UFC on ESPN 28 Prelims: Chris Gruetzemacher Outlasts Rafa Garcia in Lightweight Slugfest

By Brian Knapp Jul 31, 2021

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Chris Gruetzemacher had the deeper gas tank.

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 22 quarterfinalist on Saturday scratched and clawed his way to a unanimous decision over former Combate Americas champion Rafa Garcia in the featured UFC on 28 prelim at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Gruetzemacher (15-4, 3-3 UFC), who rebounded from an Oct. 31 knockout loss to Alexander Hernandez.

Garcia (11-2, 0-2 UFC) had the Arizona native reeling inside the first minute, as he uncorked a clean left hook, powered into top position and applied his ground-and-pound. Gruetzemacher stayed cool under fire and slowly regained his wits. By the start of the second round, Garcia was on fumes. Gruetzemacher utilized merciless pressure and close-quarters punching combinations to the body and head. Garcia executed two takedowns in Round 3 but failed to consolidate them with damage or meaningful control, ultimately giving away his gains in the standup exchanges.

Gruetzemacher, 35, has won twice in three outings.

Related » UFC on ESPN 28 Round-by-Round Scoring

Kamaka-Chavez Results in Stalemate

Xtreme Couture’s Kai Kamaka III fought to a majority draw with MMA Masters export Danny Chavez in a forgettable three-round featherweight tilt. Two of the cageside judges scored it 28-28, while a third saw it 29-28 for Kamaka.

A short-notice substitution for Doo Ho Choi, Kamaka (8-4-1, 1-2-1 UFC) zeroed in on his adversary’s lower extremities with repeated kicks, integrated knees from close range and cut off his advances with tactical clinches. However, a second-round point deduction—he was penalized for an eye poke and a groin strike—proved costly for the Hawaiian. Chavez (11-4-1, 1-1-1 UFC) had his chances and let his hands fly in spurts but failed to connect with anything meaningful.

Frey Handles Replacement Yoder

Former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Jinh Yu Frey recorded her second win in as many appearances, as she laid claim to a unanimous decision over Ashley Yoder in a three-round clash at 115 pounds. Frey (11-6, 2-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with matching 30-27 marks from the judges.

A short-notice replacement for Istela Nunes, Yoder (8-8, 3-7 UFC) failed to manage distance in the standup exchanges and was never afforded the opportunity to flex her grappling skills on the mat. Frey punctuate sharp two- and three-punch combinations with surgical left hands, incorporated leg kicks at opportune times and leaned on airtight takedown defense across the 15-minute encounter. Yoder unleashed the occasional overhand left and connected with a series of them in the second round, but she could not alter the tone that had been set by her Fortis-MMA-trained opponent.

The 33-year-old Yoder has lost four of her last five bouts.

Adashev Outpoints Reeling Benoit

Crippling leg kicks and crisp counterpunching carried Zarrukh Adashev to a unanimous decision over Ryan Benoit in a three-round flyweight battle. All three cageside judges scored it for Adashev (4-3, 1-2 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Winless since November 18, 2017, Benoit (10-8, 3-6 UFC) struggled to get in gear against the Bellator MMA veteran. Adashev chipped away at his base with a series of devastating low kicks and picked his spots in their standup exchanges. Benoit sat down the 29-year-old with a right hand in the first round and wobbled him with a sneaky left in the third, but he was otherwise ineffective from an offensive standpoint. The damage to his lead leg proved too great to overcome.

Backed by a two-rounds-to-none lead, Adashev spent the final five minutes circling off the cage and away from danger. So ended his two-fight losing streak.

Rowe Buries Unbeaten Cosce

Philip Rowe put away fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Orion Cosce with punches in the second round of their welterweight pairing. Rowe (8-3, 1-1 UFC) brought it to a close 4:21 into Round 2.

Cosce (7-1, 0-1 UFC) pursued a dogged clinch, executed a takedown and chewed up time with suffocating top control in the first round. Rowe remained composed under less-than-ideal circumstances, lured the Californian deeper into the match and let his hands and knees do the rest. A blistering right hand turned the tide early in Round 2 and forced Cosce onto his back foot in open space, his right eye badly damaged. Rowe pressed forward with punches, delivered a series of knee strikes from close range and sat down his previously unbeaten counterpart with another right hand. With that, referee Chris Tognoni had seen enough.

Rowe, 31, has won eight of his past nine bouts.
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