The UFC 240 ESPN preliminary card just concluded with Viviane Araujo putting some hands on the company’s #7 ranked women’s flyweight Alexis Davis to earn a unanimous nod. The now 8-1 Araujo is riding a five-fight winning streak and beating a pioneer like Davis shoots her right up the divisional ladder.
Before that, Hakeem Dawodu pulled out a sensational third round head kick on UFC newcomer Yoshinori Horie. The Canadian striker has now won three straight UFC fights, moving to 3-1 under the UFC banner. Also on the ESPN prelims, Gavin Tucker overcame a second round point deduction to sniff out a third round submission of Seung Woo Choi. Tucker now sits at 11-1 and 2-1 within the promotion.
An exciting top-five flyweight bout occurred on the prelims when the #4 ranked flyweight Deiveson Figueiredo and the #3 ranked Alexandre Pantoja went at it for the full fifteen-minutes. Figueiredo was landing some massive punches, leaving his opponent all bloodied up. Pantoja never quit and kept coming forward showing tons of heart, but the power of Figueiredo proved to be too much.
On the Fight Pass portion of the prelims, Gillian Robertson put the stamp on Sarah Frota with a second round TKO. Robertson took the fight to the ground and unloaded a frenzy of elbows until the referee pulled her off. At 4-1 with the promotion, Robertson has yet to see a third round in the UFC. Opening up the card, longtime MMA veteran Erik Koch made a successful debut at welterweight by winning a workmanlike decision over Kyle Stewart. Koch, who has been around since the WEC days, has not fought twice in one year since 2014 so there’s no telling when he’ll be back in the Octagon.
**See complete results below
Viviane Araujo def. Alexis Davis by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): (W) Flyweight
Davis knocked over her opponent in the opening moments of the fight, but it was more of an off-balance moment. Araujo stood up and began tagging up Davis quite a bit with her hands. Davis got herself back into it with a varied attack of punches and kicks.
Araujo found a lot of early success mixing up her punching attacks in round-two. She would leap in and land a strike, and then leap out of harms way — just to leap right back in with a different punch. After an Araujo takedown, Davis was able to use a leg lock attempt to sweep. Davis closed out the round by connecting with some quality ground strikes.
Araujo again got off with her hands in the beginning of the final round. Davis was all busted up in the face from the strikes but kept pressing forward like a Terminator. Davis botched a takedown causing her to flop to her back. Araujo wanted no part of the ground and ate up some clock before the fight was brought back to its feet. Davis landed some quality knees in the clinch in the closing moments, but didn’t land anything to end the match.
Hakeem Dawodu def. Yoshinori Horie by TKO at 4:09 of round 3: Featherweight
Horie landed the first big blow, scoring a flash knockdown. Dawodu may have been more off-balance than anything. Then again Horie lands a leaping punch that knocks Dawodu down, or better yet off-balance again. Dawodu pressed forward in the second round but Horie continued to skirt along the outside out of range. Quite a bit of inactivity was going on and the crowd was growing restless. A couple of clean strikes got through for Dawodu whenever his opponent was close enough to actually hit.
More pressure came from Dawodu in the final round as Horie started to gas. The output of Dawodu increased and he began to maul the UFC noob. Horie was eating all sorts of shots but somehow stayed on his feet. Brutal knees and elbows landed flush on the inside for Dawodu. Then in open space, Dawodu landed a head kick on the break that finally sat down Choi. Although Choi wasn’t completely out, he was pretty much done and the referee instantly stopped the fight.
Gavin Tucker def. Seung Woo Choi by submission (RNC) at 3:17 of round 3: Featherweight
Tucker blasted a quick takedown that resulted in a back take with lots of time left on the clock. Choi struggled to find separation, even when he was in dominant grappling positions. Choi showed up for round two throwing volume, but that didn’t last very long. Tucker was again able to close the distance and stall out his opponent. Choi fought his way back into open space and landed a smooth combo on the break. Tucker again closed the distance and took the fight down to the mat, but connected with an illegal knee to the head, resulting in a one point deduction.
Tucker did a sound job of keeping the range all the way on the inside in the final act. He refused to give Choi the space he needed to get his strikes going. Tucker worked his way to the back and started going hard for the choke. Choi was dead to rights and had to tap. Tucker needed the finish to avoid a wonky scorecard, and he did just that.
Deiveson Figueiredo def. Alexandre Pantoja by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Flyweight
Figueiredo stalked forward throwing huge punches. Pantoja was active on his feet but it was Figueiredo leading the dance. The bout turned into a scramble when Pantoja was able to close the distance. The athletes started going toe-to-toe in the second round. Pantoja started getting off while the output from Figueiredo dwindled a bit. A couple of short-lived takedowns were scored by Pantoja but nothing came of them. The pace really picked up in the final 30-seconds of the round. Figueiredo started swinging hard, connecting on several shots and even dropping Pantoja before the bell sounded.
Figueiredo landed some clean shots early in the third round leaving Pantoja all bloodied up. Then, Figueiredo switched gears and secured a body lock takedown. Pantoja quickly stood back up and began moving forward. He ate some nasty up elbows from Figueiredo but kept pressing forward. A series of jab-cross combos kept landing down the stretch, but Pantoja was unable to find a finish.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims:
Gillian Robertson def. Sarah Frota by TKO at 4:13 of round 2: (W) Flyweight
Robertson scored an early takedown right into the guard of the BJJ practitioner. Frota was crafty off of her back. She broke down Robertson’s posture and landed strikes from her back. Then, she spun and went for an inverted triangle. Robertson hung tough and escaped. She landed a splitting elbow that cut Frota around the left eye.
Robertson went right back to the takedown to start the second act. Frota tried to throw up some crafty moves, but Robertson was having none of it. Robertson took full mount and began dropping a plethora of elbows. All Frota could do was cover up until the referee had seen enough.
Erik Koch def. Kyle Stewart by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28): Welterweight
Koch got his strikes going right away, starting fast on his less experienced opponent. He spent some time holding Stewart against the fence, before the fight returned to open space. Stewart got himself back in the fight by throwing combinations and using them to close the distance. Stewart picked up the second round right where he left off in round one. He punched his way into the clinch, but gifted Koch top position by dropping down. The bout went back to standing and the grueling grind continued for the remainder of the round.
Koch closed the distance and stalled his foe out up against the fence. He worked until the takedown presented itself, but Stewart was quick to stand back up. Although Stewart scrambled back to his feet a couple of times, he was unable to find any separation. Koch was able solidify top position and spent the rest of the fight dominating with strikes and slight sub attempts.