UFC Fight Night Report: Edwards and Muhammad ends in no-contest due to eye poke

Eric Marcotte reviews Saturday's card where the main event between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad ended in a no-contest due to an eye poke.

Photo Courtesy: UFC

UFC Fight Night Report: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad ends in No-Contest following nasty eye poke

The UFC ran their first Fight Night card of the month at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night. The event was originally set to be headlined by a fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev, but Chimaev was forced to pull out of the fight due to the lingering effects of COVID-19, which marked the third time that this particular fight had been canceled due to COVID-19 complications. Edwards, who has not fought since July of 2019, insisted on staying on this card, and Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad was ultimately chosen to replace Chimaev in the main event slot. While Edwards came into this fight riding a near two-year streak of inactivity, Muhammad had just fought a few weeks prior, at UFC 258 in February, where he defeated Dhiego Lima. While Muhammad had won eight of his last nine fights, this marked a significant jump up in competition for him, and the biggest opportunity of his career thus far. For Edwards, a win against Muhammad would bring his current win streak to nine, and a rematch against Kamaru Usman (the last man to beat him), would be within reach.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses was awarded to Matthew Semelsberger, Davey Grant, Ryan Spann, and Dan Ige.


*Matthew Semelsberger def. Jason Witt by KO at 0:16 of Round 1

*Jinh Yu Frey def. Gloria De Paula by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*J.J. Aldrich def. Cortney Casey by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Nasrat Haqparast def. Rafa Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

*Rani Yahya def. Ray Rodriguez by arm triangle at 3:09 of Round 2

*Charles Jourdain def. Marcelo Rojo by TKO at 4:31 of Round 3

*Angela Hill def. Ashley Yoder by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart resulted in a no-contest due to an illegal knee at 4:37 of Round 1

*Matheus Nicolau def. Manel Kape by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Davey Grant def. Jonathon Martinez by KO at 3:03 of Round 2

*Dan Ige def. Gavin Tucker by KO at 0:22 of Round 1

*Ryan Spann def. Misha Cirkunov by TKO at 1:11 of Round 1

*Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad resulted in a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke at 0:18 of Round 2


Seconds into the fight, Semelsberger landed a straight right hand just as Witt threw a leg kick, and Semelsberger knocked Witt unconscious with his first punch of the night.

WINNER: Matthew Semelsberger by KO at 0:16 of Round 1

The second Semelsberger landed that right hand, Witt’s body went stiff, and you knew the fight was over. This was a great highlight knockout for Semelsberger, and he improved to 2-0 in the UFC with this win. Semelsberger has finished six of his eight wins and is currently riding a five-fight win streak.


Frey took De Paula down quickly and began to work from her guard. She transitioned to De Paula’s back but lost it before returning to De Paula’s guard. While Frey did not do much damage or threaten many submissions, she spent the entirety of the round on top, and it was impossible not to give her the round. 10-9 Frey.

De Paula began the second round with a number of kicks and then surprised Frey with a solid left hand. Frey was having difficulty getting anything going on the feet, and this was a much stronger round for De Paula. De Paula landed a few significant knees to the body from the clinch. Frey went for a takedown late in the round, but De Paula showcased some impressive balance and defended the takedown. 19-19.

Frey’s coach stressed the importance of bringing the fight back to the ground, and that’s exactly what she did to begin the third round. De Paula attempted a kimura from her back, but she didn’t have the position for it, and it allowed Frey to transition to her back. She threatened a rear-naked choke, but De Paula defended her attempts, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Frey.

WINNER: Jinh Yu Frey by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

There seemed to be a lot of discussion regarding the utilization of 10-8 rounds coming out of this fight. Daniel Cormier suggested that rounds 1 and 3 could very well be 10-8 rounds in favor of Frey, and while I didn’t give out any 10-8’s myself, I didn’t think that was a crazy conclusion from Cormier either. De Paulo had almost no offensive output throughout those rounds, and it cost her. As for Jinh Yu Frey, she desperately needed a win after two consecutive losses to begin her UFC run, and she pulled it off here. She will need to improve her striking game to compete with the higher-level strawweights.

CORTNEY CASEY (9-8, 126) VS J.J. ALDRICH (8-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Aldrich landed a right hand in the opening minute that caught Casey off balance. She shot for a takedown moments later, but Casey’s takedown defense held up. Both fighters traded shots in the clinch, and Casey started to unload with some really strong knees and right hands before they separated. Aldrich was successful on her next takedown attempt, but it was Casey who was the busier fighter (off of her back) during their brief exchange on the ground. She quickly got up, and went right back on the attack. Aldrich ended the round with one last takedown. 10-9 Casey.

