It was certainly a night to remember at the UFC Apex, filled with finishes, standout performances, and two new Ultimate Fighter winners. Every single fight ended with a finish, only the 10th time this has happened in UFC history. The card started with a bang on the prelims, showcasing what was to come on the main card. Mayra Bueno Silva started the card off with unquestionably a controversial finish, but it went down as a first-round armbar for the Brazilian. Cory McKenna secured a slick Von Flue choke in the second round of her contest with Miranda Granger, Bryan Battle followed that with a brutal head kick knockout that left Takashi Sato out cold, and Michal Oleksiejczuk capped off the prelims by handing Sam Alvey his eighth loss in a row. While the expectations for the main card were high, they certainly delivered high-profile fights.
Let’s recap what went down on the main card.
Terrance McKinney kept the finish streak on the card going with a 2:42 rear naked choke of Erick Gonzalez. McKinney got off to a great start, finding his range, and working in some slick combinations. Gonzalez found a strong punch during an exchange that seemed to get McKinney’s respect, but McKinney jumped on the back of Gonzalez and locked in the rear naked choke. Terrance was a massive favorite, the biggest favorite on the card as a -950, and added another first-round finish to his resume. McKinney called out Paddy Pimblett in his post-fight interview, which could be another fantastic addition to the card in New York.
Serghei Spivac entered the heavyweight rankings in a big way, dominating the fourteenth-ranked Augusto Sakai on the ground to secure a second-round TKO stoppage. Sakai seemed to have no answer to the wrestling of the Polar Bear, as Serghei landed six takedowns, had six and a half minutes of control time, and outstruck him 85-11. Spivac is yet another prospect in the heavyweight division that has gotten a big win within the last couple of weeks, and he certainly has a bright future. Another standout performance from Serghei Spivac tonight.
Season 30 was fortunate enough to feature both women’s flyweight and heavyweight athletes, and the season was filled with standout performances from the finalists in both divisions. Brogan Walker and Julianna Miller were the flyweight finalists, with Miller winning the finale and the UFC contract with an impressive performance. Miller defeated Claire Guthrie and Katilyn Neil in the house to earn a spot in the finale. Miller dominated the fight with her wrestling and control time and earned a late TKO into the third round. Four takedowns, almost ten minutes of control time, and nasty, nasty elbows and strikes from top mount gave JuJu the UFC contract she’s worked so hard for. Congratulations to Julianna Miller!
Immediately after, we had another TUF winner in Mohammad Usman, scoring a brutal knockout in the second round, leaving Zac Pauga out cold. In the first round, you could argue Zac had the speed advantage and was able to land more strikes, and seemed to get the edge on Usman. However, in the second, Usman landed a quick check hook that put Pauga down, and a monster shot put him unconscious. Mohammad earned wins over Mitchell Sipe and Eduardo Perez to earn his spot in the finale. Mohammad and his brother Kamaru, the current welterweight champion, become the first set of brothers to win The Ultimate Fighter in history, and Usman dedicated his performance to his son Nash, who tragically passed away a few years ago. Congratulations to Mohammad Usman!
Geoff Neal looked fantastic in a slight upset win over the insanely durable Vicente Luque. After a very rough first round where Neal surprisingly dropped Luque once and hurt him multiple times, Luque seemed to rebound in the second round, evening the score at 19-19. However, in the third, Neal continued to press forward and landed several uppercuts that put Luque out. An astounding 1.1% of the Verdict Community picked Neal to win by third-round KO. Vicente Luque has been in several wars and is a very tough and durable fighter, but Geoff Neal possesses some crazy power and just stole Luque’s number six ranking in the best performance of his career.
Brendan Fitzgerald’s call at the end of Jamahal Hill’s fourth-round TKO of Thiago Santos was picture perfect, as all ten fights on this card ended via a stoppage. This fight was competitive until the very end, with both men swinging with intent in every punch, and we saw excellent exchanges on the feet, clinch work, and grappling. Santos was successful in finding some takedowns but wasn’t able to control him as Hill was so urgent to get back to his feet, and never settled being on the canvas. The problem was, that Santos showed visible fatigue from the intense grappling heavy approach, and that led to Hill securing the seventh TKO win of his career. Hill will enter the top ten next week, and look to challenge a top-five opponent next.
It was the second time that a UFC card ended with a 100% finish rate, and seven TKO’s and three submissions capped off an excellent night of fights. Next week, we will have the opportunity to catch Bo Nickal, a former three-time All-American standout from Penn State headline the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series card, with top fifteen bantamweights Marlon Vera and Dominick Cruz in the main event this Saturday in sunny San Diego.
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