The preliminary portion of UFC 271 has just concluded after a mix of submissions and decisions. Finishing up the prelims, former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, picked up a split decision over a much younger Jared Vanderaa. The hands of Arlovski were much faster than his opponents, which is remarkable considering the age gap. What’s just as incredible is the fact that Arlovski won the belt in 2005, yet here he is now on a three-fight winning streak in 2022. Maybe he really is a vampire?
Before that, the UFC’s #15 ranked flyweight, Casey O’Neill, let her strikes go to win a split decision over the #12 ranked, Roxanne Modafferi. Both fighters stood and traded in front of one another for the bulk of the contest, but the strike count was heavily on the side of O’Neil. After the match, Roxy confirmed that this was her last time and she left her gloves inside of the Octagon on her way out. Modafferi closes out her professional MMA career with a respectable record of 25-20, and will forever be known for her tremendous heart, effort, technical prowess, and true martial arts spirit.
Kyler Phillips put on a showcase performance against Marcelo Rojo, doing basically whatever he wanted before snagging up a wicked triangle armbar in the third. Phillips looked great tonight, showing off skills in all facets of the game. This was a great way for Kyler to get back into the win column and remind everyone of just how talented he really is.
Kicking off this portion of the prelims, Carlos Ulberg commanded the cage to win a unanimous decision over Fabio Cherant. Ulberg did get dropped at the end of the first round, but outside of that he was pretty much in control.
**See complete results below
Andrei Arlovski def. Jared Vanderaa by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Heavyweight
Arlovski was piecing up Vanderaa as soon as the match started. He was throwing in combination, being the faster fighter out there. Vanderaa was struggling to hit his mark due to Arlovski being elusive, but started to press more as the round went on.
Vanderaa had to eat some punches in order to clinch up in the second round. He wasn’t able to wrestle Arlovski down before the former champion broke free, so the fight returned to open space. The hands of Arlovski continued to be faster than his opponent’s punches, with Vanderaa being just a step behind.
Vanderaa put a nice body kick behind a punch to start the final round. From there, he clinched up with the former champ against the cage, chipping away at the legs. In open space, Vanderaa was pushing the action, making Arlovski work to stay off the cage. Vanderaa tried to turn it up down the stretch, but Arlovski launched a spinning backfist to return fire.
Casey O’Neill def. Roxanne Modafferi by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): (W) Flyweight
The opening round was a bit sticky, with the fighters going back and forth on the feet. It was far from a brawl, but both were landing descent strikes. Modafferi busted open the nose of her opponent, but the punch count was on the side of O’Neil.
The standup battle continued into the second round. O’Neil was still being the more active fighter, letting her hands go in combination. At one point she let out a war cry, that got the crowd into it. With 10-seconds left in the round, Modafferi changed levels and scored a takedown.
O’Neil continued to find success on the feet, with Modafferi having a couple of moments with knees in the clinch. Roxy was throwing and landing, but the damaging volume was all on the side of O’Neil. With a minute to go in the match, Modafferi scored herself a takedown, but Casey was quick to spring right up to her feet.
Kyler Phillips def. Marcelo Rojo by submission (triangle armbar) at 1:48 of round 3: Bantamweight
Phillips was throwing out a ton of flashy techniques right out of the gate, with a lot of them missing. The onslaught kept Rojo defensive, until Phillips decided to hit a takedown. Rojo worked back up to his feet where he continued pushing his pace. He then hit a beautiful trip to finish up the round on top.
The output of Phillips remained high to begin the second round. Rojo was doing a better job of pressing forward, but he was walking into strikes. Phillips began abusing the calf of Rojo with nasty unchecked kicks, and they began to slow down some of that advancing pressure. Phillips went to his takedown in the last round. He used a Kimura attempt to take the full mount, and then locked up a triangle and rolled to his back. From there he neglected the choke and elected to snag the arm to get the tap.
Carlos Ulberg def. Fabio Cherant by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Light heavyweight
There was a bit of feeling out going on, and then Ulberg kicked Cherant right in the cup. Ulberg then landed a kick to the ribs before the referee paused the action. Upon the restart, Cherant threw some wild haymakers at Ulberg, but ended up in the clinch. The fight returned to open space with Ulberg leading the dance with his kicks, but Cherant scored a knockdown just before the bell. A check hook from Ulberg early in the second act caused a cut around the right eye of Cherant. Ulberg kept striking from range, using his jab and front kicks to keep Cherant on the back foot. The third round looked a lot like the second did.