The UFC Vegas 43 preliminary card was long on decisions, with each of the six bouts reaching the scorecards. The worst part is that there were very few wow moments, if any. It’s not that the fights were bad, they just lacked a certain captivating aspect to most of them. Nonetheless, the prelims closed out with Pat Sabatini grinding out a unanimous decision over Tucker Lutz. Sabatini gave his opponent zero space to extend his UFC record to 3-0.
In a rather competitive affair, Rafa Garcia took a unanimous decision over Natan Levy. Both men were getting takedowns, and both fighters were willing to trade blows, but the night belonged to Rafa. After a rough 0-2 start with the UFC, Garcia has gotten himself into the win column. After just fighting last month, Lupita Godinez got right back to work to win a unanimous decision over dangerous striker Loma Lookboonmee. It was the grappling that got Godinez the victory to improve her UFC record to 2-2.
In the UFC’s flyweight division, Cody Durden took a gritty unanimous decision over Aoriqileng. There were several back and forth scrambles, and even some brawling between the two, but it was the wrestling attacks that were the biggest difference here. This is Durden’s first UFC win as his promotional record moves to 1-1-1. Aoriqileng has yet to get a dub with the company.
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke leaned on his takedowns and grappling control to take a unanimous decision over Sean Soriano. This is Nuerdanbieke’s first UFC victory. Opening up the event, Luana Pinheiro scored a knock down and a coupe of takedowns against Sam Hughes to warn the unanimous decision. After winning here UFC debut by disqualification, this is Pinheiro’s first promotional win of her own doing. Hughes remains winless under the UFC banner at 0-3.
**See complete results below
Pat Sabatini def. Tucker Lutz by unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 30-27): Featherweight
It wasn’t long before the fighters clinched up, with Lutz looking for the takedown. Sabatini reversed the position and was able to convert his takedown attempt. Lutz worked back to his feet but was thrown right back down. That’s when Sabatini took the back and started controlling Lutz. He attacked with an RNC a couple of times, but Lutz remained calm and waited for the round to end.
Sabatini blasted a double leg right away in the second stanza, and methodically advanced his position. He then jumped a guillotine that he used to take the full mount, and then went to another back take. Lutz did not improve his position until the bell. Sabatini went right back to the takedown in the final act. Lutz would stand up, but was still carrying the weight of his opponent. Sabatini stuck with his rinse and repeat style, keeping Lutz on the defensive. Lutz eventually got back to his feet, but was unable to do anything to win the round, let alone the fight.
Rafa Garcia def. Natan Levy by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Lightweight
The fighters went right at it, exchanging punches back and forth. Garcia seemed to have the power advantage. They clinched up and Garcia hit a snap down, and held the position for some time. Back on the feet, Levy was mixing in kicks but Garcia was still landing the better punches. Garcia even finished the round with a late takedown.
Garcia caught a kick to earn an early takedown in the second act, but it was short-lived. They then went back and forth on the feet, exchanges punches in the pocket. Levy was still the one mixing in kicks. He even mixed in a takedown to rack up little bit of top control time. Garcia worked to get that back though, earning himself another takedown just before the bell.
Levy was pressing forward in the final frame, stuffing the takedown attempts of Garcia. Levy seemed to be a bit fresher out there and was throwing more strikes. that’s when Garcia opted to go back to the takedown. Levy would explode back up, but Garcia was grinding on him. In the final minute, Garcia hit a beautiful double leg to put Levy on his back and finish the round on top again.
Lupita Godinez def. Loma Lookboonmee by unanimous devision (30-27 x3): Strawweight
Godinez went right at Lookboonmee with her boxing, but as soon as they clinched up, Loma hit a trip. Godinez got up and was able to stall Loma against the cage for a little bit. She worked hard for the takedown, but somehow Lookboonmee was able to remain vertical. Back in open space, Godinez was still scoring by leaping in with punches, while Lookboonmee was more kick focused. Godinez also hit a late takedown to finish the round on top.
