Originally published at UFC Fight Night Report: Anthony Smith submits Ryan Spann
UFC Fight Night Report: Anthony Smith submits Ryan Spann in the first round
By: Eric Marcotte
The UFC held a Fight Night event from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday evening. The card went to head-to-head with Bellator 266 and was headlined by a light heavyweight bout between former title challenger Anthony Smith and the eleventh-ranked Ryan Spann. Smith was coming off of back-to-back stoppage victory victories over Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute respectively and was looking to climb back to title contention by extending that streak here. Spann has compiled a record of 5-1 since entering the UFC in 2018, and this marked his first opportunity to headline a card in the promotion. The co-main event featured another fight in the light heavyweight division, as Devin Clark faced off against Ion Cutelaba.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses went out to Nate Maness, Anthony Smith, Joaquin Buckley, and Arman Tsarukyan.
*Hannah Goldy def. Emily Whitmire by armbar at 4:17 of Round 1
*Gustavo Lopez vs. Alatengheili resulted in a unanimous draw (28-28 all)
*Carlston Harris def. Impa Kasanganay by TKO at 2:38 of Round 1
*Erin Blanchfield def. Sarah Alpar by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
*Montel Jackson def. J.P. Buys by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Zhu Rong def. Brandon Jenkins by TKO at 4:35 of Round 3
*Raquel Pennington def. Pannie Kianzad by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Tafon Nchukwi def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Joaquin Buckley def. Antonio Arroyo by KO at 2:26 of Round 3
*Nathan Maness def. Tony Gravely by TKO at 2:10 of Round 2
*Arman Tsarukyan def. Christos Giagos by TKO at 2:09 of Round 1
*Ariane Lipski def. Mandy Bohm by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Ion Cutelaba def. Devin Clark by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-26, 29-27)
*Anthony Smith def. Ryan Spann by rear-naked choke at 3:47 of Round 1
EMILY WHITMIRE (4-4, 125) VS HANNAH GOLDY (5-2, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Whitmire tripped Goldy to the ground, before allowing her back to her feet. They wrestled against the cage momentarily before Whitmire returned the fight to the ground, where she began to work from Goldy’s guard. Whitmire was able to maintain top control for a significant period of time, but late in the round, Goldy threw up an armbar from her back, and Whitmire was forced to verbally submit.
WINNER: Hannah Goldy by armbar at 4:17 of Round 1
Whitmire largely controlled the first four minutes of this bout, but Goldy seemed comfortable working off of her back and secured the first-round submission here. Goldy took this fight on short notice after Whitmire’s original opponent, Cory McKenna, pulled out due to injury. This marked Goldy’s first UFC win, as well as her second career stoppage victory.
GUSTAVO LOPEZ (12-6, 135) VS ALATENGHEILI (14-8-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
After a short feeling-out process, the fighters exchanged some heavy punches while Lopez attempted to close the distance. Both men were doing an excellent job of countering hard as the other man moved in, and it was impossible to say who was landing harder. Alatengheili opened up a cut below the left eye of Lopez late in the round. 10-9 Alatengheili on my scorecard, but you could have gone either way with this round.
There were some significant periods of inactivity in the second round, with both fighters having trouble finding their range. Lopez was more active with his leg kicks throughout the round, but Alatengheili was certainly landing the more damaging punches. Alatengheili sprawled on a takedown attempt, and he connected with a right hand in the final minute of the second round. 20-18 Alatengheili.
Alatengheili seemed to be a step ahead on the feet in the final round, which prompted Lopez to just charge forward with a number of hooks. The strategy paid off for him, as he landed numerous shots before taking Alatengheili down near the cage. Alatengheili proceeded to egregiously grab the cage about sixty times and had a point deducted as a result. Lopez almost caught Alatengheili in a guillotine, but Alatengheili was able to escape, and the fight went the distance. With the point deduction taken into account, I scored the fight 28-28.
Result: Unanimous draw (28-28 all)
Alatengheili cost himself a win here with the excessive fence grabs in the third round. The first two rounds of this fight were very slow, but the action definitely picked up in the third, when Lopez began to fight with a sense of urgency. Although the opening rounds were very close, I believe the judges got the decision right here, with Alatengheili taking the first two rounds, and Lopez taking the third.
