Welcome to our coverage of UFC 241 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California featuring the rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title.
We will have a UFC 241 POST Show late tonight as Phil Chertok joins me for a full rundown of the event.
*Sabina Mazo def. Shana Dobson by unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-25)
*Kyung Ho Kang def. Brandon Davis by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Hannah Cifers def. Jodie Esquibel by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27)
*Casey Kenney def. Manny Bermudez by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Drakkar Klose def. Christos Giagos by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Cory Sandhagen def. Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Khama Worthy def. Devonte Smith by TKO at 4:15 of Round 1
*Derek Brunson def. Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Sodiq Yusuff def. Gabriel Benitez by TKO at 4:14 of Round 1
*Paulo Costa def. Yoel Romero by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Nate Diaz def. Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Stipe Miocic def. Daniel Cormier by TKO at 4:09 of Round 4 to win the UFC heavyweight title
SABINA MAZO (6-1, 126) VS SHANA DOBSON (3-2, 124.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Dobson has been out since last April and is training partners with Sodiq Yusuff, who is competing on the main card tonight. Mazo is coming off her first pro loss to Marya Moroz earlier this year.
Mazo overwhelmed Dobson in the first round. She landed a left kick to the body that affected Dobson and set her up for a takedown. Mazo worked on top with elbows and body strikes for most of the round. After a second takedown, she moved to mount and ended the round striking. I scored it 10-8 for Mazo.
The second round was more conservative with a battle inside the Thai clinch until Mazo scored a takedown. Mazo secured half-guard with Dobson working back up and absorbing a knee as she did. Dobson connected with a right hand at the end and was her best strike, so far. It was another round for Mazo and up 20-17 on my card.
The third saw more domination from Mazo after landing another body shot and attacking inside the clinch. Mazo lit her up with repeated knees from the Thai clinch and took Dobson down. After three rounds, I scored it 30-25 for Mazo with another 10-8 round in the third.
WINNER: Sabina Mazo by unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-25)
Mazo bounces back after her lone loss to Maryna Moroz and improved to 7-1. It’s a thin division within the women’s flyweight division so it isn’t a long road for perennial contenders but it’s a steep jump up fight Valentina Shevchenko.
KYUNG HO KANG (15-8, 136) VS BRANDON DAVIS (10-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
It was brought up how Davis runs 20 miles per day and was immediately criticized by Cruz, who questioned how it affects the rest of his training with the time and recovery from so much running.
In the first, Davis is attacking with numerous leg and calf kicks while Kang is piling up jabs. Kang dropped him with a right hand and went for the back. He briefly got the mount and ended in half-guard. It was 10-9 for Kang.
In the second, Kang shot in and Davis went to roll and ended up underneath. Davis landed a big up kick and reversed Kang. On their feet, Kang connected and dropped Davis’ mouthpiece, but Davis was hitting plenty of calf kicks and landed some big shots at the end to even the fight after two rounds.
Davis slipped in the third round and ended up in side control, which referee George Allen stood them up from, which drew the ire of Joe Rogan. Kang wasn’t phased and secured two more takedowns in the round and easily won the round and I have it 29-28 for Kang.
WINNER: Kyung Ho Kang by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This felt like a fairly easy fight to score for Kang, who won the first and third rounds. Kang was the favorite coming into the fight and it’s his second win in a row, building off his victory over Teruto Ishihara earlier this year.
HANNAH CIFERS (9-3, 114.5) VS JODIE ESQUIBEL (6-5, 116) – STRAWWEIGHT
The first round saw Cifers connect with a body kick and right-hand combination while Esquibel threw some head kicks but was getting hit with counters. It was a close round that I scored for Cifers.
Cifers attacked the lead left leg with several big ones landing. Esquibel got a takedown and they were stood up with Cifers in her guard. Cifers got her own takedown and went for a pair of submissions, including an omaplata that Esquibel rolled out from.
In the third, they were tentative until the mid-way point when Esquibel got a takedown and worked inside her guard until referee Jason Herzog stood them up. Cifers landed a few shots and was taken down at the end but did reverse Esquibel. I scored the last round for Esquibel and had it 29-28 for Cifers.
WINNER: Hannah Cifers by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27)
There was a 10-10 round for one judge. This was Cifers’ second win in the UFC following her win over Polyana Viana this past March. For Esquibel, this was her fourth straight loss in the UFC.
MANNY BERMUDEZ (14-0, 140) VS CASEY KENNEY (12-1-1, 139) –140 POUND CATCHWEIGHT
Kenny is a former LFA flyweight and bantamweight champion and made his UFC debut with a win over Ray Borg this past March. Bermudez is undefeated and has three wins inside the UFC.
