UFC Fight Night Report: Tom Aspinall knocks out Marcin Tybura in the first round
On Saturday afternoon, the UFC held a Fight Night event from the O2 Arena in London, England. The card was headlined by a heavyweight bout, with Tom Aspinall returning to the octagon to face Marcin Tybura. Almost a year ago to the date, Aspinall fought Curtis Blaydes, and just seconds into the fight, the bout was stopped due to Aspinall suffering a knee injury, marking his first loss in the promotion. Before that loss, Aspinall had a record of 5-0 in the UFC, stopping all five of his opponents in impressive fashion, and the hope was that Aspinall would return to form here despite his injury. For Tybura, this marked a big opportunity for him to move into title contention, as a win over Aspinall would likely move him into the division’s top five given his impressive 7-1 record throughout his last eight fights. In the co-main event, the popular Molly McCann faced armbar specialist Julija Stoliarenko in a flyweight bout.
The commentary team for this card consisted of John Gooden, Michael Bisping, and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Tom Aspinall and Paul Craig. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Jonny Parsons and Danny Roberts. The announced attendance for the card was 15,078, with a gate of $2.5M.
- Jafel Filho def. Daniel Barez by arm triangle at 3:26 of Round 1
- Bruna Brasil def. Shauna Bannon by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Chris Duncan def. Yanal Ashmouz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Ketlen Vieira def. Pannie Kianzad by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Makhmud Muradov def. Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Michael Parkin def. Jamal Pogues by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Joel Alvarez def. Marc Diakiese by D’Arce choke at 4:26 of Round 2
- Jonny Parsons def. Danny Roberts by TKO at 4:57 of Round 2
- Daniel Marcos def. Davey Grant by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Lerone Murphy def. Joshua Culibao by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Fares Ziam def. Jai Herbert by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Paul Craig def. Andre Muniz by TKO at 4:40 of Round 2
- Nathaniel Wood def. Andre Fili by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Julija Stoliarenko def. Molly McCann by armbar at 1:55 of Round 1
- Tom Aspinall def. Marcin Tybura by TKO at 1:13 of Round 1
JAFEL FILHO (14-3, 126) VS DANIEL BAREZ (16-5, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Filho opened up with a quick kick to the body, and he followed it up with a pair of wild left hands that missed their target. Barez caught Filho with a hard left hand that seemed to hurt him, and he dropped Filho with a body shot just moments later. Barez allowed Filho to his feet, but a hard kick to the body crumpled Filho immediately, as Barez recorded his second knockdown of the fight. Once again, Barez opted to allow Filho to his feet, but this time, Filho exploded with a flurry of offense, just marching forward with a lengthy combination of strikes, flustering Barez. With just over two minutes remaining in the round, Filho took Barez down, and he wasted little time before moving into top mount, where he locked in an arm triangle and forced Barez to submit.
WINNER: Jafel Filho by arm triangle at 3:26 of Round 1
Filho danced with Bruce Buffer in the cage after his win in an entertaining fashion. This was a wild fight for the short period in which it lasted. Barez had Filho in deep trouble early, following a pair of brutal body shots that dropped Filho, but he refused to follow Filho to the ground both times, a decision which turned out to cost him, as it gave Filho the time he needed to recover. Eventually, Filho was able to swing the momentum of the bout by flurrying forward wildly before taking the fight to the ground, where he quickly secured the submission victory. It was a fun fight to start the night, and Filho is now 1-1 in the UFC following this win.
SHAUNA BANNON (5-0, 115) VS BRUNA BRASIL (8-3-1, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
The fighters exchanged leg kicks throughout the opening minute of the bout. A left hand from Brasil found its target, and her counters were looking sharp early in this fight. Bannon was pressing the action but was having trouble finding her target, as Brasil’s footwork seemed to be troubling her in the first round. As the round wore on, however, Bannon was finding more success with her extended combinations, catching Brasil whenever she was not quite quick enough to circle away from Bannon. 10-9 Brasil.
Bannon pressed Brasil up against the cage in the second round, where the fighters exchanged knees to the body. Brasil was stronger from the position, but she was unable to take Bannon down, and as a result, the fighters just spent the vast majority of the round locked in a stalemate against the cage. Eventually, they were separated due to inactivity, and Bannon went on the attack as she attempted to make the most of the remaining time in the round. A straight right hand from Bannon landed with power, which I thought was her best shot of the fight to this point, and Brasil responded with a spinning back fist before securing a takedown. She landed some elbows before time expired, which may have been enough to give her the edge in what was a very close round. 20-18 Brasil.
