UFC on ESPN 14 ‘Whittaker vs. Till’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

By Jay Pettry Jul 25, 2020
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Nathaniel Wood (136) vs. John Castaneda (136)

Round 1

We’re back for the final installment of this run of “UFC Fight Island” with a card that has as many fights as the UFC has ever held in a night. We kick things off in the bantamweight division, as Wood (16-4, 3-1 UFC) tries to put England on the map early against longtime Combate Americas vet Castaneda (17-4, 0-0 UFC). Referee Marc Goddard will oversee the first of 15 fights tonight, and a touch of gloves clocks in the first one. Castaneda opens with a leg kick and gets countered with a quick right hand instantly. Wood circles on the outside to poke at his man with his own leg kicks and a few straight punches. Wood targets the body with a right straight, and then catches his opponent with a hook as he separates. Castaneda tries to close in but gets pushed away and eats a front kick to the torso for his effort. Wood jabs at him with another one of these kicks and a few jabs, but is more interested in setting in a big left hook that falls short. Castaneda catches a kick and closes in, where he clips Wood with a crisp right hand. Wood wears it well and takes a leg kick as he backs off. Castaneda tries to chase him down and backs him up with a body kick, forcing Wood to circle away. Wood regains his composure and fires off a low kick that makes Wood lift his foot off the ground. When Castaneda absorbs a front kick to the solar plexus, he races in with a stream of punches that largely fall short. Wood dances out of the way before trading leg kicks, with the Brit landing more as they exchange them. Castaneda fires off a body kick that glances off the forearm of “The Prospect,” and they continue to trade leg kicks. Wood keeps his distance with leg kicks and front kicks while Castaneda tries to close in on him, and one leg kick makes “Sexi Mexi” change stances. Wood loads up on a powerful right hand that rings off the side of Castaneda’s, head, getting the American’s attention. Wood targets the chest some more with kicks down the middle, and his kicks are starting to mark up his opponent well. Castaneda dives forward to pursue a takedown, but Wood does not only stand him up, but he turns him around and actually plants Castaneda on his backside. Castaneda springs back up and takes a few kicks as he tries to back away, and gives them back to Wood. The horn sounds to end the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Wood
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Wood
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Wood

Round 2

Castaneda opens up the round firing, in a wild rush as he swarms Wood with punches. Wood tries to dance out of the way, and Castaneda catches him a few times as the Brit tries to get his footing. Castaneda lands a few hard leg kicks, and on one, Wood rings his bell with a counter elbow. Wood backs away and starts chipping at the lead leg of the American, and kicks Castaneda’s legs out beneath him. Castaneda gets back to his feet before Wood pounces, so Wood goes back to working the lead leg as it continues to grow red. Castaneda attempts to counter his kicks, but he cannot find his mark as Wood keeps them going, while sprinkling in a few to the body. Wood reaches with a right hand and slams a leg kick home that draws a reaction from Castaneda. Wood follows up with a combination punctuated by a clubbing left hook that opens a cut on the side of Castaneda’s eye. Despite this success on the feet, Wood decides to pursue a clinch that leads to a takedown. Castaneda gets back up and has his toes stomped while standing back up, but he breaks free. Wood nails him with a few more heavy inside leg kicks, and Castaneda walks through them to try to unload bombs, but Wood sees them coming and evades most of the attack. Wood counters, and clips Castaneda with a shot that makes the American retreat, so Wood pours it on. Sensing that Castaneda may have his feet back underneath him, Wood decides not to empty his gas tank and goes back to chopping down the lead leg. The kicks keep coming, so Castaneda has to switch stances frequently, which leads to openings as Wood jabs at him until the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Wood
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Wood
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Wood

Round 3

The two fighters jog out of their corners to meet in the middle with a high-five, and Castaneda takes a step back and bites down his mouthpiece to swing for the fences. Wood takes a few but manages to avoid the brunt of the damage, all while countering with left hooks that aim at the cut. Castaneda wades through leg kicks to close in and lob bombs at Wood, and Wood takes them on the side of the head with no visible effect. Wood gains some distance and begins his pace of nasty leg kicks, and Castaneda is already force to go from orthodox to southpaw as they add up. They close in to clinch, and both land one significant shot that gets the other’s attention before separating. Castaneda chains a few jabs into a right hand and a low kick, so Wood throws back the inverse of that combination by starting with a low kick that ends with a few long jabs. Seemingly accepted that he will eat leg kicks, Castaneda crashes in and tries to wing punches, but Wood drills him with an uppercut on the way in. Castaneda backs off and does a quick count of his teeth, before clinching up. Wood takes a quick Thai clinch and knees Castaneda in the jaw, before the American pushes him away and takes some leg kicks. The offense of Wood is constant and irritating, content to just touch his opponent from a distance while avoiding most of the big counters and power punches. Castaneda leaps in the air, and Wood manages to stave him off and not get tagged with it, before his preferred pace resumes. Castaneda keeps his forward momentum going, but it is Wood that whips up a head kick that makes his opponent back away for a moment. Wood peppers him with leg kicks and jabs as precious seconds tick off the clock. When they come together, Wood pushes his head forward a little too far, leading to Castaneda jumping guard for a guillotine choke. There is nothing to it, as “The Prospect” pops his head out and lands a few punches before the final horn concludes this fight.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Wood (30-27 Wood)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Wood (30-27 Wood)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Wood (30-27 Wood)

The Official Result

Nathaniel Wood def. John Castaneda via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Ramazan Emeev (171) vs. Niklas Stolze (170.5)

Round 1

Moving to the welterweight, the first of many fighters tonight from Dagestan step into the Octagon, as Emeev (18-4, 3-1 UFC) tries to stave off the debuting German Stolze (12-3, 0-0 UFC). Our referee is Dan Movahedi, who tells the two fighters to “have fun” as they touch gloves. Emeev starts out with a jab, and Stolze whips a heavy leg kick that already draws out a reaction. Emeev tries to time it with a counter right, and Stolze backs away to land another while avoiding the counter. Emeev crashes forward to land a takedown, and Stolze uses all his might to stand up and sprints across the cage to take the center again. The German goes right after the lead calf again, and Emeev can do nothing but take them as he is out of range from counters. Emeev sits down on a right hand, and grabs the leg when Stolze fires off another leg kick. The Dagestani fighter manages to take the fight down with relative ease, and Stolze throws up his legs quick for a triangle of sorts. Stolze uses the submission attack to walk back to the cage, so Emeev slaps an anaconda choke on him quickly. Stolze grits out of it, and survives when Emeev changes the grip to walk up the fence. “Gorets” presses his full weight on his opponent against the cage while searching for a takedown, and nearly trips Stolze down but cannot quite pull it off. When he is not able to get any dominant position, Emeev shoves him off and slings a one-two. Stolze returns fire by overextending with a right hand, and Emeev snatches his legs out and takes him down. Stolze defends with a guillotine choke, but with an arm in, he cannot get the right leverage as Emeev yanks his head out and sits in top position. By using an open guard, Stolze gets back up and kicks him off. When we hear the 10-second clapper, Stolze unleashes a fury with a head kick, which makes Emeev consider one final takedown. Stolze blasts him right on the jaw with a knee, setting Emeev squirrely as the Dagestani fighter topples to the canvas. Stolze leaps on with a barrage of ground-and-pound until Emeev is saved by the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Emeev
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Emeev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Emeev

