UFC Fight Night Report: Rob Font defeats Cody Garbrandt by decision

Eric Marcotte's review of UFC Fight Night where Rob Font earned a decision over Cody Garbrandt and Carla Esparza finished Xiaonan Yan.

Photo Courtesy: UFC

UFC Fight Night Report: Rob Font defeats Cody Garbrandt by decision

By: Eric Marcotte 

On Saturday night, the UFC returned to the Apex Facility in Las Vega, Nevada for their final Fight Night card of the month. The event was headlined by a bantamweight bout between the division’s former champion Cody Garbrandt, and the third-ranked Rob Font. Despite several periods of inactivity throughout the past three years, Font had given a great account of his abilities throughout his last few fights and moved into title contention after stopping Marlon Moraes last December. For Garbrandt, it was a rocky road back to the octagon, after spending a large part of this past year sidelined due to a torn bicep as well as a severe battle with COVID 19. In his last bout, he stopped Raphael Assuncao with a brutal knockout of the year candidate and was certainly looking to build on that momentum here against Font. In the co-main event, Yan Xiaonan faced Carla Esparza, in a fight that would likely secure the winner a strawweight title fight against Rose Namajunas.

Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card, alongside Paul Felder and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses went out to Bruno Silva and Carla Esparza. Fight of the Night honors was awarded to Justin Tafa and Jared Vanderaa.


*Damir Ismagulov def. Rafael Alves by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*David Dvorak def. Juancamilo Ronderos by rear-naked choke at 2:18 of Round 1

*Joshua Culibao def. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Bruno Silva def. Victor Rodriguez by KO at 1:00 of Round 1

*Court McGee def. Claudio Silva by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)

*Ben Rothwell def. Chris Barnett by GoGo choke at 2:07 of Round 2

*Jack Hermansson def. Edmen Shahbazyan by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

*Ricardo Ramos def. Bill Algeo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Norma Dumont def. Felicia Spencer by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30)

*Jared Vanderaa def. Justin Tafa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Carla Esparza def. Xiaonan Yan by TKO at 2:58 of Round 2

*Rob Font def. Cody Garbrandt by unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45, 50-45)


Alves danced his way to the octagon, dropped Ismagulov in seconds, and shot in for a guillotine. Ismagulov popped his head out and began to work from top position with four minutes remaining. Ismagulov started throwing hard body shots, and while he was mostly unable to improve his position, he controlled the remainder of the round from the guard of Alves. I gave the round to Ismagulov despite the quick start for Alves. 10-9 Ismagulov.

Ismagulov’s pace on the feet wasn’t overwhelming, but he was beginning to chip away at Alves in this second round, and he knocked him down with a left hand about halfway through the round. Alves recovered quickly, but he had increasingly less to offer Ismagulov was the round wore on. Alves attempted a takedown but ended up on his back, and Ismagulov began to work from his guard. 20-18 Ismagulov.

Alves went for a guillotine off of an Ismagulov takedown attempt and found himself working off of his back again. This time, he managed to scramble to his feet. As the round progressed, Alves went on the attack, looking for a much-needed finish, but Ismagulov changed levels to relieve the pressure. I thought Alves took this final round but scored the fight 29-28 for Ismagulov.

WINNER: Damir Ismagulov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Alves had his moments to open and close the fight, but by and large, this was a comfortable victory for Ismagulov. His striking looked sharp in the second round and took the first with his grappling. With his last win coming against Thiago Moises, Ismagulov has proven that he can compete against higher ranked lightweights, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him fight a ranked opponent in the near future. He is now 4-0 in the UFC, and is on an 18-fight win streak.


Ronderos took this fight on less than a day’s notice, missed weight by 2.5lbs, and was fined 20% of his purse.

Dvorak rocked Ronderos with a right hook, took him down, and sunk in a one-armed rear naked choke. Ronderos was forced to tap, and Dvorak picked up the quick submission victory.

WINNER: David Dvorak by rear-naked choke at 2:18 of Round 1

Again, Ronderos took this fight on very short notice, and this was probably the result that you would expect given the circumstances. Dvorak is now 3-0 in the UFC and is on a 16-fight win streak. Running back the originally scheduled fight against Raulian Paiva would be a sensible direction coming out of this.


Culibao defended an early takedown attempt from Nuerdanbieke, but Nuerdanbieke stuck with it, and eventually got him down near the cage. Culibao avoided dangerous positions, but was unable to create the separation he needed to escape. Culibao was finally able to break off with a minute remaining, and he flurried forward. He landed some good shots, but I didn’t think he landed enough to steal back the round. 10-9 Nuerdanbieke.

