UFC Fight Night Report: Jared Cannonier defeats Sean Strickland by split decision

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UFC Fight Night Report: Jared Cannonier defeats Sean Strickland by split decision

On Saturday evening, the UFC held its final Fight Night event of 2022 from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a middleweight bout between Sean Strickland and former title challenger, Jared Cannonier, as both fighters looked to inch closer to a title shot against the division’s new champion, Alex Pereira. Both Strickland and Cannonier last fought at UFC 276, where they lost their respective bouts to Pereira and Israel Adesanya, but Pereira’s win over Adesanya has shaken up the division, and an impressive win for either Cannonier or Strickland here could very well set them up for a big fight coming out of this one. This card also featured a notable lightweight bout between Arman Tsarukyan and Damir Ismagulov, as Tsarukyan attempted to defend his spot in the top ten of the rankings against Ismagulov, who had won nineteen consecutive fights going into this one.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Dominick Cruz, and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Alex Caceres and Michal Oleksiejczuk. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Drew Dober and Bobby Green.



  • Sergey Morozov def. Journey Newson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Manel Kape def. David Dvorak by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Rinat Fakhretdinov def. Bryan Battle by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-27)
  • Rafa Garcia def. Maheshate by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Said Nurmagomedov def. Saidyokub Kakhramonov by guillotine choke at 3:50 of Round 2
  • Matthew Semelsberger def. Jake Matthews by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Cory McKenna def. Cheyanne Vlismas by unanimous decision (29-28 all)


  • Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Cody Brundage by TKO at 3:16 of Round 1
  • Drew Dober def. Bobby Green by KO at 2:45 of Round 2
  • Alex Caceres def. Julian Erosa by TKO at 3:04 of Round 1
  • Amir Albazi def. Alessandro Costa by KO at 2:13 of Round 3
  • Arman Tsarukyan def. Damir Ismagulov by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Jared Cannonier def. Sean Strickland by split decision (49-46, 49-46, 46-49)


Newson circled as Morozov applied pressure, looking to trap Newson with his back to the cage. Newson was landing the better strikes early, closing the distance and landing his shots before Morozov was able to respond. Eventually, Morozov opted to change levels and he secured a takedown near the cage. Newson was able to escape with a minute remaining in the round, and they both partially landed kicks before time expired. This was a close round. 10-9 Newson.

Newson began the second round with a series of hard calf kicks. Both fighters were really swinging at times but were having trouble finding their target with those wilder shots. Much like the first round, Morozov decided to take the fight to the ground around the halfway point of the round. Morozov landed a small number of short strikes with his control time, which may have been enough to earn him the round, as he maintained the position until the end of the round. 19-19.

Newson was fighting aggressively early in the final round, knowing that he needed this round on the scorecards. This time, Morozov took the fight to the ground early, and he began to work from the north-south position. Morozov worked his way to the back of Newson, and while he couldn’t keep the position, he was able to maintain top control for the vast majority of the round. Newson did his best to get back to his feet, but couldn’t create any separation until the final minute of the round, and was unable to land a fight-changing blow before the final horn sounded. 29-28 Morozov.

WINNER: Sergey Morozov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

The fight was very competitive on the feet, and Newson was giving Morozov trouble with his movement and speed. While he may have fallen slightly behind early in the bout on the scorecards, Morozov quickly changed strategies, realizing that he could take Newson down at will. From this point forward, it became a rather one-sided fight, as while Newson did a good job of avoiding damage on the ground, he was largely unable to keep Morozov off of him, and Newson racked up very little offense of his own throughout the last two rounds. Morozov’s UFC record improved to 3-2 following this win.

DAVID DVORAK (20-4, 125.5) VS MANEL KAPE (17-6, 126) – FLYWEIGHT

Neither fighter was very active early in the fight. Dvorak circled the cage, while Kape seemed largely content to wait for Dvorak to engage. Just when Kape started to pick up the aggression, Dvorak took Kape to the ground, and he began to work from the guard of Kape with roughly two minutes remaining in the round. Kape went for a kimura off of his back, and he came very close to finishing the submission, but Dvorak was somehow able to hold on until time expired in the round. 10-9 Kape.

The first half of the second round mirrored the first half of round one, with very little activity from either fighter. Kape was landing the better strikes throughout the few exchanges that took place, and he landed a right hand that effectively dropped Dvorak late in the round. Kape allowed Dvorak back to his feet, and he started attacking the body as well, further limiting Dvorak’s movement. Kape knocked Dvorak down one last time before time expired, and this was a very clear round in his favor. 20-17 Kape.

