The UFC held their final Fight Night card of August at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was headlined by a bout between two of the featherweight divisions most exciting strikers, Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze. Chikadze has complied a record of 6-0 since joining the UFC, and he cemented his status as a contender on the rise in his last appearance, where he stopped Cub Swanson in the first round. For Barboza, the long time UFC veteran has injected new life into his career with his move to featherweight, and a win over Chikadze would move him one step closer to championship contention. Also featured on this card were the finals matchups for the 29th season of the Ultimate Fighter, with Bryan Battle facing Gilbert Urbina at middleweight (with Urbina moving into the finals following the withdrawal of expected finalist Tresean Gore), and Ricky Turcios facing Brady Hiestand at bantamweight.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses went out to Pat Sabatini, Gerald Meerschaert, Giga Chikadze, and Abdul Razak Alhassan.
*Leomana Martinez def. Guido Cannetti by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Pat Sabatini def. Jamall Emmers by heel hook at 1:53 of Round 1
*J. J. Aldrich def. Vanessa Demopoulos by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Dustin Jacoby def. Darren Stewart by TKO at 3:04 of Round 1
*Wellington Turman def. Sam Alvey by split decision (28-27, 28-27, 27-28)
*Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Alessio Di Chirico by KO at 0:17 of Round 1
*Gerald Meerschaert def. Makhmud Muradov by rear naked choke at 1:49 of Round 2
*Andre Petroski def. Micheal Gillmore by TKO at 3:12 of Round 3
*Daniel Rodriguez def. Kevin Lee by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Ricky Turcios def. Brady Hiestand by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in The Ultimate Fighter 29 Bantamweight tournament finale
*Bryan Battle def. Gilbert Urbina by rear naked choke at 2:15 of Round 2 in The Ultimate Fighter 29 Middleweight tournament finale
*Giga Chikadze def. Edson Barboza by TKO at 1:44 of Round 3
GUIDO CANNETTI (8-5, 135.5) VS LEOMANA MARTINEZ (8-2, 140) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Martinez missed weight by 4lbs, and was fined a percentage of his purse.
Cannetti threw a few powerful kicks in the opening minute, while being warned repeatedly about his outstretched fingers. Martinez began to unload on Cannetti against the cage with a lengthy combination of strikes to the head and body, before shooting for a takedown that ultimately resulted in Cannetti taking top position. Martinez got back to his feet, but was cut open underneath his left eye in the process. Cannetti threw another heavy kick to the body near the end of the round. 10-9 Cannetti.
They brawled throughout the start of round two. Both men landed leg kicks, and Cannetti connected with a looping left hand to the body. Cannetti was doing a ton of damage to the lead leg of Martinez, but Martinez seemed unphased. He pressured forward, and whenever Martinez committed to his attack, he was tagging Cannetti. This was another close round. 19-19.
Martinez continued to find success when he attacked the body in combination. Cannetti was still very much in this fight, but it felt as though Martinez was beginning to pull ahead on the scorecards as the third round progressed. Martinez took Cannetti down near the end of the round, and I scored the fight 29-28 in his favour.
WINNER: Leomana Martinez by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
This was a fun fight to start the card. Both men were throwing some heavy shots, but their chins held up and the fight went the distance. I feel as though if Martinez was just a bit more aggressive, he could have picked up a finish, but this was only his first fight in the UFC, and Guido Cannetti is a better fighter then his record indicates. This marked Martinez’s UFC debut.
JAMALL EMMERS (18-5, 145.5) VS PAT SABATINI (14-3, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Just as the first exchanges of the fight took place, Emmers caught Sabatini low with a kick. Sabatini didn’t take much time off, and Emmers landed a short hook that appeared to hurt Sabatini. Sabatini went down after a well-timed uppercut from Emmers, and Emmers gladly followed him to the ground, looking to finish the fight. Sabatini went for a heel hook, and Emmers responded with a toe hold attempt. Sabatini’s submission was far more effective, and Emmers was forced to submit.
WINNER: Pat Sabatini by heel hook at 1:53 of Round 1
Emmers was clearly in immense pain following the finish, and was unable to return to his feet. The commentary team speculated that Sabatini tore Emmers meniscus with the heel hook, which seems quite plausible. Sabatini improved to 2-0 in the UFC with this win, and this marked his tenth victory by way of submission.
J.J. ALDRICH (9-4, 125) VS VANESSA DEMOPOULOS (6-3, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Aldrich took Demopoulos down with a double leg one minute into the first round. Demopoulos threw up a few elbows off of her back, and Aldrich changed her position somewhat to avoid them. Regardless, Aldrich rode out nearly the entire round in top position, and landed enough ground and pound to leave no doubt as to who won this round. 10-9 Aldrich.
