UFC on ESPN 58 Prelims: Nathan Maness Outworks Jimmy Flick

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Nathan Maness appears to be a growing problem for the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight division.

In the top prelim bout of UFC on ESPN 58 on Saturday, Maness (16-3) outworked Jimmy Flick (17-8) in a flyweight attraction that felt much closer than the final scores indicated, or than the nearly 5-to-1 odds in Maness’ favor seemed to predict. Maness plied his huge frame for the division, working with his jab from the outset to keep dangerous submission artist Flick on the outside. Flick seemed more than willing to engage in a striking battle, throwing big punches and trying to close the distance. Maness defended Flick’s first real takedown attempt with a standing guillotine choke attempt, managing to stay upright. Flick secured a takedown later in the round, taking advantage of another guillotine attempt to set up a Von Flue choke, but the round expired before the sequence could play out. The second and third rounds followed a similar pattern, with Maness and Flick both willingly engaging in the other’s wheelhouse. Maness seemed hold the slight edge throughout, a view shared by the judges, who saw the fight in his favor by 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores. The win brought Maness’ UFC mark to 5-2 overall, 2-1 since dropping from bantamweight. Flick, despite the subjectively impressive performance, fell to 2-3 since joining the UFC out of Season 4 of the Contender Series.

In a battle of flyweights looking for their first UFC win, Gabriella Fernandes (9-3) spoiled the debut of Carli Judice (3-2). The fight was contested almost entirely on the feet, playing out as a contest between Fernandes’ power and Judice’s reach and volume. While all three rounds were individually competitive, Judice seemed to settle into a groove as the fight went on, while Fernandes appeared to tire. The Brazilian came out fresh and aggressive in Rounds 2 and 3, only to slow as Judice kept up her steady stream of kicks and punches, peppered with solid body work. The judges had their work cut out for them, and returned with a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29). The win brought Fernandes’ Octagon tally to 1-2, while two-time Contender Series veteran Judice fell to 0-1.

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Westin Wilson delivered a big upset in a possible do-or-die fight for his UFC roster spot and made it look easy. The lanky karate stylist faced “Road to UFC” veteran Jeka Saragih in a featherweight prelim attraction and used the Indonesian’s aggression against him nicely, getting up after an early takedown, landing a takedown of his own and immediately snaring Saragih in a guillotine. After Saragih extricated his head from the choke, Wilson applied an armbar. When Saragih attempted to slam his way out of it, Wilson adjusted the angle and switched to a triangle armbar, eliciting the tap at just 1 minute, 49 seconds. With the quick and impressive win, Wilson (17-9, 1-2 UFC) rebounded from back-to-back knockout losses; Saragih (14-4) fell to 1-2 in the UFC.

Melquizael Costa picked up a crucial win, surviving an early storm from Nuerdanbieke Shayilan en route to a third-round submission win in their featherweight clash. Costa (2-2) was put on his heels early by Shayilan’s aggression and forward movement, and “Wolverine” struck for several easy looking, yet emphatic takedowns in the first round and a half. Costa remained composed, however, and as the Chinese fighter began to tire, Costa took over. By the end of the second round, Costa was able to stave off Shayilan’s wrestling, and managed to lump the shorter man with a high kick before the horn. In Round 3, Costa reversed Shayilan off of a tired-looking takedown attempt, took his back and worked for a choke. In the end, he did not even need to get his arm under the chin, as Shayilan tapped to the face crank at 1:50. The win brought “Melk” to 2-1 in the featherweight division, while Shayilan (39-12) fell to 3-3 in the Octagon.

In the opening bout of the evening, Josefine Lindgren Knutsson kept her professional record spotless, though Julia Polastri made her work for it. Knutsson (8-0) got off to a solid start, using long punch and kick combinations to outland the Brazilian and frustrate her attempts to close the distance. However, Polastri finally succeeded late in the round, scoring a takedown and moving to mount in the final 30 seconds. That set the stage for Round 2, Polastri’s best round, where she backed the Swede up with big swings, took her down in the first half of the round and did some damage from top position. Knutsson’s composure on the ground was tested, as she struck Polastri with an illegal upkick, then launched another one after the fight was restarted that narrowly missed, but might have resulted in a point deduction had it landed. The final round was the closest of the three, with Polastri securing another takedown and threatening with an arm-triangle choke, but Knutsson’s superior accuracy and volume on the feet were enough to carry the round, and she prevailed by unanimous 29-28 scores. Knutsson has now won two straight to begin her UFC run, while Polastri fell to 12-4 overall, 0-1 in the UFC.


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