With a steady supply of kicks damaging Rivera's leg, Munhoz picked up a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) win over Rivera in an excellent bantamweight fight on the Fight Night undercard at the Apex in Las Vegas. Coming in, ESPN had Munhoz ranked No. 8 in the world at 135 pounds, and this victory should propel him to another big fight in the division.
Only top contender Aljamain Sterling has more bantamweight wins (10) since 2014 than Munhoz (9), per ESPN Stats & Information research. Afterward, Munhoz said he'd love to fight former champion TJ Dillashaw next. Dillashaw just regained eligibility from a performance-enhancing drug suspension.
"He's a hell of a fighter," Munhoz said. "It would be a pleasure to share the Octagon with him."
Rivera was having a lot of success with his crisp boxing early on. He landed beautiful combinations and cracked Munhoz with hard left hooks. The two men exchanged haymakers in the first round. But the tide of the fight turned when Munhoz started to pile up the calf kicks. Munhoz hurt Rivera's left leg late in the first round and then took him off his feet seconds later.
In the second, Munhoz (19-5 1 NC, 9-5 1 NC UFC) kept the pressure on with the kicks and Rivera couldn't let go with his hands as effectively. Not only did Munhoz's kicks hurt Rivera, but they somewhat nullified the precision of his offense, as well as Rivera's mobility. In the third, Rivera switched stances briefly but came back to orthodox and hurt Munhoz with a one-two combination and another left hook. It just was not enough.
Watching that fight hurt made my shins hurt— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) February 28, 2021
Munhoz, 34, snapped a two-fight losing streak with the victory. The Brazil native, who lives and trains in Florida at American Top Team, was coming off a very close, split decision loss to Frankie Edgar last August. He has lost only to Edgar and top contender Sterling since 2018. Rivera (23-5, 7-4 UFC), a 31-year-old New Jersey native, has dropped three of four and four of six, but all against elite bantamweights. Rivera beat Munhoz by split decision in 2015.
"Jimmie and I became good friends after the first fight we did a few years ago," Munhoz said. "First one was a great fight, now this one definitely deserves fight of the night [bonus]."
Sure enough, both fighters were awarded $50,000 for fight of the night.
"He was checking [the kicks], that's the reason it was hurting my legs, too," Munhoz said. "He was kicking me back, it was just exchanging. That's the type of fight that I like to do. That's the reason that I was getting anxious a little bit the last couple of days, because I knew we were going to put down, we were going to exchange and trying to take each other's head off, so it feels really good."
-- Marc Raimondi
Ciryl Gane dominates early rounds in main event matchup
Ciryl Gane pressures Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the early rounds of their main event matchup at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
Ciryl Gane, the UFC heavyweight contender, picked up a critical notch in his belt. Ciryl Gane the budding UFC star? Maybe not so much.
Gane completely controlled Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a one-sided, unanimous decision win (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. But a lack of aggression and his conservative strategy could work against him when it comes to future UFC matchmaking.
Ankalaev's takedown in Round 3 leads to win at UFC Fight Night
Magomed Ankalaev's takedown of Nikita Krylov ends up being a factor in his win at UFC Fight Night.
Ankalaev continued his march up the UFC rankings with a decision win over Nikita Krylov, but did not completely take advantage of a potential breakout spot.
Ankalaev cemented himself as a problem at 205 pounds -- but the three-round victory was tedious to watch at times, and not what some would have expected from a significant betting favorite. Judges unanimously scored the light heavyweight matchup 29-28 for Ankalaev.
Krylov, of Ukraine, deserves credit for throwing Ankalaev's rhythm off early and doing relatively well in the clinch along the fence. He used feints and unpredictability on the feet early, which kept Ankalaev guessing and defused his notoriously dangerous striking. By the second round, however, Ankalaev started to find a home for his counter right hand. He still did not jump on Krylov with combinations, but did enough with single shots to seize momentum.
Krylov appeared a little tired in the third, and ate a big right hand in the opening moments. Rather than continue picking at him on the feet, Ankalaev surprised Krylov with a takedown, spent a good portion of the round in top position near the fence and sealed up the clear-cut decision.
Ankalaev, 28, has now won his past six in a row. He would be undefeated in the UFC were it not for a come-from-behind Hail Mary submission win by Paul Craig against Ankalaev in his UFC debut.
-- Brett Okamoto
Three impressive performances determined the result of this fight. The two most notable ones were put in by De La Rosa, who is known as mostly a wrestler but began the fight with crisp standup, and Bueno Silva, who overcame early adversity to earn the nod on one of the judges' scorecards.
That judge saw it as a 29-28 fight in the Brazilian's favor, and the other two scored it as a draw.
Great fight by two tough flyweights!!!! Wow 👏🏽 #UFCVegas20— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) February 28, 2021
The odd scoring was largely brought about by the impressive work of referee Jerin Valel, who took away a point from Bueno Silva in the first round after she prevented a takedown by grabbing the fence. That's what the rules call for, but all too often referees issue warning after warning, with fighters facing no repercussions for fight-changing violations.
In this one, De La Rosa, a 26-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, had the advantage early and then again in Round 2, using aggressive wrestling to tire her opponent. But Bueno Silva, who is 29 and from Brazil, bloodied her up in Round 3 and landed a succession of elbows to leave a large hematoma over her opponent's left eye.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Alex Caceres dominates Round 3 on way to win
Alex Caceres is all over Kevin Croom in Round 3 as he wins via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night.
