UFC 286 was a decent event. The welterweight headliner went the distance, and the lightweight co-headliner was an all-action affair.
The preliminary portion of the card started with Veronica Hardy returning from a 3-year layoff (!) and earning a unanimous decision over Juliana Miller. From start to finish, the 27-year-old ran roughshod over Miller, who struggled on the feet with Hardy. Aside from some worrisome moments on the ground, Hardy turned in a great performance. Jai Herbert vs. Ľudovít Klein was ruled a majority draw. After a back-and-forth fight, the ‘Black Country Banger’ lost a point after hitting ‘Mr. Highlight’ with two groin shots. Joanne Wood snapped a three-fight losing streak with a split decision against Luana Carolina. ‘JoJo’ found success in the clinch, firing off some punches, elbows and knees that left significant damage on ‘Dread’. Though Carolina started to connect with her own punches, it was too little, too late.
Jake Hadley lit the O2 Arena on fire after his 61-second TKO of Malcolm Gordon. ‘White Kong’ went straight to the body, crushing ‘X’ with a pair of body shots that sent him to the canvas. Hadley finished Gordon off with some ground-and-pound, and that was it! In his post-fight interview with UFC color commentator Daniel Cormier, Hadley challenged Muhammad Mokaev, with whom he has unfinished business after a hotel run-in. The highly anticipated UFC debut of Christian Leroy Duncan ended anticlimactically, as his opponent — Duško Todorović — collapsed with a knee injury. As they were up against the cage, ‘Thunder’ tried fending off a takedown attempt from ‘CLD’ when he twisted his leg awkwardly. Lerone Murphy won a hard-fought split decision against Gabriel Santos. The ‘Miracle’ was tested A LOT on the ground by ‘Mosquitinho,’ who was relentless in his pursuit of the takedown.
Muhammad Mokaev improved to 10-0 with a third-round submission of Jafel Filho, but it came after some potentially career-altering adversity. The ‘Punisher’ was dominating until the ‘Pastor’ threw up a tight kneebar attempt! Mokaev winced, but stayed patient and waited for Filho to let go. And when he did, the 22-year-old found the rear-naked choke. Since his knee was ‘cracking’ the entire time Filho cranked on it, Mokaev could be out for a while. Yanal Ashmouz upset Sam Patterson with a hellacious KO! The ‘Red Fox’ caught a kick from the ‘Future’ and launched a left hand that floored his opponent. Ground-and-pound followed, and referee Marc Goddard saw enough. Chris Duncan handed Omar Morales his third straight loss after earning a split decision. Jack Shore was successful in his first appearance at featherweight, submitting Makwan Amirkhani to send us to the pay-per-view. The ‘Tank’ rebounded from a loss to Ricky Simón with this second-round rear-naked choke.
The main portion of the card saw Marvin Vettori return to the win column with a unanimous decision against Roman Dolidze. The ‘Italian Dream’ upped his volume in the second and third rounds, leading to a clean sweep of the judges’ scorecards. For his next appearance, Vettori said he would accept anyone from Alex Pereira to Jared Cannonier. Jennifer Maia added Casey O’Neill to her résume. The Brazilian went toe-to-toe with the ‘King’ and held her own in every aspect of the fight for the unanimous decision. For O’Neill, that was her first loss as a professional. Gunnar Nelson snatched up a first-round armbar on Bryan Barberena. ‘Gunni’ wasted no time getting ‘Bam Bam’ to the ground and controlling him until the arm presented itself. Nelson transitioned, and Barberena was forced to tap in the final seconds of the fight. Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev lived up to expectations! The ‘Highlight’ and ‘Ataman’ exchanged the entire time, but it was Gaethje who started getting the better of Fiziev. He got the nod by majority decision.
Leon Edwards came out on top in his trilogy with Kamaru Usman, defeating the former UFC welterweight champion by majority decision. Despite getting docked a point for a fence grab, ‘Rocky’ staved off a lot of the takedowns from the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ and stayed busy with kicks to the body and legs.
Performance of the Night: Jake Hadley and Gunnar Nelson
- Jake Hadley def. Malcolm Gordon by TKO (body shots) at 1:01 of Round 1
- Christian Leroy Duncan def. Duško Todorović by TKO (knee injury) at 1:52 of Round 1
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:32 of Round 3
- Yanal Ashmouz def. Sam Patterson by KO (punches) at 1:15 of Round 1
- Jack Shore def. Makwan Amirkhani by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:27 of Round 2
- Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberena by submission (armbar) at 4:51 of Round 1
Fight of the Night: Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev
- Veronica Hardy def. Juliana Miller by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Jai Herbert vs. Ľudovít Klein ruled a majority draw
- Joanne Wood def. Luana Carolina by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
- Lerone Murphy def. Gabriel Santos by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
- Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jennier Maia def. Casey O’Neill by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman by majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47)