Culibao was looking comfortable on the feet, and he did a good job of defending Nuerdanbieke’s takedown attempts throughout the second round. Aside from a few looping right hands, Nuerdanbieke was having trouble finding his range with his strikes, and I felt as though this was a strong round from Culibao, who was pulling away with this fight through the differential in output. 19-19.

Culibao continued to control the fight on his feet, repeatedly tagging Nuerdanbieke with his right hand. Throughout the fight, he landed a large number of calf kicks as well, which were certainly having an effect by the final round. Nuerdanbieke did his best to drag Culibao to the ground, but Culibao never accepted bottom position, and there was no period of prolonged success for Nuerdanbieke against the cage. It appeared as though Culibao broke the nose of Nuerdanbieke late in the fight, and I thought he comfortably won this round. 29-28 Culibao.

WINNER: Joshua Culibao by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

This became a progressively more one-sided fight, with Culibao looking better and better as time wore on. Nuerdanbieke did not appear to have much to offer Culibao on the feet and was largely unable to take the fight to the ground. This was Culibao’s first win after starting his UFC run 0-1-1.

BRUNO SILVA (11-5-2, 1 NC, 125.5) VS VICTOR RODRIGUEZ (7-3, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Silva began the fight with a hard right hand and a knee to the head. Rodriguez looked hurt, and Silva loaded up with another right hand that put him away.

WINNER: Bruno Silva by KO at 1:00 of Round 1

Silva held up a sign asking for 75k after his win. This was another great performance from Silva just a couple of months after his last big finish. After an unremarkable start to his UFC run, he has looked like a dramatically different fighter in his last two appearances. Silva called out Rogério Bontorin in his post-fight interview.

COURT MCGEE (20-10, 170.5) VS CLAUDIO SILVA (14-2, 169.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

McGee changed levels and took Silva down a minute into the fight. Silva was able to make it back to his feet and went for a takedown of his own that was ultimately defended. McGee landed a pair of straight right hands and continued to stop Silva’s takedown attempts. Silva ended the round with a hard left hand. 10-9 McGee.

Silva continued to pursue the takedown, but McGee’s defense continued to hold up. McGee began to work from the guard of Silva and racked up a few minutes of control time. Silva went for a heel hook at one point, but Silva left himself in a rough position, with McGee throwing down some hard ground and pound. McGee attempted to transition to an arm triangle, but was unable to finish it before the end of the round. 20-17 McGee

Silva came out the gates aggressively, perhaps aware that he was in need of a finish. He was finding success, but he didn’t have a ton of gas left in the tank, and when he attempted a takedown (that McGee stuffed), it felt as though he had nothing left to offer. McGee was able to control the majority of the round, and I scored the fight 30-26 in his favor.

WINNER: Court McGee by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)

McGee had lost five of his last six fights going into this and was in desperate need of a win here. Silva had a bit of success in the third round, but this was a pretty dominant performance from the Ultimate Fighter (season 11) winner. After his loss to Carlos Condit, I wasn’t sure if we’d see McGee back in the UFC, but he did exactly what he needed to here to pick up the win. 


Both men landed some heavy hands in the opening minutes. Rothwell dug into the body as well and took Barnett down with a bodylock about halfway through the round (as Michael Bisping gave the audience his best Alistair Overeem impression). Rothwell had his back at one point, but Barnett escaped to his feet with seconds remaining in the round. 10-9 Rothwell.

Rothwell threw some heavy leg kicks early in the second. Barnett looked exhausted, but he was still swinging, and landing just as often as Rothwell was. Rothwell was the fighter landing the heavier shots however, and Barnett eventually shot for a desperation takedown. Rothwell caught him with a choke, and Barnett tapped out.

WINNER: Ben Rothwell by GoGo choke at 2:07 of Round 2

Barnett took this fight on short notice after both of Rothwell’s originally scheduled opponents pulled out. It was a fun fight while it lasted, but Rothwell had a huge advantage in size, as well as experience, and he got the job done in the second round when Barnett couldn’t take Rothwell’s blows any longer and shot for that single leg. Since returning in 2019, Rothwell has compiled a record of 3-3.


Shahbazyan worked his jab, and occasionally dug into the body throughout the first. Hermansson found success with his leg kicks but was having trouble getting the fight to the ground. Shahbazyan got increasingly comfortable as the fight progressed, and his power seemed to be a difference-maker whenever Hermansson attempted to step in. Hermansson continued to attack the lead leg, but he ate a great deal of shots up top in return, and this round belonged to Shahbazyan.

