Recapping UFC Fight Night 131

Two Top 5 Bantamweights main-evented the UFC’s first trip to Utica, New York on Friday Night closing out the 12 fight card this weekend. The card was headlined by a title eliminator between Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (21-2 #4 Ranked Bantamweight) takes on Marlon “Magic” Moraes (21-5-1 #5 Ranked Bantamweight). Yet again the New York commission stepped in and canceled a fight at the absolute last minute this time it was Jessica “Jag” Aguilar (19-6) and Jodie Esquibel (6-3). Reports say that Aguilar was pulled from the fight for having chapped lips on Thursday. This is just absolutely bizarre at this point with the commission. This card started out strong on Fight Pass, then really lulled in the prelims on FS1, but it then finished with a real bang on the main card. We have 12 fights to dig deep in to so let’s get it started.

The 125lb weight class kicked off the Fight Pass prelims as Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks (13-2) took on UFC newcomer Jose “Shorty” Torres (8-0).Brooks landed a nice hard overhand right to kick off the fight. Torres then started moving forward and snuck a right in on his own. Brooks hit a big spinning back fist after he had just missed on and Torres dropped to his knees. Brooks then had Torres in a front headlock on the mat. Brooks just kept working knees to the shoulder for well over a minute before Torres finally got back to his feet. Torres tried to move n with a combination, but Brooks got the best of the exchange. Brooks threw a straight left, and then shot a double leg takedown that he secured. Brooks transitioned and took Torres back. Torres got to his feet, but he had a Brooks backpack up against the fence. That is where the round ended with Brooks putting some pressure on Torres’ neck. The 2nd round started with Torres moving forward, and Brook trying to go for a takedown. Torres was able to stay on his feet and they separated. Torres continued to be the one trying to stalk, and Brooks again went for the spinning back fist. Torres avoided this one and grabbed on to Brooks back to control him. Torres then slammed Brooks to the ground, but he got right back to his feet. Torres was attached to him. Brooks eventually broke free, but Torres was continuing to move forward. Torres was swinging hard, and backing Brooks back. Torres landed a nice head body combination. Brooks went for a level change and a takedown. Brooks went for a takedown and picked Torres way up over his head. On the slam Brooks appeared to go limp, and Torres scrambled and loaded up some hammer fists before the referee saved Brooks. Jose Torres takes home the victory with a TKO in his debut. Let’s be honest Torres was certainly shaky, but as the fight went on he was looking good. Brooks made a huge mistake and Torres makes his presence known in the UFC.

Another UFC debut closed out the Fight Pass card as Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood (14-3) went against Johnny Eduardo (28-12). Wood came out looking to move forward and bring the fight to Eduardo. Wood caught a body kick and tried to land. Wood kept going back to the low leg kick that Eduardo was trying to check. Wood kept working leg kicks, and snuck in a nice straight right. Eduardo returned with a leg kick of his own, and then a nice right hand of his own. Eduardo was loading up for big right hands, but Wood was holding his own. Eduardo hit a jab then they exchanged. Wood hit a big left, but Eduardo responded and briefly stumbled Wood. Eduardo got a nice combination off on Wood and had him backed up against the cage. Wood was just standing there staying up based on all heart. Eduardo was taking his time, and backed off a bit to reset. The two both missed some late punches and the round ended. The second round started with Eduardo trying to land early. He couldn’t find the range and avoided a right from Wood. Eduardo hit a spinning kick to the body and backed Wood off. The fight went to the mat after a failed takedown attempt from Eduardo, and Wood latched on a d’arce choke. Wood kept working and working for it, and finally got the tap of the veteran Eduardo. Really solid debut for Wood who overcame some early adversity. The former Cage Warrior fighter could have a bright FUC future.

