At the UFC APEX facility the UFC Vegas 14 prelims just wrapped up.
The featured prelim was Kanako Murata vs. Randa Markos in the strawweight division. And it was Murata who would get the win, impressing in her UFC debut. The Japanese fighter signed with the UFC fresh off of wining the Invicta FC strawweight title. With her performance versus the UFC vet Markos, she signaled her intent to compete for a belt in the Octagon, too.
It took less than a minute for Murata to take Markos down to the mat, landing a clever trip in the open cage. Once down Murata worked half guard and side control, but Markos defended well and made it back up to her feet. In the ensuing clinch Markos landed knees to the body. Murata didn’t give her enough space to put much power into them, though. Murata used another trip to get Markos down again. This time she was able to land some short elbows, aided by heavy wrist control. Murata then pinned one of Markos’ arms and landed more heavy elbows to finish out the round.
The first half of the second round was contested on the feet, with neither fighter finding a significant advantage there. Murata eventually shot for a takedown and eventually got Markos down against the cage. On the ground Murata again looked for ways to pin one of Markos’ arms so she could land ground and pound. After a few strikes, she switched focus to Markos’ neck, but couldn’t find a finish there.
Murata was able to get Markos down in the third round, too. This time she jumped on a d’arce choke, which looked tight initially. Markos was able to turn out of it, though. After Markos established full guard, Murata fired off some hard punches from top position. Markos teased at an armbar a few times, but Murata was too smart to fall for it.
Murata took all three rounds and with it a win in her UFC debut.
All the other prelim fights went the distance, too.
Tony Gravely vs. Geraldo de Freitas was mostly a stalemate on the feet, with both men instead using their specialties to decent effect—Gravely with his collegiate wrestling acumen and de Freitas with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Ultimately, Gravely’s wrestling prowess made the most impact on the fight, with the American taking the Brazilian down again and again, securing a victory on the scorecards (despite de Freitas landing some hard strikes in the third).
In welterweight action Alex Morono pummeled and bloodied former Cage Warriors champion Rhys McKee on route to a unanimous decision victory. An unusual situation occurred in third, when McKee’s mouthpiece fell out and bounced through the fence. The action was paused for a good few minutes while an official used a flashlight to hunt for missing the piece of gear under the cage.
To open the event Don’tale Mayes took a unanimous decision over Roque Martinez. Mayes won the first two rounds thanks to crisp combos and a few well placed jumping knees and then survived the third despite eating a few big punches from Martinez.
Strawweight: Kanako Murata def. Randa Markos by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Bantamweight: Tony Gravely def. Geraldo de Freitas by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Welterweight: Alex Morono def. Rhys McKee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Heavyweight: Don’tale Mayes def. Roque Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).