Casey began the second round aggressively but was taken down again after partially landing a head kick. Casey was not able to return to her feet as easily as she was in the first, and Aldrich racked up a solid amount of control time. Late in the round, Casey finally escaped from the bottom but was not as aggressive upon making it back to her feet, and I thought Aldrich took the second round. 19-19.

Casey was able to get the momentum back on her side in the third round, as she returned to her more aggressive style of attack. This was a competitive round, and while Aldrich landed more, Casey’s strikes felt as though they were, by and large, more impactful. Aldrich did secure a takedown in the third round but wasn’t able to do much with it. I scored the round, as well as the fight, for Cortney Casey.

WINNER: J.J. Aldrich by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

I was pretty shocked by the decision here. Casey looked like she had Aldrich hurt a few times in that last round, but I suppose the activity and the takedown may have weighed heavily in the judge’s eyes. This was a tough loss for Casey, who I thought won this fight, looked as impressive as she ever has, and still didn’t get her hand raised. Regardless, J.J. Aldrich is now a solid 5-3 in the UFC with this win.


Both fighters were throwing heavy shots early. Garcia landed a hard right hand and shot for a takedown that Haqparast defended. Garcia wobbled Haqparast with another overhand right later in the round, but he didn’t capitalize on the moment. Haqparast was slightly more active on the feet throughout the round, and he managed to keep the fight away from Garcia’s comfort zone. Still, I really thought Garcia landed the strongest shots in the first, and I narrowly gave him. 10-9 Garcia.

Haqparast was more active to begin the second round. To his credit, Garcia was game, and continued to press forward and lard hard shots. Haqparast caught Garcia with a looping right hand, and the momentum felt as though it was shifting in his favor as he attacked the body. His body kicks were a huge factor throughout this round, and Garcia was not responding well to them as the fight progressed. 19-19.

Haqparast landed another hard body kick early in the third round. A heavy right hand, and multiple uppercuts connected for him, yet Garcia remained on his feet. Garcia had really slowed down by this point in the fight, and he was walking into a lot of Haqparast’s offense. Garcia was hurt, but he made it to the end of the round, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Haqparast for me.

WINNER: Nasrat Haqparast by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

This was a fun, hard-hitting fight. Garcia held his own against a talented striker and gave a good account of himself, but ultimately, he just couldn’t keep up with Haqparast for three rounds. I’m a big fan of Haqparast, and I’d love to see him get another shot against a 20-15 ranked lightweight fighter in his next bout. Haqparast is 5-2 in the UFC.

RANI YAHYA (26-10-1, 1 NC, 136) VS RAY RODRIGUEZ (16-7, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Yahya wasted no time in hunting for a takedown. He was successful and put Rodriguez on his back near the cage. Yahya was working from half-guard, but Rodriguez did a good job of keeping him from advancing. Yahya spent the entirety of the round on top, but I didn’t think he did quite enough to earn a 10-8 round. Still, there was no question who took the opening five minutes.

Unsurprisingly, Yahya employed the same strategy in the second round, taking Rodriguez back to the ground within a minute. Yahya made the same movements on the ground that he did in the first round, and this time, it led him right to the submission he was looking for. Yahya threatened an arm triangle repeatedly throughout the fight, and he ultimately found it about halfway through the second round, forcing Rodriguez to submit.

WINNER: Rani Yahya by arm triangle at 3:09 of Round 2

Yahya has been submitting people for a very long time, and he’s still getting it done after all these years. He was in his element for nearly the entirety of this fight, and it did not come as a surprise when Yahya eventually secured the finish. Yahya has gone 3-1-1 throughout his last three fights and remains a solid competitor in the talent stacked bantamweight division.


Rojo got an early takedown, but Jourdain popped right back up. Jourdain landed a left hand, and Rojo responded with a knee up the middle. Jourdain was throwing out a very high output of head kicks, but Rojo was doing a good job of keeping his hands up and avoiding the majority of them. Jourdain landed a solid left hand and followed it up with a flurry of body shots in the clinch. 10-9 Jourdain.

Rojo was very busy to begin the second round. Jourdain slowed him down a bit with a right hand. While it was Jourdain who attacked the body earlier in the fight, it was Rojo who blitzed forward with some beautiful hooks to the body in the second round, hurting Jourdain near the cage. Rojo attacked Jourdain’s lead leg as well, and it was beginning to bother him by the end of the round. Right before time expired, Jourdain connected with a knee that hurt Rojo, and he followed it up with some solid shots as well before the round ended. Another close round, but I had the fight scored 19-19 heading into the third.