Round 2

Stolze sticks out his jab a few times to open the round, and Emeev backs away before loading up on his own punches. The strikes get blocked but knock Stolze around the cage, bullying the German against the fence. Stolze circles away and starts chipping away at the calf until Emeev shoots in from a distance for a takedown. “Green Mask” stuffs it and continues to pepper the leg with those kicks. The offense stalls and the two stare one another down, and Emeev moves first with a stream of looping punches that largely get blocked. They continue to keep their distance and throw single, sporadic strikes. Stolze elects to get off another calf kick, and Emeev counters him with a right hand and comes back with a duo of punches. Stolze keeps away with a side kick to the body, and nearly takes an overhand right in the chops but rolls with it. The calf kicks from Stolze have been quite effective visually, with some significant swelling forming on that left calf of “Gorets.” He targets it a few more times, and gets popped in the face with a power jab. Emeev loads up on a big right hand and bounces Stolze off the fence. Stolze tries to wind up with a huge right hand, but a jab from Emeev halts him in his tracks as we hear the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Emeev
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Emeev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Emeev

Round 3

Stolze works behind his jab in the early seconds, until Emeev decides he is tired of eating them and presses into a clinch. He turns this into a body lock, and nearly drags Stolze down but does manage to take his back from standing in the process. A quick knee from Emeev rings off Stolze’s chin and hurts him, which allows Emeev to set up a standing rear-naked choke. Stolze has the wherewithal to break free from the position, and as he separates, he targets that damaged leg. When Emeev clips him with a right, the German sneakily lands his own takedown to the complete surprise of the Dagestani fighter. Emeev considers a submission from his back, but elects to kick off and stand back up. “Gorets” goes right back to the body lock position from before, where he again gets hold of Stolze’s back and things about knee him in the face again. Stolze wisely pulls his head up as he is trapped against the fence, and he tries to gain separation but Emeev is on him like a tick. Emeev takes the back again and knees him in the thigh, before circling around to knee Stolze square on the jaw three times. When Stolze is bucking, Emeev clacks one more knee on the nose, and starts spamming them wherever there is a target. Landing them to the thigh, body and head indiscriminately, Emeev abandons them with 30 seconds left to hunt for a single leg takedown. Stolze stands up and flirts with a guillotine choke, before pulling guard to land it with seconds to go. “Gorets” appears unconcerned as he rides it out until the final horn sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Emeev (30-27 Emeev)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Emeev (30-27 Emeev)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Emeev (30-27 Emeev)

The Official Result

Ramazan Emeev def. Niklas Stolze via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Bethe Correia (136) vs. Pannie Kianzad (136)

Round 1

In the first of two women’s bouts tonight, former title challenger Correia (11-4-1, 5-4-1 UFC) takes on TUF 28 finalist Kianzad (12-5, 1-2 UFC) in the bantamweight division. The Octagon ranger for this one is referee Rich Mitchell, who will be here to keep order as these two do not touch gloves and start slugging. Kianzad lands a hard one-two, and Correia rolls with it and takes another. Two punches from Kianzad land flush, and Correia is unconcerned as she sticks out a long jab. When Kianzad overextends with a looping right hand, the Brazilian shoots in for a takedown. “Banzai” stuffs it and starts to get her boxing together again. They come together and swing wildly, and on the end of a left hand, Correia looks a little wobbly as she stares as the ground for a moment. Kianzad backs off and sets up another short string of punches, all while avoiding the counter that comes. Kianzad clips her with a left hand, and when she throws another, Correia shoots for a single that gets stuffed with ease. Kianzad connects with a few more punches including an emphatic right hand, and Correia may be getting a little loose or she may be stumbling back as these shots ring home. On the way in, Kianzad takes a short left hand on the nose, so she backs off and rushes in to set up a clinch. “Banzai” tosses a few short strikes at her before separating, where she lands on the break. Correia connects with a left hand counter while Kianzad rushes forward, so the Swede backs off and steps in with a knee to the body. A quick jab flusters Correia, and Kianzad nails her with a right hand as we see swelling develop quickly. When Correia tries to come back, Kianzad kicks her in the leg and pops her with a counter left hand. Kianzad winds up with a spinning back fist that gets blocked, and Correia tries to reply with a few punches but each one gets blocked. The 10-second clapper sounds, and Correia thinks the round has ended so she drops her guard and walks away. Kianzad attacks with a sudden frenzy, hurting Correia with a swarm of punches, and the Brazilian covers up and looks confused when the horn sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad

Round 2

The words “protect yourself at all times” haunt Correia as the second round opens. Kianzad starts off where she left off, cracking Correia with a big right hand that hurts her. Kianzad keeps swinging, and the Brazilian catches her off-guard and hits a takedown. “Pitbull” lands in full guard, and Kianzad rolls to set up an armbar that she is forced to bail on. Kianzad then opens up with rubber guard, trying to sneak up a leg, but Correia is heavy on top of her with a few punches. Correia keeps raining down punches, and there is now some swelling around the left eye of Kianzad. Correia winds up a little too far with punches, and Kianzad kicks off and stands back up. The two trade heavy punches as they stand, with Correia loading up on power shots while Kianzad uses angles to get in and out. Correia catches her with a few counters, and tries to clinch to lift up a few knees, but Kianzad shoves her away. They clash together and land strikes, and both women are wearing it. “Banzai” springs back and sinks in a leg kick that makes Correia shake out her lead leg, but the moment does not last for long as they get back to trading punch for punch. Kianzad sticks out a jab a few times, and keeps Correia at bay as the Brazilian wings looping right hands. Correia lands a right, but Kianzad throws one back harder at her, staggering her for a moment. Correia blinks it out and swings for the fences with some wide punches, and Kianzad is crisper and more accurate with jabs and straight punches. The horn ends the second frame, and thankfully for the Brazilian, she fights to the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad

