The UFC 277 prelims have just concluded and have added a sweet one-punch body shot finish to the card’s kill count, on top of three competitive decisions.
In the night’s featured prelim, Alex Morono held off a rallying Matt Semelsberger to take home a unanimous nod. It was the footwork of Alex that really got him ahead in this fight. He was sticking and moving from the word go, preventing the heavy-handed Semelsberger from being able to deliver his power. At the start of the third round, Semelsberger dropped Morono was a brilliant jump knee, but was unable to manifest a finish. Alex has now won four straight fights in the UFC.
After a wild opening round, Drew Dober settled in to ultimately achieve a wicked body shot TKO on Rafael Alves in the third round. Dober was doing a lot of pressuring, and as he had Alves pinned against the cage, he delivered a hellacious left hand tot he body that put Rafael in fetal mode. Dober is always fun and exciting, and has now finished his last five wins with sensational strikes.
We saw some big boys go at it on the prelims when Hamdy Abdelwahab took a split decision over Don’Tale Mayes. This fight had a bit of brawling, with damage being dished out on both sides, and also some slick wrestling from Hamdy — which aided him in winning his UFC debut. The Egyptian Olympic wrestler in Abdelwahab has extended his young MMA record to 5-0.
Opening up this part of the prelims, Drakkar Klose won a competitive scrap with Rafa García by unanimous decision. Pressure was the name of the game for Klose, who kept pushing the pace by staying in Rafa’s face. Drakkar has won five of his last six, and called for a match against fellow Michigan man Tony Ferguson.
Alex Morono def. Matt Semelsberger by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): Welterweight
Morono got right to work, sticking and moving to address the pressure of Semelsberger. Semelsberger was waiting to connect with big strikes, but Morono kept giving him a moving target. Semelsberger just couldn’t connect cleanly, and then a big right hand from Morono caused a bad mouse to form under the left eye of Semelsberger.
Morono continued to utilize educated footwork in the second round. He wasn’t planting his feet in one spot long enough for Semelsberger to connect with his power. This lead to Morono being able to step in and connect with his own strikes, without him being around for the return strikes. Semelsberger found a way to clinch up, and found top position off of Morono botching a takedown. A couple of punches and elbows landed for Matt, but it didn’t seem to be enough to steal the round.
Semelsberger started the third round with his mouse completely covering his eye. It was pretty gross, and the ref brought the doctor in to check his eye. They let the fight continue, and Semelsberger fought like a man possessed. He dropped Alex with a flying knee, and got on top. Morono tied up and seemed to recover quickly. The fight moved back to open space, but the footwork and jab of Moreno was keeping space between him and Semelsberger.
Drew Dober def. Rafael Alves by TKO at 1:30 of round 3: Lightweight
Alves opened the bout with an exciting Capoeira kick, although it missed. Dober responded with a conventional head kick, but Alves blocked. In an exchange, the fighters tangled up and Alves took top control. After a lack of action, Alves stood to his feet and kicked at the legs. Dober stood up, and a short firefight broke out. Both men were chucking heat, with Dober seeming to be briefly staggered by a shot. Things settled down a bit as Dober pressed the fight, with Alves using his headwork to avoid the punches.
Dober went right back to pressuring behind his punches in the second stanza. He was also mixing in some body kicks. Alves backed himself to the fence, and Dober was staying in his face with flurries. The output from Alves just wasn’t there. He would throw every now and again, but the volume was all on the side of Dober. An eye poke from Dober caused a timeout with about 50-seconds to go, and when the doctor came in, Alves elected to shoo him away. The wildness returned after the break, with both men throwing blistering shots for the remaining moments. Dober got back to pressuring in the third, backing up Alves to the cage yet again. Then, a nasty body shot landed that folded Alves. No followup was needed and that was that!
Hamdy Abdelwahab def. Don’Tale Mayes by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Heavyweight
Abdelwahab was the aggressor right away, looking to let loose with his boxing. He stung Mayes with his hands, and chased him down looking for a finish. Mayes went for a ride, but the fight then stalled out in the clinch. The ref broke them apart, and Mayes missed by a mile with a flying knee. Just before the bell, the heavyweights exchanged leather, with each man landing some quality shots.
The firefight overflowed into the second stanza. Mayes clipped Abdelwahab with some heat that instantly caused some bad swelling around his left eye. Mayes unloaded a flurry, putting Abdelwahab in all sorts of trouble, but Hamdy found a way to weather the storm. We saw a lot of well-placed liver kicks coming from Mayes, too. the right side of Abdelwahab’s mid section was rather red. Abdelwahab then caught Mayes with a cup check, which prompted a brief pause in the action. Upon the restart, Mayes rushed in but ended up on the bottom of Abdelwahab. A couple of elbows got through for Hamdy before the horn.
Abdelwahab went right to the takedown to begin the final round. As soon as Mayes climbed back to his feet, Abdelwahab took him right back down. The fans weren’t liking it, and Mayes wasn’t either, but Abdelwahab was controlling the fight and was keeping it in his world. The referee ultimately stood them up, and Mayes started to attempt fight-ending blows like head kicks, haymakers, and flying knees.
Drakkar Klose def. Rafa Garcia by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Lightweight
Klose was setting the tempo right away, taking the fight to Garcia with strikes and brief clinch ups. Garcia was rolling with the punches, stopping the takedown attempts, and coming back with hard counters. Klose eventually got a body lock and was able to drag Garcia down to the mat, but he had to rinse and repeat a few times before he could keep Rafa down there.
Klose pushed Garcia against the cage to begin round two, but couldn’t keep him there. In open space, Rafa blasted a double leg to plant Klose on his back in the center of the Octagon. The referee stood the fighters up after a short stint, despite Rafa seeming to be working. Nonetheless, on the feet Klose landed some clean punches that bothered Garcia. In the closing moments, Garcia hit another takedown.
Klose kept pressuring in the final round, but Garcia went back to the takedown. Drakkar worked hard to get right up, and went back to throwing blows. The clinched up and exchanged some dirty boxing, which seemed pretty even. They broke free and Klose continued to pressure, and although Rafa was going backwards, he was still throwing back.