UFC on ESPN 4 Report: Leon Edwards defeats Rafael Dos Anjos

Eric Marcotte runs through Saturday's UFC card that saw Leon Edwards extend his winning streak against Rafael dos Anjos, lots of decisions & more.

Submitted by: Eric Marcotte

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On Saturday night the UFC held their second event at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas for their fourth card on ESPN. The event was headlined by welterweight contenders Leon Edwards, and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. With welterweight champion Kamaru Usman sidelined (recovering from a double hernia surgery), fighters such as Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley, and Colby Covington have all campaigned for fights with the champion upon his return. With so much focus on the top of the welterweight division, both Edwards and dos Anjos came into this fight looking to make a statement and throw their own names into title contention.

Jon Anik was on commentary for the night alongside Dominick Cruz. Performance bonuses were awarded to Walt Harris and Dan Hooker. Fight of the Night bonuses went to Mario Bautista and Jin Soo Son The reported attendance for the event was 9,255, and had a gate of $841,820.61.

QUICK RESULTS:
*Filipe Colares def. Domingo Pilarte by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Mario Bautista def. Jin Soo Son by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Ray Borg def. Gabriel Silva by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Jennifer Maia def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Klidson Abreu def. Sam Alvey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Raquel Pennington def. Irene Aldana by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Alex Caceres def. Steven Peterson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Andrei Arlovski def. Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Alexander Hernandez def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Dan Hooker def. James Vick by KO at 2:33 of Round 1
*Greg Hardy def. Juan Adams by TKO at 0:45 of Round 1
*Walt Harris def. Aleksei Oleinik by KO at 0:12 of Round 1
*Leon Edwards def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)

FILIPE COLARES (8-1, 136) VS DOMINGO PILARTE (8-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Colares was the aggressor early, pressuring Pilarte against the cage in pursuit of the takedown, which he eventually succeeded in, bringing Pilarte to the ground and landed some significant strikes on the ground to decisively win the first. In the second Pilarte started to show signs of life, demonstrating fluid grappling, looking for submissions and transitioning to dominant positions. Colares still controlled the majority of the round, and finished the fight on top. In the third Pilarte secured a body lock early that brought Colares to the ground, where he looked to secure a rear-naked choke. They spent the majority of the round in this position, where Colares continuously threw strikes behind him towards Pilarte who continued to search for the choke. This fight came down to how you scored the second round. I narrowly gave the round to Pilarte, and scored this fight 29-28 in his favour.

WINNER: Filipe Colares by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was a good display of grappling, and a very close fight between these two men. This was Colares’s first win inside the UFC octagon.

MARIO BAUTISTA (6-1, 136) VS JIN SOO SON (9-3, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

In the first round, both men traded big strikes early, each looking to establish themselves as the aggressor. Bautista strikes looked as though they were landing with more power, but Son’s accuracy was impressive as well. As noted by Dominick Cruz, in a round in which both men traded strikes at an even rate, the moment in which Bautista looked to secure a body lock against the cage could of very well of been the difference-maker on the judge’s scorecard. Bautista pursued a standing kimura that Son worked his way out of in the second. On the feet, both men continued to trade big hooks and eventually, Bautista gained the advantage by mixing in elbows and stumbled Son with a right hand. Son recovered and the fight made its way to the third and final round. They continued brawling in the third round, and the chins displayed by these two men were something to behold. Son briefly scored a takedown, but Bautista quickly returned the fight to the feet where both men were clearly tired but continued to fight aggressively. As time ran out in the third round, the crowd showed their appreciation to these two men. I scored this fight 30-27 Bautista.

WINNER: Mario Bautista by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

This was an excellent fight. Both men landed over a hundred strikes and showed amazing chin and heart. Definitely a fight of the night candidate, and a recommended watch to anyone who may have missed the prelims. This was Bautista’s first win inside the UFC.

GABRIEL SILVA (7-0, 134) VS RAY BORG (11-4, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

The commentary team noted that Ray Borgs year-old son Anthony, who has undergone a number of brain surgeries due to incurable hydrocephalus, was in attendance for this fight.

Silva had a significant reach advantage over Borg and looked to utilize the Thai clinch early, which allowed Borg to close the distance and pressure Silva against the cage, but an attempted guillotine by Borg allowed Silva to bring Borg to the ground. From here, Borg managed to scramble out of the position in very impressive fashion. Borg locked in a tight guillotine on the ground towards the start of the second, but Silva worked his way out of it into top position, and shortly thereafter took the back of Borg. Borg continued to display impressive grappling to work his way out of tough positions and ended the round in dominant position. In the third Borg quickly took Silva to the ground with a slam and seemed the fresher fighter. He had one more notable slam about halfway through the round where he dropped Silva right on his face, and this round was clearly Borg’s. I scored this one 29-28 Borg.