Bermudez started the round off well with Kenney walking into a left hand. Bermudez followed with a body lock takedown. On their feet, Kenney got the takedown and worked into side control landing a left and right hand at the round ended. 10-9 for Kenney.
The second round was a story of each having positional control and losing it. Bermudez attempted an inverted triangle and lost as he found himself on the bottom. Kenney worked for a choke from side control but was at a bad angle that wasn’t going to get it. Each got control of the other’s back but lost the position. Kenney had better moments, control time, and landed some notable hammer fists to win the round.
Bermudez won the third round after reversing off a trip takedown and settling into half-guard. He threatened with a guillotine from the position and lost it. He briefly mounted Kenney and snuck in strikes at the end. I scored it 29-28 for Kenney.
WINNER: Casey Kenney by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Kenney fought a smart fight and showed great grappling technique while giving up a lot of size to Bermudez. He brought up the size in the post-fight interview stating he’s a bantamweight and Bermudez is a featherweight. This was a great win for Kenney.
DRAKKAR KLOSE (10-1-1, 155.5) VS CHRISTOS GIAGOS (17-7, 155) LIGHTWEIGHT
Both are coming off a pair of wins.
The early portion was clinch battle with Giagos the aggressor. He worked a combination and stance switch to surprise Klose and then move his attack to his body and legs. Klose landed his best shot at the end of the round with a right hand. It was still a 10-9 round for Giagos.
The second was a great round, Giagos had a pair of takedowns and attempted a rear-naked choke that Klose survived. They got to their feet and Giagos was exhausted, he ate numerous uppercuts and was tripped with a big kick. Klose spent the rest of the round in side control, cut open Giagos with an elbow and won the round.
The third round was nuts as each was exhausted but threw everything they had. Klose was getting the best of the exchange early, including a right hand and follow up jab. The highlight was Klose lifting Giagos, pausing and slamming him to the mat. Giagos still got up and kept throwing. This was the best fight of the card, so far.
WINNER: Drakkar Klose by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Klose said he wants to fight Gregor Gillespie at Madison Square Garden in November. He said the rear-naked choke in the second round was not close. This was Klose’s third straight win after decisions over Lando Vannata and Bobby Green.
RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO (27-6, 136) VS CORY SANDHAGEN (11-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Sandhagen has won his last six fights, including four in the UFC and came into the fight as the betting favorite. Assuncao had his four-fight win streak snapped in his last outing against Marlon Moraes.
Sandhagen had a smart opening round where he constantly snuck in his strikes to the body. He utilized lots of feints and led to a right hand that set up a flying knee. Sandhagen won the opening round.
The second round was tough to score as so much was scrambling for positional control. Sandhagen landed a leg kick and got Assuncao’s back but lost a kimura. Assuncao landed numerous strikes, which was the most significant damage in the round. They battled for position the rest of the round. I have it even at 19-19.
Sandhagen won the final round with his varied offense and striking from distance, per the advice of his corner. Assuncao hit a beautiful slam but Sandhagen popped up instantly.
WINNER: Cory Sandhagen by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Sandhagen will move up considerably in the rankings defeating Assuncao and improves to 12-1.
KHAMA WORTHY (14-6, 155.5) VS DEVONTE SMITH (10-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Worthy is the third opponent for Smith, who was previously scheduled to fight John Makdessi and Clay Collard on this show. Worthy took the fight this past week against Smith, who he has trained with in the past and were good friends.
They were tentative when the fight started, they traded low leg kicks and the audience booed when they high-fived in the center. Smith threw and was hit with a left counter hook that stunned him and he went down and was finished.
WINNER: Khama Worthy by TKO at 4:15 of Round 1
Worthy was the biggest underdog on the card and took this fight in six-days’ notice. He had just fought three-weeks ago and this was his fourth fight of 2019. Worthy praised Smith after the fight.
DEREK BRUNSON (19-7, 186) VS IAN HEINISCH (13-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Heinisch started the fight with a sprint, landing a head kick that Brunson withstood after grabbing hold of Heinisch. Brunson was relaxed and absorbed a big body kick and yet responded with a left hand. Heinisch showed great balance to avoid Brunson’s takedowns. Heinisch won the first round 10-9.
It was a reversal in the second round as Heinisch slowed and Brunson remained composed but aggressive. Brunson landed numerous left hands and forced Heinisch to shoot in. Brunson briefly had his back and ended the round by stuffing a takedown and connecting with several more left hands. 19-19 after two rounds.
It was close in the third round, but Brunson controlled it with his pace, conditioning and left hands that added up. This was a smart fight strategy from Brunson, and he looked great in the final two rounds to win the fight.
WINNER: Derek Brunson by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Brunson improves to 20-7 and it’s his second win in a row and his second camp under Henri Hooft.
