Originally published at UFC Fight Night: Jared Cannonier defeats Kelvin Gastelum by decision
UFC Fight Night Report: Jared Cannonier defeats Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision
By: Eric Marcotte
The UFC returned on Saturday night with a Fight Night card at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was originally expected to be headlined by a middleweight bout between Jared Cannonier and Paulo Costa, but Costa withdrew from the fight and was replaced by Kelvin Gastelum. Both Cannonier and Gastelum are coming off of decision losses to former UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker, but remain high-ranked middleweights, and this fight made for an interesting stylistic matchup on paper. In the co-main event, Olympic silver medalist and undefeated mixed martial artist, Mark O. Madsen faced long-time UFC veteran, Clay Guida.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier, and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses went out to Ignacio Bahamondes, William Knight, Josiane Nunes, and Alexandre Pantoja.
*Ramiz Brahimaj def. Sasha Palatnikov by rear-naked choke at 2:33 of Round 1
*Ignacio Bahamondes def. Roosevelt Roberts by KO at 4:55 of Round 3
*William Knight def. Fabio Cherant by KO at 3:58 of Round 1
*Josiane Nunes def. Bea Malecki by KO at 4:54 of Round 1
*Brian Kelleher def. Domingo Pilarte by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Austin Lingo def. Luis Saldana by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Royval by rear-naked choke at 1:46 of Round 2
*Vinc Pichel def. Austin Hubbard by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Saidyokub Kakhramonov def. Trevin Jones by guillotine choke at 4:39 of Round 3
*Parker Porter def. Chase Sherman by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Mark O. Madsen def. Clay Guida by split decision. (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Jared Cannonier def. Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision (48-47 all)
SASHA PALATNIKOV (6-3, 170) VS RAMIZ BRAHIMAJ (8-3, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Brahimaj changed levels immediately, taking Palatnikov down in the center of the cage. He transitioned to the back of Palatnikov and locked in a rear-naked choke, and Palatnikov eventually passed out.
WINNER: Ramiz Brahimaj by rear-naked choke at 2:33 of Round 1
Brahimaj made no mistakes here, getting the quick finish and picking up his first UFC win. Palatnikov stayed in that rear-naked choke for about as long as humanly possible, but could only hold on for so long with the choke fully applied. Brahimaj is now 1-1 in the UFC following this win.
ROOSEVELT ROBERTS (10-2, 1 NC, 154.5) VS IGNACIO BAHAMONDES (11-4, 154) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Roberts threw out a pair of hard jabs before wrapping Bahamondes up against the cage. Bahamondes broke away and landed a nice right hand, as well as a leg kick that knocked Roberts off balance. Bahamondes began to turn on the pressure, as he moved forward, backing Roberts against the cage. While the strike count was fairly even, the better shots definitely came from Bahamondes, and I scored the opening round in his favor. 10-9 Bahamondes.
Roberts was shooting for the occasional takedown, but the takedown defense of Bahamondes was holding up well. They exchanged leg kicks, and Roberts dug into the body. A shot from Roberts appeared to open a cut on the forehead of Bahamondes, but it did not seem to be compromising his vision. They spent a significant portion of the round boxing in the pocket against the cage, until Roberts shot for another takedown that Bahamondes defended. Another round for Bahamondes, despite the cut. 20-18 Bahamondes.
Bahamondes defended one more takedown to begin the third round. Bahamondes connected with another hard body shot, and Roberts really didn’t seem too interested in standing with Bahamondes after this one landed. Roberts’ chin was made of steel, but he had really fallen behind in this fight by the final minutes. With only seconds remaining in the round, Bahamondes threw a spinning wheel kick that caught Roberts clean, knocking him unconscious.
WINNER: Ignacio Bahamondes by KO at 4:55 of Round 3
Wow. This was a strong candidate for knockout of the year. Bahamondes was a step ahead all fight long, but the first fourteen minutes and fifty-four seconds are going to be completely forgotten about following this finish. Roberts is a good fighter with a strong chin, and this really made for a great win for Ignacio Bahamondes, who is now 1-1 in the UFC.
