UFC Norfolk is here and the preliminary fights just wrapped up with strong performances by “Violent Bob Ross” Luis Pena, Contender Series alum Jordan Griffin, and the eccentric Spike Carlyle.
Pena improved his professional record to 8-2 after a dominant grappling performance over Steve Garcia, who stepped in on five days notice. Garcia was game from start-to-finish, but Pena controlled his back for the majority of all three rounds. “Violent Bob Ross” hunted for rear-naked chokes and neck cranks throughout. The only time Pena really looked vulnerable was at the start of the third-round when he fell into a committed triangle choke attempt. He ultimately swept the judges scorecards three rounds to zero.
Elsewhere on the card, DWTNCS alums Griffin and T.J. Brown did battle. Both men were rocked but Brown generally controlled the striking and grappling exchanges. Brown kept giving up his neck, however, and Griffin capitalized with a unique guillotine choke that slept Brown. Other noteworthy performances were turned in by grappler Brendan Allen and the unhinged Carlyle, both of whom finished their opponents via first-round TKO.
**See complete results below
Kyler Phillips def. Gabriel Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27): Bantamweight
Silva landed a big punch early. Phillips missed on the flying knee and almost scored the spinning wheel-kick. Phillips landed with a spinning kick to the body. Phillips is going mad with all sorts of creative strikes. Silva pressed forward and landed. Phillips hurt Silva with multiple hooks but Silva recovered and pressed on. Phillips ducked under a punch from Silva and threw a haymaker that landed. Silva concluded the round with a tricky takedown: He grabbed one of Phillips’ feet and kicked out the other.
Silva initiated the grappling early and pressed Phillips against the cage for the first half of round two. Silva with the takedown. Phillips reversed the position and both men exchanged leg lock set-ups. Phillips used it to transition to mount, but Silva used his legs to keep things moving. Silva attacked a kneebar in the final minute of round two. Silva committed to the kneebar but Phillips slid the knee out. The round ended with Phillips throwing some strong hammer fists.
Phillips rocked Silva with a strong punch early. He landed the spinning wheel-kick immediately after. A flying knee missed for Phillips who subsequently took Silva down. Phillips sunk in a very nice d’arce choke. Silva managed to roll through and escape. Wow! A loud elbow from Phillips nearly blew my speakers. Back on the ground and Phillips dominated Silva in mount and back mount. Phillips nearly kneed a grounded opponent in the final seconds but it hit the shoulder.
Brendan Allen def. Tom Breese via TKO at 4:47 of round 1: Middleweight
Allen landed a body kick early and Breese responded with three uppercuts to the abs. Allen got it to the floor and landed in top half guard. Allen locked in a kimura grip from side control. Breese got free but ate knuckle sandwiches as a result. Big elbows by Allen in side mount. A scramble almost saw Breese take the back and transition to an armbar. Breese showed off his own grappling skills with a triangle attempt that was thwarted early. Allen went all-in on the ground-and-pound and the referee called it off.
Big time performance by 24-year-old @BrendanAllenMMA #UFCNorfolk pic.twitter.com/GYMINDrO9v— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 1, 2020
Marcin Tybura def. Sergey Spivak via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28): Heavyweight
Tybura led the striking exchange for the first minute until Spivak cracked him with a great forward-rushing combination. Tybura with a nice two-punch combo of his own two-minutes in. Tybura initiated a takedown. Spivak nearly turned it into a hip-toss but Tybura landed on top halfway through the round. Tybura spent the remainder of round one firing off shots from inside Spivak’s guard.
Tybura had enough of exchanging strikes and grabbed a body lock one minute into round two. The referee had enough of this smothering and separated the two halfway in. Spivak committed to a throw and slipped, resulting in Tybura on his back. One-minute left and the restless crowd begun to boo.
A nice counter right cross from Tybura 15-seconds in. Tybura lunged for a takedown but Spivak stayed upright. Tybura seemed to complain about an eyepoke but the referee shut him down. Two minutes left and Tybura landed the double-leg takedown. Much like round one, round three ends on the ground with Tybura on top.
