UFC 264 is officially underway, and the early preliminary portion of the event just closed out with the promotion’s #4 ranked women’s flyweight, Jennifer Maia, winning a unanimous decision over the #7 ranked, Jessica Eye. The fighters spent a lot of time on the feet in this one, with Eye pressuring forward and Maia countering with her right hand. Maia was able to open up a sizable gash on the forehead of Eye, that caused Jessica to bleed quite a bit in the second and third acts. In her post-fight interview, Jennifer requested another shot at the flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko, who she lost a decision to back in 2020.
Before that, the UFC’s #15 ranked middleweight, Brad Tavares, took home a split decision over the #13 ranked, Omari Akhmedov. The bulk of this bout took place on the feet, with Tavares landing plenty of stinging calf kicks throughout. This win moves Tavares up the rankings just a bit as he now enjoys back to back wins.
Opening up the event, Zhalgas Zhumagulov hit a standing guillotine on Jerome Rivera early in the opening round. The fighters went toe to toe, and it was right after Zhumagulov rocked Rivera with a looping punch that the submission was locked up. This marks the very first win by way of sub for Zhalgas, as well as the first official UFC victory of his career.
**See complete results below
Jennifer Maia def. Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28) x2: (W) Flyweight
Eye looked to pressure right away, backing up her opponent to the cage. When Eye got close, she ate a clean knee to the jaw, but actually wore it rather well. Maia was doing well with meeting the aggression of Eye with combination punching. It was preventing Eye from really opening up. Maia started to work her head kick, with a couple landing but not really doing much visible damage. Eye was able to snag a takedown at the very end of the round.
Eye stayed aggressive in the second round, pushing forward and keeping Maia on the back foot. Eye was able to catch a kick and hit a takedown, but Maia went for an immediate sweep to stand right back up. Maia started to connect with her right hand. She would slip her head and then step in with a combo as Eye moved forward. A big gash opened up in the middle of Eye’s forehead, causing her to leak blood everywhere.
The final frame was more of the same. Jessica pressured forward, and Maia countered with her right hand. Eye did start to let her hands go a bit more, but her cut was re-opened and she began to pour more plasma. Maia had another knee waiting on the inside for Eye, but again the toughness of Jessica was on display and she shook it right off. The round ended with Eye snapping back the head of her foe with a stiff punch, and then Maia trying to get it back before the bell.
Brad Tavares def. Omari Akhmedov by unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Middleweight
There was plenty of pocket punching going on to get things going here. Both men were wiling to bite down and trade right in front of one another. Then, Akhmedov exploded in for a short-lived takedown. Tavares quickly stood back to his feet, but ate a left hook that knocked him off balance. Akhmedov wrestled his opponent against the cage, and then landed an accidental knee to the cup, resulting in a time out. Upon the restart, Tavares started to attack the lead calf of Akhmedov, and then he finished up the round with some sharp boxing.
Tavares returned to the calf kick in the second round, and Akhmedov was feeling it. Akhmedov responded with a flurry of punches, with a few of them getting through. The fighters then began going blow for blow. Tavares would land his leg kick and Akhmedov would land a straight right. This went on for several exchanges. Akhmedov’s leg was showing signs of damage.
Tavares finally scored a knockdown from landing his calf kicks. The lead leg of Akhmedov was just battered and untrustworthy. He kept trying to counter the kick with a hard cross down the pipe, but he wasn’t really landing more effectively to the face than Tavares was to the calf. Tavares started to let his hands go down the stretch, backing up Akhmedov and blasting him with a variety of strikes.
Zhalgas Zhumagulov def. Jerome Rivera by submission (guillotine) at 2:02 of round 1: Flyweight
The flyweights went right at it. Rivera was fighting long while Zhumagulov was looking to come over the top with overhands. The pace was high and it seemed like only a matter of time before something was going to give. Zhumagulov rocked his foe with one of those looping shots, and as Rivera shot in for a takedown, Zhalgas sprawled and instantly attacked the neck. He wrapped up a guillotine and was able to get the standing submission.