UFC Fight Night Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodríguez: results and analysis

UFC Fight Night Max Holloway vs.  Yair Rodríguez: results and analysis

LAS VEGAS – Fresh off back-to-back numbered events in the past two weeks, the UFC hosts a massive featherweight main event Saturday inside the Apex between former 145-pound champion Max Holloway and Mexico’s Yair Rodríguez at UFC Fight Night.

For Holloway (22-6), 2021 marks the first calendar year since 2015 in which he did not compete in a UFC championship fight. But a win today would surely put him in turn for that in 2022.

Holloway is coming off a masterful performance in a unanimous decision win over Calvin Kattar in January. Holloway is tied for ninth in ESPN’s men’s pound-for-pound top 10.

As for Mexican Rodríguez (13-2, 1 NC), Holloway represents the greatest test of his career and an opportunity to live up to the potential he has shown since 2014, when he won The Ultimate Fighter Latin America.

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the action after every fight.

Watch UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodríguez on ESPN +

Fight in turn

Men’s Featherweight: Max Holloway (22-6, 18-6 UFC; -625) vs. Yair Rodriguez (14-2 NC, 8-1 NC UFC; +450)


Heavyweight: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-8-1, 8-5 UFC) defeats Ben Rothwell (39-14, 9-8 UFC) by TKO in the first round

De Lima took 32 seconds to finish Rothwell, courtesy of a right hand and a powerful left hook. De Lima hurt Rothwell early with a right hand down the middle. After Rothwell backed up to the fence, De Lima dropped him with a left hook.

Rothwell was clearly wounded, but instinctively he held onto de Lima and sought a takedown. Referee Herb Dean stepped in immediately after the left hook, but then appeared to briefly change his mind and allowed the fight to continue for a few more moments. However, De Lima essentially stopped fighting after Dean’s initial move, and Dean stopped the fight.

Rothwell protested the strike, but to no avail. De Lima earned his second consecutive victory, breaking an 11-fight streak in which he alternated wins and losses. The Brazilian is officially on his first winning streak since 2014. Rothwell, 40, of Wisconsin, has lost two of his last three bouts.

Women’s Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (9-3, 3-3 UFC) defeats Leah Letson (5-3, 1-1 UFC) by TKO in the third round

Letson hadn’t fought in nearly three years, and his return was slated for the smallest cage in the UFC Apex. So Spencer didn’t give Letson time or space.

Spencer ran through the Octagon early on and stayed in Letson’s face throughout the fight, clutching against the cage for much of it and landing a relentless flurry of elbows and fists. At the end of Round 1, Spencer had a 17-6 advantage in strokes.

The dominance continued until Spencer raised his level in the second half of the final round, when he took the fight to the canvas, moved to the saddle above, and proceeded to drop his elbows until referee Mark Smith, thankfully, jumped to stop. the fight with 35 seconds to go.

“Going back to where I was most successful,” said Spencer, a 30-year-old Canadian who fights in Orlando, Florida. She entered the fight after losing three of her four previous matches, but in two of those matches she went the distance with Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg.

Letson, 29, saw a five-game winning streak come to an end.

Welterweight: Khaos Williams (13-2, 4-1 UFC) defeats Miguel Baeza (10-2, 3-2 UFC) by TKO in the third round

Puerto Rican Baeza was having success with his calf kicks. However, on one kick in particular, Williams had a great counterattack.

Baeza tripped Williams off a kick to the calf from Williams in the third round. But Williams came back with a swing, landing a left and then a monstrous right hand that threw Baeza’s head back and knocked him down hard. The final by knockout came at 1:02 of the third round.

“I was made for this,” Williams said in his post-fight interview. … “Now they know I’m a threat.”

In the first round, Baeza came out quite strong, landing those calf kicks plus combinations and a stabbing right. After a slip, Baeza was able to win a scramble and get into position for various leg submission attempts. Williams, however, was resilient and successful in breaking through with ground and pound.

“It really wasn’t that close,” Williams said. “It probably looked worse than it really was. It was fine.”

Williams hit some good combinations in the second round and both men landed strong calf kicks. In the third, Williams exploded with that combination after Baeza’s calf kick with spectacular results.

The 27-year-old Williams has won two fights in a row and four of five in the UFC. Nicknamed “The Ox Fighter,” Williams has three big knockouts in those four UFC victories. Baeza, 29, lost two bouts in a row after a three-fight winning streak in the UFC.

Men’s Bantamweight: Song Yadong (18-5-1, 7-1-1 UFC) defeats Julio Arce (17-5, 4-3 UFC) by TKO in the second round

Yadong looks more like a future title contender with every fight. Such was the case on Saturday, when the 23-year-old South Korean finished off Arce by TKO at 1:35 of the second round.

The finale came after Yadong staggered Arce with a right hand. Arce retreated to the fence where Yadong lowered him and unloaded a strong blast that left Arce on the canvas. It is the first time Arce has been terminated in a fight since March 2016.

Yadong looked great on his feet throughout the 135-pound fight. He threw with speed and power and mixed in a good variety of kicks to Arce’s legs and head. He is 7-1-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to Kyler Phillips in March.