Brasil caught Bannon with a left hand on her way in the opening minute of round three, before Bannon threw an axe kick that led to her leg getting swept out from under her. Bannon returned to her feet where she started working her jab. Brasil attempted to change levels and take the fight to the ground, but Bannon defended the takedown, and the fighters started wrestling against the cage late in the round. Brasil was eventually able to take the fight to the ground, and she attempted to land some late ground and pound offense, but she did not land quite enough to steal this round back in my mind. 29-28 Brasil.
WINNER: Bruna Brasil by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Early in the fight, Bannon was rushing in wildly, and Brasil was catching her with counters more often than not. As the fight progressed, Bannon calmed down and started to find more success on the feet, but as a result, Brasil started to incorporate more grappling into her game, which was the difference maker in what was a competitive second round, and arguably the third round as well. It was a close fight, but I thought the judges ultimately made the right call here, and Brasil’s UFC record improved to 1-1 after this fight.
CHRIS DUNCAN (10-1, 156) VS YANAL ASHMOUZ (7-0, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Ashmouz was loading up on his shots in the opening minutes of this fight, clearly looking for the quick knockout. Duncan did a good job of avoiding Ashmouz’s bigger shots, and he returned fire with heavy hands of his own, finding his target at a more consistent rate. Whenever Duncan committed to his attack, he was hurting Ashmouz, and I thought that he was a step ahead of Ashmouz throughout this round largely due to what I perceived to be more damaging offense, but a big right-hand from Ashmouz found its way around Duncan’s guard late in the round, showing that Ashmouz was still just a big shot away from being right back in this fight. Toward the end of the round, Duncan caught a kick from Ashmouz and took him to the ground. 10-9 Duncan.
A flying knee from Duncan caught Ashmouz in the chest before a left hand sent Ashmouz on the retreat momentarily. Duncan was fighting quite aggressively in the second round, throwing several knees up the middle, as well as heavy right hands with regularity. Ashmouz had injured his left arm and was not throwing it at all by this point in the bout, but he was able to remain in the fight by throwing wild strikes with the rest of his limbs, and while the injury was preventing him from throwing in combination, he was still throwing with power. Duncan shot for a takedown late in the round, but the shot was defended, and the round ended on the feet. 20-18 Duncan.
A heavy combination from Duncan landed with power at the start of the final round. Duncan was hunting for a finish here, while Ashmouz was doing his best to weather the storm despite his injury. The knees up the middle from Duncan continued to land with power, and eventually, a cut was opened up beneath the right eye of Ashmouz. As the round progressed, Duncan began to pour it on, but Ashmouz was somehow able to take the shots and stay on his feet, making it to the final bell despite all the damage he sustained throughout this fight. 30-27 Duncan.
WINNER: Chris Duncan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Duncan was looking sharp from the opening round, avoiding the big shots from Ashmouz, before responding with his own simpler offense, that proved to be more effective. At some point towards the end of the first round, Ashmouz severely injured his left arm, and he was left unable to use the arm offensively or defensively for the remainder of the fight. From that point onward, this became a very one-sided fight in favor of Duncan, but to Ashmouz’s credit, he did a good job of keeping himself in the fight with solid footwork and creative offense, somehow surviving Duncan’s offensive onslaught until the final bell. Duncan’s UFC record improved to 2-0 as a result of this win.
KETLEN VIEIRA (13-3, 135) VS PANNIE KIANZAD (16-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Kianzad opened up with a one-two, before throwing a pair of hard right hands. Vieira took Kianzad down with a single leg and quickly moved into side control, where she started looking for submissions. Kianzad was able to move Vieira into her guard, where Vieira pressed down from top position, chasing after a kimura. She did not find the submission, but this was a very clear round in favor of Vieira. 10-9 Vieira.
Vieira wasted little time in taking the fight back to the ground, taking Kianzad down with a single leg with over four minutes to work. Much like the first round, Vieira absolutely dominated the action from top position, giving Kianzad no room to work from beneath her. Vieira was not active from top position in terms of damage but was constantly looking to advance her position, threatening submissions. Vieira was unable to find the finish, but she was clearly up on the scorecards heading into round three. 20-18 Vieira.
