The UFC 252 preliminary card is in the books and it was a fun one. Kai Kamaka III began the night with a very entertaining decision over Tony Kelley, Chris Daukaus demolished Parker Porter to win his debut, Livia Renata Souza took a rather uninspiring decision over Ashley Yoder, Danny Chavez kicked TJ Brown to pieces and prevailed in his Octagon debut, former Invicta strawweight champ Virna Jandiroba easily tapped out Felice Herrig, while Vinc Pichel overcame a slow start to best veteran Jim Miller in a grueling grappling contest. Here’s how the fights played out.
Lightweight: Vinc Pichel def. Jim Miller by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
It was an evenly matched stand-up battle through three minutes of round one, then a takedown by Miller off the superman punch led to immediate back mount and a brief rear-naked choke attempt. Miller attacked with a guillotine and calf slicer as the horn sounded, capping off a promising start for the 36-fight UFC veteran.
Pichel caught Miller with a head kick to begin round two but that soon turned into another takedown for Miller into full guard. Vince threw a few elbows from the bottom. Miller postured up and landed some good punches before Pichel scrambled to his feet and into a clinch. It was Pichel who got the takedown and fought off the aggressive guard of Miller and briefly advanced to side control. A failed heel hook by Miller created another scramble that kept Pichel on top and he clearly took that frame to even things up.
In round three, Pichel took Miller down right away and initially continued the dominance from round two. Miller was able to scramble to a more advantageous position and get on top in half guard. The effort to take the back and sink both hooks in was thwarted and Pichel kept his advantage in the grappling department, then cracked Miller with quality strikes on the feet. A last-ditch guillotine by Miller in the final minute came up short and Miller took some more shots on the ground as Pichel picked up perhaps the biggest win of his career.
Strawweight: Virna Jandiroba def. Felice Herrig by submission (armbar) at 1:44 of round 1
Jandiroba took Herrig down in just ten seconds. Herrig’s efforts to separate and get back to her feet were futile, and it wasn’t long until she was fully mounted. The dangerous submission specialist grabbed an arm, extended for the armbar and got the tap after the readjust. What a comprehensive display of grappling from Jandiroba to become the first person to tap Herrig in a pro bout.
146.5 lbs catchweight: Daniel Chavez def. T.J. Brown by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
The leg kicks of Chavez gave Brown serious problems in the early minutes, even putting him down momentarily. Another calf kick sent him to the mat again and Chavez landed a right to the body before Brown stood back up. Brown’s best opening round moment was a counter right hand that caught Chavez’s attention, but it was otherwise a good round from Chavez behind that calf kick.
Chavez switched to a high kick and then went back to the calf kick and Brown was noticeably hobbling and limping around. The speed and timing of his shots were no doubt impressive and Brown had a difficult time adjusting. Just as Brown was starting to get into a rhythm offensively, Chavez ripped Brown upstairs with two right hands and scored a knockdown. Heavy elbows and punches on the ground followed but Brown remained in the fight but only barely. Chavez did so much damage to Brown’s lead leg that he started switching stances.
Brown tried turning some of the final round into a wrestling match and then a brawl and truth be told, neither one of those strategies worked. To his credit, he was throwing kicks with his injured leg and turning up the pace. Unfortunately for him, while he had more offense than the coasting Chavez, there wasn’t enough to mount a comeback and Chavez was the one who was able to get late takedowns instead to cap off a solid victory.
Strawweight: Livia Renata Souza def. Ashley Yoder by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Yoder went for a back take just 30 seconds into the fight, but slipped out and went to the bottom and Souza was in her guard. Souza fended off an armbar attempt and established some top control before standing back up, landing a big right hand, and then Yoder got back to her feet. Souza landed the heavier power shots the rest of the round but Yoder remained a threat with her aggressive grappling.
Round two was contested in the clinch early on, with both women trading short shots but not providing much in the way of damaging blows or a serious takedown threat. Souza had success with low kicks but this was a grind and Yoder’s prolonged control time was some of her best work. Yoder appeared to have the better offense and certainly sharper boxing in the final round; finally utilizing her reach advantage. The former Invicta champ Souza got a late head-and-arm throw and used the headlock to control Yoder and get largely meaningless top position to end a largely forgettable contest.
Heavyweight: Chris Daukaus def. Parker Porter by TKO (strikes) at 4:28 of round 1
Daukaus had the early advantage with some strong right hands over the top. It was, as you may expect, not particularly high-level stand-up between two unranked and debuting heavyweights. Porter was getting lit up in close quarters and a right hand put him on the canvas briefly, but he was able to get back up. Unfortunately for him, Daukaus would blitz him with combination punching and a knee to put him down and out. A great performance for Daukaus, who joins his brother Kyle in the UFC win column.
Featherweight: Kai Kamaka III def. Tony Kelley by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
These two UFC newcomers wasted no time exchanging and dishing out some heavy leather on the feet, but Kamaka was undoubtedly getting off the better and more powerful shots. Kamaka’s left hook, straight right, and body kicks certainly posed problems for Kelley. A body shot had Kelley hurt and forced him into a retreat. Kamaka’s takedown was not quite completed but it didn’t matter because he was lacing him with left hooks to the body and Kelley was struggling for answers. The second takedown for the Hawaiian was completed but he was unable to get the finish.
Kelley came out firing a couple of body kicks on Kamaka to start round two. Kamaka continued to find success downstairs, which led to some power shots to the head. Kelley did well to get in a flurry of shots in the center of the cage to gain a modicum of respect from Kai, but Kamaka responded with another takedown. Kelley certainly had the better offense in the closing seconds with knees to the body and head, along with elbows while defending the last takedown. While Kamaka had the edge at range, Kelley was faring well in the clinch.
Kelley continued his offensive onslaught in the third round but curiously and regrettably dropped for a guillotine. That cost him some valuable time when he needed a finish to get the victory. Kamaka was noticeably exhausted and unable to cope with the pace; the top position proved futile as Kelley returned to his feet. A knee to the groin paused the action and gifted Kamaka time to recover. Upon restart with 90 seconds to go, they continued to fight at a high-pace and land hard shots until the final horn. The rally by Kelley was spirited but it wasn’t enough.