WINNER: Ray Borg by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Borg was very emotional in his post-fight speech. He dedicated his win to his grandfather who passed away recently, as well as the daughter of a close friend of his who unfortunately passed away from a two-year battle with cancer. This was Borg’s first win since his title fight loss to Demetrious Johnson and was clearly relieved to get back in the win column tonight.

ROXANNE MODAFFERI (26-13, 125) VS JENNIFER MAIA (16-5-1, 129) – FLYWEIGHT

Modafferi walked out to “Face the Pain”, which was hilarious. Maia missed weight for this contest, coming in at 129lbs. This was a rematch of their Invicta flyweight championship bout in 2016 which Maia won by split decision.

Maia defended all the takedowns attempted by Modafferi in the first. The striking exchanges between the two were not particularly notable in the first, and Modafferi applied the pressure while Maia looked more comfortable whenever they went into the clinch. In the second Maia had the most significant strike of the fight where she landed a big uppercut and cut Modafferi open. Maia seems significantly stronger than Modafferi. There was more of the same in the third, with Modafferi moving forward, but eating strikes and was unable to mount any significant offense. I thought Maia won every round and scored this fight 30-27 in her favor.

WINNER: Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

This was a one-sided win for Maia. She looked like the better fighter in every place the fight went, and a dominant win over the 5th ranked Modafferi may land her in the top five coming out of this event. She has won 8 of her last 9 fights. Interestingly, thus far in the card, Ray Borg had been the only fighter to receive a post fighter interview.

SAM ALVEY (33-12, 205) VS KLIDSON ABREU (14-3, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Both fighters started out tentatively and then headed straight into the clinch against the cage. Not much progress was made by either fighter against the cage, and neither man landed anything too significant, aside from a flurry by Abreu towards the end of the round. Abreu also landed a quick knee after the bell that Alvey protested. Abreu was a bit more active towards the start of the second landing some quick combos and moving out of the range of Alvey’s counter right. With two minutes to go in the round, Abreu brought Alvey to the ground, but Alvey worked his way on top and then back to their feet. Both men continued to be tentative for most of the final round. Alvey finally started pressuring forward with about two minutes left in the round but did not connect with much. I scored this fight 30-27 Abreu.

WINNER: Klidson Abreu by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Alvey was shocked by the decision. This fight followed a similar pattern of many Sam Alvey fights, in which he moves backwards looking for a counter right hand, and his opponent follows him, being more aggressive but also being wary of Alvey’s power. This was not a good fight.

RAQUEL PENNINGTON (9-8, 136) VS IRENE ALDANA (10-4, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Pennington did a good job of avoiding the strikes of Aldana early while landing a variety of her own strikes. Despite her misses, Aldana kept active throughout the round, which always looks good to the judges. Aldana was starting to land more in the second round, and the effect of her leg kicks was starting to show on the leg of Pennington. Pennington landed a solid right hand that backed Aldana up momentarily. The two exchanged knees in the clinch and Pennington shot for a double leg that Aldana stopped. The pace Aldana kept throughout this fight was impressive. Pennington finally brought Aldana to the ground in the third, and Aldana tried to work for a calf slicer to get out of the position. Cruz commented that it was likely not tight enough to finish the fight, but praised Aldana’s ability to get out of the position she was in. Pennington worked her way out of danger and managed to take the back of Aldana, looking for a bulldog choke. Time expired with the two fighters in a bit of a stalemate. I thought Pennington edged out the victory and scored the fight 29-28 for her.

WINNER: Raquel Pennington by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Pennington picked up her first win since UFC 205 in 2016 and is now 7-4 in the promotion. This was a close fight. I thought Aldana looked good despite the loss, and Pennington looked improved as well.

