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UFC Phoenix prelims results and highlights: Harris gets big KO, Oliynyk wins by Ezekiel choke

Check out the results of the eight preliminary card bouts that took place at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn in Phoenix, Arizona.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Harris vs Sherman Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The first preliminary card of the UFC’s 2017 schedule is in the books, and it was certainly an eventful one. There were plenty of finishes, including a history-making one by Oleksiy Oliynyk. Here’s how the fights played out.

Cyril Asker def. Dmitry Smolyakov by TKO (strikes) at 2:41 of round 1 - Heavyweights

France’s Asker took Smolyakov down early, and after the Russian threw some strikes off of his back, Asker took over. He advanced to north-south position and then into full mount, and completely dominated Smolyakov from there. A series of damaging ground-and-pound was unanswered by Smolyakov, and the first UFC fight of 2017 ended in a quick TKO.

Joachim Christensen def. Bojan Mihajlovic via TKO (punches) at 2:05 of round 3 - Light Heavyweights

Christensen spent most of round 1 in Mihajlovic’s guard, but with little in the way of action, the referee stood them up. Denmark’s Christensen was the sharper striker, twice jarring the Serb with big knees. Bojan was urging him to engage in a slugfest. The 2nd round saw Christensen used the cage to his advantage and land clinch strikes. Mihajlovic threw many winging hooks, but Christensen either dodged them or was able to absorb those punches well when they did connect. Christensen continued to have the upper hand in round 3, and melted Mihajlovic with a right uppercut to get the finish.

Walt Harris def. Chase Sherman via TKO (strikes) at 2:41 of round 2 - Heavyweights

Round 1 was a glorified kickboxing round. Harris used 1-2 combinations and an effective mixing of his punches and kicks to attack Sherman. Chase tagged Harris with a few power punches but Harris showed better footwork and volume. Sherman took a series of blows in the 2nd round that somehow didn’t put him away. Harris was in rhythm and put the incredibly tough Sherman away with a right hand, a knee in the clinch, followed by a thudding left hook. Easily the best performance of Harris’ career.

Nina Ansaroff def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:39 of round 3 - Women’s Strawweights

A very active 1st round saw both women trade heavy leather, but Ansaroff was getting the better of the exchanges, particularly with her hooks and counterpunching. Ansaroff took Jones-Lybarger down late in the round and finished strongly with ground-and-pound. Her work from top position continued in round 2 following a chopping low kick, and it was a dominant stretch of fight time for Nina. She threatened with a rear-naked choke, a face crank, and otherwise kept busy with damaging shots from mount. It was a round worthy of a 10-8 for Ansaroff. Another big leg kick put Jones-Lybarger off balance and Ansaroff once again just outclassed Jones-Lybarger on the mat. She picked up a deserved rear-naked choke finish with just 2 minutes left in the fight. Great performance by Ansaroff that nets her her first UFC win.

Tony Martin def. Alex White via unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Lightweights

Martin had his groin cup break early in the fight, so the fight had to be stopped so he could get a new cup in. Seriously. Apart from that, round 1 was all in favor of Martin, who dominated on the mat and briefly attacked with a kimura, and otherwise got in ground-and-pound. In the 2nd round, White knocked Martin down with a right hand, but it was a flash knockdown and he recovered by taking down White. Martin effectively erased the issues the knockdown caused by controlling White with his wrestling and his grappling. White did much better in the 3rd round sprawling on Martin’s shots, and countered with high-elbow standing guillotines. As far as initiating actual offense, White wasn’t able to do this, so the fight became a stalemate of Martin trying to get a takedown while White was defending them. Not a good fight, but a winning performance for Martin.

Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Viktor Pesta via submission (Ezekiel choke) at 2:57 of round 1 - Heavyweights

I cannot fathom what happened. If you’ve never seen a win via submission attempt while fully mounted, today is your day. Oleksiy Oliynyk was mounted by Viktor Pesta midway through round 1, and then locked in the rarely seen Ezekiel choke. Pesta tapped, making this the first Ezekiel choke finish in UFC history. This will hold up as one of the submissions of the year. Oliynyk has won this way several times before, but to see it happen in a UFC fight ... well just watch for yourself.

Augusto Mendes def. Frankie Saenz (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) - Bantamweights

The BJJ specialist had the best moment of an otherwise tightly contested round 1, successfully tripping Saenz to the mat, but after losing position as Saenz slipped the Brazilian off of his back, Mendes hurt Saenz with a flurry of punches and had him retreating. Saenz threw some knees in the clinch but he was definitely buzzed in those exchanges. A left hook by Mendes in round 2 had Saenz wobbled, but Saenz dropped Mendes moments later with a huge elbow. Saenz followed Mendes into his guard but they soon returned to striking. Mendes was again rocked, this time by a big hook from Saenz. The tide was turning in the Arizona native’s favor, but Mendes answered back with heavy right hands that had Saenz hurt. Saenz retaliated with a knee to the body as Mendes searched for a finish. Both men showed tremendous chins and recuperative abilities, and Saenz drilled Mendes with a big right hand. After good defense by Saenz, “Tanquinho” put Saenz down late with a double leg takedown, but Frankie got back up, threw a flying knee (that missed) at the horn, capping off a thrilling battle.

Drakkar Klose def. Devin Powell by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Lightweights

Klose came out firing right away and connecting with big strikes against the fence on Powell. He physically overwhelmed Powell in the early stages, with Powell only offering up knees to the body. After trading knees, they separated about midway through the round. Klose was ready to slam Powell to the mat with a powerful takedown, but Powell softened the landing by placing his hands down. With action waning a little bit, Powell got bullrushed by Klose to end the round, but there weren’t any really damaging blows that scored. Powell looked like he was hurt by a flying knee from Klose, and continued to fight on the defensive. Klose scored with a hard right hand and an uppercut. Powell finally got some offense going with a hard body kick after getting in some standing elbows. The rugged, physical, pressuring game of Klose rendered Powell unable to get off any sustained attack. Klose finished the 2nd with a double leg takedown. Round 3 was a slower paced matchup, with Klose having cut Powell on the right side of his face with all of the major shots he was landing. Klose was annoyed with Powell and urged him to scrap with him. A right hand and a jab stung an increasingly discouraged and desperate Powell. It was a clear and convincing win for Klose, who took this fight on short notice against the Lookin’ For a Fight signing.

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