Demopoulos partially landed with a head kick in the opening minute of round two. Aldrich was finding a home for her left hand, reddening the face of Demopoulos. I thought Demopoulos was finding a bit more success whenever she was willing to trade in the pocket, but Aldrich seemed a step ahead when striking from distance. Aldrich really started to tee off on her towards the end of the round, but Demopoulos was able to hold on until time expired. 20-18 Aldrich.
Demopoulos hunted for a takedown to no success. She committed to a single leg, and Aldrich tagged her with a number of hammerfists before taking top position. Aldrich landed some good ground and pound shots before allowing Demopoulos back to her feet. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favour of Aldrich.
WINNER: J. J. Aldrich by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Aldrich was in control for the entirety of this fight, and Demopoulos just seemed a bit outmatched in her UFC debut here, a weight class up from where she typically competes. This was one of Aldrich’s better UFC performances, although the commentary team faulted her slightly for her continued inability to finish fights. Aldrich is now 6-3 in the UFC.
DUSTIN JACOBY (14-5-1, 203.5) VS DARREN STEWART (12-7, 2 NC, 204.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Stewart quickly took Jacoby down, but was unable to hold him there for long, and they began to wrestle against the cage. Jacoby eventually broke away, before throwing a heavy leg kick. A right hand from Jacoby seemed to stun Stewart, which prompted Jacoby to begin unleashing with strikes to Stewart against the cage, and while Stewart never went down, he looked out on his feet as he did his best to swing back, and the fight was eventually stopped.
WINNER: Dustin Jacoby by TKO at 3:04 of Round 1
Stewart’s gameplan seemed to be to wrestle with Jacoby here, but he couldn’t hold him down, and Jacoby quickly pulled ahead on the feet. I thought this was a very good stoppage from referee Jason Herzog, who gave Stewart every chance to defend himself, but ultimately stopped it at the right moment. Jacoby improved to 3-0-1 in the UFC with this win.
SAM ALVEY (33-15-1, 1 NC, 185.5) VS WELLINGTON TURMAN (16-5, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Turman opened up with a kick to the body, before he closed the distance in an attempt to drag Alvey to the ground. He was unsuccessful, and Alvey was able to separate. They exchanged shots on the feet, until an eye poke to Alvey paused the action. The action resumed, and Turman was warned yet again for his outstretched fingers. Turman landed a spinning backfist towards the end of the round that cut Alvey open beneath his left eye. 10-9 Turman.
Turman landed another spinning attack early in the second round, before Alvey landed an accidental low blow that brought a pause to the fight yet again. Turman continued to chase a takedown, but ate some elbows from Alvey in the process. Alvey was beginning to dodge Turman’s spinning attacks, and they exchanged lead hands. Turman landed a head kick, prompting Alvey to respond with a shot that backed Turman up a bit. 20-18 Turman on my scorecard.
Alvey countered Turman on his way in to begin the final round. Alvey’s corner was urging him to pick up his aggression, but if you’ve seen one Sam Alvey fight, you’ve seen them all, and he was largely content to circle the cage. Turman poked Alvey in the eye one more time, and he was deducted a point. As the action resumed, Turman immediately poked him in the eye again, and another point was deducted. With two points deducted within seconds, Turman really began to go on the attack, and he was overwhelming Alvey with strikes. The fight went the distance, and I scored the fight 28-27 for Turman, which has to be the strangest scorecard imaginable, but that’s what happens when two points are deducted.
WINNER: Wellington Turman by split decision (28-27, 28-27, 27-28)
Alvey lost his mind when the decision was announced, but I agreed with the 28-27 scorecards for Turman here. His strikes just had a bit more behind them, and he was a step ahead in the grappling department as well. This was not a good fight, but Turman was in desperate need of a win, and he got one here despite losing two points in that third round.
ALESSIO DI CHIRICO (13-5, 185.5) VS ABDUL RAZAK ALHASSAN (10-4, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Seconds into the fight, Alhassan through a full force head kick, Di Chirico ducked into it, and was knocked unconscious.
WINNER: Abdul Razak Alhassan by KO at 0:17 of Round 1
Alhassan was in need of a win after losing his last three fights, and he got back in the win column in emphatic fashion here. This was about as brutal of a head kick knockout as you’ll see, and this marked Alhassan’s eleventh first round knockout, which is actually each of his pro wins. Alhassan is now 1-1 since moving up to middleweight, and this was his first win since September of 2018.