WILLIAM KNIGHT (9-2, 206) VS FABIO CHERANT (7-2, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Knight was the slight aggressor early as Cherant looked to counter. Knight began to throw some heavy leg kicks before he went high with a head kick. In return, Cherant picked up his aggression, occasionally flurrying forward with hooks. Cherant moved forward as he tried to land a left hook, but he got caught by one from Knight in return, knocking him out cold.
WINNER: William Knight by KO at 3:58 of Round 1
Another brutal knockout. The knockout blow that Knight landed looked about as awkward of a punch as you could possibly throw on the back foot, but it caught Cherant clean on the chin, and that was that. He did a standing backflip after the knockout, which was pretty impressive for a man of his size and build. Knight is now 2-1 in the UFC.
BEA MALECKI (4-0, 135) VS JOSIANE NUNES (7-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Nunes attacked the lead leg of Malecki while storming forwards. She backed Malecki into the cage while just unleashing a barrage of hooks, but retreated after Malecki survived the flurry. Malecki began to throw head kicks, prompting Nunes to close the distance once more, as she continued to throw hook after hook. Malecki eventually backed Nunes off with an elbow, but Nunes charged right back in, and landed an overhand left that knocked Malecki out cold.
WINNER: Josiane Nunes by KO at 4:54 of Round 1
Our third straight big knockout on these preliminary fights. Malecki looked overwhelmed by the pressure of Nunes from the opening seconds, and while she got a couple of good shots in, it felt as though it would only be a matter of time before Nunes finished this one. Nunes recorded her seventh career knockout with this stoppage, and this marked her debut in the UFC.
BRIAN KELLEHER (22-12, 136) VS DOMINGO PILARTE (8-2, 1 NC, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Kelleher went to the body in the opening seconds, before taking Pilarte down in the center of the octagon. Kelleher was active from Pilarte’s guard, where he landed short shots and maintained his position until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelleher.
Kelleher took Pilarte right back down to begin the second round. Once again, Kelleher was able to control the vast majority of the round from Pilarte’s guard, but he gave up top position following a failed guillotine attempt. Pilarte looked for an arm triangle from on top, but ultimately, did not accomplish much with his top control. 20-18 Kelleher.
Kelleher picked Pilarte up, carried him over to his corner, had a nice little conversation with them, and then proceeded to dump Pilarte to the ground. Kelleher controlled the entirety of this last round from Pilarte’s guard, easily taking this fight on the scorecards. 30-27 Kelleher.
WINNER: Brian Kelleher by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Aside from a brief minute of top control from Pilarte in the second round, this fight was all Kelleher. Pilarte had absolutely zero answers for Kelleher’s wrestling, and it resulted in a very one-sided, wrestling-heavy performance from Kelleher. After the win, Kelleher called out Sean O’Malley, which would definitely be a fun fight if it came together. Kelleher is now 7-5 in the UFC.
LUIS SALDANA (15-6, 146) VS AUSTIN LINGO (8-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Saldana was very active with his kicks to the head and body in the opening minute. Lingo was cut near his right eye but began to push forward in an attempt to make up some ground. Saldana landed another body kick that hurt Lingo, and he followed it up with a leg kick that had a similar effect. Saldana continued to do some great work with his kicks throughout this opening round and took the first five minutes on my scorecard. 10-9 Saldana.
Lingo was fighting very aggressively to begin round two, which prompted Lingo to shoot for a takedown. Lingo defended the attempt, and it looked as though Saldana was starting to slow down. Saldana was still landing some good kicks, but this was a far closer round, and Lingo seemed to be the fresher fighter as this bout progressed. Lingo landed a right hand in the latter half of the round that Saldana acknowledged, and he stunned him with two more of those right hands in the final minute. 19-19.