Dvorak was pressuring forward in the final round, likely with the knowledge that he was in need of a finish. This played right into Kape’s game, however, as he was countering strongly whenever Dvorak was on his way in. Kape was taunting Dvorak, putting on a show, all while out landing Dvorak on the feet. In the end, the fight went the distance and I scored it 30-26 in favor of Kape.

WINNER: Manel Kape by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

The first round was quite competitive, but Kape’s kimura attempt damaged Dvorak’s arm, and he never really pursued another takedown, instead fighting the remaining two rounds on the feet. Kape was the stronger striker by a considerable margin, and he hurt Dvorak repeatedly in the second round, nearly finishing the fight on multiple occasions. While the third round was not as dominant for Kape as the second round was, it was another clear round for Kape, and he did his best to put on a show for the audience in the process. After a pair of dull losses (against tough opponents) to begin his UFC run, Kape has won three consecutive fights, and he will likely take Dvorak’s spot in the top ten of the flyweight rankings when they are next updated.


Fakhretdinov immediately took Battle down to begin the fight. Fakhretdinov was throwing down some hard ground and pound shots and was able to avoid the submission attempts that Battle was trying to catch him with off of his back. Fakhretdinov opened up a nasty cut on the left eyebrow of Battle and did not give up top position until the end of the round. 10-8 Fakhretdinov.

It took Fakhretdinov roughly ten seconds to take Battle back to the ground. He continued to throw heavy ground and pound strikes down at Battle, who was doing his best to chase after one of Fakhretdinov’s arms. With two minutes remaining in the round, Battle made it back to his feet, but instead of creating separation, he went after a front choke, and ended up right back on the ground, with Fakhretdinov in top position. 20-17 Fakhretdinov.

A big right hand from Fakhretdinov dropped Battle early in the final round, and Fakhretdinov followed him down to the ground. Fakhretdinov was not as aggressive with his ground-and-pound offense as he was earlier in the bout, and Battle was able to recover, but he was unable to escape from under Fakhretdinov, who maintained top position until time expired in the fight. 30-26 Fakhretdinov.

WINNER: Rinat Fakhretdinov by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-27)

This fight was about as one-sided as it gets. Bryan Battle had nothing for Fakhretdinov here and took an extended beating for the entirety of this fifteen-minute bout. Fakhretdinov was able to take Battle down at will, and kept him there with ease, landing damaging ground and pound. In the final round, Fakhretdinov put an end to any hopes of a Battle comeback with a quick knockdown, effectively securing his victory. It was an extremely strong performance from Fakhretdinov, who is now 2-0 in the UFC and riding a winning streak that dates back to 2014.


Maheshate missed weight by 2.5 lbs and was fined a percentage of his purse.

Maheshate landed a step-in knee before defending a single-leg takedown attempt in the opening minute of the bout. Maheshate was attempting flying knees while Garcia responded with heavy hooks. Garcia dug into the body before going up high with his strikes, landing some very strong combinations. I thought that as the round progressed, it was Garcia who was landing the bulk of the significant strikes, and despite the strong start to the round from Maheshate, I scored this one in Garcia’s favour. 10-9 Garcia.

Garcia ate a big knee from Maheshate early in the second round. An elbow from Maheshate opened Garcia up on the left side of his head, and he was absolutely gushing blood, but he secured a takedown just moments later. Maheshate made it back to his feet, and he was now coated in the blood of his opponent as well, which made for quite the visual. Garcia secured one more takedown, and he started throwing down heavy ground and pound shots in search of a finish. Once again, Maheshate made it back to his feet, but the late damage from Garcia made this a tough one to score. 20-18.

Maheshate landed yet another step-in knee early in the third round, but this time Garcia pushed through it and secured a takedown. While Garcia was unable to do much with it, his pace was wearing on Maheshate, and he was unable to create separation until the final two minutes of the bout. Garcia hoisted Maheshate into the air before slamming him down to the ground, ending the fight in top position. 30-27 Garcia.

WINNER: Rafa Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

The fighters nearly started brawling after the final horn sounded, as Garcia just started screaming at Maheshate, but they shook hands after the decision was announced. It was a bloody fight, with Garcia in particular bleeding buckets from that cut on the side of his head. In the end, Garcia’s boxing and his wrestling earned him the nod, despite Maheshate’s considerable size advantage (as well as the weight miss). It was an entertaining fight, and perhaps Garcia’s best performance in the UFC to this point. Garcia now holds a record of 3-3 in the UFC, and Maheshate fell to 1-1 in the promotion as a result of this loss.


