The UFC Sacramento prelims just concluded with Mike Rodriguez and John Allan doing battle for three full rounds. When the dust settled, it was Allan who walked away with the well-deserved victory to move to 14-5. Before that, Andre Fili put on for his hometown crowd when he spectacularly knocked out Sheymon Moraes in the first round. Fili has now won four of his last five as he snaps a lengthy streak of decisions in the best way possible.
Two former TUF winners returned to action after respective breaks from the sport and ended up going the full fifteen-minutes. TUF 18’s Julianna Pena took a tough decision over TUF 26 winner and UFC inaugural flyweight champ Nicco Montano. Now back to work, back in the win column, and back in a space to focus on fighting - expect to see Pena right back in the bantamweight rankings and charging towards the title.
Also on the prelims, grappling guru Ryan Hall dropped Darren Elkins multiple times en route to a unanimous decision victory. Elkins refused to fight on the ground, and then got out-struck on the feet. Go figure. Hall has now won all four of his UFC fights. Another shining moment on the undercard was when Jonathan Martinez pulled out a sensational knockout of Pingyuan Liu, almost out of nowhere. Martinez has now won back to back bouts in the UFC, both to athletes out of China.
**See complete results below
John Allan def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): Light Heavyweight
The light heavyweights were swinging hard right out of the gate. Each man connected with solid shots before Allan put Rodriguez on his back. Rodriguez was able to scramble back to his feet when Allan went for a guillotine. They were pretty even on the feet after that, and then an inadvertent cup kick to Allan brought a weird halt to the action at the final second of the round.
Rodriguez got his hands going early in the second round, but he punched himself right into the clinch. That’s where Allan scored a brief takedown and then landed some descent blows in close on the feet. A botched takedown from Allan gifted Rodriguez with top position. He was able to hang out inside the full guard, dropping strikes and staying busy. Allan used an armbar attempt to get back to his feet but then jumped a guillotine to end up right on his back.
A groin strike to Allan halted the third round for a moment before it really got a chance to get going. Once the fight resumed, Rodriguez got busy with his leg kicks. The success was short-lived thanks to an Allan takedown. Rodriguez ate strikes as he worked his way back to his feet. A bit of a brawl broke out. Each man went for it as best they could with Allan landing some vicious body shots. Allan scored a last-minute takedown to score a couple of more punches and finish the round in the dominant position.
Andre Fili def. Sheymon Moraes by KO at 3:07 of round 1: Featherweight
A high-level kickboxing bout broke out right away. The fighters stood right in front of each other and began trading strikes. Then, BOOM! Fili blasted Moraes with a right cross to head kick that wobbled him, followed by a brutal finishing sequence. A counter right hook landed clean to sit down Moraes, and then a set of short hammerfists put him out.
Julianna Pena def. Nicco Montano by unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 29-27): (W) Bantamweight
Montano came out and shoved her opponent up against the fence. Pena did a descent job of fighting off the takedown, but ended up on her back anyways. Montano forced her foe to carry her weight for the rest of the round, while avoiding a set of sub attempts from Pena. Montano closed the distance again in the second round, scoring an early takedown. Pena returned to her feet and used a guillotine to put Montano on her back. Several elbows came crashing down onto the former flyweight champ. Montano did not return to her feet until the round expired.
The fighters exchanged head kicks early in the third round, with Montano landing the better one. Pena ended up catching a kick and used it to take top position. She smothered Montano, giving her no space to do much of anything. The former flyweight turned bantamweight created space and found a way back to her feet, and then immediately found top position. Pena scrambled back up to her feet where they exchanged down the stretch. Montano scored herself a last second takedown right before the buzzer.
Ryan Hall def. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): Featherweight
Elkins dealt with the funk of Hall the best he could. he avoided the ground and tried to kick at the legs whenever Hall would flop. Then, Hall landed a clean spinning heel kick to the face that dropped Elkins. Unreal! Naturally Elkins recovered for the second round, but Hall started to land precision punches on the feet. After a short chicken dance, Elkins recovered, but Hall sat him down again with a punch. Elkins continued to struggle with the willingness of Hall to fall to his back. He refused to play any ground game, showing Hall all sorts of respect. Maybe too much respect? As strange as it sounds, Hall was actually out-striking Elkins on the feet.
Jonathan Martinez def. Pingyuan Liu by KO at 3:54 of round 3: Bantamweight
Martinez took the center of the Octagon to start the match with Pingyuan circling along the outside. A bunch of measuring went on before Pingyuan blasted his foe with a hard combo that staggered him. Martinez responded with a flurry of his own that backed off Pingyuan to finish the round strongly. A lot of measuring went on in the seocnd round. Martinez pressed forward as Pingyuan circled.
Just when it looked as if the third round was going to be a carbon copy of the second, and the UFC commentators were discussing the importance taking risks - Martinez blasted his opponent with a gorgeous knee that dropped Pingyuan like a sack of potatoes. One follow up blow landed before the referee had time to step in. Yikes!
Brianna Van Buren def. Livinha Souza by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Strawweight
Van Buren came out quite aggressive, getting in her opponent’s face and shoving her against the fence. She kept up her intensity, chasing after Souza whenever she found open space. Souza showed some aggression of her own, punching her way into the clinch where she scored a takedown before time ran out.
Van Buren got her hands going for a large chunk of the second frame. She peppered Souza with big punches both to the head and body. All Souza could really do was back up and cover up. The strawweights spent some time in the third round exchanging on the ground. Van Buren landed some solid strikes from the top but Souza never quit trying. She even locked up a last second armbar attempt as the horn sounded.
Benito Lopez def. Vince Morales by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Bantamweight
The bantamweights were content to keep this one on the feet to kick off the opening round. It was Morales who scored a big knockdown and followed up with ground strikes for the biggest moment of the entire fight. Lopez seemed fully recovered for the second round and started moving forward. The fighters were pretty evenly matched, with each man picking their shots wisely. Morales came hard with the punches in the final round, clocking Lopez with heavy leather. Lopez responded with his leg kicks, chopping away at his opponent to both the inside and outside.