Caceres, who matched the longest win streak of his UFC career at four, nearly submitted Croom in the second and third rounds, before settling for a victory on the scorecards. All three judges scored it for the 24-fight UFC veteran via scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27.
Fighting out of Glory MMA & Fitness in Kansas City, Missouri, Croom did not come up short for lack of effort. His game plan consisted of relentlessly shooting takedowns on Caceres, which he did for the entire 15 minutes. UFC Stats officially counted 16 takedown attempts from Croom -- but unfortunately for him, he converted only one.
Caceres' takedown defense was on point, and he made Croom pay time and again as he tried to close the distance. The one successful takedown Croom did manage to convert only led to trouble on the ground, as Caceres caught him in a triangle choke from his back. He came close to submitting Croom again in the third round after taking his back, but ran out of time on the rear-naked choke.
Caceres, of Miami, joined the UFC as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter reality series in 2010. His other four-fight win streak ran from 2012 to 2014, with a no-contest included in the middle of it. The 32-year-old's last loss came to Kron Gracie in 2019.
Add 25-year-old Moises to your list of lightweight prospects.
The Brazilian, who trains at American Top Team in South Florida, showed off skills aplenty but even more importantly a veteran's level of poise. He did start young in this sport, and this was his 19th pro fight, and that was clear in his third straight victory.
Hernandez was in constant motion for the entire 15 minutes, throwing punches, feinting, moving forward with more attacks. Moises defended most everything, and he sent stinging counterpunches back toward his opponent. All three rounds were close, but Moises had just a little extra and pulled away as the fight wore on.
The best I've ever seen Moises look! #UFCVegas20— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) February 28, 2021
Two judges scored the bout 30-27 and the other had it 29-28.
For the 28-year-old Hernandez, who is from San Antonio, Texas, but has been training in Colorado, it was his second loss in his past three fights.
Moises was confident the whole way, but his boldness came to the fore late. No longer satisfied to clip Hernandez with counters, Moises began stalking ... and talking. The fight ended with him fully in control and the otherwise aggressive Hernandez on his heels.
Davis issued a stern reminder that she was once considered one of the best women's bantamweight fighters on the planet.
The veteran dispatched top prospect Mazo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) in a one-sided women's 135-pound bout. Both women had fought most recently at women's flyweight but moved up for this contest. Davis was able to do damage to Mazo's lead calf on the feet and dominate when things went to the floor.
Mazo looked great with boxing to start the first round. She was piecing Davis up with combinations, causing visible reddening of Davis' face. But then Mazo made a tactical error. She threw a kick that Davis caught and turned into a takedown. Mazo couldn't make her way back to her feet the rest of the round, as Davis took her back and landed some punches.
In the second round, Mazo had more success on the feet. Davis, though, added a wrinkle to her own kickboxing game. She landed hard calf kicks regularly in the second round, so many that Mazo's mobility was clearly diminished. Davis took Mazo down toward the end of the round and took her down again in the third, taking Mazo's back.
Davis, 36, had not fought since July 2019. The Canada native, who trains in Northern California, snapped a three-fight losing streak. Davis fought Ronda Rousey for the UFC women's bantamweight title in 2014. She sports a 6-2 record in the women's bantamweight division and it seems her natural division is where she still stay.
"It feels good to not make the weight cut anymore," Davis said in her postfight interview. "I feel healthy at 135."
Mazo, a 23-year-old Colombia native who trains in Southern California, had a three-fight winning streak snapped.
Lawrence might have made his matchmaker's job a little harder in the process of winning his UFC debut.
Lawrence, 28, sent a message to the rest of the 135-pound division, as he kept a furious pace on Cachero -- especially with his takedowns. According to UFC Stats, he managed to take Cachero down eight times in under three rounds, before finishing the bout with grounded strikes at 2:38 of the third round.
Impressive performance by Lawrence!— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) February 27, 2021
Cachero didn't make things easy on Lawrence but was simply overwhelmed by his tenacity on the floor. Cachero hunted for several submissions off his back and did well at times working back to his feet after allowing a takedown, but Lawrence's ability to close distance and wrestle made for a very long night.
The finish came midway through the third, after Lawrence landed a very long string of punches to the side of Cachero's head from top position. Overall, Lawrence was credited with 76 strikes to Cachero's 25. The Dana White Contender Series alum extended his overall win streak to four. Lawrence earned a $50,000 performance of the night bonus.
In the final seconds before the horn to end the fight, both men noticeably turned up their aggression. They knew this one was still up for grabs. Even as Bruce Buffer was announcing the result -- 29-28 on all three judges' scorecards -- both Jacoby and Grishin looked confident, poised to celebrate. That was not delusional on either man's part.
It was Jacoby who had his hand raised for his fourth straight victory. The last two of those have been in the UFC -- in his second run in the Octagon. He was cut by the UFC in 2012 after going 0-2, and it took the 32-year-old over eight years to work his way back. Jacoby has shown a resolve to overcome challenges.
He had a big obstacle to deal with on this night, as Grishin missed weight by 4½ pounds. The Russian, 36, appeared to tire by midfight, although he did seem reenergized in the final round. Still, he now has lost two of three in the UFC after entering the promotion last year riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak.