Originally published at UFC Fight Night: Islam Makhachev stops Bobby Green in the first round
UFC Fight Night Report: Islam Makhachev stops Bobby Green in the first round
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was originally scheduled to be headlined by a lightweight bout between the two of the division’s contenders, Islam Makhachev and Beneil Dariush, but an ankle injury to Dariush forced him out of the bout. On just ten days’ notice, it was decided that Bobby Green would replace Dariush, despite Green fighting just two weeks ago at UFC 271, where he defeated Nasrat Haqparast by unanimous decision. Green has looked very impressive throughout his last few fights, but Islam Makhachev had not lost a fight since 2015 and was an enormous favorite heading into this bout. If Makhachev were to win this fight, he would almost certainly be next in line for a title shot, but this marked an equally grand opportunity for Bobby Green, who would potentially jump from being an unranked lightweight to a championship contender with an upset win here. In the co-main event, Misha Cirkunov faced Wellington Turman, as Cirkunov looked to secure his first win in the middleweight division.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Paul Felder, and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Arman Tsarukyan and Wellington Turman. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Priscila Cachoeira and Ji Yeon Kim.
*Carlos Hernandez def. Victor Altamirano by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Ramiz Brahimaj def. Micheal Gillmore by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 1
*Jonathan Martinez def. Alejandro Pérez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Terrance McKinney def. Fares Ziam by rear-naked choke at 2:11 of Round 1
*Josiane Nunes def. Ramona Pascual by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
*Ignacio Bahamondes def. Zhu Rong by guillotine choke at 1:40 of Round 3
*Armen Petrosyan def. Gregory Rodrigues by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Arman Tsarukyan def. Joel Alvarez by TKO at 1:57 of Round 2
*Priscila Cachoeira def. Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Wellington Turman def. Misha Cirkunov by armbar at 1:29 of Round 2
*Islam Makhachev def. Bobby Green by TKO at 3:23 of Round 1
VICTOR ALTAMIRANO (10-1, 123) VS CARLOS HERNANDEZ (7-1, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Both fighters found success on the feet early, but it was Hernandez who was landing with a bit more power throughout these opening exchanges. Altamirano partially connected with a head kick after throwing numerous kicks to the leg and body, and that seemed to be his best shot of the round, drawing a visible reaction from Hernandez. With just over a minute remaining in the round, Hernandez recorded a takedown, but he was unable to do much with it, and Altamirano was able to get back to his feet before time expired in the round. 10-9 Hernandez.
Altamirano defended a takedown attempt from Hernandez, before digging into the body with a heavy kick. Hernandez responded with a knee to the head, and he tagged Altamirano with a straight right hand. Both fighters were attacking the body, but it was Altamirano who was landing them with a bit more frequency. Hernandez was finding success whenever he really picked up his aggression, but the counterattacks from Altamirano were deterring Hernandez from getting wild. Hernandez defended a series of takedown attempts to end the second round. 19-19.
Altamirano aggressively pursued a takedown to begin round three, however, the takedown defense of Hernandez continued to hold up, and the fighters separated with three minutes remaining in the round. Every round of the fight to this point was very close, and the third round was no exception. Whenever it felt like Altamirano was pulling ahead with his activity, Hernandez fired back with powerful shots that made up ground. Ultimately, I scored the fight 29-28 for Hernandez.
WINNER: Carlos Hernandez by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Fights really don’t get much closer than this. The striking numbers were almost exactly even each round, and neither man found much success with their attempts to take the fight to the ground. I gave Hernandez the edge because I thought he was landing the stronger shots, but any scorecard from 30-27 Hernandez to 30-27 Altamirano would have been entirely acceptable, which isn’t something we can say often. This marked the UFC debut for both of these fighters.
RAMIZ BRAHIMAJ (9-4, 170.5) VS MICHEAL GILLMORE (6-4, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Brahimaj took Gillmore down seconds into the fight, and instantly took his back, where Brahimaj began to hunt for a rear-naked choke. Gillmore did his best to defend the submission, but eventually Brahimaj sunk it in and finished the fight.
WINNER: Ramiz Brahimaj by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 1
Brahimaj wasted absolutely no time in getting this fight to his comfort zone and instantly capitalized with the submission. This was a dominant performance for Brahimaj, which was exactly what he needed here after a one-sided loss to Court McGee in his last bout. Brahimaj is now 2-2 in the UFC following this win, and this marked his 10th career victory by submission.