On to the FS1 prelims as Desmond “The Predator” Green (21-6) went against longtime UFC veteran Gleison Tibau (40-14). Green had a body kick blocked, and then he evaded shots from Tibau. Tibau kept searching for spinning attacks that were missing. Green stuffed a takedown and landed some punches in response. Tibau caught Green coming in with a hard punch, and Green had to back off. Green kept trying to bounce in to the pocket, but he was eating hooks from Tibau. Green stuffed another takedown, and circled back to the center. The action slowed a bit, with Green trying to get in, but Tibau returned fire. Green landed a body kick then a jab as the round ended. The 2nd round started with Green continuing to land some shots. Tibau was not really returning fire with much. Green was landing, but it was really just two guys jabbing back and forth. Tibau was unable to reach Green who was continuously moving around the outside. Green got a warning for moving forward with his hands open after a small eye poke that didn’t stop the action. Green landed a nice straight right, and missed with a flying knee. Tibau threw a wicked right hand, which just missed as the round ended. Green again was controlling round 3 with the distance in his striking. Tibau tried with a right hand, but could not put anything after that. Green stumbled Tibau with a short right hand. Tibau regained his composure and tried to move forward again, but Green rocked him again pushing him to one knee. Tibau was able to get back up. Green backed off a bit and appeared to let Tibau recover. Green landed a clean right hand over the top that Tibau ate well. Green was clapping and showboating in front of Tibau with 30 seconds to go. Green had to eat a left hand for it, but there was nothing on it. Green went for a flying knee late, but the round and fight ended. The judges scored this 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 all of Desmond Green. As usual Desmond Green went to decision, and pulled the decision out. Green looked really impressive on the feet and stayed out of any danger. Green will have at least another unranked fighter before he gets a shot at the Top 15.

The 170lb division was next as Belal “Remember The Name” Muhammad (14-2) welcomed Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre (12-3) to the ranks of the UFC.Muhammad came out trying to feet out the position. He avoided a big right from Rencountre and returned with a low leg kick. Muhammad was trying to find an opening for the offense to start flowing, but they were really just dancing around. Rencountre tried for a single leg, but Muhammad defended it easily. Muhammad uncorked a nice left hand, and followed up with a right hand that pushed Rencountre back. Muhammad tried to land a body kick, and a short left hand from Rencountre backed Muhammad up, and almost stunned him a bit. Muhammad missed with a front kick, but came over with a hard right hand that grazed Rencountre who grabbed on as the round ended. The second round started with Muhammad coming out and landing some decent shots finished with a right hand that connected on the chin. Muhammad then went for a takedown, and secured in. Rencountre did a great job however scrambling off his back and getting back to his feet without sustaining a lot of damage. Rencountre landed a nice shot to the body with a kick. Both fighters missed with big hooks. Muhammad continued to try and cut off the cage as he followed Rencountre. Muhammad landed three good left hands on the chin, but Rencountre was there for them. Muhammad finished the round strong with a left-right combination, and a hard spinning back kick to the body. The bell sounded and the two exchanged trash talk at the center of the cage before the ref sent them to their corners. The third round was next and Muhammad kept moving forward as the two traded jabs. Muhammad landed a few hard leg kicks, but the two were really trying to find openings. Rencountre tried to dip in, and Muhammad came in with some hard combinations. Rencountre was really wearing the punches on his face. Muhammad was just the more technical striker, and it was showing with all the left hands he was landing. Muhammad grabbed another double leg takedown, and tried to ground and pound Rencountre. However Rencountre was able to sneak out and get back to his feet. Muhammad back on the feet landed a straight left and a hard right hook. Muhammad got Rencountre back down to the mat, and was able to transition to his back and was trying to open up a rear naked choke. Rencountre was able to survive, and keep fighting the hands of Muhammad. Rencountre got back to his feet, and the danced until the horn sounded. We were headed to the judges again and they scored it 30-27 across the board for Belal Muhammad. This was a good win for Muhammad, but I’m sure he would have preferred a finish. He was still very good on his feet, and most certainly deserves a Top 15 opponent next.