They wrestled against the cage early in the third round. Saldana looked exhausted, but he kept in the fight by threatening takedowns while landing the occasional body kick. The damage to the legs and body that Saldana piled on early really paid off for him in this third round, keeping this round significantly closer than it should have been given Saldana’s level of exhaustion, but Lingo dropped him with a perfectly placed body shot towards the end of the fight to secure the round. 29-28 Lingo.
WINNER: Austin Lingo by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Saldana looked fantastic in the opening round, but he couldn’t keep that pace up, and Lingo really came alive by round two. The body shot that dropped Saldana near the end looked brutal, and that blow pretty much secured a close round in Lingo’s favor. Apparently, Saldana injured his leg at one point, and that would obviously play into his decrease in activity throughout the later rounds. He was certainly walking heavy on that leg as the fight progressed, and if Lingo mixed a few more leg kicks into his offense, I think he probably could have got a stoppage. Regardless, this was a fun fight to close out the prelims, and Lingo improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win.
ALEXANDRE PANTOJA (23-5, 126) VS BRANDON ROYVAL (12-5, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Pantoja quickly secured a takedown, and transitioned to the back of Royval. There were some entertaining scrambles here, with Royval hunting for a heel hook. Pantoja defended the submission, and they ultimately found themselves grappling against the cage. Royval secured a takedown and a back take of his own, but Pantoja escaped to his feet, where they began to trade some big strikes. Pantoja connected with a few hard rights that secured him the round in my opinion. 10-9 Pantoja.
Pantoja was unsuccessful with an early takedown attempt, and Royval punished him with a number of hard shots. There was an accidental eye poke from Pantoja to Royval, but it was left unseen by the referee. Pantoja was able to drag Royval down to the ground with his next attempt, locked in a rear-naked choke, and Royval was forced to submit.
WINNER: Alexandre Pantoja by rear-naked choke at 1:46 of Round 2
It was a competitive fight with some entertaining scrambles, but Pantoja got the job done here, and he has created a compelling case for a title shot. While Deiveson Figueiredo and Askar Askarov both hold wins over Pantoja, and remain above him in the rankings, Pantoja actually holds two wins against UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno. They first met on the Ultimate Fighter, where Pantoja defeated Moreno by submission, and they fought again in the UFC back in 2018, a fight that Pantoja won by unanimous decision. In his post-fight interview, Cormier directed Pantoja towards Moreno, who was in attendance here, and he cut a respectful promo towards the champion while making his case for a shot. I think this is the direction that the UFC will probably go in for Brandon Moreno, but there are really no shortage of options at flyweight.
VINC PICHEL (13-2, 155.5) VS AUSTIN HUBBARD (13-5, 156) – WELTERWEIGHT
They exchange leg kicks about a minute into the contest. Both fighters were fairly active throughout the round, with a lot of leg kicks traded. An eye poke to Pichel separated them momentarily, and a doctor was brought in to check on Pichel’s eye. He was allowed to continue, and the kicks continued to pile up for each man. A close round, but I gave the edge to Hubbard, 10-9 Hubbard.
Pichel was fighting with a bit more aggression early in the second round, prompting Hubbard to wrap him up against the cage momentarily. When they broke apart, they went back to the leg kicks, and Pichel defended another takedown from Hubbard. He connected with a big shot that knocked Hubbard backward, but Hubbard was able to recover quickly. Pichel landed a knee to the head, and while it landed fairly clean, Pichel was able to push forward and secure a takedown. Pichel threatened a leg lock to end the round on his feet. 19-19.
Pichel landed a heavy combination of punches in the opening minute of round three. Hubbard changed levels and dragged Pichel to the ground, where he was attempted to take Pichel’s back. He was unsuccessful, and Pichel powered his way into top position. Hubbard got back to his feet with ninety seconds remaining and landed an uppercut before taking Pichel back down. Pichel escaped to his feet, and they ended the fight swinging for the fences. 29-28 Pichel.