IMPA KASANGANAY (9-1, 170.5) VS CARLSTON HARRIS (16-4, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
About halfway through the first round, Harris clipped Kasanganay with a right hook, and Kasanganay was rocked. Harris just swarmed him immediately, dropped him with a left, and he finished the fight with ground and pound moments later.
WINNER: Carlston Harris by TKO at 2:38 of Round 1
Harris was landing with power every time he tagged Kasanganay, and he showcased good instincts by moving in for the finish following the right hook that rocked Kasanganay. Kasanganay protested the stoppage, but from the broadcast view, it appeared to be the right decision by referee Mark Smith. With this win, Harris is now 2-0 in the UFC, with two first-round stoppages.
ERIN BLANCHFIELD (6-1, 125) VS SARAH ALPAR (9-5, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Alpar began the fight aggressively, but Blanchfield quickly backed her up. Blanchfield was landing numerous punches and elbows, and she mixed in the occasional body kick as well. Blanchfield eventually secured a takedown, where she began to work from side control. She began to throw down elbows, and Alpar was in a ton of trouble, but she was able to make it out of the round. 10-8 Blanchfield.
Blanchfield continued to dominate the fight on the feet in round two. She was successful in dragging Blanchfield back to the ground. Alpar didn’t have any answers for Blanchfield here, and while Blanchfield did not do as much damage in this round as she did in the first, this was another one-sided five minutes. 20-17 Blanchfield.
The third round was more of the same. Blanchfield secured another takedown about two minutes into the round and kept her there until time expired. Blanchfield seemed to have slowed somewhat throughout the final round, but she still won every minute of the third and nearly secured a finish in the final seconds with her ground and pound. 30-26 Blanchfield.
WINNER: Erin Blanchfield by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
This was a very one-sided fight. Blanchfield was the more skillful fighter in every area, and she fought at a very high pace for the better part of fifteen minutes. She will certainly be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future at flyweight. Alpar has only competed two times in the UFC thus far, but they have both been very rough nights at the office for her. A step down in competition may be necessary in the future.
MONTEL JACKSON (10-2, 136) VS J.P. BUYS (9-3, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Buys secured a takedown about a minute into the round, before passing into full mount. He took Jackson’s back and began to search for a rear-naked choke. Jackson was eventually able to shake him off, and he attempted a standing guillotine moments later. Buys escaped but found himself dragged to the ground with Jackson on his back. Buys scrambled to his feet, and both men landed hard shots before Buys attempted a guillotine of his own. He was unsuccessful, and Jackson assumed top control. They ended an entertaining round in that position. 10-9 Buys on my scorecard.
Going into round two, Jackson immediately cracked Buys with a pair of left hands, and Buys was knocked down. Jackson avoided another guillotine attempt from Buys, before taking the top position once more. Jackson was not terribly active from on top and Buys eventually made it back to his feet. Jackson landed a right hand that effectively knocked Buys to the ground once again, before recording another takedown in the final minute of the round. 19-19.
Another 1-2 from Jackson floored Buys. He picked himself up yet again but got caught by a knee that landed low, pausing the action. When the fight resumed, Jackson immediately dropped him yet again, his fourth knockdown of the fight. He followed Buys to the ground and ended the fight in top position. 29-28 Jackson.
WINNER: Montel Jackson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
The first round was very competitive, with both fighters trading submission attempts and constant scrambles and transitions, but the story of the fight changed drastically in round two. It felt as though every time Jackson landed clean, Buys was knocked down. I believe the commentary team stated that Jackson set a new record for knockdowns in a fight at bantamweight here, but I could be off on that one. Regardless, a strong performance from Jackson, who improved to 5-2 in the UFC with this win.
ZHU RONG (17-4, 158) VS BRANDON JENKINS (15-7, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Zhu Rong missed weight by 2lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.
Jenkins was active with leg kicks throughout the opening round. Rong tagged him with a heavy left hand at one point, and later landed a counter right that sent an off-balance Jenkins to the ground. Rong followed him down and was able to control him on the ground for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Rong.
Rong began the second round with a combination of strikes before he changed levels in an attempt to bring the fight back to the ground. Jenkins did a good job of defending the takedown but was eventually grounded near the cage. After several minutes of ground control from Rong, Jenkins was finally able to return to his feet. Rong decided to go for the finish here, just teeing off on Jenkins against the cage, but Jenkins was able to swing back and ultimately made it to the third round. 20-18 Rong.
In a sequence that mirrored an earlier moment in the first round, Rong knocked Jenkins to the ground while he attempted a spinning attack, and took top position on the ground. Rong dominated Jenkins on the ground, and in the final minute, he began to throw down some heavy ground and pound shots that rocked Jenkins. Rong threw down a couple more bombs, and referee Chris Tognoni had seen enough, calling a stop to the fight.
WINNER: Zhu Rong by TKO at 4:35 of Round 3
Despite the weight miss, this was a pretty great performance from Zhu Rong. He looked strong on the feet and clearly had a significant advantage on the ground. This was a much better showing for Rong than his UFC debut, and at just 21 years of age, the 22-fight veteran has no shortage of time to climb up the lightweight ladder.
The UFC aired a tribute for Joseph Benavidez here. Benavidez announced his retirement earlier in the week, marking the end of his fifteen-year career. The four-time UFC Flyweight title challenger and former WEC Bantamweight title challenger finished his career with a total record of 28-8, with his final fight taking place in March of 2021, a loss to Askar Askarov. Benavidez is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters to never win a championship, staying near the top of his division for over a decade. While his most famous bouts will likely be his losses to Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, and Deiveson Figueiredo; Benavidez beat no shortage of notable names throughout his career, including former UFC/WEC champions Henry Cejudo, Miguel Torres, and Eddie Wineland.
PANNIE KIANZAD (15-5, 136) VS RAQUEL PENNINGTON (11-8, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Pennington quickly clinched Kianzad up and pressed her against the cage. Kianzad reversed the position and landed a strong knee to the body. While both fighters landed shots here, I thought Kianzad’s seemed to have more behind them, although Pennington did land some solid body shots late in the round. They spent the entire five minutes against the cage, resulting in a close round. 10-9 Kianzad on my scorecard, but you could really go either way.
They continued to battle in the clinch against the cage to begin round two. Pennington landed her best shots of the fight thus far, as she broke away and landed a hard combination of punches in the pocket. Kianzad threw combinations in return, as Pennington continued to attack the body with jabs. Pennington dragged Kianzad to the ground with a single leg, where she began to work from the guard of Kianzad. She proceeded to take the back of Kianzad, but Kianzad was able to make her way back to the feet before time expired. 19-19.
Pennington was throwing with some power in round three, landing strong whenever the fighters weren’t wrapped up in the clinch. Kianzad was still having some success with her striking despite spending a significant amount of time with her back to the cage, but I thought it was Pennington who had the more efficient offense throughout the round. They ended the fight swinging for the fences, in an entertaining fashion. 29-28 Pennington.
WINNER: Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a close, but clear decision in my opinion. It was a bit of a slow start for Pennington, but as the fight progressed, she began to find more success with her boxing and controlled a good amount of time spent wrestling against the cage. Pennington dedicated the win to UFC makeup artist Suzy Friton, who passed away on September 9th following a long battle with cancer.
MIKE RODRIGUEZ (11-6, 1 NC, 202) VS TAFON NCHUKWI (5-1, 204.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Rodriguez and Nchukwi exchanged some heavy elbows against the cage to begin the fight. Rodriguez tagged Nchukwi with a hard left hand on the break, and Nchukwi just ate it before taking Rodriguez down. He was able to land some solid ground and pound before Rodriguez made it back to his feet, and they swung at each other to end the round. 10-9 Nchukwi.
Nchukwi connected with a combination of punches to the body about a minute into the second round. It felt as though Nchukwi was starting to pull away with this fight, constantly landing heavy combinations that Rodriguez was continuously unable to avoid. Nchukwi had doubled Rodriguez’s strike count this round and was clearly up on the scorecards going into the final round. 20-18 Nchukwi.
Nchukwi’s output had not waivered much by the third round. He continued to press forward while throwing bombs, and Rodriguez was still struggling to get off his own offense. In the end, the fight went to the scorecards, and I scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Tafon Nchukwi.
WINNER: Tafon Nchukwi by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Nchukwi really impressed me in this fight. He is a big guy, and the thought of him fighting at 185lbs seems wild when you look at him fighting at light heavyweight. Nchukwi was throwing bombs from the beginning of the fight, and he kept that output up until the very end, never giving Rodriguez any room to get comfortable. Nchukwi is now 2-1 in the UFC, with this marking his promotional debut at light heavyweight.
JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (12-4, 184.5) VS ANTONIO ARROYO (9-4, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Arroyo threw a jumping switch kick, fell to the ground, and caught Buckley with an up kick before he returned to his feet. A kick from Buckley landed low, and the fight was paused while Arroyo recovered. Arroyo partially landed another head kick when the fight resumed. It wasn’t the most action-packed round, but a fairly clear one for Arroyo. 10-9 Arroyo.
Buckley was having a lot of trouble working his way inside. Arroyo was able to keep the distance with body kicks and was constantly threatening the right high kick. Buckley began to throw leg kicks, which were finding him more success than he was having previously. Arroyo connected with a jumping knee in the final minute. Another slow-paced round. 19-19.
Arroyo sprawled on an early Buckley takedown, preventing Buckley from taking the fight to the ground. Arroyo checked a leg kick from Buckley, and the commentary team seemed to think this injured Buckley’s leg. Buckley landed this looping right hand that caught Arroyo in the back of the head, and he followed it up with an uppercut that just floored Arroyo. Buckley landed a few ground and pound shots, and the fight was quickly stopped.
WINNER: Joaquin Buckley by KO at 2:26 of Round 3
Buckley had a huge hematoma on his head by the end of the fight. Arroyo has a significant size advantage against Buckley, and he was able to utilize that to great effect early, but as Buckley began to register Arroyo’s tells, he became more comfortable blitzing forward, and that ultimately resulted in the finish here. Buckley is now 3-2 in the UFC, with each of those fights ending by way of knockout.
NATHAN MANESS (13-1, 135) VS TONY GRAVELY (21-6, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Maness defended a takedown attempt to begin the fight. They exchanged punches in the pocket before Gravely attempted another takedown, this time finding a bit more success. Gravely secured a takedown of his own not long after, and they began to wrestle against the cage before they finally disengaged with a minute remaining in the round. With seconds remaining in the round, Gravely landed a right hook that looked as though it knocked Maness unconscious, but he was saved by the bell and given time to recover.
Naturally, Gravely swarmed Maness to begin round two. Maness was able to recover as they wrestled against the cage, and when they eventually broke apart, Maness just dropped Gravely with a right hook and threw down ground and pound until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Nathan Maness by TKO at 2:10 of Round 2
Mixed Martial Arts is a wild and unpredictable sport, and this fight was a peak example of that. I think most referees would have stopped the fight at the end of the first round, and declared Tony Gravely the winner by knockout, butt Maness recovered here and finished Gravely just two minutes into the next round. You have to feel for Gravely, but this was a spectacular finish to this fight. Maness improved to 3-0 in the UFC with this win.
At this point in the broadcast, the UFC aired a tribute video for Carlos Condit, who announced his retirement earlier in the week. The former WEC Welterweight and Interim UFC Welterweight Champion was one of the most entertaining fighters of his time, a creative striker and grappler, who fought the best of the best throughout his nineteen-year career. Condit won the WEC Welterweight Championship in 2007, and he defended that title three times before the promotion was absorbed by the UFC. A string of impressive performances in the UFC led to a bout for the Interim Welterweight Championship against Nick Diaz, a fight he won by unanimous decision. He would go on to face Georges St-Pierre to unify the titles, and while he lost that bout, he nearly finished GSP with a head kick in the third, putting Georges in the most trouble he had been in since the start of his second title reign. Perhaps the fight that he will be most remembered for, would be his 2016 challenge for the UFC Welterweight Championship against Robbie Lawler. It was an all-time classic fight, and most fans scored it in Condit’s favor. The judges scored the fight for Lawler, but regardless of the decision, it was many people’s fight of the year in 2016, and the fifth round is among the greatest rounds in MMA history. For those looking for fights to look back on from Condit’s career, I would recommend his fights against Lawler, Hiromitsu Miura, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, and his second bout against Martin Kampmann.
ARMAN TSARUKYAN (11-2, 155.5) VS CHRISTOS GIAGOS (19-8, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Giagos was able to get the better of an early scramble, but Tsarukyan was able to make it back to his feet quickly. Tsarukyan landed a left hook that seated Giagos, and he proceeded to follow Giagos to the ground, throwing down strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Arman Tsarukyan by TKO at 2:09 of Round 1
Tsarukyan was a massive favorite going into this fight, and he made good on those odds with the quick finish here. Tsarukyan is a very talented fighter, with his only loss coming in the form of a competitive decision loss in his UFC debut to Islam Makhachev. Tsarukyan is still a very young fighter, and the sky is the limit for this guy in the lightweight division. He is now 4-1 in the promotion.
The broadcast aired a video in memory of Suzy Friton, who passed away on September 9th following a lengthy battle with cancer. Friton (1967-2021) worked as the UFC’s makeup artist since 2006 and was clearly a valued member of the production team, who will be greatly missed by those who knew her.
ARIANE LIPSKI (13-7, 126) VS MANDY BOHM (7-0, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Bohm attempted a pair of takedowns that ultimately resulted in Lipski assuming top position. Bohm eventually escaped to her feet but ate some heavy shots from Lipski before they began to wrestle against the cage. Lipski landed a number of knees to the body before the end of the round. 10-9 Lipski.
Lipski tagged Bohm with a right hand that backed her up early in round two. This round took place largely on the feet, with Lipski keeping a step ahead with her body shots. Towards the end of the round, Lipski dropped Bohm with a hook, sealing the round in her favor. 20-18 Lipski.
Lipski continued to control the fight on the feet in round three. Halfway through the round, Lipski landed a thudding right hand that sent Bohm back to the ground, and she jumped into top position once more. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 for Lipski.
WINNER: Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Lipski was the all-around better fighter here, and her edge on the feet seemed drastic throughout the bout. She packed some serious power into some of the punches she was throwing, and it was impressive that Bohm managed to survive those knockdowns in the second and third rounds. This was probably Lipski’s best overall performance in the UFC thus far, and her promotional record is now 3-4 following this win.
ION CUTELABA (15-6-1, 1 NC, 205) VS DEVIN CLARK (12-5, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Clark immediately took Cutelaba down. Cutelaba couldn’t be held down for long and began to attack the body. Eventually, Cutelaba caught Clark with a right hand that dropped him hard, and Cutelaba went in to finish the fight, but Clark was able to stay in the fight. Cutelaba landed countless huge shots as Clark attempted to cover up, and the fight was close to being stopped multiple times, but Clark managed to survive until the end of the round. 10-8 Cutelaba.
Cutelaba brought the fight back to the ground, where he began to rain down elbows from top mount. Clark was able to escape to his feet with just under two minutes remaining in the round. Cutelaba connected with a knee to the head caused Clark to bleed (although I couldn’t tell where he was bleeding from), and this was another round for Cutelaba. 20-17 Cutelaba.
Cutelaba recorded another takedown early in the third. Clark worked his way up and attempted one of his own, but it was ultimately Cutelaba who brought the fight to the ground once more. Clark attempted to rush Cutelaba towards the end of the round, in need of a finish, but he was unsuccessful, and this one went the distance. 30-26 Cutelaba.
WINNER: Ion Cutelaba by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-26, 29-27)
While Clark showed admirable resiliency, this was a pretty dominant win for Cutelaba. From the first-round knockdown onwards, Cutelaba was largely in control of this fight, although the final round was the closest of the bunch. Cutelaba has had a tendency to start strong and fade quickly in the past, but he kept up a decent pace for all three rounds, and this was one of his better performances, especially among his fights that have gone past the first. Cutelaba is now 5-5-1 in the UFC with this win.
ANTHONY SMITH (35-16, 205.5) VS RYAN SPANN (19-6, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Smith dropped Spann with counter hook early in the fight, and he began to work from top position, with Spann seated against the cage. Smith attempted an armbar, and Spann was able to escape to his feet here. Smith wobbled Spann with a left-hand moments later, and a follow-up right send him back to the ground. Smith took the back of Spann and flattened him out. He proceeded to lock in a rear-naked choke, and Spann tapped out. Security had to come in and separate the fighters after the finish, but they ultimately shook hands.
WINNER: Anthony Smith by rear-naked choke at 3:47 of Round 1
This was a pretty one-sided beatdown while it lasted. Everything Smith landed seemed to hurt Spann, and Anthony Smith is not a fighter who will let their opponent off of the leash when hurt. Half of Anthony Smith’s post-fight interview was censored, but from what I gathered, Smith went off on those who didn’t think he was worthy of this main event slot, and he did call out Aleksandar Rakić, who he lost to by unanimous decision last year, and Rakić accepted that offer on Twitter. Smith is still a win or two away from challenging for the title again, but avenging that loss to Rakić would be a big step towards that goal.