ALEJANDRO PEREZ (22-8-1, 144.5) VS JONATHAN MARTINEZ (14-4, 144) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Martinez took the center of the octagon, where he began to chip away at Perez with leg kicks. Perez was having difficulties closing the distance, and Martinez landed numerous heavy kicks to the body, as the damage to the lead leg of Perez began to add up as well. Perez found the occasional moment of success while flurrying forward, but this was largely a one-sided round in favor of Martinez. With literally a second remaining in the round, Perez caught Martinez with a huge right hook that floored Martinez, but there was not enough time remaining in the round to capitalize. 10-9 Martinez
If Martinez was hurt at the end of the first round, he seemed to have recovered full by the start of round two. He continued to throw kicks constantly, as Perez looked to time another big right hand. I didn’t think the activity was there for Perez throughout this second round, and despite a late flurry for Perez, Martinez likely took this one based on activity. 20-18 Martinez.
Perez cracked Martinez with a right hand to begin round three, and he was fighting with far more aggression to start the final round. Martinez did not crumble under the pressure and responded with powerful hooks as Perez attempted to turn this fight into a brawl. Martinez was successful in slowing Perez down, and he defended Perez’s attempt to bring the fight to the ground as well. At one point, Perez attempted three spinning backfists in a row, which was not a successful strategy. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Martinez.
WINNER: Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Perez seemed unable to really get going for the vast majority of this bout. Martinez dictated the range of the fight with his constant activity, and when Perez started fighting aggressively in round three, Martinez was able to fire back and win the round with his boxing (after largely just throwing kicks throughout the first two rounds). I thought Martinez looked great up at featherweight here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the bantamweight fighter makes his move to 145lbs permanent.
TERRANCE MCKINNEY (11-3, 156) VS FARES ZIAM (12-3, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
The fight quickly went to the ground, where McKinney scrambled into top position. McKinney took the back of Ziam, where he flattened his opponent out and locked in a rear-naked choke. Ziam was forced to submit, and McKinney picked up another first-round stoppage.
WINNER: Terrance McKinney by rear-naked choke at 2:11 of Round 1
The odds on this fight were close to even, with Ziam as the slightest of favorites, but apparently, nobody informed McKinney that this fight was supposed to be competitive, as he handled Ziam with ease here. McKinney has been knocking the vast majority of his opponents out as of late, but he reminded everyone of his grappling skills here, and remarkably, this was actually the longest fight of his current five-fight win streak. McKinney is now 2-0 in the UFC, and his two performances thus far are bound to generate some excitement for his next bout.
JOSIANE NUNES (8-1, 145.5) VS RAMONA PASCUAL (6-2, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
It did not take these heavy hitters long to start exchanging heavy blows. Pascual had a considerable size advantage, but Nunes appeared to be a bit faster and was able to close the distance with heavy hooks. Pascual was looking for knees up the middle, but a left hand from Nunes knocked her to the ground momentarily, deterring Pascual from throwing them, which was leaving her off-balance. Nunes got a bit too aggressive while flurrying forward, and Pascual was able to change levels, successfully taking Nunes to the ground, where she began to work from the guard of her opponent. Pascual was unable to do much with the position, and Nunes returned to her feet before time in the round expired. 10-9 Nunes.
Nunes rocked Pascual with a huge hook early in round two, and she just started pouring it on, in search of a finish. Pascual was taking a ton of damage, which prompted her to shoot for a takedown that was stuffed by Nunes. Nunes landed some vicious ground and pound strikes, but she transitioned to the back of Pascual as she looked to lock in a rear-naked choke, which actually gave Pascual the time she needed to recover. Pascual escaped to her feet, and after eating a few more big shots, took Nunes down with a double leg. Nunes wrapped Pascual up in her guard, and there was not much action throughout the final two minutes of this round. 20-18 Nunes.
The right eye of Pascual was swelling badly by the third round, and despite being down on the scorecards, she did not seem to have the energy necessary to pressure forward in pursuit of a much-needed finish. Nunes continued to throw heavy combinations of strikes and was clearly several steps ahead of Pascual by this point in the bout. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favour of Nunes.
WINNER: Josiane Nunes by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
The first round of this fight was an entertaining round, but as the fight progressed, it got increasingly more one-sided in favor of Nunes. Pascual was able to secure takedowns near the end of each round but was inactive from top position, so they were not worth much on the scorecards after taking so much damage. For Nunes, this was an impressive performance considering how undersized she was against Pascual, and despite being shorter than the average bantamweight (her normal weight class), she did not look out of place at 145lbs on account of her power. Nunes is now 2-0 in the UFC, and this was just her second career win by decision.
RONG ZHU (18-4, 160) VS IGNACIO BAHAMONDES (12-4, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Rong missed weight by 4lbs and was fined 40% of his purse.
