The UFC Philadelphia main card is underway, and the promotion’s #10 ranked featherweight Josh Emmett just knocked out Michael Johnson with one punch in the last-minute of the final round. Emmett was arguably down on the scorecards, making this knockout that much sweeter. Emmett is returning to action following facial fractures sustained in a bout with Jeremy Stephens back in February of 2018. What a way to return! Before that, the UFC’s #9 ranked strawweight Michelle Waterson earned three 30-27’s over the #6 ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Waterson has now won three-straight, and in her post-fight interviewed asked for a shot at UFC gold.
Paul Craig did it again. With less than a minute remaining in the final round of a gritty fight with Kennedy Nzechukwu, Craig pulled out a Hail Mary triangle submission to force the tap. It was Craig who hit that third-round buzzer-beating triangle submission of Magomed Ankalaev back in March of last year. At 11-3, Craig is now 3-3 within the promotion. This is the first professional loss for the now 6-1 Nzechukwu.
Kicking off the main card, Sheymon Moraes vs. Sodiq Yusuff produced a technical standup war. Moraes was the one landing early, but it was Yusuff who dropped Moraes in the third round. When it was all said and done, it was who walked away with the decision win. Yusuff in now 2-0 inside of the UFC and enjoys a four-fight winning streak. In his post-fight interview, Yusuff called out Kron Gracie, who just debuted with the UFC by submitting Alex Caceres in 2:06 back in February.
Josh Emmett def. Michael Johnson by KO at 4:14 of round 3: Featherweight
Johnson pressed forward, backing up Emmett to open the match. A bunch of feinting as well as measuring went on, with Johnson landing more of the strikes that were thrown. Emmett started to press forward, backing Johnson up towards the end of the round. The fighters began to exchange in the pocket for the final ten-seconds on the clock.
Johnson pressed forward again to kick off the second act, and ate a really hard right hand for it. Both men were calculating their moves, and Johnson was the one that came to life. He started to flow and land his strikes, until a cup kick from his opponent halted the action. Upon the restart, Johnson landed a hard southpaw cross that got the attention of Emmett. The round concluded with Emmett failing to achieve a takedown. The final round saw Emmett struggle to close the distance and land his strikes on an elusive Johnson. Just when it seemed like the bout was going to the scorecards, Emmett connected with a sizzling right hand that knocked out Johnson cold. Yikes!
Michelle Waterson def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Strawweight
Waterson landed some quality punches early in the opening round. Kowalkiewicz struggled to find a rhythm and let her strikes go. Switching stances, Waterson kept giving her opponent different looks. Towards the end of the round, Kowalkiewicz started to close the distance and land a bit more. Kowalkiewicz landed some hard strikes to open up the second act, causing Waterson to circle. As soon as Kowalkiewicz caught a kick and closed the distance, Waterson hit a toss to take top position in side control. Waterson solidified the position, eating up some clock before spinning for a super-tight arm. Kowalkiewicz held on until the bell sounded.
Waterson tried another toss from the clinch, but Kowalkiewicz was able to fend it off this time. Kowalkiewicz shoved her opponent against the fence, landing knees to the body. Waterson started to land viscous strikes of her own in the clinch before separating. Kowalkiewicz gave up a takedown, but was able to scramble back to her feet. Waterson connected with a big elbow against the fence, and finished out the round by throwing volume on the feet, but missing on most of those strikes.
Paul Craig def. Kennedy Nzechukwu by submission (Triangle) at 4:20 of round 3: Light Heavyweight
Craig looked for the early takedown but did so at the cost of getting split open from some Travis Browne elbows. Craig elected to pull guard and began throwing up sub attempt after sub attempt. Nzechukwu backed away from the ground, but Craig was relentless with his pursuit of the takedown. After escaping a leg lock attempt, Nzechukwu escaped back to his feet and landed a kick as Craig shot in, connecting with the knee on the chin.
Craig threw a couple of strikes before botching his initial takedown attempt of the second round. Nzechukwu ended up getting dragged to the ground where he smashed down with several elbows. Back on the feet, the referee warned Nzechukwu about extending his fingers. Then, the referee paused the action for a cup-kick from Craig. Upon the restart, Nzechukwu aggressively pursued Craig looking to land his head.
Nzechukwu was patient early in the final round as he stalked Craig, before landing a hard knee to the body. Then, an eye poke from Nzechukwu led to a point deduction and a disqualification warning. After the doctor checked out Craig, the fight was restarted. Craig started searching for the takedown, but ended up on the bottom. Craig threw up a triangle attempt but Nzechukwu. So, Craig went for the same move again, but this time it was locked up. Nzechukwu tried to roll to escape but he was already dead to rights and decided to tap. Nutso!
Sodiq Yusuff def. Sheymon Moraes by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2): Featherweight
Yusuff got his leg kicks going early in the first act, before stifling Moraes up against the fence. Back in open space, the fighters exchanged a combo each before the clinch war resumed. Back and forth they went with knees to the body, with neither man really taking over. The featherweights started to trade punching combinations in the pocket in the second frame. It wasn’t long before the war of attrition in clinch resumed, but it didn’t last very wrong this time. Moraes scored with a nice head kick and then an elbow before engaging back into the clinch.
The final round began with a bit of measuring going on. The athletes began to exchange, with Moraes landing a crafty step-in up elbow. With just over a minute left on the clock, Yusuff floored Moraes with a heavy right hand counter. He went in for the kill, but Moraes was able to recover and get back to his feet before the round ended.