WINNER: Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was a closer fight than the scorecards may indicate, but Pichel definitely did enough to get the nod here. He was doing a lot of damage to Hubbard near the end of the fight, and effectively knocked him down about a minute before the final bell. I was surprised to see all three judges give the first round to Pichel, but it was close enough that I would hardly call it indefensible. Pichel is now 7-2 in the UFC, and expressed his interest in a rematch with Gregor Gillespie down the road.
TREVIN JONES (13-6, 1 NC, 135) VS SAIDYOKUB KAKHRAMONOV (8-2, 138.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Kakhramonov missed weight by 2.5lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.
Kakhramonov almost caught Jones in a jumping guillotine early in the first round, but Jones was able to escape and started hunting for a takedown against the cage. They spent the remainder of the round wrestling against the cage, so I scored the round for Kakhramonov based on his submission attempt.
It took very little time for the fight to return to the cage. They broke apart momentarily, and Kakhramonov landed a pair of hard looping right hands that Jones didn’t react to well. Jones brought Kakhramonov right back to the cage, but Kakhramonov broke away and just started unloading with his offense, catching Jones with a head kick. Jones was looking rough, but when Kakhramonov’s output waned, he started throwing combinations of his own, before he finally took Kakhramonov down. Jones ended the round in a great position on top, throwing down ground and pound,
Kakhramonov began the final round with a body kick. Jones pushed him to the cage once more, and he kept the fight there for the next few minutes. Kakhramonov threatened a guillotine when Jones attacked a single leg, and he was eventually able to adjust and tighten the choke in against the cage, choking Jones unconscious.
WINNER: Saidyokub Kakhramonov by guillotine choke at 4:39 of Round 3
I thought Kakhramonov looked pretty good on short notice here. He did miss weight, which leaves a slight stain on the win, but at the end of the day this was his UFC debut, and given the circumstances, I think he impressed here. Jones was very ineffective with his offense throughout the fight, and I think he likely would have lost the decision regardless, but Kakhramonov did well to keep the fight out of the judge’s hands with the late finish here.
CHASE SHERMAN (15-7, 256) VS PARKER PORTER (10-6, 262) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Sherman connected with a hard calf kick in the opening minute. Sherman was countering and landing the better strikes early, but Porter began to fire back with some heavy right hands. Porter tripped Sherman to the ground, and he began to work from half guard. He controlled the remainder of the round from this position, ending the round strongly. 10-9 Porter.
Porter landed a one-two to begin the second round, and Sherman was looking a step slower with his counters. Sherman ate some heavy shots to the chin well and defended a single-leg attempt from Porter later in the round. They exchanged right hands, and Sherman landed a leg kick that Porter clearly felt. Porter was just throwing some wild shots towards the end of the round but was finding his target often enough. Sherman’s best weapon was those leg kicks, that had done a ton of damage by the end of the round, but I still gave the edge to Porter here. 20-18 Porter.
Porter landed several right hands to start the final round. Both fighters were exhausted, but Porter’s output was still decent despite the state of his gas tank. It was still a competitive fight, but Porter was starting to pull away with this round based on activity alone. Porter landed an inadvertent kick to the groin, which resulted in a short break for these tired men. When the action resumed, they more or less traded hands for the remainder of the fight. 30-27 Porter.
WINNER: Parker Porter by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I didn’t expect this one to go the distance, but heavyweight is always an unpredictable division. Sherman looked good early in the first, and he landed a series of great leg kicks throughout the bout, but it was the pace, pressure, and output of Porter that decided this fight. Porter improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win.
CLAY GUIDA (36-20, 155) VS MARK O. MADSEN (10-0, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Madsen and Guida exchanged stiff punches in the pocket to begin the round. Guida landed an overhand right that seemed to hurt Madsen, but Madsen was able to push through to the clinch, relieving the pressure momentarily. Guida was having a bit of trouble finding his range but would land good shots when Madsen closed the distance. Madsen’s best offense came from some knees to the body in the clinch, attacks that would certainly benefit him later in the bout. Close round. 10-9 Madsen.