Lightweight: Joel Alvarez (19-2, 4-1 UFC) defeats Thiago Moises (15-6, 4-4 UFC) by TKO in the first round

Álvarez acquired his nickname “El Fenómeno” before Saturday, and his phenomenal performance against Moisés lived up to the nickname.

Although the 28-year-old Spaniard was an underdog in betting by more than 2 to 1, Alvarez was in command from the start. His 6-foot-3-foot stature produced a significant range advantage, and he displayed an ability to hit without being hit. He landed 44 strikes to 11 for Moisés, who was injured from the body shots before sinking into the cage, prompting referee Mark Smith to stop the fight at 3:01 in Round 1.

It was Álvarez’s fourth consecutive victory, all final; in fact, his 18 professional victories have been by unemployment. The last three, however, were by submission.

Moises, a 26-year-old Brazilian who fights in Coconut Creek, Florida, has lost two matches in a row. His only “win” on this day was that he was able to take home 30% of his opponent’s purse because Alvarez missed the peso by a pound and a half on Friday.

Women’s Flyweight: Andrea Lee (13-5, 5-3 UFC) defeats Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1, 6-4-1 UFC) by TKO after the second round

It is time to consider Lee as a female flyweight contender again.

In one of the best performances of his career, Lee hit Calvillo en route to a TKO victory at 5:00 of the second round. Calvillo refused to go out for the third. Lee punished Calvillo badly in the second round and Calvillo looked emotional afterward.

“I really hope Cynthia is okay,” Lee said in his post-fight interview. “I am grateful that he accepted this fight three weeks in advance. … What [el árbitro Mark Smith] come and say the fight was over, I was happy, I was excited. Also, worried about Cynthia. “

Lee hit a good jab in the first round, bleeding Calvillo’s nose. But Calvillo also had moments, including various combinations that caused blood to gush from Lee’s nose. On the second jump, however, it was mostly one-way traffic.

Lee hurt Calvillo with a front kick to the body, then landed big left and right hooks, mixing more kicks to the body and legs. By the end of the round, Calvillo was bleeding from multiple cuts on his face.

Lee, 32, of Louisiana, has won two bouts in a row following a three-fight losing streak. She entered the UFC in 2018 with great enthusiasm as a former LFA women’s flyweight champion and it seems like she’s finally started putting it all together.

Calvillo, a 34-year-old Mexican American from California, has lost three matches in a row.

Men’s Featherweight: Sean Woodson (9-1, 3-1 UFC) defeats Collin Anglin (8-3, 0-2 UFC) by TKO in the first round

Woodson of St. Louis attacked Anglin on his feet, en route to an easy finish in the first round. The end came at 4:30, when Anglin succumbed to a series of body shots along the fence. It’s Woodson’s first final in the UFC.

Anglin tried to follow Woodson on his feet and attempted a takedown, but Woodson easily defended him. The jab was on point for Woodson, and once he hurt Anglin, the end came very quickly.

Woodson is now 3-1 since leaving the Contender Series in 2019. Michigan’s Anglin has lost two matches in a row.

Female flyweight Cortney Casey (10-9, 6-8 UFC; -240) defeated Liana Jojua (8-5, 1-3 UFC) by unanimous decision

Jojua missed the weight by 2½ pounds on Friday and had to deliver 30% of her bag. It was pretty much all downhill from that.

Casey repeatedly split the guard to land hands and kicks in Jojua’s face, who was bloody midway through the first round; the first round ended with a 30-6 lead for Casey in punches.

Even when Jojua managed to take the fight to the canvas, it was she who absorbed most of the damage. As he followed Casey to the mat in the second round, Jojua kicked twice in the face. Then Casey landed several elbows from the bottom position.

Casey, 34, fighting in Glendale, Ariz., Ended a two-game losing streak by winning on the scorecards with scores of 30, despite injuring his hand in Round 1.

Jojua, a 26-year-old Georgian who trains in Las Vegas, has lost two of her last three bouts.

Lightweight: Rafael Alves (20-10, 1-1 UFC) defeats Marc Diakiese (14-5, 5-5 UFC) by submission in the first round (guillotine)

After staggering Diakiese with a left hand, Alves ran to get a flying knee. Diakiese was able to catch Alves and go to take him down, but Alves grabbed a guillotine. Alves blocked the choke as he and Diakiese fell to the ground and Diakiese gave up. Alves’ submission finish came at 1:48 of the first round.

“Dana, I’m here to be a champion,” Alves said in his post-fight interview, referring to UFC president Dana White. “I was born to be a champion.”

Brazilian Alves, 31, scored his first UFC win with that impressive sequence. He is an alumnus of Dana White’s Contender Series and the former Titan FC Interim Lightweight Champion. Diakiese, 28, has lost two bouts in a row and five of his last seven.

Light Heavyweight: Da-Un Jung (15-2-1, 4-0-1 UFC) defeats Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-2, 3-2 UFC) by KO in the first round

Da-Un knocked out Nzechukwu with his elbows along the cage at 3:04 of the first round. The ending came after Da-Un injured Nzechukwu on the feet, carried him to the cage, and dropped him with his elbows on top.

It was a decisive ending for Da-Un and a slightly disconcerting performance from Nzechukwu, who barely attempted a punch and mostly stood directly in front of Da-Un in a defensive stance. It is Nzechukwu’s first loss in four fights. Da-Un improves to 4-0-1 in UFC.

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