Godinez used her boxing to set up a double leg takedown to get the second stanza going. Lookboonmee worked her way back to her feet, but after landing a kick and a knee, Godinez took her right back down. Loma got stuck on the bottom of half guard for some time, eating a couple of ground strikes. She ended up giving her back, and Godinez enjoyed an even better position for the closing moments of the round.
Godinez went right to the takedown in the final frame, taking the fight to the floor. Lookboonmee took top position after Godinez botched a heel hook, and made her opponent work to get up. Lookboonmee landed a bunch of small knees to the body, but Godinez got free and blasted another takedown. Lookboonmee stood back and and spent the rest of the round launching more knees to the body from the clinch.
Cody Durden def. Qileng Aori by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Flyweight
Durden opened up the bout with some hard leg kicks, followed by a couple of takedowns. Aoriqileng was able to avoid any meaningful damage before getting back to his feet. It wasn’t long, though, before Durden was back in on a takedown and Aoriqileng was working to defend. AS the round grew long, Durden began to fatigue and Aoriqileng came alive with pressure and volume.
Durden was landing with his hands early in the second act, but Aoriqileng still seemed like the fresher fighter out there. Aoriqileng actually clinched up looking for a takedown, trying to further tire out his opponent. Durden slipped and Aoriqileng jumped on him, but the fight quickly scrambled back to the feet. In the final minute, the fighters started to brawl it out with each man scoring punches and neither man giving an inch.
Durden dove on a takedown in the final frame, but Aoriqileng grabbed the fence several times, being warned by the ref along the way, before ultimately being taken down. Aoriqileng worked back to his feet and the fighters stayed clinched up for a bit. Once the open space was four, the athletes went back to swinging leather. The round closed out with Durden pressing Aoriqileng against the fence, hunting for a takedown.
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke def. Sean Soriano by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Featherweight
A lot measuring was going on early in the opening round, and an accidental cup kick to Soriano slowed the fight down even further. Nuerdanbieke shot in a got the takedown, but Soriano did an excellent job of immediately sweeping to get on top. The fight didn’t stay there for long, and back on the feet it was Soriano who had the faster hands. He also snagged a late takedown.
Soriano continued to be the more efficient striker on the feet. Nuerdanbieke was struggling to land his strikes, but was threatening the takedown. Sean was able to fight off a takedown attempt to get on top, but he was quickly swept by Nuerdanbieke. Then Soriano swept, only for Nuerdanbieke to sweep again.
Nuerdanbieke hit an early takedown in the third, and then as soon as Soriano stood up he got suplexed in an electric fashion. Shortly after that Nuerdanbieke was able to get Soriano to settle down on the ground. He transitioned to the back and locked up a body triangle, and from there Soriano was just stuck. Nuerdanbieke remained on the back and in control until the bell.
Luana Pinheiro def. Sam Hughes (30-27 x2, 29-28) by unanimous decision: Strawweight
There was a bit of a feeling out process to get things going, but as soon as Pinheiro started to connect with her hands, she was able to hit a toss. She attempted a Peruvian necktie, but as soon as sh realized it wasn’t there she bailed on it. Hughes worked her way back to her feet, but wasn’t able to do anything to steal the round.
Hughes took the center of the cage in the second act, forcing Pinheiro on her back foot. This also kept Pinheiro on the outside and out of her own striking range. Unlike the opening round, Hughes was able stuff the takedown attempts to avoid being on her back. Just when it seemed like Sam had the round in the bag, Pinheiro dropped her with a flurry of punches at the end of the round.
Pinheiro used a stinging leg kick to open the final round, and then followed up with several hard punches. After that, Hughes established control of the center, but just couldn’t hurt her opponent. Whenever they collided, it was Pinheiro who was landing the significant strikes. Hughes had Pinheiro moving backwards, but just wasn’t able to best on her.