Nurmagomedov immediately closed the distance and started wrestling with Kakhramonov against the cage. Nurmagomedov jumped for a guillotine choke as Kakhramonov went for a takedown, and he had the hold in tight, but Kakhramonov escaped and began to work from top position. Kakhramonov took side control but lost the position as Nurmagomedov used the cage to return to his feet. The fighters started trading hands wildly on the feet, and Nurmagomedov shot for a takedown to relieve the pressure. Nurmagomedov was unsuccessful, and Kakhramonov secured a takedown of his own to end the round.

Kakhramonov took Nurmagomedov right back to the ground to begin the second round and nearly took his back in the process. Nurmagomedov was doing a good job defensively, but Kakhramonov was just a step ahead of him, constantly chasing after takedowns whenever Nurmagomedov successfully returned to his feet. Eventually, Nurmagomedov was able to counter with a strong ninja choke, and this time, Kakhramonov was unable to escape, submitting with just over a minute remaining in the round.

WINNER: Said Nurmagomedov by guillotine choke at 3:50 of Round 2

Kakhramonov was fighting at quite the pace, and it seemed as though Nurmagomedov was being overwhelmed by the pressure at times, but he was constantly looking for submissions whenever Kakhramonov attempted his takedowns, and that strategy paid off, as he eventually caught Kakhramonov with a choke that Kakhramonov just couldn’t escape. I was very impressed by Kakhramonov here despite the loss, and I see him having a high ceiling in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Nurmagomedov is now 6-1 in the UFC, and he has won four consecutive fights.


A huge right hand from Semelsberger dropped Matthews hard, and he followed Matthews to the ground in an attempt to finish the fight. Matthews was able to survive the exchange, and the fight returned to the feet, where Semelsberger secured a takedown. Semelsberger threw down some hard ground and pound strikes, before slowing down and spending the remainder of the round in Matthew’s guard. This was a strong round for Semelsberger. 10-9 Semelsberger.

Matthews was able to fend off a takedown attempt from Semelsberger early in the second round, although he ate a knee to the head in the process. A heavy left hand from Matthews found its target. Matthews was looking much better in this second round, avoiding the vast majority of Semelsberger’s shots, while landing his own offense. Semelsberger still had the clear advantage in terms of power, and a late knockdown from Semelsberger effectively undid the good work that Matthews had put in throughout the round on the scorecards. 20-18 Semelsberger.

In the opening seconds of round three, Semelsberger recorded yet another knockdown. Matthews recovered quickly but was in desperate need of a finish if he wanted to win this fight. Matthews did his best to force a finish, but Semelsberger’s chin held up well, and when Matthews got too aggressive, Semelsberger wrapped him up against the cage, taking time off of the clock. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Semelsberger.

WINNER: Matthew Semelsberger by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

While Jake Matthews fought a good fight here, Semelsberger recorded a knockdown in each round, and that power was ultimately the difference maker in a fight that may have gone to Matthews otherwise. Matthews did his best to force a finish late in the bout, but it never came, and Semelsberger had his arm raised in the end. This was arguably Semelsberger’s biggest win to date, and he’s improved to 5-2 in the UFC following this win.


Vlismas was landing overhand rights whenever McKenna tried to work her jab early in the bout. The counters from Vlismas were generally strong, which seemed to be slowing McKenna down slightly. McKenna secured a takedown later in the round and began to work from the guard of Vlismas with roughly a minute to work. Vlismas seemed to be looking for a triangle off of her back, but McKenna was wise to it, and retained top position safely until time expired. 10-9 Vlismas.

McKenna pushed Vlismas back against the cage early in round two, clearly in search of another takedown. Vlismas responded with a number of knees to the body, and she was able to remain on her feet despite McKenna’s best efforts to bring the fight to the ground. Vlismas was unable to create any separation though, and McKenna held her against the cage for the vast majority of this round. In the final seconds of the round, McKenna finally got the takedown she was looking for, although there was no time left to do much with the position. 19-19.

McKenna secured an early takedown in the final round, avoiding a choke attempt from Vlismas in the process. Vlismas was looking for submissions off of her back, but McKenna seemed to be just a step ahead of her and was able to avoid the submission attempts while landing short ground and pound strikes. McKenna was able to keep this up for the entire round, and this was a fairly clear one in her favor. 29-28 McKenna.

WINNER: Cory McKenna by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Vlismas was looking sharp on the feet in the first round, so McKenna switched up the strategy throughout the final two rounds, turning the bout into more of a grappling heavy contest. While Vlismas was still active despite often being in a disadvantageous position, McKenna did enough to secure the final two rounds, and in the end, I thought the scoring of this fight was fairly straightforward. McKenna’s UFC record improved to 3-1 following this win.


