UFC on ESPN+ 16: Cowboy vs. Gaethje Full Report

Just a week after the UFC Lightweight Championship was defended by Khabib Nurmagomdeov in the United Arab Emirates, UFC brought another Lightweight main event, this time to Vancouver. With “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje main eventing the show, fireworks were expected. The show also included many prospects, fighters debuting from the Contender Series, some Canadians, and much more. The night started at 5PM EST (2PM Vancouver time) with the ESPN+ preliminary card.

Bout 1: Austin Hubbard (10-3) vs. Kyle Prepolec (12-6) (Lightweight)

The evening opened with a lightweight battle between Austin Hubbard and Canadian Kyle Prepolec. While Hubbard was moving better, one of the first times he came in for a punch he got cracked by a counter-punch. Both fighters had their shots in the stand-up. In the final seconds of the first round, Hubbard got wobbled by another punch. Hubbard got a takedown in the second round. They got back up shortly after. Hubbard was able to engage more in the second round without getting hit with hard shots. There was a pause halfway through the round as Prepolec was poked in the eye. The fight resumed shortly after. Hubbard got another takedown with two minutes left and landed strikes from top position. Early in the final round Prepolec tried for a guillotine but couldn’t get it. Prepolec landed some good punches but didn’t defend a single leg takedown. Hubbard took the back of Prepolec for a couple of minutes. Prepolec was on Hubbard’s back as the fight ran out of time. The judges were all in agreement, giving the fight to Austin Hubbard (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). Hubbard said after the fight that he was “disappointed” in his performance.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Hubbard 9 10 10 29
Prepolec 10 9 9 28

Bout 2: Ryan MacDonald (10-1) vs. Louis Smolka (15-6) (Bantamweight)

The next preliminary fight was between Ryan MacDonald and Louis Smolka. Smolka was a favourite to win the bout. Smolka was the one coming forward with strikes early on. Both fighters kept a fast tempo throughout the first round. Smolka tagged MacDonald in the final minute of the round. He dropped MacDonald with punches, making the referee step in and end the bout.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 3: Jordan Griffin (17-6) vs. Chas Skelly (17-4) (Featherweight)

Moving up a weight class, the next fight was a featherweight battle between Jordan Griffin and Chas Skelly. Skelly took the fight to the ground early on. On Griffin’s back, Skelly tried for a rear naked choke. Skelly continued with the pressure on the ground, trying to choke Griffin. He was able to endure for a long time, eventually escaping with a minute left. Finally when they went back to stand-up, Skelly seemed much more fatigued and less skilled. Griffin got a takedown in the second round after getting some shots in. On the ground, Skelly was able to get on Griffin’s back again and try for a rear naked choke via some odd somersault. Heading into the third round, Griffin’s corner was under the assumption that they were down two rounds. Skelly shot for a single leg takedown, but Griffin turned it into a guillotine. Yet again, Skelly was able to take Griffin’s back and try for the rear naked choke again. Griffin escaped the move, but was put in a head and arm choke. Griffin got up and tried for a choke himself as the fight clock ran out. Both fighters were very respectful to each other afterwards. When going to the scorecards, all three judges handed the victory to Chas Skelly (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Griffin 9 9 9 27
Skelly 10 10 10 30

Bout 4: Hunter Azure (7-0) vs. Brad Katona (9-1) (Bantamweight)

Another Canadian in Brad Katona fought next, facing undefeated fighter Hunter Azure. Katona was looking to bounce back from his first professional loss. In the first minute of the fight, Azure dropped Katona with a combo of punches. Katona recovered and put Azure up against the cage in a standing clinch. They went back to stand-up with two or so minutes left in the round. Katona shot for another takedown, starting another clinch up against the cage. Similar to the first round, Azure dropped Katona early in the second round as well. Katona finally got a takedown halfway through the second round. They got back up, but Katona kept Azure pinned against the cage. The final round saw the most stand-up. Azure slowed down which gave Katona a better chance with the striking. Azure went for a body clinch, which allowed Katona to get a trip takedown. Katona took Azure’s back with a minute left. He tried for a rear naked choke which Azure escaped. Azure took top position for the final moments of the fight. Via unanimous decision, Hunter Azure got the victory (29-28, 30-27 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Azure 9 9 9 27
Katona 10 10 10 30

Bout 5: Miles Johns (9-0) vs. Cole Smith (7-0) (Bantamweight)

Vancouver’s own Cole Smith faced Contender Series fighter Miles Johns in the next bout. Not to mention, this was also a matchup of two undefeated fighters. Smith walked out to the Pride FC theme. Smith shot for a takedown in the opening 10 seconds. He fought for the takedown for a long time, mounting the back of Johns while still standing. With just over a minute left in the round, Johns got Smith off of his back. Johns got a takedown early in the second round. Smith got up eventually and took the back of Johns. Johns took top position by turning himself over. Smith had Johns pinned against the cage for a few minutes at the start of round three. When they separated, Johns was more aggressive than ever with his striking. Smith was dropped/shoved by a jab. Smith shot for another takedown, this time Johns was able to stop him and keep it in stand-up. The fight went the distance with a split decision giving Miles Johns his 10th pro win (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Johns 9 9 10 28
Smith 10 10 9 29

Bout 6: Augusto Sakai (13-1-1) (#15) vs. Marcin Tybura (17-5) (#14)  (Heavyweight)

The preliminary part of the card finished with a ranked heavyweight battle. In the first minute of the bout, Tybura was eating a lot of punches. Sakai kept the punches coming until Tybura dropped, forcing the referee to end the competition. Augusto Sakai earned his fifth win in a row in a minute’s time.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 7: Jimmy Crute (10-0) vs. Misha Cirkunov (14-5) (#15) (Light Heavyweight)

