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UFC 267 prelim results: Dos Santos peppers opponent, referee removed from duty for not calling it

On the UFC 267 prelims, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos obliterated Benoit Saint-Denis in a fight that should have been stopped, and Amanda Ribas rallied to beat Virna Jandiroba.

The UFC 267 prelims are officially over, and we got four consecutive decisions, including a lopsided beating that resulted in a much needed removal of a referee from duty. The prelims closed out with the UFC’s #11 rated strawweight, Amanda Ribas, rallying to win a decision over the #12 rated, Virna Jandiroba. Ribas was dropped with a right hand at the end of the first, but responded by taking control on the feet in the second stanza. She never relinquished that control of the fight, and continued to out-class her opponent on the feet while stuffing the takedown attempts. Amanda is now 5-1 in the UFC.

Before that, Zubaira Tukhugov leaned on his jab to command the cage and earn a unanimous decision over Ricardo Ramos. He spent most of his time in the center of the cage, setting up his overhand right. Tukhugov has only lost once in his last four appearances, and this was quite a composed and mature performance.

Also on the prelims, Albert Duraev won gritty war of attrition with Roman Kopylov in his UFC debut. After dropping Duraev with a cross early in the second-round, Kopylov used the cage to stop a takedown, but referee Jason Herzog wasn’t having it. The official paused the fight to give the position back to Duraev, which resulted in a ton of ground and pound that aided him in his unanimous nod. Albert improves his professional MMA record to 15-3.

Kicking off this part of the UFC 267 prelims, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos defeated Benoit Saint-Denis by unanimous decision, but this fight should have been stopped on several occasions — and it’s a travesty that it wasn’t. Credit to Saint-Denis for being unbelievably tough, but this is supposed to be a sport. Dos Santos even lost a point for an accidental cup shot in the third-round, further raising some eyebrows towards the referee, who the UFC had removed from duty before the start of the next match. Did I mention that Dos Santos won the fight?

**See complete results below

Prelims:

Amanda Ribas def. Virna Jandiroba by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Strawweight

Jandiroba was hunting for takedowns early in the fight but Ribas was able to keep things on the feet. Jandiroba didn’t get discouraged, though, and waited for her opportunity for an entry. That moment came and Jandiroba hit her takedown, but Ribas went to a Teepee triangle that needed to be addressed. Once out of harms way, Jandiroba was free to dish out strikes and stay busy. Despite the activity, the referee brought the fight to its feet, to which Jandiroba dropped Ribas with a right cross just before the bell.

Ribas started the second stanza with a stiff right hand of her own to prompt a smile from Jandiroba. Amanda started pressing forward behind her boxing combinations, keeping Jandiroba at range. When Jandiroba shot in for the takedown, Ribas sprawled to force Virna to fight on the feet.

Ribas kept that same energy in the final round. She was throwing her punches in bunches, and finishing her combos with leg kicks. Jandiroba was struggling in the takedown area, not being able to get Amanda down to the ground. The out-classing continued as Ribas added a head kick to the mix. She had Jandiroba in all sorts of trouble, backing up and trying to get some breathing room.

Zubaira Tukhugov def. Ricardo Ramos by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Featherweight

Ramos was floating in and out, trying to score his combinations. Tukhugov was in counter-mode, waiting to score with hefty leather. The jab of Tukhugov was jousting, making Ramos think twice about closing the distance. A cut formed around the left eye of Ramos, and then a smaller one around the right eye of Tukhugov. Ramos took his time and then set up a ridiculous spinning elbow that wobbled Tukhugov.

Tukhugov took the center of the cage in the second round, almost daring Ramos to come forward. It was Tukhugov who was tagging up his opponent with his right hand, albeit one at a time. He did mix in a single leg attempt to keep things spicy. Ramos just couldn't back up Tukhugov. The firepower of Zubaira seemed to have him a bit gun-shy. At the end of the round, Tukhugov hit a brief takedown to put a cherry on the top.

Ramos began throwing more strikes from range in the final frame. He was being effective and actually started to back up Tukhugov. It was the jab of Tukhugov that put him back in the command of the fight, and had Ramos moving backwards again. Ramos did not have another momentum swinging surge of offense.

Albert Duraev def. Roman Kopylov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27 x2): Middleweight

Duraev took the center of the Octagon right away, establishing himself as the leader of the dance. There was a bit of feeling out going on as Kopylov was residing to falling back, looking to counter off of his back foot. Kopylov just wasn’t offensively advancing forward much, content to wait on Duraev at range.

Kopylov dropped Duraev with a stiff left cross to begin the second-round. Duraev quickly sprung to his feet and went right for the takedown. Kopylov grabbed the cage to avoid a takedown, so referee Jason Herzog paused the fight to put Duraev back in the same position where the fence grab happened. The fight resumed and Duraev got his takedown. A barrage of punches and elbows were dropped with Kopylov, and he even locked up an RNC at the bell. Kopylov tapped but time had expired.

The doctor was brought in to determine if a battered Kopylov was fit to continue, and he was. Duraev grinded on his opponent, trying to get back on top, but Kopylov was being stubborn. The fight returned to open space and Kopylov was starting to pop Duraev. He was extremely fatigued, though, putting his hands on his knees to get some air and spitting out his mouthpiece on numerous occasions. The eye of Duraev was swollen shut at this point, so it got a little sticky down the stretch. Kopylov actually hit a short-lived takedown in the closing moments of the match.

Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos def. Benoit Saint-Denis by unanimous decision (29-26 x3): Welterweight

The fighters went right at it, trading combinations while striking themselves into the clinch. Saint-Denis hit a takedown, but Dos Santos was quick to return to his feet without absorbing much of any damage. Dos Santos pressed forward with hard strikes, prompting Saint-Denis to shoot for takedowns.

The athletes slugged it out in the second stanza, but Dos Santos had more firepower. He started to completely overwhelm Saint-Denis, battering him with punch after punch. Saint-Denis somehow stayed on his feet, absorbing so many punches that the referee could have stopped the fight on several occasions. It was really hard to watch. Saint-Denis was on auto-pilot, and did muster up a takedown, but Dos Santos quickly stood up and went back to unloading.

Somehow, Saint-Denis was allowed to start the third-round, but was poked in the eye just about as soon as it started. The fight was paused but allowed to continue. Unfortunately, the battering continued because of how tough Saint-Denis was. He even took an accidental cup shot that paused the fight, but still the fight went on. In fact, Dos Santos lost a point for the inadvertent fraction.