The UFC San Diego prelims was a mixed bag that had a little bit of everything. We got some vicious knockouts, a set of split decisions, a draw on the books, and even someone retiring from the sport.
Closing out the preliminary bouts was a gritty war between the #13 ranked strawweight, Angela Hill, and an up and comer in Lupita Godinez. When the dust settled, it was Hill who walked away with the unanimous decision. Loopy did damage early, rocking Hill within the first minute of the match. From there, Hill rallied in the second and third rounds to do enough to get the win in a tightly contested affair. This dub breaks up a three-fight losing skid for Hill, which means this was likely a must win for her.
In the heavyweight division, Martin Buday picked up a split decision over a game Lukasz Brzeski. This fight was close, with Brzeski landing the volume early on, and Buday rallying late with the power. Martin has extended his pro record to 11-1, but how did you score this one?
In a move up to 125-pounds, Nina Nunes won a split decision over the UFC’s #12 ranked flyweight, Cynthia Calvillo. Nunes relied on her strikes, and showed off her takedown defense to prevent Calvillo from imposing her will. In her post-fight interview, Nunes dropped her gloves in the center of the Octagon, and announced her retirement from competition. She expressed her desire to coach and have more babies, and will be leaving the sport on a win at 11-7. There’s nothing better than seeing fighters leave the sport on their own terms, especially coming off of a win!
Also on the prelims, Gabriel Benitez scored a sweet first round TKO on Charlie Ontiveros. After navigating through a sea of axe kicks, Benitez was able to deliver a powerful left hand that staggered Ontiveros. He followed up with an epic lifting slam, took full mount, and punched away until the referee said to atop. “Moggly” continues to be all action!
The flyweight division witnessed 37-year-old Tyson Nam produce an outstanding knockout of Ode Osbourne in the opening round. Nam was a big betting underdog coming in, but that didn’t seem to bother him at all as the veteran showed the division that he still has what it takes to finish fools. Nam has been fighting since 2006, and extends his record to 21-12-1.
We got another wicked knockout on the prelims when Josh Quinlan annihilated Jason Witt with a monstrous left hook that melted Jason on impact. In a tremendous display of class and compassion, as Quinlan dove in for a followup ground strike, he realized that Witt wasn’t there and pulled back his punch to not cause any further damage. That’s baller status right there, and a perfect way to make your UFC debut.
The UFC San Diego card opened up with Youssef Zalal and Da’Mon Blackshear fighting to a majority draw. Blackshear won out the grappling exchanges to take the first two rounds, but Zalal let his strikes go in the third, dropping Blackshear with a body kick to earn a 10-8 from two of the three judges. This was Zalal’s debut at 135-pounds, and Blackshear’s debut in the UFC. Neither man gets a win bonus, which adds to the argument to do away with that archaic pay structure altogether.
Angela Hill def. Lupita Godinez by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): 120-pounds
Godinez was cracking with her hands early. She wobbled Hill twice in the opening minute of the match. Hill managed to recover rather quickly, but the fight was being dictated by Loopy. As the round went long, Hill started to battle back and landed a couple of mean knees on the inside. We had a fight by the time there bell sounded, but that round definitely seemed to belong to Loopy.
Hill busted open Loopy’s nose at the beginning of the second stanza. That prompted Godinez to blast a takedown, but Hill used a guillotine attempt to stand right back up. The fighters started to exchange jabs, but Hill was the one pressing forward. Hill clinched up and landed a takedown of her own, with some frenzied ground and pound, just before the bell.
Hill pressured again in the third round, with Loopy sitting back looking to land counter punches. They were going blow for blow, with neither being able to take over. They both failed at takedown attempts, but both succeeded at stopping the takedown. This was by far the most even round of the fight.
Martin Buday def. Lukasz Brzeski by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Heavyweight
Buday was pressing forward behind his maximum weight punches. Brzeski was returning fire, but getting walked down. The forward pressure of Buday slowed down, and Brzeski began his march forward behind his own punches. The speed advantage was clearly on the lighter fighter in Brzeski. He was throwing leg kicks, but Buday was doing a great job of checking them and returning his own.