Continuing on ESPN+, the main card of the show started with a light heavyweight contest. The undefeated light heavyweight Jimmy Crute faced the #15 ranked Misha Cirkunov. Cirkunov got a double leg takedown in the first few seconds of the fight. Crute was able to get up and land a takedown of his own. After getting another takedown, Crute let some punches go. Cirkunov was able to endure the strikes and escape the position. Cirkunov was able to slip in a peruvian necktie to make Crute tap out. Despite nearly getting finished via strikes, Misha Cirkunov turned his situation around and won the fight.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 8: Antonio Carlos Junior (11-3 1 NC) (#13) vs. Uriah Hall (15-9) (#12) (Middleweight)

Switching to the middleweight division, ranked fighters Antonio Carlos Junior and Uriah Hall fought next. Carlos Junior was working his jab early on. He shot for a single leg takedown which Hall resisted but eventually fell victim to. Carlos Junior took Hall’s back and stayed on it despite Hall standing up. Carlos Junior had started bleeding around his nose at some point in the first round. They went back to stand-up with two minutes left in the round. Carlos Junior tried for another single leg but was completely stopped. Carlos Junior got a takedown in the final minute of the first round. After Carlos Junior had Hall up against the cage for a minute or so in the second round, Hall dropped Carlos Junior. With Carlos Junior on the ground, Hall was swinging away from top position. Hall let him get back up. Carlos Junior went back to putting Hall against the fence. The crowd, which was quite enthused was encouraged by Hall before the final round started. Carlos Junior got a trip takedown in the first minute of the third round. He stayed on his back for the rest of the round, staying active enough for the referee to not stand them up. Looking at the scorecards, it was Uriah Hall who got the victory via split decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28)

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Carlos Junior 10 9 10 29
Hall 9 10 9 28

Bout 9: Tristan Connelly (13-6) vs. Michel Pereira (23-9 2 NC) (Welterweight)

Michel Pereira returned for his second UFC fight next, his first one on a main card against Tristan Connelly, who was making his UFC debut. Pereira gave up 20% of his fight purse due to weighing in 2 pounds over the welterweight limit. Connelly stepped in on a week’s notice after Pereira’s original opponent pulled out from the fight. Pereira did his trademark breakdancing while Bruce Buffer announced his name. Early on, Pereira did a superman punch off the fence and did a backflip. It was hard to tell if the backflip was meant to do any damage. Connelly had two takedown attempts denied. Pereira did a variation of a rolling thunder, spinning completely forwards instead of off to the side like a normal one. Pereira got a double leg takedown halfway through the round. Pereira stood up while Connelly was on the ground and did a backflip, avoiding stomping him. He’s went viral for doing a similar move in Road FC. Back on the ground, Connelly took top position after avoiding a guillotine. Connelly had good ground game against Pereira. Connelly put in another guillotine attempt as the round concluded. After the round ended, Pereira walked to the wrong corner. Connelly failed to get another takedown early in the second round. Connelly was the fresher fighter and was doing more. Pereira secured a takedown with two minutes left in the round. Connelly tried for a kimura but couldn’t get it. Connelly tried for a guillotine in the first minute of the final round but Pereira escaped. Connelly took top position shortly after and stayed there for the rest of the fight. Connelly threw some punches before the fight ran out of time. When it concluded, the Vancouver crowd was on their feet. Heading to the scorecards, Tristan Connelly earned his first UFC victory (29-28, 29-27 & 29-27).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Pereira 9 9 9 27
Connelly 10 10 10 30

Bout 10: Jeff Hughes (10-2) vs. Todd Duffee (9-3) (Heavyweight)

Coming back to the heavyweight division for the final time on the card, Jeff Hughes faced Todd Duffee. Duffee came forward with strikes early on. He got a takedown, but Hughes got up moments later. Duffee was landing tons of punches and Hughes was in trouble. Hughes pushed away from Duffee and in the process poked him in the eye, causing a stop in the fight. Duffee told the referee that he was “seeing double.” A doctor was called in, and eventually the fight was waved off and ruled a no contest.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 11: Nikita Krylov (26-6) (#13) vs. Glover Teixeira (29-7) (#9) (Light Heavyweight)

In the co-main event of the evening, ranked light heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Glover Teixeira squared off. Teixeira got a takedown in the first minute of the fight. Kyrlov was able to take top position after Teixeira held it for a couple of minutes. Texeira got up, but then Krylov put in a deep rear naked choke which put them back on the ground. Teixeira escaped the choke and brought the fight back to stand-up. Both fighters had pretty inactive stand-up in the second round before Krylov got a takedown as the round ended. Teixeira put in a guillotine choke early in the third round. On the ground Krylov escaped the choke and took Teixeira’s back. Teixeira got him off of his back and took top position. Krylov took top position for a while before the final round ended. The judges had a split decision, with two of the three judges awarding the fight to Glover Teixeira (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Krylov 9 10 10 29
Teixeira 10 9 9 28

Bout 12: Justin Gaethje (20-2) (#5) vs. Donald Cerrone (36-12 1 NC) (#4) (Lightweight)

The main event of the evening was a lightweight division showcase between Justin Gaethje and Donald Cerrone. This was Cerrone’s 50th professional MMA bout. It became apparent early on that both fighters were interested in swinging. Gaethje landed a right hook which dropped Cerrone. Gaethje hit a few more shots, looked at the ref to stop the fight and then landed a couple more. After the stoppage it was clear that Gaethje didn’t like how late the referee made the fight go.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total

UFC will head to Mexico City next weekend for UFC on ESPN+ 17, headlined by Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens. Rodriguez is one of the seven Mexican fighters scheduled to appear on the card. The prelims start at 5PM EST with the main card beginning three hours afterwards.

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