The ESPN portion of the UFC 241 prelims just closed out with promotional newcomer, and major betting underdog, Khama Worthy stopping the finish-happy Devonte Smith in the first round. Worthy landed a brutal left hand to the neck to earn himself an impressive debut victory and a fresh highlight for his reel. Smith still has never gone the distance in his professional MMA career, for better or worse.
Longtime elite UFC contender Raphael Assuncao, and his #3 bantamweight ranking, was flat out beat by the up and coming Cory Sandhagen. The grappling exchanges were pretty much even, but Sandhagen ran away with it in the striking department. The now 12-1 Sandhagen made the march into this bout riding a six-fight winning streak, so that moves to seven, and his #9 ranking should jump up several spots come next week. Is Sandhagen ready for title contention?
Before that, Drakkar Klose and Christos Giagos were involved in a good ol’ fashioned brawl that went the distance. Both men were gassed by the end of it after giving maximum effort, with Klose pulling out the unanimous nod. Opening up the UFC 241 ESPN prelims, Manny Bermudez and Casey Kenney went the full fifteen-minutes. The grapple-heavy bout was low on damage but high on effort from both sides. When the smoke cleared, it was Kenney who had inhaled the sweet smell of a unanimous decision. This makes it six-straight W’s for Kenney and the first career loss for Bermudez.
**See complete results below
Khama Worthy def. Devonte Smith by TKO at 4:15 of round 1: Lightweight
An accidental eye poke to Worthy caused an early break in the... action? The pace started to pick up after the foul. Smith started to land some quality calf kicks and then boom! Worthy blasted his opponent with a left hand to the neck that sent Smith falling to the floor. A couple of follow up ground strikes came crashing in before the referee was pulling Worthy off of Smith.
Cory Sandhagen def. Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28): Bantamweight
Sandhagen was touching his target on the feet to kick off the opening round. He pressured his opponent to land, and then would move out of the way before Assuncao could return with something clean. Assuncao spent a lot of the round on his back foot. Assuncao took the back off of a Sandhagen leg kick in the second round, but ended up on his back nonetheless. A lengthy and exciting scramble ensued, ending with the men being all entangled on the ground as the bell sounded.
Sandhagen pressed forward again in the final round, backing up Assuncao. The veteran tried to get the takedown, but the scrambling ability of Sandhagen was sound and the fight stayed on its feet. Even win Assuncao pulled off a slamming takedown, Sandhagen was quick to spring right back up. On the feet, it was all Sandhagen.
Drakkar Klose def. Christos Giagos by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Lightweight
Klose pressed forward looking to bully his opposition right away. Giagos used his footwork to keep away, and also switched his stance back and forth to give Klose different looks. Klose clocked his foe with a massive right hand just before the bell, and then followed up with another one a half-a-tick after it.
Giagos snagged a takedown off of a kick attempt from Klose early in the second act. Klose worked his way up to his feet where he landed some knees on the inside, but ultimately gave up another takedown. Giagos quickly took the back and immediately attacked the neck. Klose escaped the RNC and scrambled back up to his feet where he pressed forward. He ate a couple of blows on his way in, but Klose started to pour on the pressure. He put Giagos on his back and started to pound away with savage hammerfists. What a great way to steal back a round.
Klose started hard in round three. He dropped Giagos with a heavy leg kick and then continued to out-strike his fatigued opponent. Despite being gassed, Giagos kept throwing and landing as Klose walked through the blows to land his own. Blood was covering the face of Giagos at this point. Then, Klose lifted up his foe over his shoulder, waited a second, and then slammed him down to the canvas. Giagos stood up and started landing strikes as the time clock clicked away.
Casey Kenney def. Manny Bermudez by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): 140 lbs catchweight
It didn’t take very long for Bermudez to c lose the distance and drag the fight to the mat. After losing position, Kenney found a takedown of his own. He was able to rack up some control time, but didn’t dish out much damage before the fight returned to its feet.
Bermudez closed the distance again in the second round, initiating a scramble. Kenney again found top position and was able to rack up some more control time. He worked for a unorthodox RNC, but Bermudez escaped. Kenney sprinkled in some strikes here and there, making sure to not get swept. Back on the feet, Bermudez pressed forward behind his strikes. Again he initiated the scramble and again Kenney came out on top. Bermudez walked down his foe with his strikes in the final round. Kenney then hit a takedown but was instant hip bumped onto the bottom. Kenney spent the rest of round on his back.