The height advantage of Bahamondes allowed him to work from a comfortable distance, throwing short strikes through the guard of Rong. Rong would fire back on occasion, but he seemed to be falling behind in terms of activity in the early goings of this fight. Bahamondes countered a takedown attempt from Rong with a guillotine choke, and while he didn’t finish the submission, Bahamondes was able to take top position on the ground, where he threw down some hard ground and pound strikes to end the round. 10-9 Bahamondes.
Rong looked like a different fighter in round two, and he pressured forward with heavy hooks. Rong threw a brutal combination of punches to the body, but Bahamondes returned fire with his back to the cage, which backed Rong off of him. As the round progressed, Bahamondes began to take over, landing numerous leg kicks that were clearly affecting Rong, as well as sharp jabs that constantly found their way through Rong’s guard. 20-18 Bahamondes.
Rong knew he needed a finish in this final round, and he secured an early takedown in an attempt to change things up. Bahamondes popped right back up, however, and the next time Rong shot for a takedown, Bahamondes was wise to it, and he locked in a modified guillotine choke that forced Rong to submit.
WINNER: Ignacio Bahamondes by guillotine choke at 1:40 of Round 3
This was a very strong performance from Bahamondes, against a heavy hitter who missed weight by a significant amount. Rong had his moments throughout the bout, but even when he found success flurrying forward, Bahamondes was able to fire back at an equal rate, often getting the better of these exchanges. Bahamondes executed the fight-ending choke perfectly, and this actually marked the first submission victory of his career. Bahamondes improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win.
ARMEN PETROSYAN (6-1, 186) VS GREGORY RODRIGUES (11-3, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Both fighters were throwing very heavy shots here, clearly looking to end this fight quickly. They exchanged leg kicks as well, with Petrosyan being the slightly more active fighter. Rodrigues was really loading up with his powerful right hand, which was just missing its target. It was not an action-packed round, but Petrosyan likely took it based on activity. 10-9 Petrosyan.
Rodrigues connected with a trio of right hands to begin round two. He put Petrosyan on the retreat, but Petrosyan recovered and began to fire back, and when he landed cleanly, he was wobbling Rodrigues. A short-left hook from Petrosyan caused Rodrigues to stumble, however, Rodrigues caught Petrosyan with a powerful jab that backed his opponent off, before shooting for a takedown. Rodrigues was successful in taking Petrosyan down, but Petrosyan popped right back up, and time expired in the round not long afterward. 20-18 Petrosyan.
Rodrigues threw a head kick that rocked Petrosyan badly against the cage, and Rodrigues immediately took Petrosyan down, where he attempted a banana-split submission before transitioning to the back of Petrosyan. Petrosyan could not have been in a worse spot against Rodrigues, but he was able to escape to his feet, and immediately flurried forward in an attempt to make up ground. Petrosyan was a bloody mess by this point in the bout. Still, he seemed to have recovered from the head kick and was the more active fighter on the feet for the remainder of the round. 29-28 Petrosyan.
WINNER: Armen Petrosyan by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
The third round of this fight was wild. Petrosyan was on the brink of defeat multiple times, but somehow managed to avoid being finished, and fired back to win the remainder of the round, hurting Rodrigues in the final minute of the bout. Rodrigues has clearly made a lot of strides in terms of his striking, and his power is legitimate. I didn’t agree with the 30-27 scorecard in favor of Petrosyan, as I thought Rodrigues clearly took the third round, but regardless, this was a hard-earned victory for Petrosyan in his UFC debut.
ARMAN TSARUKYAN (17-2, 156) VS JOEL ALVAREZ (19-2, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Tsarukyan was the busier fighter to begin this fight and immediately capitalized on a slip from Alvarez. Alvarez seemed to be working for a triangle from his guard, but Tsarukyan stayed away from danger and landed some short elbows. Tsarukyan attempted a guillotine choke at one point, and despite not finishing the submission, he was able to maintain top position. Tsarukyan continued to throw down elbows, and he opened up a nasty cut on Alvarez, who was just covered in blood by the end of this round.
Tsarukyan took the fight right back to the ground to begin round two, where he began to work from side control. Alvarez was still leaking blood at an alarming rate, and Tsarukyan just poured down ground and pound strikes until the fight was eventually stopped.
WINNER: Arman Tsarukyan by TKO at 1:57 of Round 2
It can’t really be overstated just how much Alvarez was bleeding here. The cut severely impacted his vision, and from the moment that Tsarukyan opened that cut up, it was only a matter of time before the finish came. I would have liked to see a bit more of this matchup play out on the feet, but there is no arguing with the results here for Tsarukyan, as you could certainly make the case that this was his most impressive victory to date. In Tsarukyan’s post-fight interview, he called for a top-ten opponent, as well as a rematch against Islam Makhachev down the line.
JI YEON KIM (9-4-2, 126) VS PRISCILA CACHOEIRA (10-4, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Cachoeira was throwing heavy punches in the opening minute, clearly searching for a quick knockout. There were some heavy exchanges in which both fighters landed clean, and it was tough to say who was landing with more power, but Kim seemed to be a bit more accurate with her striking. There were some long periods of inactivity throughout this round, but Kim was the busier fighter, and I thought she took the opening five minutes. 10-9 Kim.
They traded jabs throughout the first half of the second round, with Kim landing at a slightly higher rate. Cachoeira attempted to turn the fight into more of a brawl, but ate a series of counter hooks, and slowed back down. I thought this was a clearer round for Kim, who seemed to be landing with more power throughout this round as well, despite Cachoeira swinging for the fences every time she looked to engage. 20-18 Kim.
The two fighters brawled wildly to begin the final round, and Kim rocked Cachoeira with one of her shots. Kim wrapped Cachoeira up against the fence instead of going for the finish, and this gave Cachoeira a bit of time to recover before they separated. Cachoeira was still looking off as they continued to strike, but she remained in the fight despite the damage done to that point. Kim tagged Cachoeira with a pair of clean right hands, which prompted Cachoeira to fire back with elbows, cutting Kim open on the left side of her face. Cachoeira abandoned punches and just fired off elbow after elbow, putting Kim in danger until time final expired. This was a tough round to score, but ultimately, I scored the fight 29-28 for Kim.
WINNER: Priscila Cachoeira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
I was fairly surprised by the decision here. The fight was entertaining, especially the third round, but Cachoeira did not do much offensively throughout the first two rounds, and even in round three, she arguably took more damage than Kim, despite the success she found in the final minute. Paul Felder voiced the same sentiment on the broadcast, and media scores were almost entirely in favor of Kim here as well. Regardless, Cachoeira got the nod, and this led to a very entertaining post-fight interview. Firstly, Cachoeira was awarded her purple belt, despite this fight being a complete brawl, and then we had Michael Bisping desperately trying to get her attention as an overjoyed Cachoeira celebrated with her team. When Bisping finally managed to ask her a question, her response was so lengthy that Bisping cut off Cachoeira’s translator before he could translate for her. Cachoeira now has a record of 3-4 in the UFC.
MISHA CIRKUNOV (15-7, 185.5) VS WELLINGTON TURMAN (17-5, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Turman was able to take the back of Cirkunov about a minute into the bout, where he immediately began to hunt for a rear-naked choke as Cirkunov carried him across the octagon. Turman started to apply heavy pressure on the choke, but Cirkunov shook Turman off of him, where Cirkunov began to throw down heavy ground and pound strikes. Cirkunov nearly sunk in a north-south choke, however, Turman was able to escape, and this fight would see a second round.
Cirkunov tripped Turman back to the ground, where he began to work from top position, but he was quickly caught in an armbar, and Turman forced him to submit.
WINNER: Wellington Turman by armbar at 1:29 of Round 2
Win or lose, the vast majority of Misha Cirkunov’s fights are crazy, and this one was no exception. Both fighters were close to finishing the fight in round one, and the momentum seemed to be entirely in favor of Cirkunov heading into round two. When Cirkunov tripped Turman to the ground, it felt as though it would only be a matter of time before he finished things, but it was Turman who trapped Cirkunov in an armbar, picking up his first finish in the UFC. Turman is now 3-3 in the promotion with this win, and Cirkunov has fallen to 0-2 since moving to the middleweight division.
ISLAM MAKHACHEV (21-1, 160) VS BOBBY GREEN (29-12-1, 158) – CATCHWEIGHT
The fighters did not touch gloves to begin the fight. Makhachev was active with kicks early, attacking the lead leg and body of Bobby Green. Makhachev wrapped Green up against the cage, where he successfully took Green down and quickly moved into full mount. Makhachev began to throw down ground and pound strikes, and there was just nowhere for Green to go. Makhachev did not relent with his attack, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Islam Makhachev by TKO at 3:23 of Round 1
Makhachev was an astronomical favorite heading into this fight, and he made good those odds here. Bobby Green is always a game fighter, but this marked his first ranked opponent in years, and given that he took this fight on just ten days’ notice, this was always going to be an extremely tough fight for him. Fans were hoping for a five-round Bobby Green fight to headline one of these Fight Night cards following his win over Nasrat Haqparast, but I don’t think this was the matchup that anyone had in mind, and hopefully, a Bobby Green five-rounder is still on the table following this result. Following this victory, Makhachev is now riding a ten-fight win streak, and he has almost certainly secured himself the next title shot. Justin Gaethje will challenge Charles Oliveira for the title in May, but unless the UFC really wants to try to reschedule the Makhachev/Dariush fight, the winner of that championship fight will likely find themselves across the cage from Makhachev next.