ALEX CACERES (14-12, 1 NC, 146) VS STEVEN PETERSON (17-8, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Peterson immediately rushed forward and got caught by a big body kick from Caceres. Peterson kept moving forward, clearly with the intent of pressuring Caceres to negate his kicking game. Caceres landed a clean left hook while Peterson was moving forward, and Caceres appeared to be comfortable countering the offense of Peterson. Peterson eventually caught him with a right hand, took him to the ground and sunk in a rear-naked choke. Impressively, Caceres managed to work his way out of it. In-between rounds, Caceres told his coaches that he broke his left hand, and Peterson had a nasty cut above his left eye that his coach claimed it came from a Caceres headbutt. The second round was calmer than the first, with both men landing clean shots. Despite the hand injury, Caceres was able to land the bigger strikes in the round and seemed to control the pace despite moving backward. Into the third Caceres continued to circle and let Peterson walk right into his counterstrikes. Peterson finally kicked out the left leg of Caceres as he was kicking with his right and brought him to the ground with a minute left in the round. I narrowly scored the third round for Caceres and scored the fight for him 29-28.

WINNER: Alex Caceres by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Caceres is now an even 10-10 in the UFC (with 1 NC). This was a fine fight, and both men displayed a lot of toughness throughout the 3 rounds.

Every fight on the prelims went to decision, and the main card actually started about 15 minutes late.

ANDREI ARLOVSKI (27-18, 2 NC, 246) VS BEN ROTHWELL (36-11, 265) – HEAVYWEIGHT

This is Arlovski’s 30th UFC appearance. This is a rematch of their 2008 fight in Affliction, which Arlovski won by knock out.

Rothwell landed a left hand early that Arlovski seemed to feel. Arlovski was more aggressive than he has been in years out the gate and seemed significantly quicker than Rothwell. Arlovski landed a straight right hand that hurt Rothwell, but could not capitalize on the moment. Both men were dealing with cuts after 3 minutes of the first. Arlovski looked very sharp here, and his speed advantage was huge. The first round was a boxing clinic by Arlovski. Arlovski started out the second round much like the first until Rothwell landed a right hand and managed to back Arlovski against the cage and hold him there for a portion of the round. Whenever they separated in the round Arlovski went right back to piecing Rothwell up. Going into the third, Arlovski looked tired and Rothwell appeared disheartened by the last two rounds. Rothwell held Arlovski against the cage for a period of time, and with two minutes left in the third Rothwell finally turned it on, landing a huge uppercut and a series of hooks that clearly stunned Arlovski, but Arlovski recovered quickly and went right back to trading with Rothwell, despite clearly being exhausted. The round expired as the 8th straight fight went the distance. I scored this fight 29-28 Arlovski.

WINNER: Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Amusingly, Arlovski swore a number of times in his post-fight interview, but his accent was strong enough that ESPN seemingly didn’t pick up on it.

This was the best Arlovski had looked in years. He was so much quicker than Rothwell, and his boxing looked very sharp. This was a much-needed win for Arlovski, who had only won two of his previous eleven fights. Arlovski now holds sole possession of the record for most wins in UFC heavyweight history. Rothwell has now lost both of his fights since his comeback this year, and a loss to Arlovski puts him in a tough place in the division.

ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ (10-2, 155) VS FRANCISCO TRINALDO (23-6, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT

The crowd was heavily behind hometown fighter Alexander Hernandez here.

Both men were patient in the first, trying to gauge timing and distance while being wary of the other’s power. Trinaldo connected with a kick to the groin as Hernandez was circling, which may have been the most significant strike of the round thus far. Trinaldo partially connected with a flying knee as time expired. Hernandez shot for a takedown in the second to no avail. Trinaldo partially connected with a spinning back kick that opened a cut on the face of Hernandez. This has been a tremendously supportive and patient crowd, but they were starting to lose their patience in the second round. Going into the third, it was anybody’s fight through sheer inactivity. Hernandez again looked to take Trinaldo to the ground, but the takedown defense of Trinaldo held up. Trinaldo taunted Hernandez, urging him to come forward. Hernandez did not comply. I scored this fight 30-27 Trinaldo.

WINNER: Alexander Hernandez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

I thought this was likely the leading candidate for worst fight of the year. Both fighters were extremely inactive, but I still thought this was a rather clear Trinaldo win. With 9 straight decisions to open up the card, a new UFC record has been set for consecutive decisions.

JAMES VICK (13-3, 156) VS DAN HOOKER (17-8, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Hooker opened up with a leg kick heavy offense. The battle early on was between both men looking to get inside the reach of the other to land combinations. Hooker feinted a right hand and instead threw a left hook that dropped Vick, and his first follow up shot knocked Vick unconscious.

WINNER: Dan Hooker by KO at 2:33 of Round 1

I am sure Dan Hooker was a hero to a lot of people watching this card, ending the streak of decisions at 9. This was a beautiful knockout, and a perfect way to rebound from his brutal loss to Edson Barboza last December. Dan Hooker demanded a spot on the October 5th Whittaker/Adesanya card.

