With gassed up fans back in attendance, the UFC 261 early prelims started on fire and ended with a bang! In the bantamweight division, Danaa Batgerel quickly stopped Kevin Natividad with strikes, just 50-seconds into the fight. It was a check hook that badly hurt Natividad, and then ferocious ground strikes sealed the deal. This makes back-to-back dubs with back-to-back left hooks for Danaa!
Before that, Rodrigo Vargas avoided a late rally from RongZhu to take a unanimous decision. Despite getting rocked in the final round, Vargas was still able to earn one score of 30-26 from one of the judges. After a rough 0-2 start to his UFC career (one loss due to disqualification) Vargas now officially has a promotional win.
Earlier in the night, the flyweight division was blessed with a banger between Jeff Molina and AoriQileng. This fight had boxing, brawling, back-to-back knockdowns with one on each side, and even some late drama. When the dust had settled, it was Molina who went on to win the unanimous decision and extend his winning streak to eight.
Opening up the event, UFC strawweight Ariane Carnelossi earned a second-round TKO of promotional newcomer, Na Liang. This was a wild one, with Carnelossi overcoming an almost instant knockdown that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Carnelossi recovered and started to pour it on as Liang began to gas out. Not bad for Carnelossi’s first UFC win.
**See complete results below
Danaa Batgerel def. Kevin Natividad by TKO at :50 of round 1: Bantamweight
This one didn’t last too long! As Natividad was pressing forward early, Danaa clipped him with a slick counter left hook, and then pounced with some violent followup punches to get the first-round finish. Wow!
Rodrigo Vargas def. Zhu Rong by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28 x2): Lightweight
This one began with some feeling out going on. Vargas started to throw out some volume, but nothing was really hitting its mark. RongZhu was a lot more reserved, but when he went he was quite accurate. Vargas attacked the calf of RongZhu, looking to immobilize his opponent. Vargas continued to lead the dance, until the bell, where the fighters shared a prolonged stare.
RongZhu caught a kick and earned himself a takedown to begin the second round, but Vargas locked up a really tight guillotine. RongZhu hung tough, but spent quite some time inside of the submission hold. Vargas lost the hold, but the second they stood up, he jumped it again. RongZhu found a way out yet again, and spun to the back, but Vargas rolled into top position. RongZhu stood back to his feet before absorbing much of any damage.
The final frame saw more of the low paced kickboxing match that started the fight. RongZhu was sniping with his right hand, landing several times. Then, he dropped Vargas with one of those laser rights. Vargas responded by working his jab to fight off his advancing opponent. RongZhu hit a late takedown with some frantic ground strikes to close out the frame.
Jeff Molina def. Qileng Aori by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2): Flyweight
AoriQileng was the aggressor tight away. he took the center and began to march down Molina. Once the fight reached the wall, a sweet brawl broke out. The fighters threw cation to the wind and began swinging back and forth. AoriQileng seemed to get the better blows in, and was the one who mixed in a short-lived takedown. Molina was struggling to get any real estate and was forced to fight with his back not far from the fence.
It didn’t take very long for AoriQileng to close the distance in the second round. He then took his foe to the floor, but Molina was immediate to return to his feet and open space. Then, Molina dropped AoriQileng with a right hand, just for AoriQileng to stand up and drop Molina with a right of his own. AoriQileng turned up his aggression ands started winging heavy leather at his opponent. If that wasn’t crazy enough, Molina dropped AoriQileng again just before the bell, but ran out of time to get a finish.
AoriQileng pressed forward in the third round, and scored a brief takedown. He was swinging hard, without a lot of his shots landing flush. Molina was touching his target, turning up the volume and he was walking down AoriQileng. Molina was throwing a ton of volume, and then just at the buzzer, AoriQileng wobbled Molina! What a crazy round and fight!
Ariane Carnelossi def. Na Liang by TKO at 1:28 of round 2: Strawweight
Liang scored an early knockdown to get the crowd to erupt right away. She then took top position, but that gave Carnelossi time to rec over. Back on the feet, the fighters exchanged punches in the clinch, before Liang hit a takedown. Carnelossi was able to take top position after fighting off a couple of armbar attempts, and even locked up a partial mounted triangle at one point. At the end of the round, Carnelossi was pounding away from top position, but the bell rang before a finish happened.
Liang actually received help walking to the stool from her corner, but still answered the second bell. The second round began, and Liang walked into some heavy punches, but was able to get a takedown. Carnelossi scrambled her way into top position, clearly bering the fresher fighter. It didn’t take much ground and pound for the referee to step in and rescue the spent fighter.