Welcome to F4WOnline.com's live coverage of UFC Fight Night 98: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson, eminating from Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
After having no action for the last three weeks, the UFC is returning with a stretch that will see nine events take place inside the Octagon over the final ten weeks of 2016.
The event is headlined by a five-round bout in the lightweight division as former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos, fighting for the first time since losing the championship, takes on top contender Tony Ferguson, winner of eight straight fights. Dos Anjos lost the title to Eddie Alvarez in July, and after going through some training camp changes, he looks to get back to title contention and derail the win streak of Ferguson. Ferguson is a former TUF winner who has won eleven of his twelve UFC bouts, and he's stopped six of his last eight opponents during his win streak. Dos Anjos comes into the fight as a slight favorite according to the oddsmakers.
The co-main event is a lightweight bout between original TUF winner Diego Sanchez and debuting Marcin Held. Sanchez looks to rebound from a knockout loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 200 in July while Held moves over from Bellator, where he once fought for their lightweight championship. Also on the main card is a bout between Ricardo Lamas and Charles Oliveira. Lamas was originally scheduled to fight BJ Penn at UFC Fight Night 97, but with Penn withdrawing due to injury and that event being cancelled, he was moved to a fight with Oliveira on this card. Oliveira took the fight on short notice and came in missing weight badly, weighing at 155 pounds for a featherweight bout, where the limit is 146 pounds.
Making her UFC debut on the card is Alexa Grasso as she takes on Heather Jo Clark. Grasso is undefeated in her eight-fight career and was one of the top stars in Invicta, and she has all of the makings to be a top star in the UFC with her looks and fighting ability. Clark is a veteran of the sport, but she has lost four of her last seven fights, and she looks to play the spoiler as she comes in as the biggest underdog on the card.
Follow along with our live coverage of the event beginning at 6:30 PM eastern time with preliminary action all the way thru the main card.
Some additional coverage:
- UFC Fight Night 98 DFS Playbook
UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS | 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT
> Enrique Barzola (11-3-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Chris Avila (5-3, 0-1 UFC)
The first round belonged all to Enrique Barzola. He was landing leg kicks, which weren't being checked by Chris Avila. That haindered Avila in his last fight with Artem Lobov and it did in this round. Barzola scored a couple of takedowns and had ground control, but Avila was able to get up both times. Barzola went back to landing some leg kicks and was on the attack more. Avila did land some nice punches but nothing that had Barzola in trouble. It was a clear 10-9 round for Barzola.
The second round again was controlled by Barzola. He scored more takedowns and was controlling on the mat. He also was landing leg kicks at will on the feet and getting the better of the offensive striking. Avila has alright technique on his feet but the volume just isn't there, and Barzola was capitalizing on the openings. On the mat, Avila had no defense for the pressure of Barzola, and while he was in no danger of being finished, he was being outclassed everywhere. It was another 10-9 round for Barzola and I had him up 20-18 going into the final round, and he was well on his way to a win.
Avila was needing a finish in the third to win, but he looked the more tired of the two heading out for the last round. Unfortunately for him, it was more of the same in the last round. Barzola was getting the better of the striking battle, and he had the takedowns and ground control to go with it. Avila didn't have much of an offensive attack other than landing some slow punches, but takedowns and clinch work wasn't there for him. Avila was constantly over-reaching on his right hand and Barzola would counter with takedowns. It was another clear 10-9 round for Barzola, and I had him winning it 30-27 as it went to the judges.
All three judges had the fight 30-26 for Barzola. All three rounds were definitely won by him, and while he didn't come close to stopping Avila, he controlled the fight. He looked solid in this fight, but it was against a very unworthy opponent in Avila. It is going to be hard to gauge where he really stands as any opponent is a tougher one. He looked good in this fight though. Avila is likely on his way out of the UFC, and he really isn't ready to be there. He is now just 5-4 in his career, and he hasn't looked good at all in either UFC fight.
Enrique Barzola def. Chris Avila by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
> Polo Reyes (6-2, 2-0 UFC) vs. Jason Novelli (11-2-1, 0-1 UFC)
Polo Reyes was looking for that knockout in the first round as he was loading up on his punches. Jason Novelli was landing a punch every once-in-a-while but wasn't following up on it. He did score a takedown and a big right hand but Reyes was able to get back to his feet. Novelli's footwork kept him on the outside and away from the power of Reyes, but he didn't do much. He did land a couple of kicks but he was doing his best to stay away from the power right hand of Reyes, and he was able to. It was a close round and Novelli landing some clean punches gave him a 10-9 round on my scorecard.
