For a 2018 UFC prelim card, UFC Fight Night: Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez delivered an unexpected amount of excitement (and some controversy).
The most notable incident of the prelims came in the featherweight clash between Chas Skelly and the debuting Bobby Moffett. In the second round, the bout went to the ground, with Skelly cartwheeling himself into a tight d’arce choke. Moffett cranked on the submission attempt and Skelly did his best to stay alive in the fight. It’s then that the referee called the contest off, believing Skelly had been choked unconscious. Skelly disagreed, claiming he was awake every step of the way. This lead to the seldom used official replay review, which is permitted under the ABC unified rule changes that were in place tonight in Colorado. After the ref reviewed the tape, he didn’t see enough to reverse the decision.
Also on the prelims Ashley Yoder beat Amanda Cooper in an exciting fight, Davi Ramos legitimately choked out (and completely outclassed) John Gunther and debutante Devonte Smith impressed with a 46 second knockout over Julian Erosa.
Check out the complete results below:
Strawweight: Ashley Yoder def. Amanda Cooper via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28).
The former TUF castmates got off to a tentative start in the first round, with both women measuring distance and Cooper landing a few leg kicks. When the pair did clash, in earnest, Cooper landed some solid punches on the inside. Moments later Yoder caught Cooper coming in with a straight left. Cooper then landed with a forward rushing combo. Cooper then flipped the script and landed a takedown. Cooper got side control and landed some hard elbows, creating a knot on Yoder’s forehead. Yoder did reverse the position, though; finishing the stanza in top position.
In the second round, Yoder stung Cooper with another long straight left. Cooper brushed it off though and looked for a takedown against the fence. Cooper landed hard knees in the ensuing clinch, but was then tripped onto her back. Yoder got on top, but she couldn’t hold Cooper down. They traded some knees against the fence, until Cooper hoisted Yoder back towards the cage and dropped her to the canvas. On top Cooper looked to ground and pound, but the lanky Yoder was able to stifle most of that.
Cooper started the third round brightly, stalking Yoder down and landing shots to the body and head. Though Yoder looked a little timid, she did catch a leaning in Cooper with a knee. Cooper landed another combo and then a big takedown. However, Yoder rolled through and ended up on top. On the bottom, Cooper worked for a kimura, but had to bail on it. Cooper threw some up kicks and Yoder dove on one for an attempted knee-bar. Cooper coolly navigated her way out and locked in an amrbar momentarily. A last minute scramble put Yoder on Cooper’s back, but the final bell sounded before she could secure a choke.
After the hard to score, and thoroughly entertaining fight, two of the judges sided with Yoder.
Featherweight: Bobby Moffett def. Chas Skelly via TKO (d’arce), Round 2 (2:43).
Both Skelly and Moffett were landing punches early. But it was Skelly who seized initiative in the first round, by hopping onto Moffett’s back and threatening with a rear naked choke. Moffett showed composure, though, fighting off Skelly’s wrists. Though his choke was blocked, Skelly was able to land pestering punches to the side of Moffett’s dome.
Moffett prioritized leg kicks in the opening moments of round two. Skelly used his herky-jerky style to land a good uppercut on Moffeett, but he was unable to stop the takedown that came soon after. Skelly got out from under Moffett by wall walking, but he put himself right into a d’arce. Skelly wheeled around looking for breathing space. The two men span for a couple of revolutions and then the referee, fearing Skelly was out, tested Skelly’s limb for limpness and then decided to call the fight. Skelly was not pleased. He protested that he never went unconscious. The decision stood, even after an official replay review.
Lightweight: Davi Ramos def. John Gunther via submission (rear naked choke), Round 1 (1:57).
Ramos had Gunther down within 15 seconds and from there it was pretty much over. He took Gunther’s back with ease, sunk in a body triangle and then methodically worked for the fight winning rear naked choke.
Lightweight: Devonte Smith def. Julian Erosa via TKO (punches), Round 1 (0:46).
Well, it didn’t last long, but Devonte Smith’s UFC debut was as impressive as it gets. The veteran Erosa stepped to the rookie with his hands down and Smith responded to with a one-two combo that dropped Erosa. The fight could have been stopped there, but a slow referee meant Erosa ate some ground strikes before the fight was waved off.
Fight Pass prelims:
Flyweight: Eric Shelton def. Joseph Morales by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27).
In the first Shelton showed he wanted to play toreador, evading Morales who bull rushed forwards with looping punches. Shelton was able to catch Morales with some hard shots during those exchanges. He then switched tactics and took Morales down, eventually getting back control. Morales would squirm to his feet, though. Shelton shot in again, but Morales countered with a guillotine. Shelton popped out of the choke attempt and ended the round in top position.
In the second Shelton caught an early kick from Morales and used that to secure a takedown, but Morales would get up against the fence. Shelton shot again a few minutes later, Morales defended the shot, but was then hip thrown to the canvas. Morales reacted quickly and slapped on another guillotine attempt. Shelton popped out of it again, though.In Morales’ full guard, Shelton was unable to land anything meaningful while Morales worked his way back to his feet. Another Shelton takedown attempt resulted in a fun scramble. The round ended with Morales attempting a triangle choke Shelton.
In the third, after a nice shot to the body, Morales landed a takedown on Shelton. Against the fence, Shelton flipped himself back onto his feet and the action returned to the center of the cage. It didn’t take long for Shelton to shoot, and land, a takedown of his own. Morales tried another guillotine, but he didn’t have it. Morales got back up, without taking damage, but Shelton had him down again soon after. Morales was up with 20 seconds left, he ducked a spinning elbow from Shelton, and finished the fight tangled up on the canvas. Two out of three judges gave Shelton the decision, undoubtedly due to his seven successful takedowns (out of nine attempts).
Bantamweight: Mark De La Rosa def. Joby Sanchez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
De La Rosa pressured Sanchez early, hunting for a single leg takedown, but Sanchez was equal to it. After that Sanchez tried to counter and maintain distance; flashing kicks. stiff jabs, and hooks — one of which almost knocked out De La Rosa’s mouth piece.
In the second round De La Rosa was eager to exchange, but Sanchez was able to catch him coming in. Sanchez put De La Rosa against the fence for some dirty boxing, but risked a choke attempt from De La Rosa. De La Rosa grew in confidence and began landing more shots while wading into Sanchez’s range. De La Rosa shifted from striking to wrestling, trying to take Sanchez down with another single leg, but Sanchez defended very well. Sanchez looked tried after that and, as a result, De La Rosa began beating him to the punch.
In the third both men landed pot shots, with Sanchez mostly content to try and counter the more aggressive De La Rosa. With under a minute left, De La Rosa tried another single leg takedown, but he couldn’t get Sanchez down. Both fighters raised their hands at the final bell after a very close contest.