Next we had Nik “The Carny” Lentz (30-9-2 1NC) and David Teymur (8-1) enter the cage.Lentz came out early looking to land, but Teymur was able to block. Teymur threw back-to-back head kicks that Lentz had to block. Lentz tried to move in, and Teymur ripped an incredibly hard left hand that dropped Lentz. He popped back up quickly however and appeared to recover from the damage. Lentz kept trying to cut the cage off, but Teymur was keeping him off of him, and not allowing Lentz to close the distance and trap him. Lentz finally did grab on, and scored a tip takedown. Teymur however spent exactly half a second on the mat, and was back on his feet. Lentz was still latched on, and was complaining about eye pokes that the ref was not acknowledging. Back at distance Teymur was continuing to throw kicks at Lentz’s head. Teymur was really eating up the leg of Lentz, but they would continue to move around and head to round 2. That round started with Teymur again tried for the head kick that was blocked. Lentz was tracking him though, and landed a nice right hand. The two traded very hard leg kicks back and forth. Teymur tried for a jumping body kick, but it was Lentz who turned it into a takedown attempt. Teymur scrambled right back to his feet, and they were back to trading. Teymur was really doing a good job avoiding the striking from Lentz. Lentz came forward, and Teymur chopped his leg down putting him on his butt briefly. Another blocked head kick got blocked by Lentz to end the round. Third round started with Lentz evading hooks from Teymur. Then Teymur was able to avoid the hooks from Teymur. Lentz tried for a standing guillotine that Teymur rolled through. Teymur was doing a great job avoiding the shots from Lentz, and utilizing his movement. Lentz landed a hard right hand that connected, and Teymur seemed to recover quickly. The action was very slow and it appeared like they were both just trying to find the perfect opening. Teymur blocked a head kick, and landed another hard leg kick. Teymur than landed a front kick and we headed to the judges. They scored it unanimously 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 for David Teymur. This was not a surprising decision Teymur was just the better fighter on the feet. He avoided the grappling and the ground game from Lentz, which was what he had to do. Teymur is so intriguing, and has a serious future ahead of him.

We closed out the prelims with a matchups of The Ultimate Fighter 26 cast members as Sijara “SarJ” Eubanks (4-2 #2 Ranked Women’s Flyweight) took on Lauren “Lucky” Murphy (10-4 #3 Ranked Women’s Flyweight).Eubanks was trying to move forward early, and had Murphy back up against the cage early, but could not land anything. Eubanks wasn’t wasting time and just started letting her hands go at Murphy, and connected multiple times. Eubanks went for a takedown, and got it very briefly. Murphy got back to her feet, but was pressed up against the fence. Murphy reversed the position and got separation in the center of the cage. Eubanks really was the only one who landed any significant offense with 2 minutes left in the round. Murphy tried to move forward, but Eubanks grabbed fro the clinch and unleashed some uppercuts. Eubanks ended the round with big hooks that were landing just prior to the horn. Round 2 started with Eubanks landing a hard overhand right. Murphy looked very confused on the feet when it came to dealing with Eubanks striking. Eubanks grabbed on, and had Murphy pressed up against the cage to prevent Murphy from landing any shots on the feet. Eubanks took the fight all the way to the mat, but it was Murphy looking for submissions from the bottom. Murphy worked for a guillotine, ommoplata, and triangle, but Eubanks stayed out of trouble. Eubanks was on the top still, but not doing any real damage. Late in the round she tried to posture up, but missed with her punches and Murphy landed elbows from the bottom before the horn. The final round was here and Murphy went for the early takedown. Eubanks stopped the takedown, and landed some nice hammer fists before they got back to the feet. Eubanks was finding more success on the feet for sure in the fight, but the action was not that impressive on either side. Eubanks landed a late takedown with a minute left. Murphy again was trying to threaten with submissions from her back. Eubanks landed some late ground and pound and ate a hard-up kick, but that is where the fight ended. The judges scored this one 29, 28, 30-27, and 30-27 all for Sijara Eubanks. Eubanks got what she needed in her UFC debut. She wasn’t overly dominant, but she took care of business. She called for a title shot, but the problem goes back to the missed weight cut that cost her the initial title shot following The Ultimate Fighter.