Reyes came out stronger on the offensive in the second round, landing a lot of punches and kicks. Novelli was constantly circling away and unable to get anything going and had a takedown reversed with Reyes getting on top on the mat. Reyes was landing from the top as Novelli was using bad strategy from the bottom against the fence. This round should go 10-9 to Reyes and I had it tied up 19-19 heading into the third.
The altitude slowed both men down in the third, and that will be a recurring theme on this evening. Reyes was the more aggressive fighter in the third but both were landing. Reyes was landing the bigger strikes, but Novelli did land some clean punches. Reyes had the betting Octagon control in this round, and in the fight overall. Novelli mounted a late comeback with a takedown and some elbows, but not enough in my view to get the round. They went the full distance and I had the final round 10-9 for Reyes, and the fight 29-28 for Reyes overall.
The judges had it a split decision, with two judges giving it to Reyes 29-28 and one giving it 29-28 to Novelli. All scores are justifiable as it should be Novelli winning the first and Reyes winning the second, and Novelli did enough late in the third to steal the round. It was a good fight and Reyes was definitely not as strong as in his past two. Novelli is 37-years-old and now 0-2 in the UFC, and while I think he should get another shot, he may not.
Polo Reyes def. Jason Novelli by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
> Sam Alvey (28-8 1 NC, 5-3 UFC) vs. Alex Nicholson (7-2, 1-1 UFC)
It was a slow opening round as Nicholson was landing some glazing head kicks and Alvey was looking to counter, where he excels. Nicholson was able to stay on the outside and avoid the counters of Alvey, and neither man had the other in too much trouble. I had this round 10-9 for Nicholson.
Nicholson was getting the better of the action on the feet and Alvey started going for takedowns. They both started landing on the feet but Alvey wasn't doing a good job of following up his strikes that landed. Alvey rocked Nicholson late and it may have been enough to steal him the round. I gave it 10-9 to Alvey and had it 19-19 after two.
The pace was slow in the third. Alvey was landing more and following up better on his first punch, but neither man fought with desperation. Alvey was spending his time working on the outside and trying to lure Nicholson in for a firefight. Nicholson really didn't do much when he had the chance as he faded. Alvey having more output with his strikes scored the round for him on my scorecard. A 10-9 round for Alvey and I had him winning 29-28.
The judges' cards all read 29-28 for Alvey. No post-fight promo for Alvey, which are always a treat. Alvey now has three straight wins while Nicholson is 1-2 in the UFC. I wouldn't be surprised if Nicholson is cut as he has been under recent fire for domestic abuse allegations, though he was cleared after an investigation. Alvey will probably fight again next month.
Sam Alvey def. Alex Nicholson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS | 8 PM ET/5 PM PT
> Henry Briones (16-5-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (23-1 1 NC, 1-1 UFC)
They were going back-and-forth on the feet in the first with neither man getting a clear advantage. They came on late with Briones rocking Silva late. Briones was pouring it on late and Silva looked stunned, though he fired back. It was close until the end and I gave the round 10-9 to Briones.
The second round was on the feet and much like the first. Silva was rocking Briones and had him rocked with a right hook. They were trading back again and Silva almost finished Briones with a big punch. Briones then did a crazy jumping kick and got dropped again. Silva got a late takedown and I had this fight tied up after two. 10-9 round for Silva and 19-19 after two.
The third round was controlled by Silva but Briones was eating punches well and surviving. Silva was landing big punches and kicks but Briones has a heck of a chin on him. Silva then landed a big spinning back fist that knocked Briones out and the fight was stopped as we got our first finish on the night. A heck of a fight there. Silva is now 24-1 in his career and has a good shot of climbing the rankings. Briones has back-to-back losses, but to two fighters with a combined one loss in their careers. I hope he gets another shot inside the Octagon.
Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Henry Briones by TKO (strikes) at 2:33 of Round 3
> Erick Montano (7-4, 1-1 UFC) vs. Max Griffin (12-3, 0-1 UFC)
Max Griffin hurt Erick Montano early and then landed a lot of punches on the mat and this fight was stopped quickly. I didn't expect this as Montano has a good chin but Griffin landed a big punch and capitalized with a barrage to the point it had to be stopped or he was going to gas himself out. A big first UFC win for Griffin.