Hermansson pressured forward to begin the second round. He went after a single leg and put Shahbazyan down flat on his back. Shahbazyan escaped, but he attempted a guillotine as Hermansson went for another takedown, which allowed Hermansson to bring things back to his comfort zone. Late in the round, Shahbazyan scrambled on top and maintained it for the remainder of a close round. 19-19.

Shahbazyan landed a hard uppercut before Hermansson shot for an early takedown. Hermansson was successful and began to work from half guard. Hermansson controlled the entirety of the round on the ground, landing some heavy ground and pound in the final minute. While he didn’t finish Shahbazyan, this was a one-sided round, and I scored the fight 29-27 for Hermansson.

WINNER: Jack Hermansson by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

Shahbazyan looked sharp early, but the momentum of the fight changed as Hermansson was able to get it to the ground. After losing his last fight to Marvin Vettori, this was a great win for Hermansson, who will soon look to reinsert himself among the middleweight contenders. Shahbazyan still has a ton of potential, but these last two fights have definitely shown some holes in his game right now. Hermansson called out Robert Whittaker in his post-fight interview.


Ramos jumped on the back of Algeo and attempted a rear-naked choke. Algeo was able to shake him off but ate a hard uppercut not long after. Algeo connected with a spinning back kick to the body. Ramos was able to take Algeo to the ground and attempted to take his back again. Algeo shook him off, but was taken down once more before time expired. 10-9 Ramos.

Algeo went for a flying knee in the second round that resulted in him being taken back down. Ramos attempted a choke as Algeo picked himself up, but was unsuccessful. Ramos was slowing down, and Algeo was having more success stopping his takedowns as the fight progressed. I narrowly gave this round to Algeo, who had a slightly higher output while largely keeping the fight off of the ground. 19-19.

Even pace throughout the first half of the final round. It felt as though either fighter was one big moment away from taking the round. Algeo continued to defend Ramos’s attempts to take things to the ground, and when Ramos was finally successful, he quickly picked himself back up. This was a very tough round to score, but I narrowly gave the edge to Algeo. 29-28 Algeo.

WINNER: Ricardo Ramos by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

I scored the fight for Algeo, but it was close enough that I took no issues with the judge’s decision here. The difference-maker seemed to be the takedowns, with Ramos recording eight of them throughout the fight. I didn’t give Ramos as much credit for those takedowns, as Algeo quickly returned to his feet each time, but I understand the mentality. With this win, Ramos improved to 6-2 in the UFC.


Slow start to this fight. Both fighters were often just out of range with their strikes. With a minute remaining in the round, Spencer finally committed to a takedown attempt, but Dumont was able to shake her off. It was tough to gauge who landed more throughout the round, but Dumont landed some decent leg kicks and counters, and I gave her the round. 10-9 Dumont.

Dumont was able to find her range as Spencer marched forward in the second round. Spencer returned fire throughout the round, but it felt as though Dumont had better hands, and as she got more confident, she began to pull ahead in this fight. Spencer pushed the pace, but I thought Dumont took the round. 20-18 Dumont.

Dumont was able to take Spencer down about a minute into the first. She let her back up after about a minute, presumably confident in her abilities on the feet. Spencer pressed Dumont against the cage and landed some solid elbows. She took Dumont down and controlled the final minutes of the round. 29-28 Dumont on my scorecard.

WINNER: Norma Dumont by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30)

It was a close fight, but I agreed with the decision. Dumont looked good at 145lbs but didn’t seem to have much interest in sticking around at featherweight in her post-fight interview. One has to wonder what’s next for the UFC’s Women’s Featherweight division, which seems to be nearing the end of its lifespan. Dumont improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win.

Paul Felder announced his retirement from Mixed Martial Arts after this fight. Felder has competed in the UFC since 2014, spending a great deal of that time as a ranked competitor. He was an entertaining fighter every time he stepped into the cage and recorded notable wins against the likes of Edson Barboza and Charles Oliveira. He last fought in November of 2020, where he lost to Rafael dos Anjos and retires with a professional record of 17-6.


They exchanged leg kicks to begin this fight. Tafa was throwing some heavy punches to the head and body, as Michael Bisping repeatedly stated how composed he looks. Vanderaa caught him with a knee to the head, as well as a counter hook. Vanderaa began to pull ahead on the feet as the round progressed, and I thought this was a clear round in his favour. 10-9 Vanderaa.

Vanderaa continued to be the more active fighter, chipping away at Tafa with his kicks. They began to brawl wildly two minutes into the round, and Vanderaa was cut open badly on the side of his head in the exchange. Vanderaa was just covered in blood, and this was the type of cut that had the referee thinking about bringing the doctor in. That didn’t happen, however, and the fight continued. Vanderaa attempted to flurry forwards to end the fight multiple times, but Tafa’s chin held up, and he landed some big shots to end the round. 20-18 Vanderaa for me.