Brundage wasted little time in securing his first takedown of the fight. Oleksiejczuk regained his footing but was quickly dragged back down. Oleksiejczuk was able to scramble into top position, where he began to throw down brutal ground and pound strikes from the guard of Brundage. Brundage was rocked by one of Oleksiejczuk’s big shots, and Oleksiejczuk just kept pouring it on until he eventually knocked Brundage out.

WINNER: Michal Oleksiejczuk by TKO at 3:16 of Round 1

Oleksiejczuk made the most of his time in top position, constantly throwing down hard shots until the finish eventually presented itself. It was a very strong performance from Oleksiejczuk, who has won both of his fights by stoppage since moving down to middleweight earlier this year. At Light Heavyweight, Oleksiejczuk had a promotional record of 4-3 (1 NC) and seemed to have reached his ceiling at that weight class. Now at middleweight, his power is even more apparent, and he has his eyes set on the rankings, as he called out Chris Curtis in his post-fight interview.

DREW DOBER (25-11, 1 NC, 156) VS BOBBY GREEN (29-13-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Green landed a pair of left hands in the opening minute, before defending a takedown attempt from Dober. Green was out landing Dober early, countering him with ease, while avoiding the vast majority of Dober’s heavy strikes. When Dober did land, he was landing with power, but he was landing very few shots in comparison to Green, who busted Dober’s nose up quickly. Dober was doing more damage as the round progressed, but I still gave this one to Green, who outlanded Dober by a considerable margin and did the more immediate damage.

Dober was fighting with even more aggression in the second round, just charging forward with heavy left hands. Dober landed a heavy spinning back fist at one point, before wrapping Green up in the clinch momentarily. Dober found success attacking the body, and eventually caught Green up against the cage, where he landed a brutal left hook that knocked Green unconscious.

WINNER: Drew Dober by KO at 2:45 of Round 2

This was a very entertaining fight. Dober came out swinging, just as you would expect from him, but Green was a bit too quick, countering strongly each time. As the fight progressed, Dober’s pace, along with his work to the body and lead leg of Green led to Green slowing down a bit, and while Green was still countering strongly, Dober was able to trap him against the cage, where he secured the knockout victory. This marked Dober’s eighth knockout victory in the UFC Lightweight division, which ties Dustin Poirier for the lightweight promotional record. Dober called out Jalin Turner after his fight.


Roughly three minutes into the bout, Erosa slipped a left hand from Caceres, but the punch was just a set up for a beautifully timed head kick that found its mark, knocking Erosa down hard. Caceres followed him to the ground, and he finished the fight with ground and pound.

WINNER: Alex Caceres by TKO at 3:04 of Round 1

Erosa pressured forward for the majority of the bout, while Caceres circled away from him. It was a fairly slow pace to start the bout, and the fight-ending head kick really felt like it came out of nowhere. It was an excellent knockout, and you could argue that this was the most impressive finish of his lengthy career to this point. At this stage of Caceres’s career, it’s tough to say what will be next for him, but I would say that he is as good of a fighter as he has ever been, and has shown no signs of slowing down despite over a decade of UFC experience.


After a fairly evenly fought start to the fight on the feet, Albazi shot for a takedown against the cage. Costa defended the attempt well and created the separation he needed to reset in the center of the cage. Neither fighter was doing quite enough to score significant points on the scorecards, and unfortunately, there was not much to recap throughout this five-minute period. This was likely an Albazi round by the slimmest of margins.

A right hand from Albazi knocked Costa down early in the second round, and Albazi followed Costa down, taking top position with over four minutes to work. Albazi threw down short ground and pound strikes from Costa’s guard, and while Costa was doing his best to wrap Albazi up, he wasn’t doing nearly enough to escape to his feet. Albazi racked up the control time while landing damaging ground and pound, and this was a clear round in his favor.

Albazi was able to take Costa back down within the first minute of the final round. This time, Costa was able to escape to his feet, but a huge right hand from Albazi floored him, and Albazi knocked him out moments later with ground-and-pound strikes.

WINNER: Amir Albazi by KO at 2:13 of Round 3

Albazi was originally expected to face Alex Perez on this card, but Perez was forced to withdraw from the fight and was replaced by Brandon Royval. Not long after, Royval was forced to withdraw as well, and Costa stepped up to face Albazi here, making his UFC debut. The first round was very slow, but from the second-round knockdown on, this fight was all Albazi, who dominated Costa on the ground before knocking him out for the third-round finish. Albazi is now 4-0 in the UFC, and I believe a fight against either of his originally scheduled opponents would be a logical next step for him.