Jourdain landed a pair of strong left hands in the opening minute of the third. He proceeded to drop Rojo with a massive straight left, and Jourdain followed him to the ground in an attempt to finish the fight. At one point, he did something that the commentators named “the showtime ground and pound” when Jourdain jumped off the cage to punch the grounded Rojo in the face. He was really putting a beating on Rojo with his ground and pound, but Rojo was staying alive, and Jourdain let him up. They immediately began trading heavy hands upon returning to their feet, and with thirty seconds left in the round, Rojo just collapsed from a body shot that Jourdain landed on him against the cage, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Charles Jourdain by TKO at 4:31 of Round 3

Going into this card, this was the fight I was looking forward to most, and it delivered. Rojo looked excellent and had Jourdain in trouble a few times, but the third round was the difference-maker, as Jourdain took over the fight late. Rojo typically fights at bantamweight, and I’d love to see him fighting at his natural weight class in his next bout. As for Jourdain, he has delivered every time he has stepped foot inside the UFC octagon, win, lose or draw. He is now 2-2-1 in the UFC, and he has finished all of his professional wins.


Hill was getting the better of their early exchanges on the feet but was unsuccessful in her attempts to bring the fight to the ground. Still, she racked up a solid amount of control time against the cage and continued to control the fight on the feet once they separated. Hill landed a trio of overhand rights near the end of the round that snapped Yoder’s head back, and Hill ended the round with a successful takedown. This round was all Hill.

Hill continued to be the aggressor in the second round, and her right hand was giving Yoder a ton of problems. Yoder had absolutely no offense that was threatening to Hill, and things were not looking great for Yoder by the mid-way point of the second round. Hill repeatedly attacked the legs and body, and a big knee to the body hurt Yoder towards the end of the round. Yoder looked like she was on the verge of being finished, but Yoder bought some life when she took an off-balance Hill down and rode out the remainder of the round on top (despite eating some sharp elbows). 20-17 Hill.

Yoder brought the fight back to the fence early in the third round, but Hill found herself in the controlling position quickly enough. Hill went back to the body, and it was clear that each body shot that landed was having an effect on Yoder. Hill started unloading with knees to the body against the cage, but Yoder tripped her to the ground and began to work from top control. Hill worked her way back to her feet with thirty seconds left in the round and ended the fight strongly. 30-26 Hill.

WINNER: Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Aside from Yoder’s brief control time from her takedowns, this was not a competitive fight. Angela Hill looked great here, and the improvements she has made to her game, as well as her experience against higher-level strawweight competition, really increased the discrepancy between their skillsets since their last fight in 2017 (also won by Hill). Despite her recent split decision losses to Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadelha, I don’t think there is any reason that Hill shouldn’t be matched up against another ranked fighter in her next appearance. 

The UFC began the main card portion of their broadcast with a graphic in memory of Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who passed away early today at the age of 66. Hagler was widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. He reigned as the Undisputed Middleweight Champion for nearly seven years, in which he defended his title 12 times. Hagler retired with a professional record of 62-3-2, with 52 knockouts.


Both fighters were swinging heavy hooks, and Stewart seemed to get the better of their early exchanges. Anders shot for a takedown, but Stewart defended his attempt. Anders stuck with it and tried to get Stewart down against the fence, but he still couldn’t get the fight where he wanted it. Eventually, he briefly let go and began to tee off on Stewart, and he hurt Stewart badly against the cage. Eventually, he dropped him with a left cross, and Anders just swarmed Stewart with follow-up shots. He looked like he was moments away from finishing the fight… and then Anders kneed the grounded Stewart in the head. The doctor was brought into the cage, and the fight was stopped.

Result: No contest due to an illegal knee at 4:37 of Round 1

I can’t believe we saw this outcome two weeks in a row. Anders was seconds away from winning this fight and threw it away with that illegal knee. The reason that this resulted in a no-contest instead of a disqualification was due to the round things ended in, as well as Herb Dean’s decision to declare it unintentional. Honestly, I don’t know exactly why Yan’s knee would be declared intentional, and Anders was not, but perhaps it simply came down to the referee. Regardless, a tough result for Eryk Anders.

MANEL KAPE (15-5, 125.5) VS MATHEUS NICOLAU (15-3-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Nicolau began the fight with a heavy leg kick. Nicolau was doing a great job of working his way inside, landing his shot, and then moving out of range before Kape could counter. He took Kape down near the cage and began to work from his guard. Nicolau jumped for a guillotine, and Kape slipped out. Nicolau continued to attack the leg, and quickly took Kape back down to the ground. Nicolau landed some solid ground and pound shots before the round reached its conclusion. 10-9 Nicolau.

Kape caught Nicolau with a solid uppercut in the opening minute of the second, and he began to swarm Nicolau against the cage. Nicolau recovered, but Kape had really picked up his pace following the uppercut, and he was beginning to land some heavy shots. Nicolau was still landing counter hooks to keep Kape honest, but the momentum of the fight had certainly shifted. 19-19.

