Closing out the televised portion of the UFC 228 prelims, the company’s #9 strawweight Tatiana Suarez mugged the #6 Carla Esparza on the ground, ultimately walking away with a third-round TKO. The 7-0 Suarez remains undefeated and called out the champ Rose Namajunas in her post-fight interview. before that, Aljamain Sterling hit a slick and rare kneebar submission from the back of Cody Stamann, to earn himself a second-round finish. This marks the first UFC loss of Stamann’s career and two-straight wins for Aljo.
Geoff Neal added to his highlight reel tonight when he posterized Frank Camacho with a brilliant second-round head kick finish. The 10-2 Neal is now 2-0 inside of the UFC, one by submission and then tonight’s gnarly knockout. Opening up the FX prelims, Darren Stewart overcame an early onslaught to stop Charles Byrd with strikes in the second round. The 9-3 Stewart now enjoys back to back wins, both coming by way of finish.
Tatiana Suarez def. Carla Esparza by TKO at 4:33 of round 3: Strawweight
Suarez shot in on Esparza to start the bout, and after failing with her initial attempt, she found a body lock takedown. Several vicious elbows rained down courtesy of Suarez, causing a trifecta of severe hematoma across the face of Esparza. Suarez continued to beat on Esparza for the rest of the round.
Suarez again dragged the bout down to the canvas to start the second round. Esparza fought her way back to her feet, only to get slammed right back down to the ground. Rinse and repeat. Esparza came out in the final round looking to take Suarez to the ground, but ended up on her back as a result. More ground dominance was on display from Suarez with elbow after elbow landing over and over again. The referee had finally seen enough and prevented Esparza from sustaining any further damage.
Aljamain Sterling def. Cody Stamann by submission (Kneebar) at 3:42 of round 2: Bantamweight
Aljo came out and shot in on Stamann but got nowhere with it, leaving the battle to be fought on the feet. A couple of body kicks landed for Aljo as he fought from the outside, but found himself with his back to the cage after another botched single leg. Stamann blasted a takedown, but Aljo locked up a triangle attempt that kept Stamann defending. A grotesque cut formed around the eye of STamann, but the corner closed it up in between rounds.
Stamann closed the distance and scored a brief takedown on Aljo to start the second frame. Back on the feet, Aljo landed a couple of strikes before taking top position and ultimately the full mount. Stamann exposed his back and found himself in a full nelson, and then to make matters worse, Aljo snatched up a kneebar, while still having the back. Thank goodness, for the sake of Stamann’s knee, that the referee was in position to stop the match. Ouch!
Geoff Neal def. Frank Camacho by KO at 1:23 of round 2: Welterweight
The punches of Neal were scoring right out of the gate, followed by some high stakes feinting. The power punches of Neal continued to find a home on the face of Camacho, and it wasn’t that the volume was particularly high, but when he did pull the trigger he scored big. Neal dropped Camacho with ten seconds remaining in the round, but was unable to convert before time expired.
Neal went right after Camacho to start the second round, flurrying and tagging his foe up against the fence. Camacho showed his toughness and continued throwing back, causing Neal to step back towards the center of the Octagon where he took a breath. Then, lightning struck. Neal tapped the left hand of Camacho with his right hand, then uncorked a thunderous head kick that landed flush to the chin. Camacho was instantly unconscious. Holy smokes!
Darren Stewart def. Charles Byrd by TKO at 2:17 of round 2: Middleweight
Byrd let off some crafty striking early in the first round, some in open space and then some from the clinch. Stewart had a hard time getting any separation, and spent a lot of time with his back to the fence. Hard shots continued to land for Byrd into the second stanza as Stewart continued to struggle to mount offense. Then suddenly, Stewart rocked Byrd with a stinging elbow that put him on skates. Stewart went in for the kill, landing a series of strikes that culminated with a standing elbow that put Byrd down and brought the bout to a halt. What a turn of events!