Guida stuffed a takedown from Madsen, and landed a series of hooks in response. They exchanged leg kicks, before Guida cracked Madsen with another combination. Madsen returned to the knees to the body, but could not keep Guida in one place for long. Madsen was connecting with his jab as well; however, he was rarely following it up with anything. Another close round. 19-19.
The commentary team debated the legitimacy of the broadcasts own striking numbers, which had Madsen up by ten on the strike count. They continued to fight a similar battle as the previous two rounds, with neither fighter really pulling ahead with a moment of significance. Madsen was a bit more effective with his strikes in my opinion, and I gave him the edge in this last round. 29-28 Madsen.
WINNER: Mark O. Madsen by split decision. (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
This fight was pretty much a low-quality boxing match, which is often the result when two wrestlers meet. I agreed with Madsen getting the nod, but you really could have scored this fight, either way, there wasn’t much to differentiate them. Regardless of the fights quality, Madsen improved to 11-0 professionally with this win, and he called out Gregor Gillespie in his post-fight interview.
JARED CANNONIER (13-5, 185) VS KELVIN GASTELUM (16-7, 1 NC, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the fight. Cannonier was a bit busier early, mixing a number of kicks into his attack. Cannonier connected with some nicely timed counters as Gastelum attempted to move forwards as well, discouraging Kelvin from getting overly aggressive. Gastelum found success with his combinations though, often getting Cannonier to actively retreat in order to escape the exchange. I gave the opening round to Cannonier. 10-9 Cannonier.
Cannonier defended a takedown attempted to begin the second round. Gastelum started digging into the body, and both men attacked the lead leg, with Cannonier’s seemingly having a bit more of an effect, at least early in the round. Gastelum started to connect with some beautiful one-two’s, snapping Cannonier’s head back a couple of times. Cannonier landed some bombs of his own, but in my opinion, his best offense came from those brutal leg kicks. Good round. 19-19.
Cannonier dropped Gastelum hard with a right hook, and I thought Gastelum was out, but he just popped back up, ate a head kick, and then started searching for a takedown. He wasn’t successful, but Gastelum seemed to have recovered completely by the mid-way point of the round. Gastelum outboxed Cannonier for the remainder of the round, but I feel as though you have to give the round to Cannonier for the knockdown. 29-28 Cannonier.
Cannonier flurried forward with right hands early in the fourth. Gastelum tried to jab the body and ate a hook from Cannonier in response. Gastelum was missing the mark with some big swings but was still fairly effective with his boxing. Cannonier landed an uppercut that knocked Gastelum off balance, and another one that connected cleanly on the chin late in the round. 39-37 Cannonier, but this was a pretty close round.
Both corners felt as though their fighter was up on the scorecards going into round five. Cannonier continued to keep things on the feet, defending Gastelum’s takedown attempts. Cannonier caught Gastelum with an elbow as he pushed forward, and defended another attempt from Gastelum to get the fight to the ground. Gastelum kept up the forward pressure, but the strike count was fairly even between these two throughout the round (although the commentary team was convinced this was a great round from Kelvin). I thought this may have been the closest round of the fight, but ultimately gave the edge to Gastelum. 48-47 Cannonier.
WINNER: Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision (48-47 all)
In stark contrast to the previous fight on this card, I thought this was a very high-quality striking match. I think you could make compelling cases for anything from 49-46 Cannonier to 48-47 Gastelum, but the judges and I ultimately saw this one the same way. Cannonier campaigned for a title shot after this win, but I would be surprised if they gave him the nod over Whittaker, especially after Whittaker’s recent wins over Cannonier, Gastelum, and Darren Till. He did say he would be open to taking another bout, however, and the first name that came to my mind was Sean Strickland. Gastelum has now lost five of his last six fights, and he only holds two UFC wins at middleweight against fighters who are not currently retired. It’s tough to imagine what’s next for Gastelum, but despite his recent struggles, he remains a very high-level fighter.