Ricky Simon def. Gaetano Pirrello via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke)
Ricky Simon – Marlon Moraes
Ricky Simon entered this fight with a chip on his shoulder. His opponent Brian Kelleher was forced out of their bout, and he was matched-up with a very experienced UFC newcomer. It wouldn’t be the first time a UFC newcomer pulled off the upset (ie. Kevin Croom, Sasha Palatnikov). Regardless, it was another vintage Ricky Simon showcase. He used constant pressure and takedowns to put the Belgian fighter on the mat before securing the victory with an arm-triangle choke. He called for the Kelleher fight to be rebooked, but seeing as the fight has fallen through a few times, it would make sense to see something new. A fight with former title challenger Marlon Moraes would offer Simon the opportunity to jump into the Top 10 of the division. It also offers Moraes a chance to rebound from back-to-back losses.
Gaetano Pirrello – Luke Sanders
The Belgian fighter performed admirably against one of the best fighters in the 135lb division. He had some moments in the fight, but the UFC-tested Simon was too much on the night (well, I guess morning). at 15-6, Pirrello is very experienced for a UFC debutant and will likely get matched with someone with a similar resume. Luke Sanders recently returned to the octagon after his win over Renan Barao in a losing effort to Nate Maness back in November. Both fighters will be searching to get back into the win column and begin their rise through the bantamweight ranks.
Su Mudaerji def. Zarrukh Adashev via Unanimous Decision
Su Mudaerji – David Dvořák
In what we all knew would be a high-level kickboxing affair, the two flyweights had a competitive striking affair. Muadaerji’s evasive movement, range and leg kicks kept the much shorter Adashev at bay. That being said, he had to overcome some adversity as the Uzbek fighter was throwing heavy shots to end the third round. Mudaerji will likely find himself in the Top 15 of the rankings when those get released next week. Czech Republic’s David Dvorak is also 2-0 in the Flyweight division, and they could find themselves in a similar location in the rankings. It would be a nice fight to add to the undercard of a Fight Island event in April or May.
Zarrukh Adashev – Jeff Molina
Zarrukh Adashev entered this contest with his back against the wall. With a 3-3 record in the sport, it is quite likely the Uzbek fighter may be released. That being said, he is 16-3 as a kickboxer and holds many titles in the sport. The Flyweight division is very shallow, so don’t be surprised if he sticks around for one more bout. It is also important to note, he accepted the opponent change on short notice so that may be in his favor when the UFC is deliberating his future. If the UFC decides to keep the 28-year-old, a rebooking with the man he was supposed to face would be great matchup. Jeff Molina had a huge win on the Contender Series, and a win of Adashev would be a great introduction to the world’s premier MMA promotion.
Dalcha Lungiambula def. Markus Perez via Unanimous Decision
Dalcha Lungiambula – Alessio Di Chirico
In a very competitive showcase between Dalcha Lungiambula and Markus Perez, the fighter from the Democratic Republic of Congo came out with the win. Dalcha had some trouble managing his pace, but managed to win a tight unanimous decision. The former EFC Heavyweight Champion’s boxing was the difference maker here, and it will be intriguing to see how he fares with another striker. Alessio Di Chirico just had an impressive victory this past weekend over Joaquin Buckley so the timeline for both of their returns would be similar.
Markus Perez – Jamie Pickett
Markus Perez found success early, but ultimately fell short to Lungiambula. He has now lost his last three, and five of his last seven fights. He did step in on short notice for Isi Fitikefu, so the UFC will likely give him another shot. Three-time Contender Series competitor Jamie Pickett had an impressive performance against Tafon Nchukwi in his last contest. Although he lost, he surprised a lot of people with his durability and toughness. This would be a great matchup for the two to see who could enter the win column.
Francisco Figueiredo def. Jerome Rivera via Unanimous Decision
Francisco Figueiredo – Jimmy Flick
Francisco Figueiredo stepped out of the shadows of his brother’s shadows and picked up his first UFC victory. The younger of the Figueiredo brothers had a lot riding on this performance. Not only was it the biggest fight of his career, he was also looking to show he is more than the younger brother of a UFC champion. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if he rises the division quickly, with his brother holding the strap. That is likely a few years away, so in the meantime a bout with Jimmy Flick could get him into the Top 15. Flick is coming off a contender for submission of the year over Cody Durden.
