The UFC 258 PPV main card is underway and just saw the promotion’s #9 ranked middleweight, Kelvin Gastelum, stay a step ahead of the #15 ranked, Ian Heinisch, for three-rounds to take a unanimous decision. Ian was looking to wrestle, but so was Kelvin — except he did it better. This win snaps a three-fight losing skid for Gastelum and marks his first win since May of 2018. In his post-fight interview, he put his name in the hat to be an alternate for the upcoming matchup between former champ Robert Whittaker and former title challenger Paulo Costa.
Before that, Ricky Simon got his grind on with Brian Kelleher, taking all-three rounds on all-three scorecards off the strength of his grappling. Kelleher was game and never quit trying to get up, but Simon was just too good tonight. The takedowns were there, the control was there, and the gas tank was there. This dominant victory is already Simon’s second win of 2021, which extends his winning streak to three.
Opening up the PPV portion of UFC 258, Julian Marquez was down on the scorecards but rallied in the final round to submit Maki Pitolo with an anaconda choke with less than a minute remaining in the fight. Pitolo deployed a controlling wrestling strategy that was highly effective across the first-two rounds, but Marquez made a wild march behind heavy strikes to pull out the much-needed finish. After being away from competition since July of 2018, Marquez’s return to the win column did not come easy, but he went for it and made things happen.
Kelvin Gastelum def. Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): Middleweight
Heinisch shot right away, but Gastelum defended well and rolled on top. Heinisch threatened with a Kimura attempt/sweep, but Gastelum was able to hop into full mount. Gastelum was unable maintain control and Heinisch scrambled up to his feet. Neither man really landed anything of substance in open space.
Heinisch went for a flying knee in the seocnd round, but Gastelum used the moment to hit a gorgeous double leg takedown. Kelvin couldn’t hold Heinisch down, but stayed in his face. The pressure was constant and stifling, with Gastelum not giving Heinisch any breathing room. The brief stint spent within striking distance saw some smooth straights from Kelvin and one solid body kick for Heinisch.
In the last round, Heinisch hit an early takedown, but Gastelum bounced right back to his feet and started grinding on Ian. When it came to the striking, Kelvin was the one throwing and landing the combinations. He also blasted another beautiful takedown to counter a flying knee, but Heinisch rolled and took the back. Gastelum was able to stay safe and work back to his feet where they exchanged takedowns before the bell.
Ricky Simon def. Brian Kelleher by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Featherweight
Simon was quick to get a takedown and opened up a cut around Kelleher’s eye with an elbow. Kelleher threatened with a guillotine attempt, but Simon was hip to it and easily defended. When Kelleher did get back up, it wasn’t very long before Simon put him right back on the floor. Simon kept working for an arm triangle, but Kelleher was able to escape his advances.
Kelleher stalked forward to start the second round to which Simon deployed his jab. A set of upticks to the face scored for Brian, but Simon somehow ate them without issue. After some back and forth on the feet, Simon was able to blast a takedown up against the fence. Ricky made Kelleher work hard to get back to his feet, with the final minute or so taking place in open space.
Simon continued to own the grappling exchanges in the final round. Kelleher tried to jump a guillotine, but that only allowed Simon to take top position. Not to be deterred, Kelleher stood back to his feet, but Simon was too stifling with his pressure to give him space. In the closing moments of the fight, Kelleher tried again with that up kick to the face, but nothing was doing.
Julian Marquez def. Maki Pitolo by submission (Anaconda) at 4:17 of round 3: Middleweight
Pitolo went right at Marquez, backing him up to the fence and staying in his face. He was able to get Pitolo down, and maintained control for a bunch of time. Pitolo had a moment where he had to fight off a standing guillotine attempt, but other than that he was in control.
The second act saw Marquez press forward looking to land with the hands. An accidental cup shot to Pitolo brought a brief halt to the bout but quickly got back underway. The fighters started to exchange, and then a slip from Marquez began a grappling sequence. Pitolo was controlling, but a botched takedown allowed Marquez to lock up a guillotine. Pitolo escaped the hold but ate some bombs right after. Another slip gave Pitolo top position, and he kept it all the way until the bell.
Marquez was throwing with everything he had to open the final frame, but Pitolo dropped him with a leg kick. Back on the feet, Marquez pursued his opposition with stinging blows, putting Pitolo in survival mode. After absorbing some significant strikes, Pitolo was able to hit a takedown to stop that aggression. Pitolo attacked with an RNC, but Marquez escaped and started punching away. He hurt Pitolo with a flurry, complete with a knee. Pitolo went back to the takedown, but Marquez locked up an Anaconda and forced the tap. WHAT!?!