Max Griffin def. Erick Montano by TKO (punches) at :54 of Round 1
> Marco Beltran (8-3, 3-0 UFC) vs. Joe Soto (16-5, 1-3 UFC)
They were trading early and went to the mat and Joe Soto grabbed the leg, locked a heel hook in and Marco Beltran tapped out. Soto took the fight earlier this week and this is an impressive showing for him with no training camp.
Joe Soto def. Marco Beltran by submission (heel hook) at 1:37 of Round 1
> Erik Perez (16-6, 6-2 UFC) vs. Felipe Arantes (18-7-1 2 NC, 5-3-1 UFC)
138-pound Catchweight (Arantes missed weight at 138 pounds)
Erik Perez was controlling the Octagon during the first round and scored a takedown. He went to attacking the body and Arantes countered with a heel hook but Perez slipped out and let Arantes on top. Perez was able to escape and was looking for the finish on the top but ran out of time. It was a 10-9 opening round for Perez.
In the second round, Perez was having trouble staying on his feet as his right leg and knee were hurting from the heel hook attempt by Arantes. He ended up taking Arantes to the mount and was dominating there, ending up in the mount. They scrambled and it ended up with Arantes looking for a choke from the back. Perez slipped out and ended back on top and in dominant position to end the round. I gave that round 10-9 to Perez and had him up 20-18 heading to the final round.
A fun moment to start the third round saw both men miss on spinning back fists within seconds of each other, but Perez countered in taking Arantes down. Perez was controlling on the mat but they ended up getting back to their feet and both men were landing solid punches. Perez was still having trouble standing and it caused him to be dropped late. Arantes had a late arm-triangle choke locked in but Perez was saved by the end of the round. Close final round that I gave to Perez, 10-9, and I had him winning the fight 30-27.
The judges had a split decision, with Perez winning on two scorecards with 29-28 scores, and Arantes having a 28-29 on the other. The fight could have gone either way as rounds one and three were close, though I did give both to Perez. It is a solid win for Perez and he fought off a much-bigger opponent. He is popular in front of the Mexican crowd and he has a solid 7-2 record in the UFC. Arantes has struggled but he is solid enough to stick around from prelim fights, especially in Brazil.
Erik Perez def. Felipe Arantes by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
FOX SPORTS 1 MAIN CARD | 10 PM ET/7 PM PT
> Alexa Grasso (8-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Heather Jo Clark (7-5, 1-1 UFC)
Clark was on the attack early but got hurt by Grasso and Grasso swarmed on looking for the finish. Grasso landed beautiful combinations in looking for the finish and had Clark pinned against the fence. The crowd was very loud for Grasso. Grasso remained really calm and had Clark bloodied up a little. Grasso ended the round with some more hard punches and kicks. Clark survived but the first round definitely belonged to Grasso, who took it 10-9 on my scorecard.
Clark was saying she was having trouble seeing during the minute in the corner. Clark was controlling the center and pushed Grasso against the fence but Grasso was able to take over from there. Grasso slowed down her output as Clark was pressuring more, but once they clinched, it was all Grasso even when she was pinched against the fence. They went to the mat but scrambled up and Grasso landed a nice combo on the scramble up. I gave it 10-9 to Grasso and had her up 20-18 after two.
Grasso got the early advantage in a clinch but Clark was giving her a fight. Clark was trying to land her strikes but Grasso's footwork kept her out of range. They traded combos as Grasso has slowed her attack just a little on the feet. Clark is a bloodied mess. Grasso got a big slam late and it showed her overall attack. I gave the third round to Grasso 10-9 and the fight 10-9 overall for Grasso.
The judges agreed and gave Grasso all three rounds, with two 30-27 scores and one 29-28. Grasso showed why everyone is excited for her and that she has a chance to be a real player in the division for years to come. It was a showcase fight for her and you can see this and get excited for her inevitably fighting Joanna Jedrzejczyk down the road. She has star potential unlike many in the UFC. Clark gave her a good test but she was overmatched from the get-go, but put in a good opposing showing, something many haven't been able to do against Grasso.
Alexa Grasso def. Heather Jo Clark by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
> Beneil Dariush (#9, 13-2, 7-2 UFC) vs. Rashid Magomedov (#15, 19-1, 4-0 UFC)
This is a high-level lightweight bout and it showed early as neither man could get the advantage of the other. They traded takedown scrambles before a break due to a groin strike. Dariush was the fighter who was on the attack more and the more engaging of the two. He also landed some solid kicks and knees. Magomedov went into clinch mode and got a late takedown but Dariush's striking was the difference in the opening round. I gave it 10-9 to Dariush.
