The UFC Vegas 31 preliminary card is in the books. Action got underway with a comeback TKO win for Rodrigo Nascimento over Alan Baudot in the heavyweight division. At the other end of the weight class spectrum, Malcolm Gordon picked up his first UFC win with a decision over Francisco Figueiredo, as he ends up with an L just a month after his brother Deiveson lost his title. Kazakhstan’s Sergey Morozov put on a smooth and impressive performance in his shutout win over Khalid Taha, Amanda Lemos put the strawweight division on notice with a rapid-fire knockout of Montserrat Conejo, and Daniel Rodriguez bulldozed short notice replacement Preston Parsons to wrap up the prelims.
Here’s how the fights played out.
Daniel Rodriguez def. Preston Parsons by TKO (punches) at 3:47 of round 1 - Welterweights
Filling in for the injured Abubakar Nurmagomedov, Parsons was willing to throw down with Rodriguez and in the first minute or so he was going strike for strike with the heavier handed fighter. Unfortunately for him, Rodriguez found a home for that straight left hand early and often and that’s how he rocked Parsons with a brutal punch to the eye. From there it was just a non-stop assault as Parsons desperately tried to take the fight to the ground. Rodriguez shoved him away and kept unleashing hard punches until Parsons could take no more. It’s a second straight win for Rodriguez as he quietly improves to 5-1 in the UFC, while Parsons’ late notice debut is a losing one. Ideally he gets a much easier matchup next time and with a full camp.
Amanda Lemos def. Montserrat Conejo by KO (punches) at :35 of round 1 - Strawweights
Lemos had a massive striking advantage on paper and she made the most of it. She hurt Conejo with a right hand and then as the Mexican staggered forward she was floored by an accurate counter left. Lemos got in a hammerfist and the referee had seen enough based on how Conejo fell, but she did hop back to her feet and was in a fighting stance... completely unaware the fight was over. That’s Lemos’ eighth first-round finish in 10 pro wins, and a step up in competition is surely warranted.
Sergey Morozov def. Khalid Taha by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Bantamweights
Morozov was in control of round one, avoiding the big power punches of Taha and securing a takedown to limit Khalid’s best offense. Taha went for a heel hook to end the round but was unsuccessful and got hurt with ground strikes in the process. Not exactly a wise move to go for the low-percentage submission and get yourself rocked.
Then in round two it was Taha who was stunned by Morozov’s boxing in the opening minute, but Taha stayed upright and landed his own big shots. Morozov aimed to get Taha back to the ground with the body lock trip. It took a little longer than he might have expected but Morozov did put Taha down and took the back and secured another round in his favor with the dominant position and punches.
In the end there was too much much grueling wrestling and grappling for Taha to handle. Morozov wore him down and even with Taha’s late rally efforts in the closing seconds the decision was undoubtedly going Morozov’s way.
Malcolm Gordon def. Francisco Figueiredo by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) - Flyweights
The Canadian sold out for an early takedown and just rushed in with no hesitation. Figueiredo had other ideas and swept him instantly and into full mount. Gordon recovered half guard and eventually full guard. The brother of former UFC champ Deiveson Figueiredo made the unexpected move to attack with a leglock. It didn’t work, he lost the position, and Gordon ended the round on top landing good ground and pound.
It was almost all striking in the second round and there wasn’t a whole lot to separate either man. Gordon did get a late takedown with about 25 seconds left and this time he wasn’t swept by Figueiredo. In the third round a flying knee by Figueiredo was met with a low kick and in an instant Francisco was on his back and having to deal with Gordon’s top position. Malcolm maintained top control and had some sporadic strikes land before Figueiredo, who had tried to escape a few times before, slipped out of trouble and back to the feet. It was Figueiredo who had the late takedown of Gordon and he went for mount, then triangle and and armbar but lost the position in what was a last ditch effort to get the win. No submission, no win, but Gordon gets his first taste of victory inside the Octagon.
Rodrigo Nascimento def. Alan Baudot by TKO (punches) at 1:29 of round 2 - Heavyweights
Baudot was eager to work behind his jab and bomb out Nascimento with right hands. Nascimento was wise to this (eventually) and sought to tie him up and get a takedown. His efforts to put Baudot on his back backfired and his guard pull led to him eating heavy shots that seemed to have him hurt. The rest of the round saw Baudot damage Nascimento in the clinch and at striking range to cap off a dominant start for the Frenchman.
...But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Nascimento busted up Baudot’s face with the jab and hurt Baudot with a right hand an left hook. With Baudot hurt and looking tired, a combination of head and body punches crumbled Baudot and ended the fight.