees, and she dings Dern with a right hand before they split up. Dern punches her way forward, and gets popped with an overhand right. Hill shucks off a takedown attempt, and she pushes Dern to the wall as the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Hill
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Hill
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Hill

Round 3

The strawweight contenders meet in the middle of the age, and Dern leads off with a right hand and a high kick. When Dern attempts another kick, Hill knocks her off her feet, and “Overkill” willingly climbs into the guard. Dern throws her legs up high to set up a triangle choke, and Hill smartly stacks Dern up and shuts it down. Dern transitions to an armbar, and Hill backs off and stands up. Dern follows her, and she drives a knee on the chin that hurts Hill and puts her on baby deer legs. Dern attempts to throw a wobbled Hill down to the ground, and Hill winds up on top and fights her way up to her feet, possibly on autopilot after the hammering blow. Dern looks for another throw, and this time, she drags Hill to the floor and climbs into mount with three minutes to go. Hill turns to her stomach, and Dern allows her to do this so she can elbow and punch Hill in the side of the head. Hill looks to push her feet off the fence to protect herself, and she kicks off at the right time to roll to her knees. Dern muscles her back down again, and she unleashes fierce ground-and-pound as she traps Hill on her side. Hill shells up and posts off the wall, and Dern follows her and continues pummeling her with elbows and punches. Dern kiais every time she lands a strike, and these blows are not light and Hill is eating them or blocking them to little effect. Dern rides and batters Hill with left hands, screaming with every blow, and Hill scrambles but winds up in the armbar. With 30 seconds left, Dern softens Hill up with a few hammerfists and leans to her back to extend the arm. Dern cannot break the grip before time expires, and Hill has once more been saved by the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Dern
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-8 Dern
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Dern

Round 4

Between rounds, Hill’s left eye swells up significantly, and it is closing fast. Despite this, she is good to go in the championship rounds. Dern slams her fists into Hill’s face to start off again, and she stings Hill and forces a tie-up. Hill presses her tightly to the fence, slowing the offense for a time. Dern uses a few elbows to get some space and considers a head lock throw, but Hill breaks away courtesy of a few punches. Dern trades hands with her foe, and Hill is not taking the punches well. “Overkill” clinches her up to not getting tagged, and Dern breaks with a fierce elbow. Dern hammers the lead leg with a few kicks, and she initiates a clinch to take the fight down. Hill turns her around before this materializes, and another stalemate ensues with knees to the body coming from both women. Dern looks to hook the leg or drag her down, and she forces Hill to carry her body weight. Hill spins her around with a frenzied effort, and Dern backs her off with a stern elbow. Hill the strikes on the chin, and Hill looks for a takedown and gets thrown awkwardly to her back, while hanging onto Dern from behind. Dern turns her around, and Hill hangs on with an arm-triangle choke from her back. The horn sounds with Dern in no danger from the submission setup.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Dern
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Dern
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Dern

Round 5

The fighters have reached the final frame, and Hill’s eye is greatly swollen but not in danger of stopping the fight. She engages in a brief slugfest to start things off, and Dern catches her with a few punches and throws Hill to her back. Hill closes her guard, and Dern stacks her up and grinds an elbow on the chin to open it up. Hill reaches her legs up high and hopes to wrap them over a shoulder, and she gets her toes in the fence and even considers an armbar. Dern is wise to it and powers through it, and she moves to side control at the three-minute mark. Dern steps over to grab hold of Hill’s left arm, and she lets it go to hurt Hill with elbows. Hill turns to her side, smothered by the active Dern, and Dern traps her and elbows her repeatedly. Dern takes the back and looks for an armbar, but she flattens Hill out and punches her on both sides of the head. Dern gets both hooks in from behind, and she steps over to full mount and hammerfists Hill with no way out. Try as she might, Hill cannot get out, and Dern clobbers her with a long series of elbows. Hill holds on and moves enough to stave off referee intervention, and Dern beats on her right until the bitter end. Hill has reached the final horn, in what may be a moral victory after a fairly brutal drubbing. The victorious Dern earns her third stripe on her black belt from father, “Megaton” Dias. With her striking improving dramatically, Dern is an immediate top contender in the strawweight division. While the top echelon of the division is so jam-packed, Dern asks for a matchup against former champion Rose Namajunas. If that happens, we will be here for it. We hope you are too.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Dern (49-44 Dern)
Edwin Ayala scores the round: 10-9 Dern (49-44 Dern)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Dern (49-44 Dern)

The Official Result

Mackenzie Dern def. Angela Hill via Unanimous Decision (49-43, 49-44, 49-44)
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