Kianzad came out swinging in the third round but was immediately taken down once again. Kianzad gave up her back as she attempted to crawl back to her feet, but was able to turn into top position after a slip-up from Vieira. Kianzad attempted to make the most of the change in position, as she postured up and started throwing down strikes. Kianzad was unable to finish the fight, but likely stole this final round on the scorecards as a result of her ground and pound offense. 29-28 Vieira.
WINNER: Ketlen Vieira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Kianzad was unable to defend a single takedown attempt from Vieira, and as a result, every round of this fight took place entirely on the ground, where Vieira dominated Kianzad from top position, never allowing her opponent to return to her feet. It was not a competitive fight in the slightest, and it certainly was not an entertaining one, as Vieira was not always terribly active from top position, but it was a dominant performance aside from Kianzad’s success in the fights final minutes after turning into top position herself. Vieira is now 8-3 in the UFC following this win, and while I do not expect Vieira will be challenging for the vacant bantamweight title in her next fight, she is certainly in that mix of bantamweights who could feasibly win that title shortly with Amanda Nunes out of the picture.
MAKHMUD MURADOV (25-8, 186) VS BRYAN BARBERENA (18-10, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Muradov wasted little time in taking Barberena to the ground, and while he was able to rack up some control time, Barberena was eventually able to escape without taking much damage. Barberena started marching forward as he attempted to make up some ground but was eventually taken right back down after eating a straight right hand. Barberena was able to use the cage to get back to his feet, but there was not enough time remaining in the round to steal it back. 10-9 Muradov.
Muradov landed several solid straight right hands early in the second round, before catching Barberena with another right hand just as Barberena was turning away from him that dropped Barberena momentarily. Barberena seemed to have recovered, but he was clearly down in the fight by this point, and he was having trouble overcoming Muradov’s reach advantage, often finding it difficult to land his heavier strikes. Muradov eventually brought the fight back to the ground, and while an accidental headbutt paused the action momentarily, the action was largely controlled by Muradov on the ground until time expired in the round. 20-18 Muradov.
Muradov continued to find success throwing out those straight right hands in the final round, and he brought Barberena back to the ground roughly a minute into the third round. Barberena escaped to his feet but ate several hard body shots, and a right hook from Muradov dropped Barberena moments later. Barberena recovered quickly yet again, but he just could not find his target offensively, and time was running out on him to make something happen. Towards the end of the bout, both fighters ducked in at the same time, clashing heads, and both fighters went down clutching their heads. The doctor was brought in to check on the fighters and it was determined that both men could continue, but there was not much time left in the bout regardless, and the final horn sounded quickly. 30-27 Muradov.
WINNER: Makhmud Muradov by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Barberena is always a game fighter, but he typically fights at welterweight, and the side disadvantageous against the larger Muradov at middleweight troubled him greatly throughout the bout. Muradov was able to land his heavy shots at will, catching Barberena with numerous straight right hands, and was able to avoid almost all of Barberena’s shots in response, before taking Barberena down, seemingly at will. If there is a positive to take from this for Barberena, it is that he was constantly able to return to his feet without taking much damage, something that has hurt him in the past when facing strong grapplers. Regardless, this was a strong performance from Muradov, who is now 4-2 in the UFC following this win, snapping a two-fight skid of losses.
MICHAEL PARKIN (6-0, 264) VS JAMAL POGUES (10-3, 266) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Parkin worked his jab throughout the first round, throwing in the occasional shot to the body as well. Pogues was fighting with a similar strategy but seemed to be a step behind Parkin with his hands, and eventually opted to shoot for a takedown. Parkin defended the attempt, although he ate a heavy strike on the break, and the fighters separated with under two minutes to work. Parkin continued to outpoint Pogues as they traded strikes, and he mixed in several calf kicks as well, adding another layer to his overall attack. 10-9 Parkin.
Pogues chased after a single leg early in the second round. He was unable to complete the takedown, but he landed some heavy elbows in the clinch, and he seemed to be finding more success striking from the clinch than he was from distance. Eventually, Parkin broke away from Pogues and resumed his own attack, picking away at the lead leg of Pogues with that calf kick, while he continued to work his jab effectively. The leg kicks had begun to add up by this point in the fight, and they were generating some big reactions from Pogues, who was falling far behind on the strike count. I thought that this was another fairly clear round for Parkin. 20-18 Parkin.
The leg kicks from Parkin continued to do significant damage in the final round, keeping Pogues somewhat hesitant to engage. Parkin continued to outbox Pogues as well, and by this point in the fight, Pogues did not seem to have much to offer Parkin in response. Parkin’s jab continued to find a home, and he chopped away at Pogues’s lead leg until time expired. 30-27 Parkin.
WINNER: Michael Parkin by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Parkin was the superior striker, and this one played out entirely on the feet, where Parkin was able to pick Pogues apart from distance. His boxing looked sharp throughout the bout, and he quickly slowed Pogues down with leg kicks, which compromised Pogues’s movement while simultaneously keeping him from ever really picking up the aggression, even when it became clear that he was down big in the fight. It was a strong performance from Parkin, who looked like a fighter with far more experience than his six professional fights here, and this was certainly a strong UFC debut for the English fighter.
MARC DIAKIESE (16-6, 156) VS JOEL ALVAREZ (19-3, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Alvarez was throwing with power early in the first round, which prompted Diakiese to respond with some big swings of his own. A big right hand from Diakiese found his target as Alvarez threw a jab, and Alvarez responded by pressing forward with a heavy right hand. Diakiese attacked the lead leg of Alvarez, and Alvarez responded with some leg kicks of his own, although they did not seem to pack the same power as the ones that Diakiese threw. Alvarez attempted to take Diakiese down towards the end of the round but gave up top position in the process, and Diakiese ended the round on top.
Diakiese opted to take Alvarez down at the start of the second round with a big double leg. Diakiese threw down several short ground and pound strikes from top position while keeping Alvarez’s head pressed against the cage in a way that was not giving Alvarez much room to work from bottom position. Eventually, Alvarez was able to scramble on top, where he started throwing down strong shots of his own, but Diakiese quickly escaped to his feet. An accidental clash of heads hurt Diakiese, but referee Daniel Movahedi missed it, and as a result, Alvarez just poured it on until Diakiese went down, and Alvarez locked in a D’Arce choke, forcing Diakiese to submit.
WINNER: Joel Alvarez by D’Arce choke at 4:26 of Round 2
The ending of this fight was certainly controversial, as the accidental clash of heads directly led to the finish, and I was somewhat surprised to see the decision stand. When the fighters clashed heads, Diakiese signaled that he was hurt, and Alvarez was willing to stop, but referee Daniel Movahedi urged the fighters to continue, and Alvarez did his job, immediately finishing the fight against his compromised opponent. It was an unfortunate ending to what was an interesting matchup, but Alvarez looked good throughout this one, and it was certainly a slick finish despite the circumstances. Alvarez is now 5-2 in the UFC following this win, and he has finished all twenty of his professional wins.
DANNY ROBERTS (18-4, 171) VS JONNY PARSONS (8-3, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Roberts had the reach advantage, and he attempted to utilize it by throwing out several kicks to the body while putting out the occasional jab as well. Parsons attempted to close the distance, throwing some looping hooks on his way in, but he was getting caught by the counters from Roberts, and was having more success when he went after the body of Roberts instead. Roberts pressed forward late in the round, and he walked right into a big jab from Parsons, which I thought was Parsons’s best shot of the round. The fighters ended the round trading heavy shots, much to the crowd’s delight. Parsons certainly made this a very tough round to score by the end of it, but I gave the slight edge to Roberts.
Roberts shot for a takedown roughly a minute into the second round, but Parsons defended the attempt and punished Roberts with a short combination at the end of it. There was a quick exchange between the fighters, and a right hand from Parsons dropped Roberts hard. Parsons followed Roberts to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight, taking full mount with two minutes to work, but Roberts used the cage to escape to his feet, and the fighters started trading punches wildly upon returning to their feet. Parsons hurt Roberts yet again, and Parsons went on the attack as he attempted to finish the fight. Despite taking numerous heavy punches and knees up the middle, Roberts was able to weather the storm, and he cracked Parsons with a heavy left hook that gave him the confidence to start swinging again. Parsons fired back with heavy hooks of his own, rocking Roberts for a third time, and a heavy right hand dropped Roberts right before time expired in the round, ending the fight.