Round 3

Kianzad begins the last round with a string of jabs that make Correia return fire at nothing but air. They throw leg kicks and clash them at the same time, and it is Kianzad that recovers and flicks out a few more jabs. Both women come together and decide to slug it out in a torrid exchange, with each finding success and not backing down. Kianzad resets and sneaks in a shovel left hook, and Correia unloads with a thudding left hand that rocks Kianzad. “Banzai” eats it like a traditional Swedish dish and slings leather back at her, scoring with a blistering right hand. The power left hand from Correia has produced some immediate swelling on Kianzad’s right eye, but Kianzad is undeterred as she keeps swinging. A one-two finds its home on Correia’s face, which is followed by one more and a third that snaps back the head of the Brazilian. Correia shoots for a takedown after getting hurt by those strikes, and Kianzad steps over, considers back control, and decides to just get back to the feet. Kianzad comes in with a big shot, and Correia counters her with a short left on the way in. Both women’s faces are busted up from absorbing all these punches flush, and Kianzad delivers a few more for good measure as Correia swats back at her. Kianzad jabs and keeps her distance, where she snaps out a few more jabs before re-introducing a powerful right hand to the swollen eye of the Brazilian. Correia races forward to take the fight down, and she hits it with 10 seconds to go. “Pitbull” gets off a few knees to the posterior and flails down with strikes until the horn sounds, and both women raise their arms in victory.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad (30-27 Kianzad)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Kianzad (30-27 Kianzad)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round:10-9 Kianzad (30-27 Kianzad)

The Official Result

Pannie Kianzad def. Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Tanner Boser (235) vs. Raphael Pessoa (264)

Round 1

Leaping up to the heavyweight division, Boser (18-6-1, 2-1 UFC) tries to keep his momentum going against once-beaten Brazilian Pessoa (10-1, 1-1 UFC). Keeping tabs on this 499-pound rumble is referee Herb Dean, and with a tough of gloves the cage is sealed. The two big men keep a wide berth as they try to find an angle to get, and Pessoa swings and misses with a wheel kick. Boser stands back and chops at him with a single leg kick. Pessoa responds to a jab that comes short with his own low kick. Boser and his mighty mullet stalk the Brazilian down, but neither are committing to anything of note. Boser lets fly another leg kick, and Pessoa practically ignores it. The Canadian tries to jab his way in to wing a right hand, but nothing lands besides one of his leg kicks at the end. Pessoa attacks back, and he also misses with the lion’s share of his strikes. Boser winds up on a leg kick, and he darts out of the way when Pessoa charges after him before landing an inside leg kick. They jab one another at the same time, and Boser stings him with another heavy leg kick. Pessoa puts on the pressure but does not throw a single strike, disengaging before swinging leather. Boser swings and misses with a hellish overhand right, and Pessoa stays on the outside with a quick leg kick. Boser responds with one of his own, and sets up a right jab to a windmilling left hook. Boser evades a spinning back kick, and sneaks in another low kick. The output is tragically low in this first round, and Boser puts his version of a stamp on it with a slapping leg kick.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Boser
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Boser
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Boser

Round 2

A touch of gloves opens the second, and Boser whips a leg kick to start things off. Although practically the only strike of note that Boser has landed, there is some discoloration and swelling on the lead leg of the Brazilian. Boser throws another at the same spot, and Pessoa finally checks it. Boser backs away to land two, and Pessoa is ready with two looping hooks that make Boser’s hair flip back. Pessoa rushes in and tries to clinch, but Boser gets away and keeps battering the lead leg on the inside and outside. As he targets the leg again, Pessoa winds up with a booming right hand that just misses the mark, and Boser fires back at him but also comes up short. They partially connect at the end of jabs, and when Pessoa gives him a leg kick to think about, Boser winds up with a blistering left hook that glances off the cheek. “Bebezao” stumbles back to the cage, and slumps over clutching his eye – there was no poke, it was a clean punch – so “The Bulldozer” buries him with a frightening salvo of hammerfists and looping punches. Dean stands around while Boser keeps swinging with reckless abandon, and finally steps in to save Pessoa, who is practically in the fetal position while turtled up trying to protect his head. With that, we get our first finish of the evening, and Boser is the first man to stop the Brazilian with strikes.

The Official Result

Tanner Boser def. Raphael Pessoa R2 2:36 via TKO (Punches)

Mike Grundy (146) vs. Movsar Evloev (146)

Round 1

At featherweight, unbeaten Russian Evloev (12-0, 2-0 UFC) squares off with Team Kaobon representative Grundy (12-1, 1-0 UFC) – Grundy is the first of three fighters tonight from this camp, along with Tom Aspinall and Darren Till. A touch of gloves checks in the bout overseen by referee Marc Goddard, and Grundy takes the center of the Octagon. Evloev is the first to strike, in the form of a leg kick, and Grundy ducks down to throw a few punches that come up short. Evloev fires off a quick body kick, but Grundy catches it and takes him down. Evloev throws his legs up as he falls to his back, and the Brit ignores the potential attempt to land a strike from on top. Evloev springs to his knees, and Grundy grabs hold of a head lock to keep Evloev grounded. They scramble wildly, and roll out of position, with Evloev managing to get back to his feet. This does not last for long, as Grundy is right back on him to take the fight down with style points. Evloev again thinks about a triangle choke from his back, but he instead uses this to roll to his knees. Grundy sees the exposed neck and latches on a brabo choke in an instant, and it is tight. The Russian keeps rolling to get out, but puts himself in worse position as his neck is bent in a bad way. Evloev stays patient, and miraculously, he is able to pull his head free. When he gets back to his feet, Grundy takes a deep breath and shakes his arms out as he put a lot into trying to finish that choke. They start exchanging on the feet, and Evloev cracks him with a right hand that hurts the Brit and busts up his eye. Grundy’s right eye instantly begins to swell and start bleeding, and Evloev targets it with another right as Grundy tries to throw back at him. When Evloev reaches too far to land on him, Grundy changes levels to take the fight down. Evloev manages to stuff it, and he breaks away to wing a spinning back fist. Grundy catches him coming forward and hits a takedown as the horn sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Grundy
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Grundy
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Grundy

Round 2

Grundy starts the round after a few tentative strikes with a takedown attempt, and the Russian stands him back up. Evloev lands a left, and Grundy fires back with his own that catches Evloev on the cheek hard. The Russian is not concerned, and backs away while Grundy practically dives at him for a takedown. Evloev once more stuffs it and returns to a clinch for a moment, before forcing a separation. When Evloev commits to a combination, Grundy drops down for a double, and the Brit is greeted with an uppercut. Grundy keeps trying to get the fight down, and gets Evloev grounded for the briefest of moments, only to lose position when Evloev powers back up. A right hand from Evloev is followed by another and a knee up the middle, and Grundy can do nothing but absorb them as his takedown game keeps getting thwarted. Evloev slaps the lead leg with a few kicks, and follows one with a sharp one-two. He keeps his striking going in the form of a powerful elbow, and a big left hand hurts Grundy. The Brit is forced to take the fight down possibly in desperation, and Evloev scrambles brilliantly, nearly flipping around his opponent to get up. When Grundy fakes for a level change, Evloev delivers an uppercut up the bracket. Evloev keeps his jab flowing until the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Evloev
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Evloev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Evloev