GABRIEL BENITEZ (21-6, 146) VS SODIQ YUSUFF (9-1, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
This was great while it lasted. Yusuff came out landing several huge rights and cut Benitez above the left eye while Benitez tried to stop his momentum with the body and leg kicks. Benitez had quick hands and rocked Yusuff, but he recovered. Benitez threw with a left, Yusuff backed up and nailed him with a counter right hand and Benitez went down and was finished with follow up shots.
WINNER: Sodiq Yusuff by TKO at 4:14 of Round 1
It was Yusuff’s fifth straight win and is now 3-0 in the UFC as he emerges within the UFC’s featherweight mix. This was a short and excellent fight.
YOEL ROMERO (13-3, 184.5) VS PAULO COSTA (12-0, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
This was one of the best fights of 2019 and the first round was among the best in UFC history.
In the first round, Romero was clipped and went down, popped up and dropped Costa and that set the temp. Romero was against the fence and eating right hands and combos to the head and body. Romero came off the fence with a flying knee and Costa came back and accidentally hit a knee low, which allowed the two to recover. Costa ended the round with body shots and a spinning wheel kick. Costa won the round and it was phenomenal.
In the second, they were feeling the effects but did fight a hard round. Costa unloaded on Romero against the cage as Romero tried to get off the fence. Costa hit a big overhand right and then went back to the body. Romero hit an uppercut and scored a takedown at the end. I had it 20-18 for Costa.
Romero had a huge round in the third and was throwing lots of strikes. Costa kept going to the body and was throwing right hands. Romero received his second wind and nailed Costa with a back fist among the plethora of punches that connected. Romero poked him in the eye and was warned. Romero’s shots piled up and he went for a takedown at the end, which Costa used an underhook to get up from. I had it 29-28 for Costa.
WINNER: Paulo Costa by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
It was Costa’s fifth win in the UFC following stoppages against Johny Hendricks and Uriah Hall in his last two. He wants to fight the winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya, who fight in October at UFC 243 for the middleweight title.
ANTHONY PETTIS (22-8, 169.5) VS NATE DIAZ (19-11, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
It is Diaz’s first fight since the rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 202 in August 2016. It’s the second fight for Pettis at welterweight after stopping Stephen Thompson in his last fight.
This was the Nate Diaz show. Pettis had a great start in the first round as he fought off the cage and landed to the head and body. He worked at a distance, which Diaz tried to eliminate. It flipped when Diaz got the takedown and pops out from a guillotine to control Pettis’ back and got the mount. Diaz turned it around in the final half and took the first round.
In the second, Pettis injured his ankle after checking a kick and wobbled from it. Diaz was dealing with his eye and the referee stopped the fight to check on it. Diaz took the back of Pettis and got him down. On their feet, Diaz landed big knees and elbows as he unloaded on Pettis. It was a huge end to the round for the Diaz, who was up 20-18.
Diaz kept the pace in the third round with nonstop punches as he put Pettis against the cage. Diaz landed huge knees from the clinch and it looked like he would stop him. Diaz went to the back and Pettis reversed on top. Diaz landed elbows from the bottom, got his back again and they scrambled throughout the final minute.
Diaz wins the fight 30-27 on my card, it was an excellent fight.
WINNER: Nate Diaz by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Diaz said he wants to fight Jorge Masvidal, they are the only gangsters in the UFC, and he had a nice win (over Ben Askren). He added that the reason he was gone was that “everyone sucks”. This guy was a megastar in the building.
DANIEL CORMIER (22-1, 1 NC, 236.5) VS STIPE MIOCIC (18-3, 230.5) – UFC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Cormier and Miocic traded leg kicks at the start and Cormier faked for the takedown and then threw a left hook to try and trick Miocic. Cormier lifted Miocic and slammed him down and went to half-guard, he controlled Miocic in the top position for the round and ended with hammer fists and elbows to win the round.
In the second, they went to war with their striking. Miocic was jabbing but Cormier reacted well and had no concern for counters as landed huge blows and they traded power shots. Cormier just goes nonstop and landed a head kick at the end.
In the third, Cormier is using the jab heavily and Miocic clinches and is having more success with the striking. It was Miocic who used underhooks to get a brief takedown and Cormier popped up. The tide turned and Cormier picked up the intensity with big combinations and Miocic was tiring. I have Cormier ahead 30-27 after three rounds.
Miocic came into the fourth round with a new game plan of repeated left hooks to the body, and it was successful. Miocic landed numerous body shots, the final one visibility affected Cormier and Miocic attacked with strikes and put him down against the cage for the stoppage.
WINNER: Stipe Miocic by TKO at 4:09 of Round 4 to win the UFC heavyweight title