Tsarukyan was able to secure an early takedown after ducking down under a kick from Ismagulov. Ismagulov made it back to his feet, and the fighters wrestled up against the fence until Ismagulov tripped Tsarukyan to the ground. Ismagulov landed in mount, but Tsarukyan instantly scrambled, and the fighters returned to the clinch battle against the cage. The fighters separated, and both men landed a small number of strikes before time expired, in what was a very close round.

Ismagulov landed a series of counter left hands before Tsarukyan took him down with a single leg in round two. Ismagulov refused to let Tsarukyan spend any time in an advantageous position on the ground, but Tsarukyan was relentless, and eventually took the back of Ismagulov. Ismagulov managed to escape, and he landed a heavy elbow on the break. 20-18 Tsarukyan on my scorecard.

Tsarukyan landed a number of kicks to the body to begin the third round. An accidental low blow to Ismagulov led to a short pause in the action, and Tsarukyan secured another takedown as the fight resumed. Once again, Ismagulov worked his way back to the feet, but he could not keep Tsarukyan off of him. Whenever Ismagulov created the separation he was looking for, Tsarukyan would be right back on him, and Tsarukyan was able to take him down one last time with just over a minute remaining in the bout. 30-27 Tsarukyan.

WINNER: Arman Tsarukyan by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Ismagulov showcased some excellent defense on the ground throughout this fight, but Tsarukyan fought at quite the pace, and it began to wear on Ismagulov as the fight progressed, allowing those takedowns to come with more ease for Tsarukyan later in the bout. This snapped a nineteen-fight win streak for Ismagulov, a streak that includes wins over the likes of Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises. I would say that this was Tsarukyan’s biggest win to date, and he made the most of the moment in his post-fight interview, asking for a top-five opponent in his next bout. 


Cannonier pressured forward to begin the fight, throwing each of his strikes with serious power. Strickland was doing a good job of sliding out of range, and he caught a kick from Cannonier, tripping him to the ground momentarily. Cannonier quickly escaped to his feet and landed a heavy leg kick. It wasn’t the most action-packed round, and you have to judge the round based on the strength of Cannonier’s powerful shots against the cumulative damage from Strickland’s jabs and counters. 10-9 Cannonier.

Strickland was working his jab in the second round, and that coupled with his footwork seemed to be giving Cannonier trouble. Cannonier went back to attacking the lead leg of Strickland, as the shots to the head were not presenting themselves. Strickland began to fight with a bit more aggression in the round’s final minute, and his flurry backed Cannonier up, but Cannonier fired back with a combination of his own before time expired. 19-19.

Strickland began the third round with a heavy jab. Cannonier still seemed to be struggling with managing the distance, and Strickland was doing a good job of keeping him back with his jabs. Cannonier began to land some heavier combinations later in the round, but not with much regularity. Neither fighter was landing a high percentage of their strikes, with the broadcast having both fighters at below thirty percent of their total strikes landed. Another close round. 29-28 Cannonier.

The fight continued at a similar pace in the fourth round. Strickland landed a solid right hand at one point that sent Cannonier on the retreat momentarily. Cannonier’s leg kicks were still landing whenever he threw them, but he seemed to be focused on landing more strikes to the head of Strickland, which was still proving difficult for him. I thought Strickland landed some of his best shots of the fight in this fourth round, but Cannonier really turned it on in the round’s final minute and may have stolen the round back on the scorecards. 38-38.

Strickland caught Cannonier with a strong pair of counters early in the final round, which was his best moment of the fight to that point. Cannonier responded with a huge right hand, but Strickland took the shot well and he fired back. Cannonier landed a strong one-two, before Strickland opened up with a combination of hooks. Strickland was marching forward now, which was creating opportunities for both strikers to land bigger shots. Cannonier seemed to be the busier fighter this round, and that may have been the difference maker in what was another close round. 48-47 Cannonier.

WINNER: Jared Cannonier by split decision (49-46, 49-46, 46-49)

This was an incredibly close fight, to the extent that not a single round of this one was unanimously agreed upon by the judges. There was not much to separate the fighters in any discernable category of the scoring criteria, so the fight really came down to how hard the fighters were throwing, in the sense that those heavier shots would be perceived as more damaging. Cannonier certainly threw with more power, and I think that’s why he earned the nod on two of the three scorecards. It wasn’t the most entertaining fight, but Jared Cannonier got back in the win column here after a loss to Israel Adesanya in his last bout, and in his post-fight interview, he stated that he is willing to fight anyone that brings him closer to a title shot in his next bout.

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