The main card started at Light Heavyweight as Gian Villante (16-10 #15 Ranked Light Heavyweight) and “Smile’N” Sam Alvey (33-10 1NC).Villante was moving forward to start the fight, and threw a hard body kick and then a leg kick. Alvey returned a right hand that connected. Villante was working leg and body kicks, and forced Alvey to block a head kick. The action was slow and methodical with a right hand sneaking in from Villante. The action was halted with a low kick to the cup from Villante. This was not a long stoppage and they restarted with Villante again being the guy moving forward. They both missed with huge swinging hooks. Late in the round Alvey landed a big left hand that dropped Villante. Alvey pounced trying to finish, but Villante battled back to his feet and avoided the big swinging shots from Alvey as the horn sounded. We started round 2 with more of the same from Villante moving forward and using his kicks. Villante wasn’t doing a ton of damage, but he most certainly was the one moving forward. Alvey however was countering with the hard left hands. Villante scored with a hard left hand, but didn’t follow it up with anything. Alvey came again with a late flurry and landed a big combination. They both let loose and Villante landed a big left of his own. Alvey rushed in late missing with a few shots and the horn sounded. The third round started with Villante trying to move forward. Alvey however was getting the better of the exchanges including a punishing left hand to end a combination. Villante tried to land the high kick, but Alvey blocked it. Villante hit a hard right hand with just under a minute left forcing Alvey to swing back wildly. Villante landed a partially blocked head kick late, and they clinched before the horn. The judges would score this one 29-28 Alvey, 29-28 Villante, and 29, 28 for the winner by split decision Sam Alvey. This was a real squeaked out win for Alvey. He really won the end of rounds and that influenced the judges. Alvey is now 2-0 at 205lbs and he may be looking for a ranked opponent next.

We went down to Featherweight as Julio Arce (15-2) went up against Daniel “Kid Dynamite” Teymur (6-2).Teymur landed a hard low kick to start the fight. These guys were really moving around the octagon but not throwing a lot. We ended up in a clinch against the cage with Teymur pressing Arce up against it. Arce landed a nice reaching front kick to the body. Arce ended the round with a nice flurry that finished with a right hand as the round came to an end. We headed to round 2 and Teymur landed a hard low calf kick early. Arce came back with a hard jab, and yet another front straight kick. Arce landed a group of kicks and punches to the body. Teymur hit a hard leg kick, but Arce was on him with a combination again. Arce was getting the better of the exchanges, and Teymur forced the clinch against the cage. Teymur was holding Arce up against the fence and grabbing for a potential signal leg takedown. He was unable to secure it and Arce escaped to the center of the Octagon. Arce landed a nice combination and avoided a big hook and spinning back fist from Teymur as the horn sounded. We headed to round 3 and Teymur was dancing around the outside trying to find an opening. Arce was evading anything that Teymur was throwing and landing more. Arce caught a kick and dumped Teymur, and hopped on him trying to finish. Instead Arce took Teymur’s back and locked in a body triangle. Teymur tried to battle out of it and exposed his neck. Arce latched on, and despite the valiant effort from Teymur he was eventually forced to tap to the deep rear naked choke. This was an impressive win for Arce. He took advantage at the end and used his grappling to get the late fight finish.

Two real veterans of the MMA game entered next as Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (31-14) and Ben “Killa B” Saunders (22-9-2) took on each other. These two came out and were slow to start trying to figure out each other. Ellenberger ripped two big hard right hands that landed and stumbled Saunders a bit. Saunders latched on to the clinch and smashed his knees into Ellenberger in close. They stayed in the clinch and Saunders was absolutely leveling Ellenberger with knees. Saunders then ripped a hard knee to the body and Ellenberger crumpled to the mat. Saunders dove on him, but the damage was done and the ref stopped the fight. Ben Saunders got the much-needed win in this one. The clinch has always been one of his most dangerous positions, and this was exactly what he needed to keep himself in the UFC.

The only Heavyweights on the card were next as Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris (11-7) took on Daniel “Daddy Long Legs” Spitz (6-2).Spitz was dancing around on the outside early before landing a hard leg kick. Harris was being very cautious throwing reaching kicks to try and find some range. Harris faked and then followed up with some hard punches including a big right hand that really buzzed Spitz. Harris then threw a head kick that had to be blocked. Harris was really using his kicks on all areas of Spitz to try and find an opening. Spitz landed a low kick as the round ended. We started round 2 with Harris again trying to push Spitz back to the fence. Harris grabbed for the clinch and hit a hard knee to the body that pushed Spitz back. Harris caught a kick and tried to return a head kick but it was blocked. Harris ripped a hard combination that ended with a glancing right hand, and Spitz was looking to clinch, but never got there. Spitz went for a low leg kick and a huge left hand come from Harris and Spitz was stunned on his feet. Harris waited a second and came flying in with hard shots. Spitz dropped and Harris dove on him, and that was all she wrote. This was a big late second round finish for Walt Harris. He looked complete tonight on his feet and mixed it up well until he was able to finish it. Harris has a wide-open Heavyweight division that is in need of contenders, and wins like these can most certainly go a long way.

A Lightweight Co-Main event was next as the undefeated Gregor “The Gift” Gillespie (12-0) took on Vinc “From Hell” Pichel (11-2).Gillespie avoided an early combination. Gillespie then landed a left hand and immediately went for a takedown and secured it quickly. Gillespie passed into side control and moved off of the cage. Pichel was able to escape and get back to his feet. Against the cage Gillespie tried to tee of, and then went for and got another takedown. Gillespie was again in side control, and then had a front headlock on Pichel. Gillespie then let him stand and got him back down to the mat and landed punches from the top. Gillespie was in a deep half guard, and threatening for an arm triangle. Gillespie instead transitioned to a full mount position and tried again for the submission. Pichel bucked out of it and used it to get back to his feet. Pichel stopped a takedown and threatened with a guillotine. Gillespie backed off, and then went for it again and scored the takedown. Gillespie threatened late with a choke and we headed to round 2. It started with Gillespie again scoring a takedown. Gillespie was dictating everywhere this fight went, and controlling Pichel on the mat. Gillespie was trying to take Pichel’s back, but was unable to fully sink in the hooks. Gillespie was really just controlling the action for the entire first half of the round. Gillespie flipped into side control, and was then working hard to get in to full mount. Gillespie then locked in the arm triangle. Pichel tried his best to fight his way out of it, but it was all over. Gregor Gillespie remains undefeated, and he deserves a Top 15 ranked fighter next. Gillespie’s wrestling is just on another level, and he used that to control this matchup from the opening bell. He has the potential to become a real contender at 155.

We closed out the night with our headliner as Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (21-2 #4 Ranked Bantamweight) and Marlon “Magic” Moraes (21-5-1 #5 Ranked Bantamweight) went to battle. The first strike of the fight was an inside leg kick from Moraes. Then out of absolutely nowhere a huge left head kick dropped Rivera. Moraes dove on top of him and smashed home some punches and that was that. In absolutely stunning fashion Marlon Moraes ended the 20 fight win streak of Jimmie Rivera. Marlon Moraes sure made a statement tonight. Moraes now puts himself in prime position to get the next crack at the 135lb crown.

The night sure started slow in Utica, but it closed with an absolute string of excellent fights and finishes. The main event was just an insane way to finish this card. The Moraes, Harris, and Saunders knockouts were real highlights on this main card. The UFC now shifts its sights to 8 days from now and UFC 225 in Chicago. The card is absolutely stacked form Fight Pass all the way up through the main event. We not only get a main event Middleweight Title rematch between Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (20-4 Middleweight Champion) and Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero (13-2 #1 Ranked Middleweight), and if that fight is anything like their first matchup that alone is worth the price of the pay per view. We also get the Interim Welterweight Title fight between former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos (28-9 #1 Ranked Welterweight) and Colby  “Chaos” Covington (13-1 #4 Ranked Welterweight). The card is completely stacked outside of that and s easily the best card on paper so far in 2018. Is it Saturday yet?

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