WINNER: Jonny Parsons by TKO at 4:57 of Round 2
After a very technical first round, this turned into a wild, wild fight in round two. Roberts had utilized his reach advantage to control the pace of the action throughout the early minutes of the fight, but once Parsons had Roberts rocked, he never let up, and this turned into a complete brawl until the fight was eventually stopped. Roberts landed some solid shots throughout that late brawl, but he was taking the bulk of the damage, and for every heavy punch he landed, Parsons would respond with one that rocked Roberts, and there was only so much of that Roberts could take until referee Jason Herzog had to step in. After his win, Parsons became the latest fighter to call out Paddy Pimblett, commenting on Pimblett’s “stupid hair” which was quite the statement from Parsons, who rocks a rather wild mullet. This fight marked Parsons’s UFC debut.
DAVEY GRANT (15-6, 136) VS DANIEL MARCOS (14-0, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
The fighters exchanged leg kicks to start the fight. A right hand over the top partially landed for Grant, before Marcos responded with a quicker right hand of his own. Marcos dug into the body with a hook after Grant missed on a wild right hand. Both fighters were looking for a lot of big shots, but neither was connecting cleanly on a high percentage of them. Instead, it was the leg kicks and partial lands that decided this round, and I thought Grant’s slight edge in activity was the difference maker. 10-9 Grant.
A heavy left hook from Marcos caught Grant towards the start of the second round, which was apparently the first clean strike he had landed to the head to that point in the fight. The leg kicks continued to add up for both men as the round progressed, and neither fighter was able to generate much consistent offense outside of those kicks. A kick from Marcos caught Grant below the belt, resulting in a pause in the action while Grant was given time to recover. The fight continued, and as the round wore on, Marcos landed enough jabs to the nose of Grant that he started bleeding heavily from it, resulting in a great deal of visual damage. Still, I did not think that either fighter was able to land many clean shots throughout this second round, which resulted in a difficult five minutes to score. 20-18 Grant.
Grant changed things up and shot for a takedown in the final round, but was unable to get Marcos to the ground. Grant was throwing his strikes in combination, and there were certainly some effective techniques on display, but the issue of the previous two rounds continued to plague both fighters who were having trouble landing clean shots to the head. Marcos attempted to work his jab, but he was falling behind in terms of general activity, and he needed some big moments to secure this round. Marcos ended the round with a takedown, but could not register the damage that he needed, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Grant.
WINNER: Daniel Marcos by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Neither fighter was inactive throughout this bout, but this was just one of those fights where neither man was able to implement their strategy effectively, leading to a somewhat uneventful fifteen-minute fight. I was certainly surprised by the decision, as I thought Grant’s edge in activity would earn him the nod when neither fighter had the clear advantage in terms of damage, but I suppose the heavy bleeding from his nose was a difference-maker to the judges, and Marcos had his arm raised at the end of the night. Marcos is now 2-0 in the UFC, and he showed respect to Grant after the fight as the English crowd showered him with boos.
LERONE MURPHY (12-0-1, 146) VS JOSHUA CULIBAO (11-1-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Murphy stumbled early in the fight, and Culibao capitalized, hitting him with a lengthy combination of strikes before pressing Murphy against the cage. Eventually, the fighters separated, and after a lengthy feeling-out period, Murphy stepped in with a short left hand that seemed to catch Culibao clean. Murphy pressed Culibao into the cage, and he caught him with an elbow as they broke apart. A right hand from Murphy caught Culibao clean, and he shot for a takedown moments later, but the attempt was defended successfully by Culibao. 10-9 Murphy.
Culibao was looking for a takedown of his own towards the start of the second round, but the takedown defense held up for Murphy, who pressed Culibao against the cage before breaking away with an elbow. The fighters exchanged hooks, and Culibao seemed to stun Murphy, but Murphy powered through and took Culibao to the ground, where he began to work from the back of Culibao. Murphy did not do much damage from the back of Culibao, but he was able to maintain the position until the end of the round. 20-18 Murphy.
Much like the previous round, Culibao began the final round in search of a takedown. Murphy was able to defend the attempt, and a kick to the body grounded Culibao. Murphy followed him to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight. Murphy attempted to submit Culibao before he postured up and started throwing down ground and pound shots but was unable to finish Culibao, who survived until the final horn sounded. 30-27 Murphy.