Round 3

Evloev stays on the outside to open the round, keeping his distance from a level change while kicking Grundy in the head. The Brit wears it well and presses in to wrench the fight down, but he cannot get things where he wants them. Instead, Evloev lands a few strikes from a distance, with jabs followed by power punches as Grundy has no answer on the feet. Grundy tries from a long way out to take him down, and Evloev sees it coming a mile away and dances out of harm’s way. Evloev takes the center of the cage, where he lands a leg kick and a stiff jab as Grundy tries to crowd him with an uppercut. Evloev sticks out a few more jabs, and gives back his own uppercut but leaves it out a little too long. Grundy finally manages to hit the takedown he desires, and Evloev gives up his back so the he can stand back up, and he does just that. Evloev jabs in and times a knee up the middle when Grundy tries to drop low, but Grundy pulls back before absorbing the brunt of it. Doggedly pursuing the takedown, Grundy lands another and gets Evloev down, but the Russian crushes Grundy’s hopes and dreams by standing up and avoiding the potential brabo choke attempt. Evloev presses Grundy against the fence, and in the process he holds on to the cage, which prompts Goddard to land a resounding slap to break that up. Evloev stays sharp and jabs at him from a distance while avoiding the slower, looping punches from the British wrestler. Evloev gets off a spinning back fist and a few more jabs, and Grundy attacks him with everything he has left before the horn sounds – he does not make much of it as he misses with a jump knee and a few hooks from below his knees.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Evloev (29-28 Evloev)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Evloev (29-28 Evloev)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Evloev (29-28 Evloev)

The Official Result

Movsar Evloev def. Mike Grundy via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Tom Aspinall (248) vs. Jake Collier (264)

Round 1

Returning to the heavyweight division for the heaviest bout of the evening, British powerhouse Aspinall (7-2, 0-0 UFC) and Team Kaobon product looks to make a statement in his debut against beefed-up ex-middleweight Collier (11-4, 3-3 UFC). Five hundred and twelve pounds combine for these two men inside the cage, not counting referee Dan Movahedi, and there is a sporting glove touch before these sluggers throw down. The two men start out trading leg kicks, and Collier comes rushing forward with a head kick that misses. Aspinall cracks him with a right on the temple, and Collier takes it and eats another one-two from the Brit. Aspinall steps in with a knee, and plants a perfect one-two on the chin that sends “The Prototype” crashing to the canvas. Movahedi races in to stop the fight, seeing that Collier is done, and Aspinall puts a bow on it with a single glancing shot a la Mike Russow vs. Todd Duffee while Collier is face-down on the ground. What a way to introduce yourself to the organization.

The Official Result

Tom Aspinall def. Jake Collier R1 0:45 via TKO (Knee and Punches)

Jesse Ronson (171) vs. Nicolas Dalby (171)

Round 1

Returning to the welterweight division, we are now treated to a classic Denmark vs. Canada matchup as Dalby (18-3-1, 1 NC; 2-2-1 UFC) tries to keep his momentum going against the returning Ronson (21-10, 0-3 UFC). Serving as the referee is Marc Goddard, and these two 170-pounders do not touch ‘em up before throwing down. Dalby starts out offensively, with a fast blitz of punches that ends with a head kick that Ronson can barely block. Dalby walks him down to unload more punches, and Ronson is mostly on the defensive as he looks like a significantly smaller fighter. Ronson digs to the body with a kick to disrupt Dalby’s offense, and he slings another but gets blocked. Dalby fires one back, and bullies Ronson to the fence and lands a few clinch strikes including a cracking elbow. Dalby grabs hold of a leg to try to take the fight down, and Ronson manages to keep his balance and circles out. Dalby follows him with a few body kicks, a head kick just barely misses the mark. Ronson tries to come back with his own side kick, but “Lokomotivo” marches through it and lands a few punches. Ronson fires a kick and it gets checked, and Dalby races in to attack. When Dalby crashes forward, Ronson clips Dalby with a short right, and a straight left sets the fighter from Denmark down like a ton of bricks. Ronson leaps on top with a torrential assault of elbows while claiming mount position, forcing Dalby to turn and give up his back. “The Body Snatcher” snatches up the neck in an instant, sinking in a rear-naked choke that is tight as can be. Dalby only needs a second or two before surrendering, as there is no way out from there. He taps out, and Ronson has now finally won his first fight inside the Octagon after four attempts.

The Official Result

Jesse Ronson def. Nicolas Dalby R1 2:48 via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)

Francisco Trinaldo (160: Missed Weight) vs. Jai Herbert (156)

Round 1

Headlining the prelims that might have felt like an eternity to some is a catchweight fight between longtime UFC vet Trinaldo (25-7, 15-6 UFC) and hard-charging British striker Herbert (10-1, 0-0 UFC), with the latter making his UFC debut while Trinaldo has already fought in the Octagon 21 times. As Trinaldo missed weight by four pounds, this is a 160-pound affair, and it will be overseen by referee Herb Dean. There is no glove touch, and Herbert starts out with a wide stance as he paws out his left. Trinaldo winds up with a left hook that comes up well short, and Herbert is dancing around the cage while avoiding strikes. Herbert stings him with a right hand, and lands another, forcing the Brazilian to bite down on his mouthpiece and land a left hook and a body kick. “Massaranduba” mashes him against the fence, where it leads to a simple takedown as he hops into half guard. Trinaldo drops down a hard elbow, and fishes for an arm-triangle choke that leads him to fall off. Herbert springs back up, but Trinaldo snags his neck on the way up and clamps on a guillotine choke. The Brit stays calm, and he pulls his head free and returns to his feet as Trinaldo squeezes him on the fence. When Herbert tries to gain separation, Trinaldo redoubles his effort to get the fight down, and he tosses his man to the canvas. Herbert tries to get to his knees and stand up, but he gives up his neck as Trinaldo steps over to hunt for a rear-naked choke. Herbert falls to his back to defend the choke, so Trinaldo lashes at him with vicious elbows. Herbert manages to kick off, but Trinaldo comes back forward to bully Herbert on the fence. Herbert turns out and lifts up a few knees that ring Trinaldo’s bell, but the Brazilian winds up with a right hand that does some damage as well. When they are still holding tight, Herbert hits his own takedown, and he wings a big elbow at his opponent from on top. Herbert rides out the rest of the round with a few punches from half guard.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Trinaldo
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Trinaldo
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Trinaldo

Round 2

Herbert opens the round with a few jabs, and he follows one with a piston-like right straight that sets Trinaldo down on the ground. The Brit dives on top and drills him with an elbow, so Trinaldo scrambles but inadvertently gives up his back. Herbert gets both his hooks in, and he secures a body triangle as he fishes for a neck. Herbert tries to set up a rear-naked choke, and the Brazilian defends it well, so Herbert softens him up with a few punches. Trinaldo bucks like a bronco, but Herbert has him locked down from turning. Trinaldo gets two-on-one wrist control to force a sweep, and after they jockey for position, Trinaldo gets him off and gets to his knees. The Brazilian takes a moment to get up, so Herbert blasts him on the chin again. Trinaldo looks tired as he tries to get back up, and he swings wildly and inaccurately but zings one off the chin. Herbert stuffs a takedown attempt, and he sticks Trinaldo with another right hand. Trinaldo is wobbling around like he is on an ice-covered canvas, and Herbert nearly drops him again with a right hand. Trinaldo gets his knees back beneath him but his punches are labored and not finding their mark in time. Herbert is loose, and when they clinch, Herbert knees him in the face before breaking position. Herbert sneaks in another right hand, and Trinaldo greets him with a thumping low kick. Trinaldo tries another one of those kicks, but Herbert checks it and sticks him with a right. The round ends with both men swinging to the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Herbert
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Herbert
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Herbert