MAKHMUD MURADOV (25-6, 184.5) VS GERALD MEERSCHAERT (32-14, 185) – WELTERWEIGHT
Both fighters began the round aggressively, but an eye poke brought a quick pause to the fight. Muradov stunned Meerschaert with a punch when the fight resumed, and sent him down with an overhand right as Meerschaert looked to change levels. Muradov allowed Meerschaert to his feet, and continued to pick away at him with his strikes. Meerschaert was basically pulling guard just two minutes into the round, and it seemed as though everything Muradov landed was hurting Meerschaert. A kick from Meerschaert landed low, and it crumpled Muradov to the ground in pain. Meerschaert landed a pair of solid straight left hands and a head kick when the action resumed. Meerschaert got Muradov to the ground with thirty seconds remaining, ending an entertaining round on top.
Muradov tagged Meerschaert as he rushed in to begin round two. They traded heavy punches early in the second round, and it felt as though Meerschaert landed the stronger blows before dragging Muradov to the ground. Meerschaert took in his back and locked in a rear naked choke, forcing Muradov to submit.
WINNER: Gerald Meerschaert by rear naked choke at 1:49 of Round 2
This was a wild, entertaining scrap while it lasted. Halfway through the first round, it was starting to feel like Meerschaert was completely outmatched, but he began to find his range late in the round, and Muradov wasn’t taking his heavier shots well. Once Meerschaert was able to bring Murad to the ground, he was in complete control and quicky secured the finish. Gerald Meerschaert is now 8-6 in the UFC, and this marked his seventh submission in the promotion.
ANDRE PETROSKI (5-1, 185.5) VS MICHEAL GILLMORE (6-3, 184) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Petroski closed the distance immediately, but a counter shot from Gillmore backed him off momentarily. Petroski landed a wild hook before picking Gillmore up, and dumping him to the ground. Petroski dominated the fight from top position, landing strong ground and pound, and dumping Gillmore back to the ground whenever Gillmore attempted to escape. You could make the case for this being a 10-8 round, but I didn’t go that far.
Gillmore was getting the better of Petroski on the feet early in the second round. He began to attack the lead leg of Petroski, and was countering well whenever Petroski closed the distance. Gillmore defended a takedown from Petroski, and he continued to attack the lead leg. Petroski was really over committing on these lunging hooks, and it was resulting in numerous strong counters for Gillmore. Petroski secured a takedown with a minute remaining in the round, and he ended things in top position.
Petroski immediately took Gillmore back to the ground to begin the final five minutes. He transitioned into side control, before moving into full mount, where he landed some strong ground and pound. Gillmore couldn’t escape the position Petroski had him trapped in, and Petroski rained down elbows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Andre Petroski by TKO at 3:12 of Round 3
Things were a bit shaky in the second round, but by and large, this was a dominant performance from Petroski. His wrestling looked strong here, but there is certainly room for him to improve in the striking department going forward. Petroski was fired up in his post-fight interview, and expressed his interest in fighting at welterweight as well as middleweight in the future.
KEVIN LEE (18-6, 170.5) VS DANIEL RODRIGUEZ (15-2, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Lee opened up with a kick to the body. Rodriguez tagged him with a left moments later, and they exchanged leg kicks. Lee threw up a head kick before shooting for a takedown, which Rodriguez defended. Lee kept at it however, and got Rodriguez down with his next takedown attempt. Lee was able to control the remainder of the round from top position. 10-9 Lee.
Rodriguez was the busier fighter early in round two. Lee changed levels, took Rodriguez down, and he began to work from side control. Rodriguez scrambled into top position, before the fight returned to the feet. Rodriguez caught Lee with a short hook, and was pulling ahead on the feet as the round progressed. Rodriguez rocked Lee with a hard left hand towards the end of the round, forcing Lee to shoot for a takedown as he bought some time to recover. 19-19.
Rodriguez continued to be a step ahead on the feet in the third round. It felt as though the fight was starting to get away from Lee, but he landed a heavy leg kick and followed it up with a strong takedown against the cage. Rodriguez escaped to his feet, and landed another left hand. Rodriguez cut Lee open near his right eye towards the end of the round. 29-28 Rodriguez.
WINNER: Daniel Rodriguez by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Lee was able to win the opening round with his wrestling, but as he tired, he wasn’t able to keep the fight on the ground, and the final two rounds took place largely on the feet. Rodriguez was the busier striker, and it felt as though he was landing the harder shots as well. I’ve been very impressed with Rodriguez throughout his UFC run, and this marked his biggest win yet. Rodriguez improved to 6-1 in the UFC with this win.
