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An illegal upkick from Randa Markos brought an abrupt end to her strawweight encounter with Luana Pinheiro in the UFC on ESPN 23 featured preliminary bout at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. With Pinheiro unable to continue, Markos was disqualified at the 4:16 mark of Round 1.
Pinheiro did well early, kicking her foe’s leg out with a low kick while landing some stiff punching combinations to the head. The action was paused after an eye poke from the Brazilian cut Markos (10-11-1, 6-10-1 UFC) on her eyelid. When the fight resumed, the combatants engaged in a slugfest in the center of the Octagon, both swinging wildly with heavy punches until Pinheiro executed a head-and-arm throw to get her opponent to the canvas.
Shortly thereafter, Markos connected with an upkick while Pinheiro was on her knees, and the Brazilian fell backward to the canvas. Pinheiro (8-1, 1-0 UFC) remained in that position for several minutes with a dazed expression on her face, and Mark Smith had no choice but to wave off the bout. A visibly distraught Markos has now lost four straight fights within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Brown Takes Split Decision Over Kamaka
T.J. Brown earned an entertaining — and somewhat contentious — split decision triumph over Kai Kamaka in a preliminary showdown. Judges Michael Bell and Sal D’Amato each scored the contest for Brown, while Adalaide Byrd had it 30-27 in favor of Kamaka.
The action was fast and furious from the outside of the bout. Kamaka countered effectively and landed solid low kicks in Round 1, while Brown bloodied his opponent’s nose with a stiff jab. The second frame saw Brown wobble Kamaka (8-4, 1-2 UFC) with a right hand during an exchange. “The Fighting Hawaiian” was briefly in survival mode before regaining his senses and sitting his adversary down with a short right hand. Kamaka followed his opponent into guard, where he was forced to defend a kimura before Brown returned to his feet and landed a late takedown before the horn.
In the final frame, Brown (15-8, 1-2 UFC) remained active with strikes from his back and once again threatened with a kimura, negating the top position Kamaka held for much of the period. Brown halted a two-bout skid in defeat.
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Carolina Holds Off Botelho
Luana Carolina relied on clinch work, grappling and positional control to capture a split verdict against Poliana Botelho in a battle of Brazilian flyweights. The Dana White’s Contender Series alum received 29-28 scorecards from judges Dave Hagen and Junichiro Kamijo, while Sal D’Amato scored it 29-28 in favor of Botelho. It was Carolina’s first victory since May 2019.
Botelho (8-4, 3-3 UFC) appeared to be in control early thanks to an opening frame in which she followed a swarm of punches with a takedown and ultimately mounted Carolina (7-2, 2-1 UFC). Carolina neutralized Botelho in the clinch in Round 2 before reversing into top position after being taken down in the final stanza. From there, the Sao Paulo native took Botelho’s back and spent much of the period threatening with a rear-naked choke. Botelho opened a cut near her foe’s eye with an elbow in the second round but otherwise couldn’t capitalize on a strong opening period.
Suphisara Outpoints Hughes
Muay Thai specialist Konklak Suphisara won for the fourth time in five outings, earning a unanimous decison over Legacy Fighting Alliance veteran Sam Hughes at strawweight. “Loma Lookboonme” earned a trio of 29-28 tallies from the cageside judges. Suphisara (6-2, 3-1 UFC) has gone the distance in each of her Octagon appearances.
Suphisara built up an early lead thanks to strong clinch work, multiple takedowns and a variety of kicks. Hughes (5-3, 0-2 UFC) wouldn’t go away, however, and she closed with a spirited third round that saw her connect with several solid right hands during exchanges and positional control against the fence. It wouldn’t be enough to sway the scorecards in her favor.
Michailidis Gets First UFC Triumph
Andreas Michailidis secured his first promotional triumph with a three-round verdict over K.B. Bhullar in a relatively uneventful middleweight clash. All three cageside judges submitted tallies for the Greek fighter: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Michailidis showed little regard for his opponent’s power, as he marched forward and attacked with looping punching flurries. “Spartan” did his best work in the opening frame, when he swarmed with power punches following a head kick before taking Bhullar (8-2, 0-2 UFC) to the canvas. Michailidis (13-4, 1-1) would end the round attached to Bhullar’s back. The action slowed from there, but the rangier Bhullar failed to offer much in the way of volume outside of the occasional flashy kick, while Michailidis generally landed with more authority.
Colares Rallies Past Sanders
Team Nogueira representative Felipe Colares withstood a strong start from Luke Sanders to rally for a unanimous decision triumph against the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion in a featherweight contest. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for the 27-year-old Brazilian.
Sanders (13-5, 3-5 UFC) set the tone early, as he dropped Colares (10-2, 2-2 UFC) with a left hand before landing elbows in the clinch and ground-and-pound from top position. Colares survived that onslaught and shifted momentum over the final two rounds. He carried Sanders across the cage, slammed him to the mat and nearly finished the contest with punches from back mount in Round 2. Then, the former Jungle Fight competitor put a final stamp on his fading foe in Round 3, when he reversed a Sanders takedown attempt and again had back control in the bout’s waning moments.