Round 3

Trinaldo opens the last round up with some hard leg kicks, and Herbert replies in kind with long left hands. Trinaldo kicks to the body, and Herbert can do nothing but take it and aim right hands down the pipe. They trade kicks, and Herbert doubles up on a jab while blocking the counter left coming at him. Trinaldo sends a body kick skimming off the midsection of the debuting Brit. The Brazilian winds up with a crazy left hand that bounces off the forehead, and there is a delayed reaction as Herbert loses his equilibrium and falls back with his arms outstretched and could be out cold! Unfortunately for Herbert, Dean stands there and urges Trinaldo to pound on him, but Herbert is already done. Trinaldo does not want to finish the job, and waits a moment before reluctantly slamming down four more jackhammering left hands to officially seal the deal. That was not a good display of refereeing, and not the first potentially late stoppage from Dean tonight; more than anything, what a surprising win for the Brazilian.

The Official Result

Francisco Trinaldo def. Jai Herbert R3 1:30 via TKO (Punches)

Khamzat Chimaev (171) vs. Rhys McKee (170.5)

Round 1

Opening the main card is the shockingly sudden return of relative newcomer Chimaev (7-0, 1-0 UFC), who made his dominating UFC debut just ten days ago. He will be squaring off at welterweight instead of middleweight for this bout, and will be greeting Cage Warriors prospect McKee (10-2-1, 0-0 UFC) on extremely short notice. Our referee for the first main card bout is Rich Mitchell, and there is a quick touch of gloves before these two get right to business. Chimaev walks forward and lifts McKee off the ground effortlessly, where he carries McKee to his own corner to hear advice. Chimaev gets on top and takes mount while landing a few punches, and McKee turns to his stomach while getting clubbed in the head. “Skeletor” twists and turns but he is trapped on the ground, and Chimaev pounds on him with crushing hammerfists. McKee turns and nearly gives up his back multiple times, only to get out of bad position before Chimaev grabs his neck. Chimaev snatches up that rear-naked choke he was hunting for, and it is tight. The newcomer from Northern Ireland manages to get free, so Chimaev opts to beat on him with punches and elbows as Mitchell takes a close look at the fight. McKee is flattened out and turtles up while getting blasted with punches from on top. Chimaev pours on the punches, overwhelming McKee until Mitchell has seen enough. It is not likely that McKee landed a single strike in that fight beyond the glove touch. With his dominant win, Chimaev is now 8-0 with eight finishes. To the camera, he announces that he will “smash everybody.” He means it.

The Official Result

Khamzat Chimaev def. Rhys McKee R1 3:09 via TKO (Punches)

Alex Oliveira (171) vs. Peter Sobotta (171)

Round 1

Fresh off the heels of a return to winning form in March, Brazilian fan-favorite “Cowboy” Oliveira (21-8-1, 2 NC; 10-6, 1 NC UFC) locks horns against fellow striker Sobotta (17-6-1, 4-5 UFC) in the welterweight division. Referee Dan Movahedi will preside over what could be a very exciting scrap, and these two hard-hitting 170-pound fighters touch gloves before greeting one another with punches in the face. Oliveira opens the fight with a front kick, and he pops in a quick body kick that lands with an audible thump. “Cowboy” chases with a looping right hand that nearly makes him fall over from how hard he threw it, and Sobotta avoids it and counters with a low leg kick. Sobotta lands another, and Oliveira stands him front of him with his hands down to his waist. Oliviera swings and misses with a high kick, and Sobotta returns with a body kick as powerful as Oliveira’s earlier. Oliveira hurts him with a front kick, and Sobotta doubles over as he takes it straight in the center of the chest to knock the wind out of him. Not to be outdone, the German representing Jamaica blasts Oliveira back with a big body kick. These two fighters are largely throwing one-hitter quitter strikes, and “Cowboy” slowly stalks him down and unloads another two front kicks. Sobotta comes in with a double jab and a right left hand, and the Brazilian avoids all three strikes while circling away from the fence. Oliveira zings up a high kick, and as soon as Sobotta blocks it, Oliveira lets fly one to the midsection. Sobotta attempts to return fire with the same strike up high, and “Cowboy” moves out of the way in time. Sobotta is holding his right arm strangely, and one of Oliveira’s kicks could have hurt it. The Brazilian swings and misses with one more kick right before we hear the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira

Round 2

Both men are hesitant to exchange in the early going, and Oliveira lets go with a few kicks low and high. Sobotta shoots in low for a takedown, and Oliveira backs up to the fence and elbows the German in the side of the head repeatedly until he changes his approach. Sobotta tries to tie up Oliveira and trip him down, but like before, Oliveira hacks at him with some elbows that open up a cut on the top of the head. When they separate, Oliveira targets the body with two stabbing front kicks. Sobotta comes at him with a left hand, and Oliveira slips it and racks him back with a club of a right hand. Oliveira sticks his hand out and Movahedi warns him not to lead with extended fingers, so the Brazilian extends his toes out with a kick that jabs at the body. Oliveira winds up and drills him with a front kick flush on the cup, and we get a break in the action. With a stream of blood flowing down his face due to the cut high on his head, Sobotta regains his composure and gets back to it. Oliveira lands a slapping left hand and a front kick to the body, before winding up with a high kick that gets blocked. Sobotta jabs once, and then tries again but meets a body kick while striding forward. Oliveira keeps his fingers out and is warned once more, and he swings and misses with a kick. He chambers another and scores with it, and Sobotta gives him a leg kick back, but it is one-and-done. Oliveira jabs out with his fingers open, and he sticks them right in Sobotta’s eye, forcing another halt. The doctor comes out to check not only on the eye but on the cut, as the blood is flowing directly into the damaged eye. Movahedi chides Oliveira for his outstretched fingers once more, and when the action resumes, the Brazilian instantly and possibly instinctually points them out again. They trade leg kicks, and this one goes low and has Oliveira switch stances in a little dance. When Sobotta bears down with a big kick, “Cowboy” times an overhand right perfectly that puts Sobotta down. With seconds to spare, Oliveira tries to get a stoppage but there is not enough time before the horn blares.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira

