ANAHEIM, Calif. — UFC 241 is shaping up to be a stellar card, featuring a heavyweight championship rematch and the return of one of MMA’s most popular stars.
Daniel Cormier, in what might be the last fight of his career, will defend his heavyweight title in tonight’s main event versus former champ Stipe Miocic. In the co-main event, Nate Diaz will fight for the first time in three years, taking on Anthony Pettis.
But before the headliners step into the Octagon, there are several fights with key implications. Here’s how they’re going down.
Fight in progress.
Klose pulled out a close one.
After seemingly being in trouble in a rear-naked choke in the second round, Klose rallied for an impressive comeback victory via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Klose escaped the choke and immediately turned up the pressure on a tiring Giagos. He ate some right hands, but flurried with a combo, took Giagos down with a trip and landed ground and pound.
The bout turned into a brawl in the third round. Klose landed some very nice uppercuts in the clinch, as well as a slam while Giagos was attempting a kimura.
Klose (11-1-1) has won three in a row and five of six in the UFC. The 31-year-old Arizona resident has won his last six fights by decision. Giagos (17-8), a 29-year-old California native, had his two-fight winning streak snapped.
Drakkar Klose lifts Christos Giagos onto his back and slams him to the mat with serious power. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Being the smaller man didn’t matter much here.
In a bout that was moved up to a 140-pound catchweight Friday morning from bantamweight, Kennedy bested the previously undefeated Bermudez, the bigger guy, by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). The UFC decided to move up the weight limit of the bout due to both men struggling to hit 135, but Kennedy said he only weighed 145 pounds in the cage.
Kenney actually won the bout with his wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu against Bermudez, a submission specialist. Over the first two rounds, Kennedy was able to outgrapple the grappler. Bermudez found his success in top position in the third, but it was too late.
“I knew my grappling was world class,” Kenney said.
Kenney (13-1-1) is 2-0 now in the UFC and has won six straight overall. The 28-year-old Arizona resident hasn’t lost since dropping a bout on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. Bermudez (14-1), a 25-year-old prospect from Massachusetts, came in with six straight victories via submission. Bermudez weighed north of 164 pounds today after hitting the scale at 140 pounds Friday at weigh-ins, according to the California State Athletic Commission.
Manny Bermudez weighed north of 164 pounds today after hitting the scale at 140 pounds Friday at weigh-ins, according to the California State Athletic Commission. That’s about 17 percent over the contracted weight and the bout with Casey Kenney was initially scheduled for 135.
After defeating Manny Bermudez, Casey Kenney gets on the mic to call out Urijah Faber and Frankie Edgar. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Five months after breaking her arm in the Octagon, Cifers is back with another win.
“Shockwave” defeated Esquibel by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27) in a strawweight fight closer than those scores would indicate. Each round was tight, though it was clear the judges felt that Cifers landed the harder shots throughout.
Cifers nailed Esquibel with some good right hands in the first round and had some good shots in a scramble in the second. The second also saw Cifers try to get Esquibel in a triangle and omoplata, but Esquibel escaped. In the third, Esquibel was able to control Cifers on the ground for a decent duration.
Cifers (10-3) has won two in a row after dropping her UFC debut. The 27-year-old North Carolina native has only lost to fellow UFC prospects Maycee Barber and Gillian Robertson in the past two years. Esquibel (6-6), the 33-year-old New Mexico native, has dropped four straight.
Hannah Cifers attempts a submission but Jodie Esquibel is able to slip out. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
It wasn’t a perfect fight for “Mr. Perfect.” But it was enough to get the nod.
Kang beat Davis by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a back-and-forth bout with some fun striking exchanges and solid ground work. Kang dropped Davis with a right hand in the first round and was able to control him on the ground in the third. In the second, Davis had some nice moments, wobbling Kang on several occasions with hard punches.
Kang (16-8, 1 NC) has now won two straight and he’s a shoo-in to be on the UFC’s card in South Korea in December. The 31-year-old fighter has won five or six overall. Davis (10-6), a 29-year-old Mississippi resident, has lost four of six.
Kyung Ho Kang catches Brandon Davis on the chin with a powerful right hand to send him to the mat on his backside. Order UFC 241 here https://plus.espn.com/ufc/ppv.
It’s rare to have a more dominating performance like the one Mazo did without a finish.
The blue-chip Colombian prospect rocked Dobson with a body kick in the first, ate her up in the clinch in the second and hammered away with knees from a Thai clinch in the third en route to a unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-25) victory. The result was the most lopsided of any women’s fight in UFC history. Dobson put forth almost no offense, although she was never really close to being finished.
Mazo (7-1) fell in her UFC debut to Maryna Moroz by unanimous decision at UFC Philadelphia in March. The 22-year-old Kings MMA product made her name with two head-kick knockouts in LFA. Dobson (3-3), a 30-year-old Washington, D.C., resident, has dropped two in a row after winning her UFC debut in 2017.
Sabina Mazo lands a powerful kick to the body of Shana Dobson to back her up against the cage, then scores a nice takedown after a flurry of punches. Order UFC 241 here https://plus.espn.com/ufc/ppv.
Still to come:
Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz
Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic