The UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum preliminary card is in the books, and it was a very entertaining one. Kevin Lee rallied from a slow start to halt Francisco Trinaldo’s winning streak, while the night’s action began with an emphatic Octagon debut for Paulo Henrique Costa. Here’s how all the fights played out.
Kevin Lee def. Francisco Trinaldo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:12 of round 2- Lightweights
Trinaldo started things off impressively with his power left hand, and then stuffed two of Lee’s takedowns. He couldn’t stop the third one, as Lee put him on his back.Trinaldo was aggressive from his guard and used an underhook to try and stand back up. Trinaldo’s standing ninja choke attempt was unsuccessful, and Lee exited the clinch with a knee. A hard left hand rocked Lee, who immediately shot for a takedown. The Brazilian defended well, but Lee was able to get in some solid knees and good punches of his own. Trinaldo hurt Lee with a body punch and had him shooting out of desperation again. “Massaranduba” had the clear advantage after round 1.
Lee was lighter on his feet and moving out of Trinaldo’s range early in round 2. “The Motown Phenom” was scoring with straight punches and looking more comfortable than in the previous round. Lee’s telegraphed shot was thwarted by Trinaldo, but the fight would soon change dramatically. A head kick had Trinaldo rocked, and Trinaldo went for the takedown, but Lee was able to scramble into full mount. Trinaldo rolled out of it, which was a bad move, as Lee took Trinaldo’s back immediately and worked on a rear-naked choke. Lee had the arm underneath the chin and made Trinaldo tap. A stunning turn of events in Lee’s favor, as he gets his fourth straight win, while Trinaldo’s seven-fight win streak comes to an end.
Sergio Moraes def. Davi Ramos by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Welterweights
In this battle of two world-class BJJ practitioners, round 1 was just nothing but kickboxing. Moraes was on point early with his overhand right, while Ramos was connecting on the counter. Not much of note happened over the first five minutes.
The striking battle continued into round 2, with Ramos pushing forward and landing a leg kick before going upstairs with the right hand. Davi had Moraes momentarily reeling with a big body shot, forcing him to put his hands on the mat. Moraes sneaked in a short left hook with about 90 seconds left in the middle frame.
Moraes went to work in round 3 with his jab in this otherwise drab matchup. He was working from the outside and flicking single strikes. Ramos hammered home a stiff jab of his own. There was very little to separate the two, mostly because there was very little going on. It should be noted that Ramos had taken this fight on short notice, moving up from lightweight in the process.
Joe Soto def. Rani Yahya by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 20-27) - Bantamweights
Yahya came out aggressively with his striking, tagging Soto in the opening minute. The BJJ specialist got a little too reckless and was floored by a hard Soto right hand. Soto appeared to celebrate prematurely as Yahya got back to his feet. Yahya drilled Soto with a big knee, which Soto shook off. Rani used his striking to set-up his first takedown, which Soto easily stuffed. A sloppy combination by Soto led to Yahya taking him down on a low single. Soto’s guillotine failed and Yahya closed out the round on top.
A clash of heads opened up the nastiest of cuts on Soto. Referee Camilla Albuquerque was hesitant to stop the fight and get that cut checked, and did so in the middle of a submission attempt. The fight did resume and the two began trading strikes. Soto took Yahya’s back in a scramble but could not maintain the position, and the leakage of blood continued. Yahya caught Soto with a head kick to finish off a combination. It looked as if Yahya was fatiguing, as his takedown attempts were increasingly sloppier and his punches slower. Soto was finding his rhythm and tagging Yahya with more punches. Yahya was briefly mounted before the end of round 2, and Soto teed off on his face before going for a choke as the horn sounded.
Yahya was still throwing punches to start the final round, but was otherwise spent and another poor takedown attempt led to a bloodied Soto getting side control. Soto threw and landed short elbows to the noggin of the Brazilian. Big left hands by Soto targeting Yahya’s face were connecting. It was a completely dominant round 3 for the former Bellator champion. Soto went for the armbar but lost position and Yahya scrambled his way on top. They returned to their feet and exchanged labored strikes, Yahya desperate to turn things around, but Soto took him down one last time to conclude the bout. Soto has won three straight after losing his first three UFC bouts, while Yahya’s winning streak ends at four.
Michel Prazeres def. Josh Burkman by submission (north-south choke) at 1:42 of round 1 - Lightweights
Prazeres cracked Burkman with a left hook and just unleashed a violent onslaught of strikes that had Burkman just about out on his feet. This was all within the first minute, but somehow Burkman avoided getting knocked out. Prazeres then took Burkman down, locked in the north-south choke, and forced a quick tap. This was a staggeringly one-sided fight and the first finish of Prazeres’ entire UFC career. Burkman loses his fifth bout in his last six.
Jeremy Kennedy vs. Rony Jason by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) - Featherweights
Jason took the early initiative, scoring with a right hand and later dropping (to at least appeared to drop) Kennedy with a flying knee. Kennedy was able to get back to his feet after Jason tried to jockey for top position. Kennedy twice took Jason down. The Canadian got in a few ground strikes before dumping Rony on the mat once more. Kennedy hammered away with heavy ground-and-pound before the horn sounded to end round one.
Jason clipped Kennedy with a left hook and a right uppercut to start round 2. Another flying knee definitely caught Kennedy flush and put him down. Jason spent time working in Kennedy’s guard. Kennedy did well to minimize any damage and avoid Jason passing his guard and moving into at least side mount. The referee stood them up due to the inactivity, and fans were treated to Rony Jason’s butt crack after Kennedy pulled his shorts down with his feet. Kennedy then kicked Jason in the groin towards the end of the round. I’m not lying to you whatsoever.
Kennedy got a much-needed takedown to start round 3, but Jason scrambled back to his feet. Jason wriggled free from the body lock and separated from Kennedy, only to be taken down in the center of the cage. Kennedy mixed in body and head strikes while on the ground, punishing Jason with hard elbows and punches. Jason went for the gogoplata, perhaps to sweep his way into top position, but Kennedy was privy to it and continued bashing Jason with heavy ground-and-pound. Jason was able to get to his feet with under a minute remaining in the fight. Kennedy shot for a double-leg again, Jason sprawled, but Kennedy turned the corner and took his back. He slammed Jason to the mat and peppered away with more strikes to end an entertaining matchup. Kennedy remains undefeated, while Jason falls to 1-4 (1 NC) in his last six.
Paulo Henrique Costa def. Garreth McLellan via TKO (strikes) at 1:17 of round 1- Middleweights
“Borrachinha” and McLellan started out with aggressive striking in the opening minute, but Costa was having far more success. McLellan absorbed several right hands against the fence as the Brazilian teed off with combinations. A hard body kick hurt the South African, then Borrachinha clocked him with a right hand and then a left, sending McLellan to the mat. Borrachinha sealed the deal with hammerfists before the referee stopped the fight. A sensational UFC debut for Costa, who is now 9-0 in his career with 8 knockouts.