Luis Pena def. Steve Garcia via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27): Lightweight
Let’s see if “Violent Bob Ross” kept the momentum for the gingers. Garcia came out swangin’ and bangin’ (shout out to Derrick Lewis) and clocked Pena with a big shot. Pena backed Garcia to the fence. Garcia executed a takedown and the favor was returned by Pena. Garcia threw mean backwards elbows from the bottom. Halfway through round one and “Violent Bob Ross” committed to the choke. Garcia — who took the fight on five days notice — has thus far survived. One minute left and Pena with a MEAN neck-crank. Pena transitioned to a rear-naked choke. Some crafty elbows by Pena from back mount.
Garcia rushed Pena and paid for it as Pena snuck behind him. 15-seconds in and Pena has both hooks in. This was the story of the round as Pena continued to hunt for the rear-naked choke. 15-second left in the round and Garcia started throwing double hammer fists behind him. What an interesting fight night.
This time Pena rushed his opponent. The sheer force knocked Garcia over. Pena landed in guard but fell into a deep triangle choke. Garcia tried to adjust the position. Pena worked to escape. Garcia transitioned to an armbar as Pena slipped out but no cigar. Pena transitioned to the back and continued his search for the rear-naked choke for the remainder.
Jordan Griffin def. T.J. Brown via tech. submission (guillotine) at 3:38 of round 2: Featherweight
Griffin took his first step forward and instantly got cracked with a counter-right, almost dropping him. Brown shot for a takedown allowing Griffin to snag a guillotine. Brown worked his way out and back to the feet. Multiple takedowns from Brown. Griffin constantly threatened with a ninja choke but never committed. Brown started opened up with one-minute left in round one, throwing thudding shots to the body and head. Griffin slapped on an awkward rear-naked choke from the side. It was really, really deep but the angle did not allow for Griffin to apply pressure. Brown escaped, both men traded on the feet and Griffin hurt Brown! A late guillotine attempt for Griffin, but Brown escaped with seconds left.
These two guys came out firing in the second round! Griffin immediately hurt Brown with a head-kick, and Brown once again rocked Griffin with a counter right. A messy scramble ended with Griffin. Wow! Brown with two-hard slaps. The Diaz Bros. would be proud. Brown postured up and landed a huge hammer fist from guard. A scramble to the feet and Brown pressed Griffin to the cage. A nice double leg takedown for Brown but Griffin slapped on a high-angle guillotine. Brown kept sticking his head in there. This looked really tight but Brown managed to pass to side control. Griffin held on for dear life and wait, what? Brown is out! That is a very rare finish for a guillotine.
WOW! @JordanGriffin29 gets the finish!! #UFCNorfolk pic.twitter.com/AIlT3bWhrw— UFC (@ufc) February 29, 2020
Spike Carlyle def. Aalon Cruz via TKO at 1:25 of round 1: Featherweight
Carlyle let out a terrifying chuckle as Bruce Buffer introduced him. I’m over it. Both men trade head kicks early. Carlyle’s lands harder and wobbles Cruz. Cruz goes for a take-down against the cage and eats a wicked 11-5-ish elbow. That really hurt Cruz! Carlyle lands in mount and throws Donkey Kong strikes for a quick first-round finish.
WHOA The Alpha Ginger just showed he's dangerous from ANY position #UFCNorfolk pic.twitter.com/llZ5v2k7Oz— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) February 29, 2020
Sean Brady def. Ismail Naurdiev via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27): Flyweight
Naurdiev led the dance in round one with his diverse striking and forward pressure. Brady caught a kick halfway through the first but paid for it as Naurdiev cracked him with precision elbows and knees in the clinch. Later, a double jab set up a thudding right hand for Brady. A flying knee just whiffed for Naurdiev in the closing minute of round one.
Brady found himself on the back-foot again in the second, but did a good job of blitzing forward. Brady wrestled Naurdiev to the fence. He would have scored a takedown had Naurdiev not grabbed the cage. Another go and this time Brady got his opponent to the floor. Brady transitioned to a guillotine attempt but no sauce. Naurdiev got away for a moment, but opted to engage in another wrestling exchange and paid the price. Brady scored yet another takedown and closed round two in top half-guard.
Round three kicked off with a nice blitzing combo from Brady. Naurdiev whiffed on another flying knee, allowing Brady to get the body lock from behind and take him down. A little neck crank action from Brady but Naurdiev did a good job of spotting it. We find Brady in half-guard top with two-minutes it. Naurdiev briefly made it back to his feet only to be foot-swept. Round three concludes as round two did: with Brady on top.