Jerome Rivera – Ryan Benoit
Jerome Rivera was simply outclassed on the evening. He was struggling to find his range and Figueiredo capitalized. He spent a significant amount of time trying to get out from the bottom and is now 0-2 in his UFC career. Ryan Benoit has also lost his last two outings inside the octagon, one of which took place at 135lbs. The two will have their backs against the wall next time out, but the booking would make sense for both gentlemen. The lackluster flyweight division is in need of talent, so Rivera will be given at least one more opportunity to emerge victorious.
Mike Davis def. Mason Jones via Unanimous Decision
Mike Davis – Christos Giagos
What a return to action for the Contender Series alum. After sitting on the sidelines for over a year, Davis returned to octagon in a fight of the night contender. He exhibited excellent takedowns to cause problems for the cage warrior double champ. Despite gassing late in the first round, he used constant forward pressure and more activity to overwhelm the Welshman. It was a very close fight, but Davis proved he is a force at 155. After being booked several times at featherweight in 2020, I think he will ultimately stay at lightweight. Christos Giagos recently returned from a long layoff as well in a victory over Carlton Minus. The two would both be looking to continue their rise towards the rankings.
Mason Jones – Damir Hadzovic
This fight was very close, and several members of the media scored it in his favor. Jones came in prepared for war and it was a good way to wake up some of the fans who woke up early for the card. The takedowns were key in this fight, and had Jones been able to stuff a few more he could’ve been the victor. Regardless, Jones’ stock only increased from that performance and showed he has a long future in the UFC. Damir Hadzovic recently lost back-to-back fights for the first time in his UFC career, after a loss to Renato Moicano. A Fight Island bout between the two would be a fun addition to the prelims of a pay-per-view card.
Umar Nurmagomedov def. Sergey Morozov via Technical Submission (Rear-naked choke)
Umar Nurmagomedov – Tony Gravely
The Nurmagomedov name continues to grow, and this time it is cousin Umar helping strengthen its name. He opened up the stanza with some slick kicks and looked for the takedown. Once on the mat in the second, he was able to secure the finish with a rear naked choke. Despite being undefeated, the UFC would be wise to build him slowly like they did with older cousin Khabib. That being said it was a long overdue debut and the UFC will want him back in there soon. A matchup with Tony Gravely who recently earned his first UFC win would be a nice step-up in competition.
Sergey Morozov – Mark Striegl
Sergey Morozov was tasked with finding a way to defeat a Nurmagomedov in his debut. It wasn’t the debut the Kazakhstani fighter was hoping for, but there are a lot of positives for him to take from the loss. At 16-5, he should be rewarded with at least one more shot in the UFC. A step back may be beneficial for the 31-year-old. Philippines’ Mark Striegl who recently lost his debut to another Nurmagomedov in Said would be fun.
Manon Fiorot def. Victoria Leonardo via TKO (Head Kick and Punches)
Manon Fiorot – Gina Mazany
Manon Fiorot looked very impressive in her UFC debut pressuring Leonardo from start to finish. She used an assortment of strikes in the clinch and displayed her full arsenal of kicks. It was a masterclass finished up with a beautiful roundhouse kick to finish off the American. It will be interesting to see what the UFC does with the French woman. With MMA now being legal in France, they may choose to slowly build her up to turn her into a draw should they enter that market. At the same time, she is 30 years-old, so the UFC may believe she is ready for a push now. Regardless, a fight with Gina Mazany could inch her closer to the Top 15.
Victoria Leonardo – Natalia Silva
Victoria Leonardo entered the Octagon with a lot of eyes on her following her huge win on the contender series against Chelsea Hackett. The game plan heading into the contest would have been straightforward, get the fight to the mat. She has had a ton of success in her career when doing so and she owns five finishes on the mat. Unfortunately for Leonardo, Fiorot managed to keep this fight standing and end the contest late in the second with a head kick. She has a formidable 8-3 record so the debut loss shouldn’t hurt her stock too much. The UFC will look to rebook the fight versus Natalia Silva until she was forced out due to a fractured Ulna. The recovery time is usually four to six weeks, which means the dates for the two women could line up perfectly.