Saturday night’s UFC card from Santiago, Chile featured rising welterweight Kamaru Usman recording his eighth UFC victory while rendering former title challenger Demian Maia ineffective for most of their five-round main event bout.
Usman improved to 13-1 and possesses an on-paper record that merits title discussion yet is a fighter that may not be any closer to the fractured championship scene than he was prior. With the bizarre decision to introduce an interim fight for the forthcoming fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington, the rest of the division will take a backseat while a #1 contender championship is settled at UFC 225 for real champion Tyron Woodley presumably fighting next.
Usman put forward a commanding performance, forcing Maia to stand for five rounds and prove to be the less effective striker. Usman dropped the opening round, which was a stalemate against the cage as Maia tied up Usman with a hook inserted. The rest of the fight featured Usman switching stances, pressuring Maia and relying on single shots to keep Maia at bay. Maia attempted throughout the fight to flop to his back and invite Usman into the choppy waters of his jiu-jitsu, which Usman balked at, forcing the 40-year old to stand up repeatedly.
It was not the hallmark performance that will shine a spotlight on Usman, but it was a definitive win over a ranked opponent that has fought for the middleweight and welterweight championships. Following the fight, Usman stated he was tired of calling people out and will wait for a forthcoming challenge.
27-year old Tatiana Suarez backed up the oddsmakers confidence, as the minus 750 favorite made short work of Alexa Grasso in their strawweight bout. Suarez secured a takedown off the cage and proceeded to commandeer the back of Grasso, securing a tight rear-naked choke that Grasso succumbed to at 2:44 of the opening round.
The win places Suarez among the top females at 115 pounds with her third consecutive victory for the organization while improving to 6-0 in her career. The TUF Season 23 winner entered the fight ranked #12 and can assume an entry in the top ten of the division and a big fight coming her way.
Dominick Reyes continued his undefeated campaign at light heavyweight with a stoppage of veteran Jared Cannonier with a first-round TKO at 2:55. Reyes stunned the 34-year old with a left uppercut and it was an encore shot that dropped Cannonier causing referee Marc Goddard to call an end to the fight despite Cannonier’s clear frustration with the stoppage.
Reyes improved to 9-0 and issued a challenge to Jordan Johnson, a light heavyweight with an identical record, for the proposed August 4th event in Los Angeles.
Inside the Movistar Arena, the audience came to see native son Diego Rivas of Cholchol, Temuco, Chile. Rivas received a reception as loud as you will hear on a UFC broadcast and provided a tremendous soundtrack for the ensuing three rounds.
Unfortunately for Rivas, Guido Cannetti was not rattled as the enemy of the evening, securing the first two rounds of their bantamweight fight. Cannetti slammed his way free of an armbar attempt as he worked for control of Rivas’ back. It wasn’t until the third round that Rivas showed any aggression, allowing his hands to fly and punctuating his attack with knees from the clinch.
It was too late for Rivas he dropped the unanimous decision to Cannetti with all three judges in agreement on the 29-28 tabulation.
Former LFA flyweight champion Andrea Lee made her promotional debut against 22-year old Veronica Macedo. The three-round bout saw Lee possess control on top and navigated Macedo’s wild submission attempts that were easily defended. Lee won all three rounds, improving to 7-2 as she entered the UFC’s 125-pound flyweight class.
The main card opened with welterweight action as TUF Nations winner Chad Laprise met Vicente Luque. Both men showcased respect for the other in the early going but it was Luque’s patience that led to the fight-ending left counter that dropped the Canadian. Luque finished Laprise with hammer fists at 4:16 of the first round to secure his sixth win in his past seven UFC bouts.
The preliminary fights were highlighted by two explosive finishes and a comeback for the ages.
Gabriel Benitez and Poliana Botelho kicked off the televised card with finishes in the opening minute of their respective bouts. Benitez rocked opponent Humberto Bandenay by slamming out of an armbar attempt and finishing Bandenay with hammer fists in 39 seconds. Not to be outdone was Botelho, who only needed a mere 33 seconds to stop Syuri Kondo after a body kick and right hand stunned the 29-year old and was finished with strikes.
Claudio Puelles secured victory out of the jaws of defeat with a late submission stoppage of minus 300 favorite Felipe Silva. The 34-year old Silva was dominating the fight with a 10-9 opening round and 10-8 second. Silva was well on his way to an easy decision nod after dropping Puelles with a body shot and later catching with an uppercut in the third round when Puelles rolled into a kneebar and forced Silva to tap at 2:23 of Round 3.
Below are the full results from the UFC Fight Night card in Santiago, Chile:
*Claudio Puelles def. Felipe Silva by kneebar at 2:23 of Round 3
*Frankie Saenz def. Henry Briones by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
*Enrique Barzola def. Brandon Davis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
*Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Bandenay by KO at 0:39 of Round 1
*Poliana Bothelo def. Syuri Kondo by TKO at 0:33 of Round 1
*Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
*Michel Prazeres def. Zak Cummings by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Vicente Luque def. Chad Laprise by KO at 4:16 of Round 1
*Andrea Lee def. Veronica Macedo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Guido Cannetti def. Diego Rivas by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Dominick Reyes def. Jared Cannonier by TKO at 2:55 of Round 1
*Tatiana Suarez def. Alexa Grasso by rear-naked choke at 2:44 of Round 1
*Kamaru Usman def. Demian Maia by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)