Rafael Fiziev produced a late stoppage to claim the biggest win of his career as he knocked out former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos to announce his arrival as a genuine threat to the division’s best at 155 pounds.
Fiziev and dos Anjos engaged in a competitive clash in the main event of UFC on ESPN 39 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, as Fiziev made a fast start and claimed the first two rounds. But dos Anjos started to come back into the fight and, after a tight third round that could have gone either way, took the fourth with his best round of the fight.
But, despite fighting in his first-ever fifth round as a professional MMA fighter, Fiziev stayed sharp, and made the breakthrough with a perfectly-timed left hand that dropped the former world champion. Fiziev moved in swiftly and landed another big shot to the grounded Brazilian to force referee Mark Smith to dive in and wave off the contest 18 seconds into the final frame.
After his victory, Fiziev joked that he should face another Rafael next – tennis superstar Rafael Nadal – before turning his attention to a potentially crowd-pleasing matchup with former interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Borralho continues win streak
In the co-main event, Brazilian middleweight prospect Caio Borralho edged Armen Petrosyan over three rounds in a gritty, if unspectacular display to continue his strong form since arriving on the UFC stage.
Borralho, who picked up back-to-back wins on Dana White’s Contender Series before being offered a UFC contract, picked up his second straight win under the UFC banner with a unanimous decision victory over the Italian-Armenian striker as he turned to his wrestling to nullify his opponent’s threat.
It proved a smart tactic as Borralho ran out the clear winner on the scorecards, with the judges awarding him the victory with scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Late flurry earns Sherman stoppage win
The one heavyweight bout on the card offered up some late drama as, after two and a bit rounds of competitive, steadily-paced heavyweight action, Chase Sherman hit the afterburners to score a third-round TKO.
Two of the three judges had the bout level at 19-19 heading into the final round, as Sherman let fly with a blistering combination to stun, then finish Jared Vanderaa and claim an impressive third-round stoppage.
Mullarkey edges three-round war
In the main card opener, Jamie Mullarkey and Michael Johnson engaged in a back-and-forth slugfest that went all the way to the scorecards.
Both men were dropped in a wild opening round, before Mullarkey enjoyed a better round in Round 2. Johnson came back strongly in Round 3, but the fight hinged on the scoring of the opening round.
Two judges felt Mullarkey edged the opening stanza, and that proved decisive as the Australian lightweight claimed a split decision victory with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
UFC on ESPN 39: Official Results
- Rafael Fiziev def. Rafael dos Anjos via knockout (punch) – Round 5, 0:18
- Caio Borralho def. Armen Petrosyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Said Nurmagomedov def. Douglas Silva de Andrade via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Chase Sherman def. Jared Vanderaa via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:10
- Aiemann Zahabi def. Ricky Turcios via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jamie Mullarkey def. Michael Johnson via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Cody Brundage def. Tresean Gore via knockout (ground strikes) – Round 1, 3:50
- Antonina Shevchenko def. Cortney Casey via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- David Onama def. Garrett Armfield via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:13
- Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Karl Roberson via TKO (elbows) – Round 3, 2:19
- Saidyokub Kakhramonov def. Ronnie Lawrence via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)