by Jason Howard Kelly
With many MMA fans still buzzing about an incredibly exciting night of fights at UFC 214 the week before the UFC sated their appetites with a solid fight card from Mexico City on Saturday. Two of Mexico’s most exciting young fighters, Alexa Grasso and Brandon Moreno, highlighted this UFC Fight Night looking to give their hometown crowd something to cheer about. With no titles on the line tonight was all about movement in the rankings and, potentially, future championship contenders making themselves known.
Alejandro Perez vs. Andre Soukhamthat
The first bout of the night featured TUF Latin America winner Alejandro Perez taking on the flashy but dangerous Andre Soukhamthat in the bantamweight division.
Soukhamthat got things started quickly in round one as he landed two straight left jabs to the chin of Perez that knocked him down. Soukhamthat would continue to look for that left jab throughout the remainder of the fight, even managing to knock down Perez yet again with the jab in the second round. However, Perez answered back by landing a takedown and beginning to dictate the pace more in his favor. Perez also looked like the much fresher fighter in round 3, continuing to push the pace and putting Soukhamthat on his back again towards the end of the round.
Perez earned the victory by split decision, as he was able to show the judges that he was the more active fighter in the latter part of the fight. Soukhamthat became somewhat complacent just constantly looking for the perfect jab to knock down Perez again which severely affected his pace.
Winner: Alejandro Perez by split decision
Sam Alvey vs. Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans returned to the octagon looking for his first win at middleweight as well as trying to snap a 3-fight losing streak. He had a tough task in front of him in the person of the powerful “Smiling” Sam Alvey.
Rashad Evans made his intentions known early as he shot for a takedown against Alvey and pressed him up against the cage. Alvey showed good defense as he used his strength to keep Evans at bay. Though Evans did eventually take him down Alvey did not stay on the ground long and quickly brought the fight back to the feet.
Both fighters had a rather uneventful second round. Alvey attempted to open up with some striking but ultimately did not do any significant damage. Alvey dealt the brunt of his damage through the clinch when Evans would attempt to take him down. It was a gritty, offense-from-defense approach from Alvey that would earn him the victory over Rashad Evans.
This makes it four losses in a row for the UFC veteran, Rashad Evans, and one has to wonder where his career goes from here. It is clear that the move to middleweight has not favored him, and he seems to be getting gassed earlier on his fights recently.
Winner: Sam Alvey by decision
Humberto Bandenay vs. Martin Bravo
Another TUF Latin America winner, Martin Bravo, took on the biggest underdog of the night (+245) in Humberto Bandenay.
If you blinked then you missed it. Bandenay caught Bravo coming in with a vicious knee to the face and knocked him out just 26 seconds into the first round. It was an incredibly impressive knockout for the underdog who handed Martin Bravo his first loss. What is even more impressive is the fact that Bandenay took this fight on two weeks’ notice against a heavy favorite.
Winner: Humberto Bandenay by knockout
Alan Jouban vs. Niko Price
Undefeated welterweight prospect Niko Price took on UFC veteran Alan Jouban in a fight that many thought could be a contender for Fight of the Night. However, this was another fight that was ended much quicker than expected.
Just 1:44 into the first round Jouban threw a kick that was caught by Price and then countered with a straight right hand that dropped Jouban. The referee jumped in and called the TKO almost immediately, which was absolutely a justified quick stoppage. Jouban was clearly not defending and did not have his wits about him.
Niko Price remains undefeated with another impressive win over a top welterweight.
Winner: Niko Price by knockout
Randa Markos vs. Alexa Grasso
The co-main event featured one of Mexico’s brightest young fighters, Alexa Grasso, taking on Canada’s Randa Markos, a UFC veteran known for her wrestling prowess.
Both fighters started the first round at a frantic pace, throwing striking combinations and pushing a hard pace early on. Markos seemed to have an early advantage, tagging Grasso with some decent combinations. Grasso turned the tide back in her favor towards the end of the round, landing a strong left hook on Markos and taking her down as well. Grasso showed off some good ground-and-pound when she had Markos on her back.
The second round was all Markos, as she secured two takedowns against Grasso and hit her with some heavy ground-and-pound from the top mount. Grasso was able to competently defend and keep herself in the fight, but she had definitely lost the round.
Fatigue had become a big factor by the third round, especially for Randa Markos. Markos was able to land another takedown late in the round, but Grasso was outclassing her in the striking department. She did a fine job of increasing her striking output in the final round, landing some heavy shots to the head of Markos. Eventually, that would be enough for Grasso to earn the victory by split decision. This fight was incredibly close to call, and Grasso did enough to win, but both fighters were exposed in different areas tonight. Markos’ poor striking defense allowed Grasso to pick her apart on the feet, while Grasso’s takedown defense left much to be desired.
Winner: Alexa Grasso by split decision
Sergio Pettis vs. Brandon Moreno
Tonight’s main event showcased the talent, as well as the youth, of the UFC’s flyweight division. In a battle of 23-year olds, Mexico’s Brandon Moreno took on Sergio Pettis in a fight that had potential championship implications at stake.
Pettis was in trouble in the first round as Moreno caught one of his kicks and took him down. He used the rest of the round to control Pettis on the ground and work for a rear naked choke. Although he could never sink in the submission Moreno dominated the entire round and, more than likely, earned himself a 10-8 score for round one.
Sergio Pettis quickly turned things around in the second round as he started landing strong head kicks against Moreno. Pettis would, however, find himself on the ground again as a result of another kick that was caught by Moreno. Pettis defended much better this time, even attempting to lock Moreno into an arm triangle off his back and eventually scramble to his feet.
Round three was all Sergio Pettis. He used his precision striking to slowly pick apart Brandon Moreno and started to do some real damage. Moreno also started to look desperate, reaching for poorly timed and executed takedowns that Pettis was easily able to fend off.
Moreno changed his strategy in the fourth round, moving closer into the range of Pettis and boxing with him a bit more. Moreno stayed in the pocket and exchanged strikes with Pettis, but he still seemed to be at a disadvantage as Pettis was landing more meaningful strikes in those exchanges.
Moreno would also manage to land another takedown in the final round, but Pettis actually did more damage off his back than Moreno could do from the top. Pettis would finish the fight strong with more impressive tactical striking, and he earned himself the win by unanimous decision.
Sergio Pettis looked incredibly sharp after surviving an early storm from Brandon Moreno. He may not be ready for a title shot, however, and it would probably make more sense for him to fight Henry Cejudo next. Pettis was supposed to fight Cejudo back in May before Cejudo had to withdraw from the fight with a hand injury.
Winner: Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision