Alex Pereira and Tom Aspinall both produced impressive performances to capture UFC championship belts at UFC 295 in New York City.
The main event at Madison Square Garden saw former middleweight champion Alex Pereira join an elite club by capturing a UFC championship in a second weight class with a second-round TKO finish of former champion Jiri Prochazka.
Prochazka, who had never lost his title in the cage, was returning to action after a year on the sidelines following shoulder surgery, but the Czech was unable to find the solution to the stone-faced Brazilian, who hammered Prochazka’s lead leg with fast, powerful leg kicks, then punished him as he closed the distance in search of a takedown or clinch.
Pereira’s kicks had already made their mark by the end of the first round, and Prochazka looked to close the distance in the second. But as the former champion moved in, Pereira countered with a thumping two-punch combination that dropped Prochazka to his knees. The Czech then attempted to shoot a takedown on Pereira and was met by a flurry of elbows, causing him to fall backwards, prompting referee Marc Goddard to dive in and wave off the fight.
Some observers, including UFC co-commentators Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier, suggested the fight was stopped a little too early, but a classy Prochazka said that the official had made the right call, saying that he was “out” during the exchange. But the clearly emotional former champion thanked “Poatan” for the fight, then vowed to return.
Aspinall flattens Pavlovich to capture interim heavyweight title
Tom Aspinall vowed to “do a Bisping” by stepping in on two weeks’ notice and winning a UFC world title, and he made good on that promise as he demolished Russian Sergei Pavlovich in stunning fashion to capture the interim UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 295 in New York City.
Aspinall headed into the bout with a serious preparation deficit as he agreed to face Pavlovich, who had been in a fight camp as the originally-booked backup fighter for the planned Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic title clash. But, after Jones tore his shoulder during training, that bout was scrapped, and Aspinall was drafted in to face Pavlovich for the interim crown instead.
Pavlovich headed into the co-main event matchup at Madison Square Garden riding a six-fight run of first-round knockout finishes, leading many to believe that Aspinall would need to lean on his more well-rounded skillset to take the heavy-handed Pavlovich off his feet in order to defeat him on the ground. But Aspinall stood with Pavlovich and, despite tasting a little of his opponent’s power in the opening seconds, the Englishman stayed calm and composed as he timed his combination perfectly to stun, then drop Pavlovich to the mat with a three-punch flurry.
With his opponent flattened out on the mat, Aspinall swarmed Pavlovich and hammered him with ground strikes to complete a 69-second knockout as he became only the third fighter from the UK to capture a UFC championship, following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping and Leon Edwards.
Andrade batters Dern
Mackenzie Dern’s submission skills are the envy of the women’s strawweight division, but Jessica Andrade’s striking proved to be the perfect antidote as she blasted her way to victory in their all-Brazilian battle at 115 pounds.
Dern looked to strike her way into the clinch in order to initiate a takedown, but Andrade was too savvy to that approach and kept the fight in the standup, where she dominated the exchanges. By the second round, Andrade was clearly on top, and dropped Dern on multiple occasions before the referee eventually stepped in and called a stop to the punishment mid-way through the round to give Andrade the 25th win of her career.
Saint-Denis puts lightweight elite on notice with show-stopping KO
Surging French lightweight Benoit Saint-Denis produced arguably the most spectacular finish of the night as he knocked out New York’s own Matt Frevola in 91 seconds in their 155-pound matchup.
The pair traded shots early, before Frevola initiated the clinch and scored a big slam on the Frenchman. But, after the action returned to the feet, Saint-Denis unloaded a spectacular head kick that dropped Frevola hard for a jaw-dropping finish.
After his win, Saint-Denis said he had his sights on the BMF belt currently held by Justin Gaethje, and the undisputed lightweight title currently held by Islam Makhachev. He also said he’d love a fight with Dustin Poirier. With Saint-Denis likely to enter the the 155-pound rankings somewhere around the No. 14 level Frevola occupied heading into the bout, he’s likely to need another fight or two before he’s within striking distance of the division’s biggest names. But he made sure to let them know that he’s on his way.
Lopes blasts past Sabatini
Brazilian featherweight Diego Lopes continued his rapid ascent up the 145-pound ladder with a first-round knockout of Pat Sabatini. Lopes pushed the pace from the start of the bout against the former CFFC standout, but eventually found the perfect range to connect with heavy punches to claim a 90-second stoppage victory, the 23rd of his career.
UFC 295: Official results
- Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka via knockout (elbows) – Round 2, 4:08 – for vacant light heavyweight title
- Tom Aspinall def. Sergei Pavlovich via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:09 – for vacant interim heavyweight title
- Jessica Andrade def. Mackenzie Dern via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:15
- Benoit Saint-Denis def. Matt Frevola via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 1:31
- Diego Lopes def. Pat Sabatini via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:30
- Steve Erceg def. Alessandro Costa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Loopy Godinez def. Tabatha Ricci via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mateusz Rebecki def. Roosevelt Roberts via verbal submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:08
- Viacheslav Borshchev vs. Nazim Sadykhov scored a majority draw (29-28, 28-28, 28-28)
- Jared Gordon def. Mark Madsen via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:42
- John Castaneda def. Kyung Ho Kang via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Joshua Van def. Kevin Borjas via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jamall Emmers def. Dennis Buzukja via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:49