Kape defended a takedown attempt from Nicolau but ate another leg kick shortly thereafter. Nicolau was the busier fighter, and he seemed to understand that activity could be the difference-maker if Kape fought too hesitantly. Kape avoided a takedown and landed another uppercut. Kape connected with a strong knee late in the round, and I thought Kape’s output in the final minute secured the round for him. 29-28 Kape.

WINNER: Matheus Nicolau by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

I disagreed with the decision, but it was a close fight. I didn’t think it was quite as egregious as the Casey/Aldrich fight, but it was clear that the judges were on another page than myself tonight. Activity remains Kape’s greatest enemy because I can think of no other reason that two judges would not award him the third round. Still, Matheus Nicolau fought a good fight, and this was a great moment for him in his UFC return, after being cut from the promotion in 2018.


They exchanged kicks to begin the fight. It was tough to say who was getting the better of their early exchanges, but both men were landing some really solid kicks to the legs and body in this first round. Late in the round, Martinez pulled ahead, and he dropped Grant hard with a left hook, landing two powerful follow-up shots right before time expired.

Grant put the pressure on early in the second round, clearly trying to make up ground after the knockdown at the end of the first. Grant’s activity was overwhelming Martinez, and just as Martinez started to make up some ground, Davey Grant landed a huge left hook of his own that put Martinez down hard, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Davey Grant by KO at 3:03 of Round 2

A few years ago, injuries and inactivity felt as though they were going to get the better of Grant’s UFC run, but he has rebounded as of late, with three fights (and three wins) since 2019. In his post-fight interview, he expressed his desire to remain active, which would definitely be the best thing for him. With back-to-back knockouts, it would not be hyperbole to say that Grant is currently riding the hottest streak of momentum that he’s gathered to this point into his UFC tenure.

DAN IGE (14-3, 145.5) VS GAVIN TUCKER (13-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT

In the first exchange of the fight, Ige landed a right hand, and Tucker went down hard.

WINNER: Dan Ige by KO at 0:22 of Round 1

In one of the funniest commentary moments in recent memory, Daniel Cormier had erased the first twenty seconds of the fight from his mind, and he had convinced himself that was just saw the fastest finish in UFC history. I certainly didn’t see this fight ending in twenty seconds, but this was a statement win for Dan Ige, who showed that despite losing his last fight to Calvin Kattar, Ige is very much deserving of his ranking in the division. In his post-fight interview, Dan Ige called out The Korean Zombie, which would be an excellent fight.


Cirkunov began the fight with a strong jab but followed it up with a kick that landed low, and the action was quickly paused. When the fight resumed, Spann dropped Cirkunov hard with a straight right hand and allowed the hurt Cirkunov to return to his feet.  Spann proceeded to swarm him with strikes until Cirkunov went down yet again, and this time Spann followed him down and finished the fight.

WINNER: Ryan Spann by TKO at 1:11 of Round 1

A few years ago, I would have told you that Misha Cirkunov was the future of the Light Heavyweight division. Things have not gone that way for Cirkunov, who has now been knocked out in the first round four times throughout his last six fights. As for Ryan Spann, this was the biggest win of his career thus far, and he did it in spectacular fashion. Spann is now 5-1 in the UFC, and he called out the winner of Anthony Smith/Jimmy Crute in his post-fight interview.


The fighters refused to touch gloves to begin the fight.

Edwards began the fight with a kick to the body, as well as a solid 1-2. Edwards threw a strong head kick that wobbled Muhammad, and he went for a takedown not long thereafter, in which Muhammad defended. Muhammad was bleeding from the side of his head following the head kick. Edwards connected with another 1-2, and Muhammad defended one more takedown to end the round. 10-9 Edwards.

Seconds into the next round, Edwards caught Muhammad in the eye with a finger, and he went down to the ground, screaming in pain. Muhammad was crying, and it was pretty clear that this fight was going to be stopped. His eye was in bad shape, and the fight was declared a no contest.

RESULT: No contest due to an accidental eye poke at 0:18 of Round 2

This was a very unfortunate ending. Both Muhammad and Edwards seemed devastated by the finish, and understandably so. For Edwards, this fight marked his big comeback after a long layoff, and he looked as sharp as ever in the opening round. For Muhammad, this marked the big opportunity that had alluded him throughout his UFC run, and to have it end the way it did, would be understandably heartbreaking. What I can say in regards to the main event, is that Leon Edwards looked as though he hadn’t skipped a beat from his last fight, and he remains a top-five welterweight in the world. Unfortunately, the result of this fight likely won’t lead him to the title shot that was promised to him with a win.

About Eric Marcotte 189 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.