The UFC 249 ESPN prelims just concluded with a 170-pound rematch between the promotion’s #6 ranked lightweight, Donald Cerrone, and the #15 ranked welterweight, Anthony Pettis. This was a grueling war with both men dishing it out as well as they took it in. Cerrone mixed in his wrestling while Pettis predominantly leaned on his striking. All three of the judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Pettis, who now finds himself back in the win column.
Before that, the UFC’s #12 ranked heavyweight, Aleksei Oleinik, went the distance with former heavyweight champ, Fabricio Werdum. Oleinik went right at the former title holder, landing serious punches all throughout the opening round. Werdum weathered the storm and rallied to get himself back into the fight in the second round. The final round was competitive, but when the scorecards were announced, it was Oleinik who earned the decision victory. The 42-year old Oleinik has now won back to back fights.
Also on the UFC 249 prelims, the promotion’s #7 ranked strawweight, Carla Esparza, had a back and forth scrap with the #8 ranked, Michelle Waterson. Both fighters landed their respective shots on the feet, but it was Esparza who took home the split decision win. Both fighters earned one score of 30-27, with the other judge giving Esparza a 29-28. Esparza has now won three-straight and should find herself in a top ranked matchup in her next outing.
The UFC’s #13 ranked welterweight, Vicente Luque, caught himself another body tonight, this time in the form of fellow-killer Niko Price. This was a predominantly standup war, with both men landing bombs throughout. In the third act, Vicente dropped Niko with a left hook, which prompted the referee to call in the doctor to check on one of Price’s cuts. That turned out to be the ball game. Luque is now 2-0 against Price and has now won seven of his last eight matches.
**See complete results below
Anthony Pettis def. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Welterweight
Cerrone took the center of the cage and started to take command. Pettis floated along the outside, trying to find his range and timing. Cerrone went for a couple takedown attempts, but Pettis was hip to them and kept the fight standing. Pettis landed a jumping switch kick, but Cerrone used the moment to score a takedown into side control. Cowboy opted to stand back up, but ate a big right hand before the bell.
Pettis took the center of the Octagon to open the second act, popping Cowboy with various combos. Cerrone slowly regained control of the center of the cage, but was still behind in the strike count. He then blasted a takedown against the cage, but Pettis was quick to stand back up.
Pettis pressed forward to start the final round, clocking Cerrone with his hands. Cowboy started to search for takedowns, but Pettis wasn’t having any of it. In an exchange, Cowboy screamed out after getting hit in the eye. That’s when Pettis pounced and started to pour it on. Cowboy weathered the storm and blasted Pettis with a head kick, but the former lightweight champ ate it without much issue. The seasoned veterans slugged it out for the final moments of the match in an exciting display of violence.
Aleksei Oleinik def. Fabricio Werdum by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Heavyweight
Oleinik clipped Werdum with a set of right hands to open the bout, causing the former champ to fight off of his back foot. Oleinik began to bomb away and Werdum ate some extremely hard shots. Werdum was getting completely overwhelmed and Oleinik wasn’t letting up. The output of Oleinik dwindled in the second round, allowing Werdum to land more strikes. Then, Werdum hit a takedown and controlled the fight for a bit before standing up. Oleinik got up bombing away, backing up Werdum to the cage.
Werdum hit an early takedown to kick off the final frame. He took the back and attacked with an armbar, but Oleinik rolled into top position. Werdum attacked with an explosive Kimura attempt, and used it to take top position. Oleinik found his moment to explode back to his feet and was able to land a couple of solid punches. Werdum hit a late takedown and went for a guillotine as time expired.
Carla Esparza def. Michelle Waterson by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 27-30): Strawweight
Waterson took the center of the Octagon, forcing Esparza to play the outside. This round had a bit of a slower pace to it. Waterson found success striking from the outside, taking advantage of her length. Esparza was able to score a takedown with less than a minute remaining in the round, but didn’t really do much with it.
The same sort of low-key pace melted over into the seocnd act. Waterson made her claim to the center of the cage, and was able to score some strikes as Esparza looked for a way on the inside. When Esparza did shoot for the takedown, Waterson was able to fight it off to remain vertical.
Esparza got much more active with her striking in the final round. She was much more willing to come forward and throw, while still looking for the takedown. Waterson did a great job of stuffing the takedown attempts, but Esparza was dictating the pace. Esparza started to throw flurries as time ticked away, but the bulk of her blows were blocked or missed the mark.
Vicente Luque def. Niko Price by TKO at 3:37 of round 3: Welterweight
The welterweights went toe to toe right away here. They stood right in front of one another exchanging hard combinations. Luque seemed to be getting the better of the strikes early, but Price got aggressive late and started to connect. Price coupled that aggression with a takedown, and briefly worked for a D’arce. Back on the feet, Luque landed a bomb of a right hand at the bell that wobbled Price.
The same sort of standup war continued into the second round. Luque started to gain some steam, but then accidentally struck thew cup, resulting in a brief break. Luque continued to be the more polished striker, attacking the calf with kicks and utilizing his boxing. Price found success by getting aggressive. He started to swarm Luque against the cage, but then got dropped for being over extended.
Price came out throwing volume in the third round. He was attacking with leg kicks as well as sticking with his punches. Luque started to let his hands go a bit more, landing clean and busting up the face of Price. Then, Luque landed a sinister left hook that dropped his opponent. He allowed price to stand ups and that's when the referee brought int he doctor to look at a cut on the face of Price. The fight was never restarted and Luque took the TKO victory.