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UFC Auckland results and video: Vinc Pichel’s vicious KO is the only finish on the prelims

Get the results of the fight preliminary card fights at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Hunt in Auckland, New Zealand.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Hunt preliminary card is finished. Prior to the start of the show, UFC officials announced the cancellation of Thibault Gouti vs. Dong Hyun Kim due to Gouti not being medically fit to compete, hence just the five fights. JJ Aldrich kicked things off with a nice, technical striking performance against Chan-Mi Jeon, Zak Ottow got himself a win on the scorecards against Kiichi Kunimoto, John Moraga schooled Ashkan Mokhtarian, Luke Jumeau got the local crowd excited with a nice win over Dominique Steele, and Vinc Pichel returned from an extremely long layoff to destroy Damien Brown. Here’s how they played out.

Vinc Pichel def. Damien Brown by KO (punches) at 3:37 of round 1- Lightweights

Brown had the early advantage against PIchel, who hadn’t competed in three years. Pichel had one quality uppercut but was otherwise getting outlanded and not throwing many strikes. As Brown surged forward, Pichel cracked Brown with a left and then melted his foe with a walloping right uppercut. The fight should’ve been stopped right there, but it took a couple more shots for the referee to call the fight off. What a way to get your first win since 2014. Brown drops to 2-2 in the UFC and that’s his first KO loss inside the Octagon.

Luke Jumeau def. Dominique Steele by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) - Welterweights

Both men came out throwing heavy-looking punches. Steele just missed a flush connection on a spinning backfist. He was pressuring the New Zealander and firing off left hooks. Jumeau wasn’t able to get much going and then found himself taken down in the final minute of the round. Steele was active on top and scored with some ground strikes before the horn sounded.

Steele kicked off round 2 with a flying knee and changing levels for a takedown, but Jumeau defended nicely and landed a 1-2 combination. A right hand behind the ear rocked Steele and put him off balance, which the crowd appreciated. Steele tied up Jumeau and was able to stop the flow of punches. After clinch knees were exchanged, Steele again had was in in a double-leg but couldn’t complete it. Jumeau was on the front foot and also literally foot stomping. Steele just couldn’t get his wrestling going and decisively dropped round 2.

There wasn’t much action in the first-half of round 3. After the referee separated them in the clinch, Jumeau clocked Steele with multiple overhand rights and had Steele in a bothersome state. To the crowd’s annoyance, Steele shot for a double-leg again and Jumeau shut that down. Steele switched to a single and looked to have it, only for Jumeau to demonstrate excellent strength and balance. He threw a few strikes to the head with Jumeau pressed up against the fence, and the hometown fighter eventually broke free. Jumeau’s striking and takedown defense made the difference in the final two rounds, and he got the unanimous decision win in his Octagon debut. Steele has lost three straight and we may have seen the last of him in the UFC.

John Moraga def. Ashkan Mokhtarian by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27) - Flyweights

Mokhtarian surprisingly went for the first takedown, but nearly paid the price by getting his head stuck in an arm-in guillotine. Moraga had it on tightly and Mokhtarian was in clear discomfort, but he was able to stand up and escape the submission, and eventually separate to the center of the cage. Again it was Mokhtarian with the takedown attempt, and the former title challenger countered with a rear-naked choke. Mokhtarian escaped and had a leglock but held on far too long and didn’t use it to sweep. Moraga rode out the rest of round 1 with ground-and-pound from back mount, including some vicious elbows to the side of the head. Mokhtarian fended off a buzzer-beating armbar attempt.

Mokhtarian found a little bit of offensive success with hard leg kicks that caught the attention of his opponent. A flying knee by Moraga tagged Mokhtarian but he took the flashy strike well. Moraga also slipped in a nice left hook. Moraga was outstriking Mokhtarian for much of the 2nd round and then caught a kick to set up a takedown, landing nice ground-and-pound shortly thereafter. Mokhtarian was getting manhandled on the ground and found himself fully mounted at the very end of round 2.

Moraga continued his domination of Mokhtarian with a suplex to begin the final round. He transitioned beautifully and had the armbar, Mokhtarian escaped, then went for a takedown of his own. That predictably failed, then Moraga transitioned from a choke to full mount, then back mount, and just delivered a series of punishing blows. Mokhtarian was tough as could be, as he thwarted one last armbar attempt but otherwise was on the wrong end of a one-sided beatdown. Moraga ends his three-fight losing skid, while Mokhtarian’s debut is a losing one.

Zak Ottow def. Kiichi Kunimoto by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) - Welterweights

Ottow clearly got the better of Kunimoto with his striking in the opening round, and also displayed exemplary takedown defense. It looked as if Kunimoto was in trouble due to the power punches that were getting through, but he essentially stemmed the tide with failed takedowns and hardly any offense in the clinch. The Japanese fighter was able to catch the leg and take the American down early in round 2. Ottow didn’t allow anything of significance to happen in his guard, and he was able to scramble and gain top position on Kunimoto. He managed to take the back, getting both hooks in as he maneuvered for the rear-naked choke. Kunimoto was able to spin his way on top and land some ground-and-pound. He moved in for the guillotine but lost it quickly and wound up on his back again as the round ended.

In round 3, it looked as if Kunimoto was rocked by a right hook, but he lunged for a double-leg takedown and took Ottow down again. Kunimoto threw some short punches and aimed to pass Ottow’s guard, and Ottow did well not to let him get full mount. He failed to escape to his feet, however, and Kunimoto was able to take the back with about 90 seconds left in the fight. Ottow crucially wriggled free and then teed off with punches from top position, then body blows when Kunimoto stood back up. Kunimoto dropped for a guillotine as the buzzer sounded, and he was never ever going to finish that. Ottow earned the split decision and is now 2-1 inside the Octagon, while Kunimoto’s first fight in over two years ends with a second straight loss.

JJ Aldrich def. Chan-Mi Jeon by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Women’s Strawweights

Round 1 was a glorified kickboxing round, with Aldrich landing multiple heavy right hands from her southpaw stance, as well as a slapping head kick. Newcomer Jeon, who took the fight on two weeks’ notice, also had her moments and was able to score with punches in short, quick bursts. Both women were able to connect on power punches in the pocket in round 2. Aldrich was very willing to pressure Jeon, albeit not cutting off the cage effectively. Jeon’s success was primarily with her lead left hand, along with leg kicks. Aldrich flicked the jab and worked well on the counter. The South Korean finished the second with hard punches as the fight briefly turned into a brawl.

Jeon let out a massive scream prior to the star of round 3, as she seemed more than happy just to be in there for her Octagon debut. While the 19-year-old was game and competing well, her nose was bloodied from all of the brutally accurate right hooks and straight lefts she was eating. This didn’t seem to faze Jeon, who was smiling and goading Aldrich to hit her more after a spinning kick. Aldrich gets her first UFC win on her second attempt, while Jeon hopefully has learned some valuable lessons in her young career.