GREG HARDY (4-1, 266) VS JUAN ADAMS (5-1, 266) – HEAVYWEIGHT

Both men weighed in at the heavyweight limit. They looked like they were feeling the power of each other on the feet. Adams shot for a takedown, Hardy defended the takedown attempt well and landed in a good position, with Adams still holding onto Hardy’s leg. Hardy began raining strikes down upon Adams and referee Dan Miragliotta warned Adams to defend himself. Adams did not get out of the position, Hardy continued his barrage of strikes and Miragliotta stopped the fight. Adams immediately protested the stoppage.

WINNER: Greg Hardy by TKO at 0:45 of Round 1

Hardy improved to 2-1 inside the octagon. I did not take issue with the stoppage. Hardy has fought 3 times already this year, and in his post-fight interview, he made it clear he wanted to get back in the octagon soon.

WALT HARRIS (12-7, 1 NC, 256) VS ALEKSEI OLEINIK (57-12-1, 236) – HEAVYWEIGHT

Harris was immediately aggressive throwing a jumping knee up the middle which caught Oleinik below the shoulder, and as Oleinik turned away, Harris threw a reaching left hook which connected and knocked Oleinik out cold.

WINNER: Walt Harris by KO at 0:12 of Round 1

Oleinik had to be helped out of the octagon, seemingly with a leg injury. This was the third quickest knockout in UFC heavyweight history. Harris asked to be on the UFC 242 card in Abu Dhabi. While there have certainly been some bumps in the road, Harris has looked increasingly impressive since his (extremely) short-notice loss to Fabricio Werdum in 2017 and looks like he has the potential to become a real player in the heavyweight division.

RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (29-11, 171) VS LEON EDWARDS (17-3, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT

Edwards came into this fight riding a 7-fight win streak, with his last loss coming to the current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Rafael dos Anjos’s last loss was also to Usman but rebounded with a submission win over Kevin Lee in May. Dos Anjos has gone 4-2 in the UFC’s welterweight division since making the move up in 2017.

The two men did not touch gloves to start the fight. Edwards managed to time a takedown perfectly to put RDA on his back within a minute of the first round. Edwards transitioned to the back of dos Anjos, but RDA used the moment to get back to his feet. Dos Anjos connected with a few leg kicks. Edwards has done a good job of clinching RDA up whenever dos Anjos throws heavy hooks or uppercuts. RDA defended an Edwards takedown attempt a minute into the second and they wrestled for position in the clinch. The left elbow of Edwards has connected cleanly with dos Anjos multiple times in this fight. A cut was opened up next to the right eye of dos Anjos by another elbow from Edwards. RDA landed another leg kick that grounded Edwards, but they returned to the feet after about thirty seconds of RDA top control. The right eye of dos Anjos was completely covered in blood as the round ended. The doctor was brought in to examine dos Anjos at the beginning of the third and dos Anjos was cleared to keep fighting. The fighters exchanged leg kicks and dos Anjos shot for a takedown which Edwards defended well. Edwards is starting to tag dos Anjos a lot with his boxing, and continued to clinch dos Anjos whenever RDA applied pressure. Dos Anjos has looked for multiple takedowns but Edwards has defended all of them well.

Going into round 4, Edwards was likely up three rounds to nothing on the scorecards. The first half of the round was rather even, with Edwards having the edge in precision and his timing, but dos Anjos was definitely still in the fight, and aware he was down on the scorecards. RDA looked for a flying knee but landed on his back and Edwards took advantage. Dos Anjos made his way back to his feet and the fighters prepared for a fifth and final round. Edwards ability to control dos Anjos in the clinch seemingly at will continued to stifle the offense of dos Anjos and keep the fight at Edwards pace. RDA was aggressive in the fifth but was not able to find that big strike or takedown to turn the fight in his favor. Edwards ended the fight in top position after once again bringing dos Anjos to the ground following an attempted flying knee. I scored this fight 50-45 Edwards.

WINNER: Leon Edwards by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)

This was a beautiful performance by Edwards against a game RDA. Edwards is now on an 8-fight win streak. In his post-fight interview, Edwards called out Jorge Masvidal, which is a fight that makes sense, especially if Colby Covington beats Robbie Lawler in two weeks time.

The result of this fight moved this card into a 5-way tie for most decisions on a card in UFC history.