WINNER: Lerone Murphy by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
The fight was quite competitive throughout the opening minutes, but as the fight progressed, this slowly became a one-sided fight in favor of Lerone Murphy. The body kick that sent Culibao crumbling to the ground in the final round just barely glanced him, but sometimes that is more than enough to just shut down the liver, and from that point forward, Murphy laid down a beating on Culibao securing the victory while earning himself a 10-8 round on two of the three judge’s scorecards. Murphy now holds a record of 5-0-1 in the UFC following this win
JAI HERBERT (12-4-1, 155) VS FARES ZIAM (13-4, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
The fighters traded leg kicks in the fights opening minute. Ziam started to press forward with quick one-twos, but the leg kick battle continued to be the story of the fight’s opening minutes. Hebert dug into the body with a combination before searching for a takedown, and while the attempt was defended, it resulted in a lengthy clinch battle where both men landed numerous knees to the body. Eventually, the fighters separated, and Ziam caught Herbert with an elbow on the break. 10-9 Herbert.
Herbert pressured forward to start the second round, attacking the body of Ziam with heavy hooks. The fighters exchanged heavy right hands, before returning to their battle in the clinch against the cage. Ziam eventually secured a takedown after another lengthy stalemate in the clinch, but Herbert popped right back to his feet, where he broke away from Ziam and went back on the attack until the horn sounded, signaling the end of what was a very close round. 20-18 Herbert.
Herbert seemed to have a slight edge in terms of activity, but this continued to be a very close fight in the third round. The fighters traded jabs and occasional straight right hands before Herbert shot for a takedown. Ziam’s defense held up well, and the fighters ended up in another long battle in the clinch, where neither fighter was able to gain the advantage. The fighters wrestled to a stalemate for the vast majority of the round, and the fight fittingly ended with Herbert and Ziam wrestling against the cage. 29-28 Herbert.
WINNER: Fares Ziam by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
These fighters were very evenly matched, and their similarities as strikers resulted in this fight becoming a bit of a wrestling match, where neither man could gain a true advantage despite both men’s considerable effort. It was not the most enjoyable fight to watch, especially as it progressed, and it was certainly a very tough fight to score given how evenly contested it was. I gave Herbert the slight edge as I thought he did more damage whenever the fighters separated, but I took no issues with the decision either and was not shocked to see Ziam get his arm raised. Ziam’s UFC record improved to 4-2 as a result of this win.
PAUL CRAIG (16-6-1, 186) VS ANDRE MUNIZ (23-5, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The fighters met in the middle of the cage as Buffer introduced Paul Craig. The first few minutes of the bout were spent on the feet, with both fighters testing their range, throwing out numerous leg kicks. Muniz threw one solid combination that resulted in visible redness on the nose of Craig, but there was not a ton of consistent offense coming from either man. Muniz caught a kick from Craig and took him down towards the end of the round, but was unable to do much with the position before time expired.
Craig secured a takedown of his own to start the second round, but Muniz was comfortable working off of his back and started looking for a triangle choke. Craig realized that the triangle was not quite locked in, and he postured up and began to throw down ground and pound shots before Muniz gave up on his attempt and scrambled into top position. Muniz caught Craig with a headbutt and lost his position as a result, and the fighters were stood up. Craig took Muniz down when the action resumed, and he started hunting for a D’Arce choke. Muniz escaped the submission, but he was stuck in side control, and Craig opted to mount Muniz, where he started throwing down vicious elbows that Muniz could not escape from. Eventually, the elbows were just too much, and referee Daniel Movahedi was forced to step in to stop the fight.
WINNER: Paul Craig by TKO at 4:40 of Round 2
This marked Craig’s first fight at middleweight after fighting his entire career at light heavyweight, and physically, he looked great. There is a big gap between 205lbs and 185lbs, but Craig seemed to lose the weight the right way, and he was in good form here, showcasing his typical Paul Craig styled grappling and resiliency, escaping some tough positions to come back and decisively win the fight. Craig will likely take Muniz’s spot in the division’s top fifteen following this win, and there will certainly be some interesting fights for the always-entertaining Paul Craig in a new division.