Round 3

Sobotta starts off chipping at the leg, and Oliveira responds with a cracking high kick that spins Sobotta around in a pirouette. Oliveira attacks a little too wildly with a looping right hand, allowing Sobotta to time a takedown attempt, but the Brazilian stuffs it and thinks about a brabo choke. Pulling his neck free, Sobotta falls to his back, so Oliveira stomps on his foot from on high. After this strike, Oliveira allows him to stand up, and kicks at him while Sobotta is standing. Oliveira digs to the body with a kick, and Sobotta is in pain as he bends over. Oliveira also took some damage from that kick, as he looked at his toes that could be hurt. Oliveira paws out his fingers, and Movahedi asks him once more to close his hands. He obliges, and then opens them again as if Movahedi never said anything. Sobotta jabs at him a few times from a long distance, and Oliveira fakes a front kick instead of committing to one. He lands a left and then a right, and Sobotta tries to roll with it and counter but is well out of range. Sobotta digs to the body with a kick, so “Cowboy” comes back up high with a one-two that glances off the chin. Oliveira throws a front kick again, and Sobotta connects with a left hand that gets Oliveira’s attention. When Sobotta tries to capitalize on his success, Oliveira times a body kick that frustrates him. The last seconds of the round fall off the clock as both men are hesitant to throw anything substantial.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira (30-27 Oliveira)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira (30-27 Oliveira)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Oliveira (30-27 Oliveira)

The Official Result

Alex Oliveira def. Peter Sobotta via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Paul Craig (206) vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov (206)

Round 1

In a light heavyweight tilt between two finishers of the highest order, Craig (12-4-1, 4-4-1 UFC) looks to bounce back from his first decision – a draw to “Shogun” Rua – against another man who does not like the judges in Antigulov (20-6, 2-2 UFC). These two men have each gone the distance once in their respective careers, which combine for a whopping 43 bouts, and referee Marc Goddard may have his hands full with this one. Craig runs at him, with no interest in touching gloves, and he lands a short right hand and a front kick. Antigulov returns with a hard right hand, and then drops down for a single leg takedown while Craig practically welcomes him there. Craig defends with a guillotine choke, and then a triangle choke when that does not work. The Dagestani fighter wades through the offensive guard of Craig, and the Scot elevates him with his butterfly guard before throwing up a high guard. He transitions this into an armbar, and then locks it back down into a triangle choke. Craig looks calm and comfortable on his back with his legs up, and Antigulov tries to break free by bombarding him with a barrage of right hands. Craig pulls him back down with his triangle choke, and he readjusts to snatch it up tightly. “Bearjew” squeezes with all his might, and he elicits the tap to keep his finish rate at 100 percent. In doing so, he hands the fellow grappling-minded opponent Antigulov his first submission defeat since 2013.

The Official Result

Paul Craig def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov R1 2:06 via Submission (Triangle Choke)

Marina Rodriguez (115.5) vs. Carla Esparza (116)

Round 1

From a high weight class to a low one we go, as former strawweight queen Esparza (16-6, 7-4 UFC) tries to hand Brazil’s Rodriguez (12-0-2, 2-0-2 UFC) her first career defeat in a high-stakes 115-pound showdown. Referee Rich Mitchell is on top of the action in this one, and a respectful touch of gloves starts things out. Rodriguez comes out of her corner expecting a takedown, leaning forward while putting much of her weight on her front leg. Esparza does not care, and hits a single leg takedown to put Rodriguez on her back on a moment. Rodriguez tries to lock her down, and lets go to land a short elbow, before pulling her back close. Esparza gets off some ground-and-pound, including some elbows of her own and a chain of peppering body shots. Rodriguez manages to keep Esparza tight, although the former champ breaks the grip every so often to land shots that stave off any potential referee intervention. Rodriguez throws her legs up high, possibly considering a triangle choke, and Esparza lifts her up and slams the Brazilian down to break the position. An elbow from Rodriguez slashes up face of Esparza, who is raining blood – Esparza is a fan of the song sporting this title – down, until Rodriguez reverses the position to put Esparza on her back. Esparza hunts for an ankle lock in this position, and uses it to scramble back to her knees and eventually to her feet. Esparza wipes the eye that is damaged, and Rodriguez flips up a kick to that very spot. Esparza shoots in low and gives up her neck, but she does not surrender a choke and instead takes some elbows to the side of the head as time expires.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez

Round 2

Esparza’s corner has the cut sealed up although there is some significant swelling on display above her eye. Like the last round, Rodriguez comes out waiting for a takedown, not over-extending on any strikes. Rodriguez scores a pair of right hands, targeting the cut, and Esparza charges in only to be greeted by a low kick and a right hand. Rodriguez throws another low kick, and Esparza tries to catch it and rush forward to take the fight down. Rodriguez pushes her away with ease, and then stuffs another running takedown try from “Cookie Monster.” Rodriguez fires off another leg kick, and this time Esparza has it timed, blitzing in to land a takedown and set Rodriguez on the ground. The unbeaten fighter immediately throws her legs up again to hunt for some kind of triangle choke, all while chopping with elbows even though she is the one on her back. Rodriguez tries to kick her off, but Esparza is stuck like glue in her opponent’s guard. Esparza gets off some punches from on top, all while avoiding Rodriguez’ slicing elbows. Esparza lands some more ground-and-pound, forcing Rodriguez to scramble, but Esparza manages to muscle her back down. Rodriguez scoots her way with her back on the fence, but this is a good position for Esparza, who lands a couple elbows before pulling for a heel hook. Rodriguez slams her in the face repeatedly, opening up the cut again and dealing some damage as she frees herself. Esparza flails and connects with an upkick that may have been illegal as Rodriguez was grounded, but the action does not pause as Rodriguez lands punches. The two get back up, and Rodriguez chases after her with a head kick while Esparza defends her increasingly bloodied face. The horn announces the end of Round 2.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez

Round 3

Rodriguez stalks down her opponent to lead off the round, staying long and pawing out a left hand. She stings Esparza with a superwoman punch, but the former champ walks it off and backs away. Rodriguez stalks her down and lands a right hand, and she is cutting off the cage and stuffs a takedown with little effort. Esparza ducks down to hit the single, and she gets Rodriguez stuck against the fence where she starts dropping down some hard left hands. Rodriguez manages to get her balance back and stand to her feet, but Esparza gives it another go and lands her takedown. She gets in half guard for a moment, only to get kicked off. “Cookie Monster” stays relentless as she climbs back into full guard, and immediately Rodriguez delivers some elbows to thank Esparza for taking her down. Esparza responds with her appreciation with some of her own thudding elbows, and she postures up to get some strikes going. When Esparza stands up to try to pass guard, Rodriguez uses her high guard to set up a triangle choke. The former champ shucks it off and zings some elbows and punches down on what appears to be a fatiguing Rodriguez. Esparza continues to embrace the grind, landing strikes ever so often, until Rodriguez kicks her away. When Rodriguez stands up, Esparza may have gotten away with a questionably legal kick, by booting Rodriguez in the head as Mitchell shakes his head. Esparza lands one last takedown to conclude the round, with a few punches raining down as the horn sounds to put an end to this close contest.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Esparza (29-28 Rodriguez)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Esparza (29-28 Rodriguez)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Esparza (29-28 Rodriguez)