RICKY TURCIOS (10-2, 135) VS BRADY HIESTAND (5-1, 135.5) – TUF 29 BANTAMWEIGHT FINALE
Hiestand pushed forward to begin the fight, mixing in his striking with his wrestling. He eventually took Turcios down near the cage, but ate a shot from Turcios that busted him open above his right eye. Turcios was active off of his back, and it made for some entertaining grappling exchanges throughout the round. They returned to the feet late in the round, and traded punches in the pocket. I scored the round 10-19 for Turcios, but you could definitely give the round to Hiestand as well.
The second round picked up where the first left off, with these fighters trading shots on the feet. Hiestand took Turcios back to the ground, but he couldn’t keep him there for long. Hiestand landed a massive left hand when they returned to the feet, before Turcios recorded a takedown of his own. Turcios attempted a guillotine at one point, but couldn’t quite sink it in. Another close round. 19-19.
With neither fighter certain of the scorecards heading in this last round, both men were fighting at an impressive pace. Turcios dropped Hiestand with a right hand about a minute into the round, but Hiestand recovered quickly and secured a takedown. Turcios got back to his feet, and they continued to exchange hooks in the clinch against the cage. These guys were beat up and exhausted, but they kept throwing, all the way until the final bell. 29-28 Turcios on my scorecard, but I wouldn’t argue with any scoring of this fight, and I mean that in the best possible way.
WINNER: Ricky Turcios by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
This was a phenomenal fight, and both of these fighters will have gained a lot of fans following this one. Turcios has been in some entertaining fights all season long, and I think he has all the makings of a fan favourite going forward. Turcios was presented with a black belt by his coaches at the end of the bout, as well as the trophy for winning the 29th season of the Ultimate Fighter (at bantamweight). I assume Hiestand will be given a UFC contract as well following his performance here, and it would certainly be well earned.
BRYAN BATTLE (5-1, 185.5) VS GILBERT URBINA (6-1, 186) – TUF 29 MIDDLEWEIGHT FINALE
Urbina tagged Battle with a combination before dragging him to the ground. He landed some strong right hands, and Battle was in a ton of trouble early here. Battle eventually made it back to his feet, without his mouthpiece, which had flown out of the cage. They largely spent the remainder of the round trading in the clinch, and while Urbina won this round, I thought Battle recovered well.
Urbina continued to hunt for another takedown in the second round. It was Battle, whoever, who was successful in bringing the fight to the ground, and he began to search for a rear naked choke. He locked the submission in, and Urbina tapped out.
WINNER: Bryan Battle by rear naked choke at 2:15 of Round 2
I thought Urbina gave a good account of himself despite taking the fight on short notice, but Battle was able to rebound from that first round scare, and finished things in round two. Battle was the final pick for Team Volkanovski on TUF 29, so going on to win the whole thing was quite the feat, and he came off very well in his post-fight interview. This was Battle’s fourth submission win, and he has won his last five professional bouts.
EDSON BARBOZA (22-9, 145) VS GIGA CHIKADZE (13-2, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Chikadze bowed, but did not touch gloves with Barboza. They immediately traded leg kicks as the fight began. Chikadze seemed to have the advantage in the speed department, and was throwing some creative offence Barboza’s way. Chikadze caught Barboza with a right hook, as well as a charging jab. Barboza connected with a kick to the body, and Chikadze responded with one his own, before flurrying towards Barboza. 10-9 Chikadze.
Chikadze was picking Barboza apart as he circled the cage, and Barboza began to switch up his strategy slightly, attacking the leg and body more. Barboza landed a head kick, as well as an overhand right. They traded jabs, before Barboza threw a pair of kicks to the body and leg respectively. Close round, but I gave the edge to Chikadze. 20-18 Chikadze.
Chikadze backed Barboza up with a knee to the body, and he wobbled him badly with a right hook that eventually sent Barboza to the ground. Chikadze followed him to the ground and went for the choke, and when he realized Barboza was going to escape, he gave him just the slightest bit of room to recover, before nailing him with a left hand that dropped Edson once more, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Giga Chikadze by TKO at 1:44 of Round 3
While Barboza was never out of this fight, Chikadze seemed to be a step ahead on the feet from the opening round, and when he hurt Barboza in round three, he recognized that this was his opportunity to finish the fight, and did just that. Both of these fighters are high level strikers, but Chikadze was quicker, and seemed to have more weapons in his arsenal, which is quite an impressive statement when the other fighter in the octagon was Edson Barboza. In his post-fight interview, Chikadze asked to be a replacement fighter for the upcoming featherweight title bout, or for a fight against Max Holloway. He is now 7-0 in the UFC, and has finished his last three fights.