NATHANIEL WOOD (19-5, 146) VS ANDRE FILI (22-9, 1 NC, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Both fighters came out firing, with Fili dropping Wood with a left hand roughly twenty seconds into the bout. Wood recovered and cracked Fili with a right hand, but he seemed to be struggling with Fili’s reach advantage early in this fight. Still, Wood continued to look for opportunities to land on their feet, and eventually, the opportunity presented itself, as Wood landed a huge right hand that knocked Fili to the ground. Fili attempted to recover, but Wood swarmed him with strikes against the cage before following him to the ground, where Wood looked to finish the fight. Wood unloaded with ground and pound strikes, but Fili did just enough to survive, and he escaped to his feet with a minute to work. Fili seemed to have fully recovered by this point, and he dodged some of Wood’s strikes while taunting before time expired. 10-9 Wood.
A hard left hook from Wood sent Fili on the retreat at the start of the second round. Fili responded with a head kick as Wood pressed forward, and a quick shot from Fili rocked Wood roughly a minute later. Fili realized Wood was hurt, and he caught Wood with a series of knees that dropped him. Fili followed Wood to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight, but Wood was able to recover, and a scramble ultimately led to Fili taking the top position, working from his opponent’s guard. Fili remained in top position until time expired, and this fight was almost certainly tied on the scorecards heading into round three. 19-19.
Both fighters were somewhat hesitant at the start of round three, knowing that a single mistake could cost them the fight at this point. This was still anyone’s fight with half of the round to go, and that’s when Fili started to throw some heavier strikes, before shooting for a takedown that Wood successfully defended. Wood cracked Fili with a hard left hand in the fight’s final minute, and that big shot along with his general edge in activity may have been enough to earn him this final round on the scorecards. 29-28 Wood.
WINNER: Nathaniel Wood by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
The first two rounds of this fight were a roller-coaster, with both fighters getting rocked and dropped multiple times. It was clear that both of these fighters possessed fight-ending power, and with the fight all tied up heading into the third and final round, both fighters were understandably hesitant to commit to any big actions, with the knowledge that one wrong move would likely decide the fight. In the end, that hesitance led to the round being decided by activity, and it was Nathaniel Wood who was the more active fighter. There is still some debate as to whether Wood would be better served at bantamweight or featherweight, but he is now 3-0 in the featherweight division, and he is quickly approaching ranked competition.
MOLLY MCCANN (13-5, 125) VS JULIJA STOLIARENKO (10-7-2, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
McCann and Stoliarenko traded strikes early in the fight, with Stoliarenko doing her best to utilize her reach advantage. It did not take long before Stoliarenko opted to take McCann to the ground, and she immediately locked in an armbar, forcing McCann to submit.
WINNER: Julija Stoliarenko by armbar at 1:55 of Round 1
McCann was the most popular fighter on the card to the live crowd, and the atmosphere throughout the first minute of the fight felt like it took place in a different building than every other fight on this card. Unfortunately for the energetic crowd, that excitement did not last long as Stoliarenko quickly took McCann down and finished the fight. The armbar was a nasty one, as the referee was a bit late to stop the fight after McCann’s first tap, which may have very well resulted in additional damage. While this was a tough loss for McCann, it was a much-needed win for Stoliarenko, who came into this fight with a 1-4 record since joining the UFC in 2020.
TOM ASPINALL (12-3, 258) VS MARCIN TYBURA (24-7, 246) – HEAVYWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. Aspinall stunned Tybura with a head kick in the opening seconds of the fight, but Tybura recovered quickly. Aspinall caught Tybura with a flurry of short hooks, before tagging him with a solid kick up the middle. A straight right hand from Aspinall dropped Tybura hard, and Aspinall followed Tybura to the ground, where he threw down ground and pound strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Tom Aspinall by TKO at 1:13 of Round 1
After suffering a knee injury in the opening seconds of his main event fight in the same arena almost a year ago to the day, this was quite the triumphant return to the octagon for Tom Aspinall. Aspinall brought the fight to Tybura from the start here, giving Tybura no room to get comfortable. It did not take long for Aspinall to find the big knockdown that he was looking forward to, and the crowd exploded when referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop the fight. After the fight, Aspinall stated that he will be going to Paris to watch the upcoming fight between Ciryl Gane and Sergei Pavlovich and that he will face the winner for a shot at the heavyweight championship afterward. Honestly, if Pavlovich beats Gane, he will have done more than enough to earn a shot at UFC gold as it is, but I would be very interested to see that matchup play out, as well as a fight between Aspinall and Gane if Gane is ultimately the victor against Pavlovich.