Brzeski continued to be the quicker fighter in the second round. His hands were faster, as well as his footwork. Buday was connecting with stinging leg kicks, but wasn’t really building off of them. As the round went on, Buday started to flurry more, and was finding much more success, but the volume was still on the side of Brzeski.
Brzeski was still throwing volume in the final frame, although he wasn’t connecting cleanly. Buday was pressing forward, showing a sense of urgency. He was landing the harder shots, but would back off after landing something. Brzeski was doing a lot of missing this round, but he did a solid job of avoiding the big bombs.
Nina Nunes def. Cynthia Calvillo by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29): (W) Flyweight
Nunes took the center of the Octagon, while v circled around her with active footwork. Calvillo caught a kick and scored a really short-lived takedown before Nunes stood up. Calvillo was launching leg kicks, looking to slow down that movement of Calvillo. The next takedown attempt form Calvillo was unsuccessful, as Nunes was able to find seperation into open space.
Leg kicks were flying on both sides to open the second stanza. There was some feeling out going on here, and the crowd wasn’t too excited about it. Around the midpoint of the round, Calvillo changed levels and snagged a takedown into the full guard of Nunes. Calvillo ultimately stood up, but ate an up kick as she stood over Nunes.
Nunes returned to her leg attack to begin the final round, and even mixed in some spinning back kicks. Calvillo started to go for her takedowns, but she was shooting from too far away to get a proper entry. She almost had Nunes down at one point, but just couldn’t get the fight to stay where she wanted it. The striking advantage was on the side of Nunes, who kept moving forward behind her volume.
Gabriel Benitez def. Charlie Ontiveros by TKO at 3:35 of round 1: Lightweight
Ontiveros looked aggressive right away, until Benitez closed the distance into the clinch to slow things down. The fight returned to open space, and Ontiveros returned to throwing axe kicks and remaining long. Benitez started to kick at the legs, and snuck in a few big punches before returning tot he clinch. An accidental knee to the cup of Ontiveros brought a pause to the action, but the fight quickly got back underway. The fight restarted and a huge left hand from Benitez rocked Ontiveros, and then a big lifting takedown came next. Benitez went to full mount and started raining down a non-stop barrage of punches that Ontiveros did not recover from.
Tyson Nam def. Ode Osbourne by KO at 2:59 of round 1: Flyweight
Osbourne went after Nam with body kicks and right hands to get things going. Nam took some time reading the inputs coming his way, staying defensively responsible, despite falling behind in the strike count. Then KABOOM! Nam uncorked a massive right hand that floored Osbourne. Ode did a back roll to get up, but ate two flush followup punches from Nam and that was that!
Josh Quinlan def. Jason Witt by KO at 2:09 of round 1: 180-pounds
There was some back and forth here before Witt blasted his takedown. Quinlan was quick to get back to his feet, and was able to return to open space. Shortly after that, Witt went to throw a kick and Quinlan nuked him with a ridiculous left hook. Witt went out on impact, and as Quinlan went in for a followup ground strike on the unconscious man, he elected to show tremendous sportsmanship and not complete the punch. YIKES!
Youssef Zalal vs. Da’Mon Blackshear was ruled a majority draw (29-28, 28-28-28): Bantamweight
Blackshear was launching kicks right away, while Zalal waited for his moment to enter a takedown. He planted Blackshear on his bottom, and methodically controlled from the top. Blackshear eventually found a way to sweep, and used the moment to take the back for the remaining moments.
The second round started with Blackshear hunting for the takedown. He got Zalal down, but hastily tried to take the back and got reversed. Zalal took the back and started to work an RNC, well more of a face crank, but Blackshear was able to escape. The fight returned to the feet, and after they both failed at takedowns, Blackshear was able to take the back standing. The round ended with Blackshear going for the RNC, but Zalal tucked his chin and survived.
Zalal came out pumping his jab in the third act, backing up Blackshear and setting the pace. Blackshear was returning kicks, but Zalal was landing the better strikes. Blackshear attempted a single leg, but Zalal defended well and went back to throwing his volume. When they drifted into the clinch, Zalal would connect with some clever elbows. Zalal also started to rip to the body with punches and kicks, with one of the kicks dropping Blackshear. Zalal got on top and started dropping a ton of strikes to finish up the round in dominant fashion.