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Even at 36, “The Natural Born Killer” retains some of his trademark killer instinct.
In the featured preliminary matchup of UFC on ESPN 16 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Carlos Condit overcame a slow start to take a hard-fought unanimous decision over Court McGee. A competitive first round seemed to be going the way of McGee, when a picture-perfect right hook from Condit dropped him at the bell, instantly bloodying his nose in the bargain. McGee managed to get up and return to his corner, but the momentum had turned: Condit won the final two rounds in straightforward fashion, as he seemed to be a step ahead of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 winner with his kicks and punches.
After three rounds, former interim welterweight champ Condit (31-13) picked up the unanimous decision via matching 30-27 scorecards, marking his first win in over five years and putting an end to a five-fight losing streak since he defeated Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 67 in May 2015. McGee (19-10) has now lost three straight and five of his last six.
Jourdain, Culibao Duel to Split Draw
In a strange fight marred by fouls both real and imagined, featherweight up-and-comers Charles Jourdain and Joshua Culibao fought to a draw. While all three rounds were competitive, the first was the most clear-cut, as Culibao dropped Jourdain with a big right hand that smashed his nose, which immediately began to bleed heavily. The remaining two rounds were back-and-forth affairs, characterized by Jourdain’s heavy low kicks and Culibao’s combination punching and takedown attempts. Fouls—or foul-like moments, at least—abounded, as there was a borderline low blow, as well as an odd sequence in the second round in which referee Jason Herzog stopped the action after an apparent eye poke, only to have Culibao admit that he had done it to himself. The fight was apparently as hard to score as it was to officiate, as the cageside judges turned in wide-ranging 30-27, 28-29 and 28-28 scorecards, resulting in a rare split draw. The result sends Jourdain to 10-3-1 (1-2-1 UFC), while Culibao is now 8-1-1 after debuting in the UFC this year as a 7-0 prospect.
Imavov Outlasts Williams
Nassourdine Imavov overcame a wild first round and an early clash of heads to pull ahead of a tiring Jordan Williams. The inadvertent head butt between the debuting middleweights opened a cut on Williams’ forehead, but appeared to daze Imavov, who spent much of the rest of the round on the defensive. By the second round, however, Williams—who debuted on a short turnaround after winning on Dana White's Contender Series last month—was clearly the more tired man, and the final 10 minutes were largely one-sided. After three rounds, Imavov walked away with the unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28), extending his winning streak to six straight and his overall record to 9-2. Williams, who appeared on DWCS three times before earning his UFC contract, is now 9-4 with one no-contest.
“Loma Lookboonmee” Cruises over Frey
Konklak Suphisara used textbook muay Thai to outclass and outpace Jinh Yu Frey in a strawweight matchup of former atomweights. The first two rounds were all “Loma Lookboonmee,” as she touched Frey up at range and punished her with knees and elbows anytime they clinched. Former Invicta FC champ Frey finally struck for a takedown in the third round, then passed briefly to side control, but Suphisara was able to escape before Frey could mount any serious offense there. Suphisara prevailed by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), moving to 5-2 in her career and getting back on track after her loss to Angela Hill in February. Frey (9-6) has now lost her first two in the Octagon.
Kenney Brutalizes Alateng
Casey Kenney laid one of the most lopsided three-round beatings of 2020 on Heili Alateng in their bantamweight prelim. Kenney used superior footwork, sharp punching but above all, a steady stream of brutal left kicks to stymie Alateng, who was bleeding from his right ear and showing significant damage to his ribs within the first three minutes. “The Mongolian Knight” was game throughout, but simply unable to get his own offense untracked; in particular, Kenney’s takedown defense was never even tested. After the 15-minute drubbing, the judges turned in scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27 in favor of Kenney, who moves to 15-2 (4-1 UFC). The loss is the first in the Octagon for Alateng (14-8-1) after starting his UFC tenure with two straight wins.
Vendramini Blitzes Ayari
In the opening bout of the evening between two men coming off of two-year layoffs, Luigi Vendramini needed just 1:12 to announce his return in emphatic fashion. “The Italian Stallion” rocked Jessin Ayari with a left hook in an early exchange, then gave chase, throwing a volley of punches as Ayari staggered. Most seemed to glance or miss, but there was no question about the right high kick that Vendramini landed against the fence, dropping the German and spurring referee Kevin Herzog into action. The win is the first in the Octagon for Vendramini (9-1) who lost to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in his UFC debut in September 2018; Ayari (16-6) has now dropped three straight in the promotion after winning his own debut.