The Official Result

Carla Esparza def. Marina Rodriguez via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

Alexander Gustafsson (240) vs. Fabricio Werdum (242)

Round 1

From the lightest division in strawweight to the largest in heavyweight we go, as former champ and submission mastermind Werdum (23-9-1, 11-6 UFC) will attempt to make longtime light heavyweight contender Gustafsson (18-6, 10-6 UFC) uncomfortable in the division. Referee Herb Dean is the third big man inside the Octagon, and they opt to touch gloves before swinging early. Werdum rips a hard leg kick to the knee, and Gustafsson circles away while reaching out with a left hand. Werdum comes up short with a high kick, and backs off when Gustafsson jabs to the head and body. Werdum goes after the lead leg again, and when Gustafsson tries to return fire, Werdum hunts for a takedown. Although he has Gustafsson’s leg, “The Mauler” ends up on top. They scramble, and Werdum takes his back and gets one hook in. Werdum transitions from a potential choke to an armbar, and Gustafsson goes face-down to defend it. “Vai Cavalo” rolls him over and gets his legs over Gustafsson’s body in the spider web position, loosening the grip to pull the arm free. The former champ gains the proper leverage and torques the arm down, and Gustafsson taps immediately because he knows Werdum would take it home with him if he could. This is a statement win for Werdum, proving that even though he will be 43 next week, he still has something left in the tank. As this is the final fight in his UFC contract and he has publicly stated that he will seek competition elsewhere, the Brazilian legend likely ends his UFC tenure on a high note by taking out a top-ranked light heavyweight moving up.

The Official Result

Fabricio Werdum def. Alexander Gustafsson R1 2:30 via Submission (Armbar)

Mauricio Rua (206) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (206)

Round 1

Meeting for the unexpected third time, Rua (26-11-1, 10-9-1 UFC) tries to go three up on Nogueira (23-9, 6-6 UFC). Their first meeting taking place 15 years ago, these two Pride vets are fighting to keep their UFC record above .500. Here to take charge of the cage for this trilogy match is referee Marc Goddard, and there is no touch of gloves before these two Brazilian legends get down to business. Rua starts off by marching forward slowly, cutting Nogueira off from the cage and landing a hard leg kick that nearly makes Nogueira’s leg come out from beneath him. Rua plods forward as Nogueira tries to find an angle on the outside, so “Shogun” lands another stinging leg kick while looking for a way in. He gets in one more, and after 90 seconds, Nogueira has not thrown a strike. Rua rushes forward with punches, and he does not connect with much but bullies his opponent into the cage wall. “Shogun” leans heavily and works Nogueira’s thighs with knees, and Nogueira gains separation as he pushes away. Nogueira connects with a solid left hand that gets Rua’s attention, and the former champ charges in like a bull with a streaming of punches, only to retreat when Nogueira slips in a left. Rua keeps his distance with a pair of low kicks, and they crash together and land glancing blows. Now Nogueira is the one advancing, as he might have caught “Shogun” with a shot that rang his bell a little more than he’s leading on. They come together and let their punches fly, with Nogueira connecting with a short left and “Shogun” stinging him with a right. They clinch up, and separately before winging bombs. Nogueira hurts “Shogun” and the two start brawling wildly as if this were a continuation of their first two battles. Rua is not a fan of these exchanges, taking some damage and getting hurt, so he takes the fight down. Rua holds on while on top until the horn ends the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Nogueira
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Nogueira
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Nogueira

Round 2

Rua begins the second with a slapping body kick, and chains that kick into a few punches to close the distance. He presses Nogueira on the cage wall, but “Minotouro” pushes off and shows a little blood trickling from the corner of his left eye. Rua lets a few winging shots go, and Nogueira evades the brunt of them and tries to counter. They separate, and Rua crashes in again to land some punches. Rua connects with a body kick, only to get countered. They start brawling wildly, and while Rua is winding up with a bomb, Nogueira checks him over with his shoulder as if he was a hockey player. Nogueira leaps on top and starts breaking down Rua with punches to the body and head, and he holds tightly down to keep Rua from scooting his way to the fence. Nogueira postures up and tries to land a big shot, but Rua times it to get a standup. When standing again, they decide to slug it out, both landing bombs until “Shogun” shoots in for a takedown. Nogueira stuffs it, and when he tries to connect with a left hand, Rua slips it and drills him with a right. Rua takes another whack at the lead leg, and Nogueira’s knee is showing some damage. When Rua walks forward, Nogueira tries to time a blistering overhand left, so “Shogun” backs off and chips at the leg a little more. A left hand from Nogueira may have hurt Rua again, who bites down on his mouthpiece to fire right back. The round ends with both men tentative to engage and opting to take a moment to recover, and 10 minutes have elapsed.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rua
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Rua
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rua

Round 3

There is a bump of fists to clock in the last round of their trilogy. Rua blasts a kick on the inside leg of Nogueira, and there is a visible reaction from his opponent so he tries another. Nogueira checks it, and circles away to counter when Rua comes towards. Rua leaps forward with a left hook, and Nogueira counters with his own left hand. Rua works the body with a kick, and Nogueira takes a breath and lands two lefts. Rua clips him with a right hand, and Nogueira simultaneously lets fly a left hook while also losing his footing from getting tagged. Nogueira goes to the head and body, and then splits the guard with a left straight. Nogueira sticks out a jab, and Rua stands before him before unleashing a pounding body kick and a right hand that deflects off Nogueira’s guard. Rua connects with a body kick and a right hook, and Nogueira’s knees wobble again but they do not crumble. Nogueira slings right back with a left that catches Rua flush on the chin, and he connects with another as Rua tries to counter. Rua kicks the lead leg, and clips Nogueira behind the ear when he comes in. “Shogun” times an advancing Nogueira with a takedown, and Nogueira pulls for a guillotine but cannot secure it as the two are sweaty and exhausted. Rua hops over into half guard where he starts dropping down some short punches, and time is now the biggest enemy of Nogueira. Rua is not making it easy, clanking a few more punches off the dome of his opponent. Nogueira tries to sweep him but he ends up in a bad position, where Rua drops down hammerfists until the horn calls an end to the fight. These two have now reached the scorecards in all three of their bouts, and like their last five years ago, this fun one could be close.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rua (29-28 Rua)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Rua (29-28 Rua)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rua (29-28 Rua)

The Official Result

Mauricio Rua def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Robert Whittaker (186) vs. Darren Till (186)

