The UFC 273 televised preliminary card is in the books. Mike Malott got the crowd on its feet with a sensational KO of Mickey Gall, former women’s bantamweight title challenger Raquel Pennington outpointed Aspen Ladd in an entertaining decision, Anthony Hernandez’s crazy pace, wrestling, and grappling proved just a bit too much for middleweight newcomer Josh Fremd, and ex-Cage Warriors welterweight champion Ian Garry took a unanimous decision over Darian Weeks. Here’s how the fights played out.
Ian Garry def. Darian Weeks by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) - Welterweights
Strike attempts were sparse in the opening minute but a leg kick by Garry knocked Weeks off of his feet. Garry hit Weeks with a knee as Weeks was closing the distance in search for a takedown off of a body lock. Weeks reversed position to get his back away from the fence and he upped the pace with his striking. There really wasn’t a ton to separate them through the first five minutes.
Garry established his jab right away to start round two, following up with a calf kick. The Irishman stayed on the outside and looked to potshot his foe. Weeks again looked to take Garry to the ground, and while that didn’t materialize he landed an elbow on the exit. A quick 1-2 scored for Garry in an otherwise low output affair. Weeks did pretty well defensively to minimize the damage Garry could do with his striking, but he rarely threw anything of consequence in return. Garry ate a left hook after a brief takedown by Weeks, and Garry closed round two with a leg kick and a flying knee that was blocked.
It seemed as if Garry got into more of a striking rhthym in the final round, mixing his kicks and punches well and just being more active than Weeks. The jab was the best punch for Garry but Weeks did bust up Ian’s nose with his own punches. Garry rocked Weeks with a right hand and just about sat him down. It was Garry going for the takedown in the final minute of the contest but Weeks defended well. The third round was Garry’s best and it clinched another win for him to remain undefeated in his promising MMA career.
Anthony Hernandez def. Josh Fremd by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) - Middleweights
Both men were quite aggressive to kick things off and they both got off some heavy shots. Hernandez sought the fight’s first takedown but was thwarted. Fremd responded with a couple of flush knees in the clinch before Hernandez went for the takedown again and secured it. Hernandez looked for the guillotine just as he did in his upset win over Rodolfo Vieira but Fremd escaped. The bad news for Fremd is Hernandez’s relentless pursuit of the takedown resulted in him getting dumped to the mat again. Hernandez again looked for the guillotine before transitioning to a d’arce. Fremd fended off the submission attempts and as he got back to his feet warded off a standing arm triangle choke. They went back to striking and it was bombs away. Hernandez tagged Fremd with a couple of rights, ate some shots of his own, then he changed levels and completed another takedown. After bailing on a choke, Hernandez fired off knees to the body and then went to his wrestling some more. Just a grueling first round pace set by ‘Fluffy.’
Hernandez’s unrelenting pace continued into round two and he was insistent on working on Fremd’s neck for a fight-ending submission. In an ill-fated crucifix attempt, Fremd rolled on top and shortly thereafter he pulled a surprise guillotine choke. He couldn’t, could he? No he couldn’t. However, Fremd stayed on top a little but longer and maneuvered to north-south, then took Hernandez’s back. Suddenly Hernandez was the one on the defensive and looking fatigued. Two straight rights by Fremd backed Hernandez up and the tables looked to be turning. Hernandez locked in a guillotine, Fremd escaped but ate some shots and a knee to the body, then Josh secured a takedown to end an insanely wild round.
Hernandez wasted no time taking Fremd down to begin the 3rd round. Fremd got back to his feet but Hernandez responded with a high amplitude slam and again he attacked with a guillotine. No dice. D’arce choke was also unsuccessful for Hernandez. Fremd gave up his back, almost rolled to top position in a scramble but in reaching for the mouthpiece ended up losing the opportunity. In the final half-minute, Hernandez tried locking up a reverse triangle choke. Herb Dean checked to see if he was out cold and he was not. Dominant round by Hernandez and a terrific effort by Fremd on short notice.
Raquel Pennington def. Aspen Ladd by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) - Women’s Bantamweights
Pennington had the better of the striking early and she looked to outmuscle Ladd in the clinch, as well. Ladd, who curiously opted to fight in a southpaw stance, was able to land a left hand in an exchange with Pennington but she took several shots in return and proved to be the far more hittable of the two. Pennington had success with outside low kicks and was generally more accurate. Ladd fizzed in a strong left hook to show ‘Rocky’ she isn’t to be taken lightly. These two really threw down in the closing seconds of an exciting, fast paced opening round.
Round two featured more intense striking in the pocket, with Pennington tagging Ladd with hard hook before closing the distance in search of a takedown. The takedown didn’t come but she got in some dirty boxing and generally effective clinch striking. An eye poke a second after Ladd threw a head kick paused action as Pennington took time to recover. Upon the restart, Ladd increased her volume but Pennington was content to slip and rip in close. It’s more than notable that Pennington was far more willing to attack the body than Ladd, but Ladd did back Pennington up with a body shot. A hard right hand stunned Ladd and Pennington followed up with a knee to the body.
It took until two minutes into the final round for it to happen, but Aspen Ladd finally got a takedown. That presented an opportunity for Ladd to get back into the bout, but Pennington returned to her feet. Ladd tried to take the back following the mat return but Pennington did well to scramble out of that potential danger. The remainder of the fight was just a battle for positioning in the clinch with sporadic offense. No doubt the best round for Ladd was the final one but she needed a finish and didn’t get it. Pennington wins on short notice and sends Ladd to her third loss in four fights.
Mike Malott def. Mickey Gall by TKO (punches) at 3:41 of round 1 - Welterweights
A two-punch combo by Malott stung Gall early and had Gall in semi-retreat. Gall returned fire with his own combination that got the Canadian’s attention. Another right hand by Malott stung Gall and had his legs a tiny bit unsteady. Gall got a much needed takedown but Malott was right back to his feet in next to no time. That proved costly for Gall later in the round, as Malott uncorked a perfect counter left hook that knocked Gall down and for all intents and purposes he was done for. What a debut for Mike Malott!