The Prudential Center in New Jersey is the setting for UFC Newark and the preliminary card just concluded with Kennedy Nzechukwu taking a tough decision over Darko Stosic. The toughest part of the fight for Nzechukwu may have been getting kicked in the cup on three separate occasions, resulting in Stosic receiving a point deduction in two different instances. Nzechukwu is now 1-1 in the UFC.
Before that, Jersey’s own Mickey Gall earning a unanimous nod over Salim Touahri. The win gets Gall back into the win column and he moves to 6-3 in his young career. Also on the prelims, the company’s #15 ranked women’s 125-pounder Antonina Shevchenko was in an exciting clash with Lucie Pudilova. After getting sliced open with an elbow in the opening act, Shevchenko rallied to slap on a belly-down RNC that put Pudilova completely to sleep. Shevchenko nearly hit an armbar in the first round as well, showing that she is a threat even off of her back.
The UFC’s #14 ranked flyweight Matt Schnell made quick work of Jordan Espinosa by submitting him in less than 90-seconds. Don’t look now, but after dropping his first-two promotional bouts, Schnell has now won four in a row. After a set of cancelled bouts, the promotion’s #9 ranked women’s flyweight Lauren Murphy finally got back to work, and did so by stopping the #10 ranked Mara Romero Borella in the third round. Murphy is back from foot surgery and back with her old team, which could be a winning recipe to help the veteran find some much needed consistency.
Making his second UFC appearance inside of a calendar year for the first time since 2014, Claudio Silva sniffed out a first round submission of Cole Williams. After dropping his professional debut in 2007, Silva has won 14-straight, five of them under the UFC banner. Opening up the main card, Miranda Granger made good on her UFC debut with a unanimous decision win over Hannah Goldy. Granger remains undefeated and hopes to get a full fight-camp for her next outing as well as a matchup in her regular division of 115-pounds.
**See complete results below
Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Darko Stosic by unanimous decision (29-26, 28-27 x2): Light Heavyweight
Stosic aggressively attacked the leg kick in the opening round. He blasted the inside and the outside, mixing it up well. Nzechukwu kept pressing forward and landed some hard knees to the body. Stosic had a strong moment at the end of the round when he blitzed with a flurry of punches.
An accidental cup kick to Nzechukwu started the second round. Nzechukwu stayed with his forward pressure keeping Stosic on the back foot. Another cup kick came, but this time the referee deducted a point from Stosic. A short-lived takedown in the final round scored for Stosic, with Nzechukwu scrambling back up to his feet without sustaining much damage. Then, a third cup kick came flying in from Stosic. The referee deducted a second point and the doctor made sure Nzechukwu could continue. The bout resumed and Stosic scoring several short-lived takedowns, despite being down heavily on the scorecards.
Mickey Gall def. Salim Touahri by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Welterweight
It was clear right out of the gate that Gall wanted to close the distance and test the grappling of Touahri. A couple of punches landed for Touahri as Gall closed the distance, but the range was closed nonetheless. Gall took the back in the final minute of the round and scored with strikes before the clock expired.
Touahri was able to spend much more time in open space in round-two. He got his punches going a lot more, but Gall ate the shots rather well. Looking for a takedown, Gall ended up on the bottom getting punched. He eventually made his way to his feet where he connected with a series of savage standing elbows. Touahri got his punching combinations going again on the feet but Gall was matching his output. The power advantage was still on the side of Touahri but the volume was favoring Gall. Touahri did a sound job of staying on his feet, but he allowed Gall to control him against the fence.
Antonina Shevchenko def. Lucie Pudilova by technical submission (RNC) at 1:20 of round 2: (W) Flyweight
A lot of this opening round took place on the inside in the clinch. The athletes jockeyed for position up against the fence. Shevchenko was sneaking in knees when a window would open up, but then a set of elbows from Pudilova drew some blood. Pudilova then took top position and started dropping elbows from the top. Shevchenko locked up a super-tight armbar but Pudilova fought her way out of it. It was quite an exciting round! Pudilova closed the distance in round two looking for the takedown but Shevchenko hit a ninja move to take the back. Shevchenko quickly attacked a rear-naked choke. She kept squeezing and adjusting until the referee realized that Pudilova was unconscious. Yikes!
Matt Schnell def. Jordan Espinosa by submission (triangle) at 1:23 of round 1: Flyweight
Espinosa shot in early on Schnell, but found himself fighting off a guillotine attempt. The moment he escaped, he found himself then fighting off a triangle attempt. Schnell made all of the proper adjustments, hooking the leg and pulling down on the head. Espinosa was dead to rights and respectfully tapped.
Lauren Murphy def. Mara Romero Borella by TKO at 1:46 of round 3: (W) Flyweight
Murphy took the center of the Octagon looking to bring the pressure. Borella was comfortable countering and moving backwards. Each athlete landed some descent shots in a competitive first-round.
The pressure of Murphy continued into the second act, but the hand speed of Borella was disrupting her rhythm. Borella briefly found top position but Murphy was able to stand back up. Murphy started to grind against the cage, winning the positional battle. Back in open space, Murphy landed a mean uppercut that had her foe backpedalling. After stuffing a takedown, Murphy connected with a brutal knee to the face that caused Borella to fall to the canvas. A couple of ground strikes later and the referee was stopping the fight.
Claudio Silva def. Cole Williams by submission (RNC) at 2:35 of round 1: Welterweight
Williams popped his opponent right in the mouth to start the fight. Williams responded with a clubbing right hand that staggered Silva. Just when it looked as if a brawl was going to break out, Silva closed the distance and took the fight to the floor. Silva took the back and started to unleash damaging ground strikes. The neck presented itself and Silva grabbed ahold and went hard for the choke. Williams was forced to tap.
Miranda Granger def. Hannah Goldy by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): (W) Flyweight
There was a bit of feeling out taking place throughout the opening round. When they did exchange, it was Granger who was connecting with the better of the punches. Granger would strike her way into the clinch, but the fight kind of just stalled out there.
Goldy continued to struggle to find a way on the inside where her strikes would have been more effective. The output on both sides was rather low, but Granger did clock her opponent with an exceptionally clean left hook that did damage, and Goldy scored with a flush side kick to the face before the bell. The strike count stayed on the side of Granger in the final round. She was able to outland Goldy while throwing at a serviceable pace down the stretch.