Round 1

At long last, we have reached the main event, in the form of a middleweight contender matchup between ex-champ Whittaker (20-5, 11-3 UFC) and former welterweight title challenger Till (18-2-1, 6-2-1 UFC). To keep things clean, referee Herb Dean keeps tabs on the headliner, and even though they talked about “going to war,” there is a touch of gloves. Till leaps forward, and Whittaker stops him in his tracks with a power jab. Till walks it off and wades forward, only to get jabbed again. Whittaker times Till’s advancing movement with an overhand left, and Till stops his movement and takes a leg kick. Whittaker throws out a lazy front kick that Till catches with one hand, and “The Gorilla” tosses it aside. They crash together and Till nails him with a short elbow. Whittaker could be hurt, and he falls to his back in a shock. Till pounces to land some punches, and the former champ fights his way back to his feet without taking much damage. Till crowds him, and Whittaker backs away and absorbs a few long left hands while blocking a head kick. Till crashes in to squeeze “The Reaper” against the cage, and Whittaker tries to circle out and sneak in a knee. Whittaker tries to toss him, and Till stays upright, backs away and stings the former champ with a left. Whittaker comes back at him with a head kick that gets blocked, so he goes low with a kick and checks one that comes back towards him. Whittaker sticks him with a long right jab and wings a head kick that Till dodges, and follows this with another left. Till races forward, and Whittaker blocks and lands a left hand counter to make Till retreat. Whittaker aims a low kick at the calf, and Till stands still to wipe some sweat off his brow. Whittaker loads up with a bomb of a right hand, and Till backs away but does not get far enough back to avoid the straight right that comes after. Whittaker slaps the lead leg with one kick before we hear the horn to end the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Till
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Till
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Till

Round 2

They clap hands to start the round, and Till appears to loudly cough. They start engaging, and Till walks forward a little too recklessly and gets clipped with a left hand that almost makes him topple over. Till tries to land a right hand, but Whittaker counters with a left over the top. Till puts on him a pair of leg kicks, and Whittaker charges in with a right hand that drops Till to the ground hard. “Bobby Knuckles” chases him down into guard, where he starts to grind his elbow on Till’s face. Whittaker softens up the body and elbows the thigh to break the guard, but his most emphatic strike on top comes in the form of a big elbow. Whittaker steps over to half guard with one more that makes Till’s head bounce off the canvas. Whittaker sneaks a right hand around the guard, and wings a trio of short elbows that make Till check to see if he has been cut – there is blood dripping from his nose. Till rolls over and gives up his back, and Whittaker takes it but cannot secure it, so Till pushes off. Whittaker lands a low kick that does not slap as much as it thuds, and he circles away to evade Till’s strikes while sinking in another leg kick. Till cannot get in on him, and takes another leg kick as he starts to show signs of frustration. Till rushes forward but does not land, and Whittaker comes at him with a blitz only to pull back at the last second. A left hand from Till meets the guard, and Whittaker crashes in with a swarm of punches. They both try to connect with booming head kicks, but neither succeed as the second round draws to an end.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker

Round 3

Whittaker begins the round by chopping down the lead leg, and Till may have disclosed to his corner between rounds that there is some significant damage to it. Till wings a left hook, and Whittaker tries to fire back but comes up shy of the mark. A single left from Till gets blocked, and a head kick right after is avoided. When Whittaker tries to advance, Till looks to time the elbow that dropped Whittaker in the first, but the former champ sees it coming. Whittaker swings and misses with another charge, but he does manage to get another leg kick in. They both whiff on big head kicks, with the other bending over backwards to avoid it. When Till steps in to engage, Whittaker pops him with a jab and makes stops “The Gorilla” in his tracks. On an exchange, Till’s eye might have been injured, and he blinks it out and tells Whittaker to come at him. Whittaker obliges in the form of a head kick and a spinning back fist, and Till is able to avoid both. Out of nowhere, Whittaker shoots in for a single, and bails on it to catch Till with a crisp left hook. Whittaker works the lead leg again, and hunkers down with a right hand bomb but cannot connect with it. Whittaker crashes in for a takedown, and Till defends it with an elbow that Whittaker is able to push through. The pace has waned to a great degree as both men try to set up traps and land monster shots, as Whittaker winds up with one last bomb of a right that Till sees coming and ducks. The horn ends the third.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker

Round 4

Like the previous break, Till confides to his corner that he can barely put weight on his lead leg. He does not seem too concerned when the round begins, and he comes out with a left hook and a head kick. Whittaker slaps a kick on the lead leg, and he lands one on the opposite side for good measure. He digs in another as Till shakes his head at him, and the two fake and feint at one another. Whittaker swats at him, and Till is well away before he takes it or a head kick. Till cracks him with an elbow, and Whittaker wears it well as Till races in to do more damage. Whittaker is able to gather his thoughts and throw back, forcing Till to backpedal. They both swing and land right hands at the same time, and Whittaker looks to set up a jab but cannot find the chin. Whittaker changes levels for a single, and then cancels it with a right hand over the top, but Till rolls with it. The strike landing totals are not likely high for this high-stakes, tense showdown. Till lands a single straight left, and Whittaker rushes in with his own as he uppercuts Till on the chin. Till gets a crisp left off, forcing Whittaker to storm forward and try to pursue a takedown. Till stands him up, and Whittaker swings and misses with a combination. The round ends with both men staring at one another.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-10
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Till

Round 5

The two men embrace when Dean checks in the final round. Whittaker cracks him with a big right hand right out of the gate, and Till shakes his head at it. He loads up another, and Till is just able to dodge it. The former champ shoots in low for a takedown, and Till stuffs it and jabs at him. Till fires up a head kick that gets blocked, and a long left hand partially connects. Till swings and misses on another head kick, and after a pause, Whittaker fires off a right hand. Till skates out of the way without much effort, so Whittaker kicks the leg and then puts a front kick on Till’s torso. Till gets Whittaker’s attention with a one-two, so Whittaker returns with a hard leg kick. They kick at the same time, and when Whittaker gets his off to the leg, Till lands to the body. Whittaker rushes in for a takedown, and like before, he abandons it to ring a right hand home. Till scores a straight left, and Whittaker gathers himself and jumps forward to swing wildly. Till chases after him and hits him on the chops with a pair of left hands, and Whittaker kicks the lead leg with a ferocity that makes Till lift it off the ground. Whittaker sees the reaction, so he targets it once more. When Till does not fire back, Whittaker swings his leg at it one more time, and he looks to his foot after it connects. The former champ charges in with his short takedown to land a left hand, and Till pushes him away. Whittaker comes right back at him, and Till unloads a furious elbow that slices the side of Whittaker’s head open. Dean checks to see if there was a foul, and when action resumes, Whittaker runs at him for a takedown. He mashes Till against the fence to grind out the rest of the round, and this slow-paced fight is now over. We have made it to the end of the evening, after a record 15 fights went down tonight. Thanks for joining us, and we will see you next week. Don't worry, fight fans, there is a UFC card every weekend until October!

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker (49-47 Whittaker)
Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Whittaker (49-46 Whittaker)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Till (48-47 Till)

The Official Result

Robert Whittaker def. Darren Till via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
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