The final round was very close. Neither man fought with an overwhelming pace or had the other in any significant trouble, but they were landing bombs. Vanderaa was slightly busier on the feet, and it looked as though he was beginning to take over, but Tafa cracked him with an elbow, reopened that cut, and went back on the attack. As time began to wind down in the round, Tafa got caught by a low blow, and he took his time to recover for the final thirty seconds. They brawled wildly to end the round, with Vanderaa seemingly getting the better of these final exchanges. 30-27 Vanderaa.

WINNER: Jared Vanderaa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

This was a hard-hitting, bloody fight. Both of these fighters showcased some strong chins, and it’s hard to believe this one went the distance. I was impressed with Vanderaa’s gas tank for a heavyweight, and this was a far more impressive showing then his performance in his UFC debut. He is now 1-1 in the UFC.


It took seconds for Esparza to take this fight to the ground. She transitioned to side control, but ate a trio of elbows from the bottom. Esparza did not give up the position, however, and Yan was unable to improve her position. Esparza began to drop some elbows of her own later in the round before she attempted an armbar. She was unsuccessful but definitely won this round, cutting Yan open with some late elbows. 10-8 Esparza.

Yan’s cut was still leaking as the second round began. Esparza caught a kick and took Yan right back down. She moved into the crucifix position, and began throwing down some vicious ground and pound. Yan was a bloody mess, and the fight was eventually stopped.

WINNER: Carla Esparza by TKO at 2:58 of Round 2

Esparza has been in the UFC since the strawweight division was introduced, and with the possible exception of her title win against Namajunas, this was the best performance of Esparza’s entire UFC run. She dominated this fight and likely earned herself a title shot as a result. She has won her last five fights, and holds that aforementioned win against Rose Namajunas. She called for it in her post-fight interview, and I do think that is the direction in which the UFC will likely go next.


Garbrandt landed some strong kicks in the opening minute. A right hand from Font wobbled Garbrandt, but he recovered quickly. After a brief scramble, Garbrandt landed a head kick as Font picked himself up. Font began to flurry forward, and Garbrandt changed levels to take him down. Font escaped and landed another hard right hand. Garbrandt changed levels yet again and secured a relatively easy takedown after getting tagged. Font picked him self up, and both men landed strong before the round ended. 10-9 Font.

Garbrandt began the second round with a quick takedown. Font attempted a kimura off of his back, which allowed him to get back to his feet. Font connected with a hard jab and defended Garbrandt’s next takedown attempt. He kept attacking with that jab, and occasionally mixed in that powerful right hand. Late in the round, Font landed a hard elbow as they broke from a clinch exchange, and he continued to pressure forward late in the round. 20-18 Font.

Font continued to get the better of their exchanges on the feet. Garbrandt’s best weapon offensively continued to be his lead leg kicks, but he wasn’t throwing them quite often enough. Both men defended takedown attempts, before separating with two minutes remaining. They exchanged jabs, and Garbrandt dropped his hands after Font went to the body. Garbrandt landed some strong counter hooks late in the round, but I thought this was another round for Rob Font. 30-27 Font.

Font began the fourth round strongly. He looked very confident on the feet and began to really dig into the body. Font was beginning to just tee off on Garbrandt as the round progressed, and partially landed a head kick as Garbrandt attempted to change levels. Garbrandt’s attempts at changing levels and securing a takedown were be coming increasingly labored, and this fight had quickly moved to non-competitive. 40-36 Font.

Garbrandt knew he was down, and began to fight far more aggressively than he did throughout the first four rounds. These opening minutes were far and away Garbrandt’s best moments of the fight, and he looked like an entirely different fighter here. Font eventually tagged him with a looping uppercut that backed Garbrandt up, and landed a pair of brutal right hands later in the round. 50-45 Font.

WINNER: Rob Font by unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45, 50-45)

One judge scored this fight 48-47, but I think the 50-45’s were more accurate here. Font controlled this fight with his jab and his apparent power advantage. He never fought recklessly even when Garbrandt appeared to be hurt, and avoided dangerous exchanges. Garbrandt seemed overwhelmed by Font’s power at points and was unable to get much consistent offense going for him until the final round where he let loose, in need of a finish. This was another excellent performance from Rob Font, and he is likely only a fight away from a title shot at his point. In his post fight interview, Font stated that a fight against the Dillashaw/Sandhagen winner would interest him, as well as a title fight.

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