In the second round, Dariush was landing leg kicks and had more of a sense of urgency between the two. Magomedov was defending the takedowns from Dariush but was stuck in the clinch and Dariush had control. The crowd was booing as this fight hasn't been much action. They broke and each man landing strikes but Dariush pushed him back against the fence. Two rounds down and both were tough to score but I gave the second to 10-9 to Dariush as well, putting him up 20-18 after two.
The third round started with them exchanging big body kicks before the clinch battle started again. They were trading a little but enough to where it prompted the crowd to do the wave. It was a very uneventful final round with a lot of clinch work. Both men landed at the end. The crowd booed at the signal of the end of the fight. Close final round that I gave 10-9 to Magomedov, but I had the fight 29-28 Dariush overall.
All three judges gave the fight to Dariush, with two 30-27 scores and one 29-28. It was a very uneventful fight and not one worth going back to watch. Dariush now has wins in seven of his last eight fights and he is a title contender. It was only Magomedov's second career loss in 21 fights, and it ended his 12-fight win streak. He has been good but now will find himself out of the rankings and back down the ladder.
Beneil Dariush def. Rashid Magomedov by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
> Martin Bravo (10-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Claudio Puelles (7-1, 0-0 UFC)
The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Lightweight Finale
They were trading solid strikes and Bravo was controlling the center of the Octagon. Bravo busted up Puelles' nose with punches. Puelles got a brief takedown but they got to their feet. Bravo landed better on the feet and was advancing more but Puelles kept him in check with body kicks. Bravo landed a big combo at the end and it got him the round as I gave it 10-9 to him.
They were trading and Puelles got a quick takedown before getting back up. Bravo was getting the better on the feet and landed a big body shot that dropped Puelles and he finished him off with a couple more punches on the mat to become the latest TUF winner.
Martin Bravo def. Claudio Puelles by TKO (punches) at 1:55 of Round 2
> Ricardo Lamas (#4, 16-5, 7-3 UFC) vs. Charles Oliveira (#8, 21-6 1 NC, 9-6 1 NC UFC)
155-pound Catchweight (Oliveira missed weight at 155 pounds)
Oliveira had to be no more than 165 pounds when arriving at the arena, and he was, so the fight did go on. Lamas got an early big takedown and was controlling from the top. They got up and Oliveira got a takedown. Lamas survived a choke from Oliveira. Oliveira got the back and was looking for the choke again. He had it locked in tight late but Lamas survived to the bell. That round had to be 10-9 Oliveira.
Lamas got a takedown and was controlling in side control and had a guillotine locked in. Oliveira tapped out! Lamas gets the submission in the second after surviving a tough first round. I'm sure Oliveira will be forced to move up to lightweight again now, if they don't decide to cut him after this weight cut issue.
Ricardo Lamas def. Charles Oliveira by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:13 of Round 2
> Diego Sanchez (26-9, 15-9 UFC) vs. Marcin Held (22-4, 0-0 UFC)
Held came over from Bellator and is looking to have an impressive debut but he was having trouble early with Sanchez. Held landed a big right hand. Held did a cartwheel kick that landed. They traded and Sanchez went for a takedown but Held held him upright. Held got a choke but Sanchez ran up the fence to escape and just threw Held off. Close round but I gave it 10-9 to Held.
They went to the mat and Held went for a heel hook but it allowed Sanchez to get on top and land punches. Sanchez with a lot of dominant position on the top. More suffocating top control from Sanchez and he has been doing a great job of keeping Held pinned on the bottom. Held gave up his back and Sanchez landed to end the round. A very clear 10-9 round for Sanchez, and I had it 19-19 heading to the final round.
Held looked very tired going into the third and Sanchez was very fresh. Held landed a huge knee and dropped Sanchez for a second. Held went for an armbar but Sanchez rolled out onto the top. Sanchez was strong on top but Held was continuing to go for leg locks. Sanchez still on top and controlling this fight. Sanchez with big punches from the top as the fight ends and this round belonged to him, 10-9. I had the fight 29-28 for Sanchez.
The judges had it all for Sanchez, with him winning two of the three rounds on all scorecards. This is a huge win for Sanchez as Held is a legitimate great fighter coming from Bellator, and was thought to be another fresh contender at 155 pounds. Sanchez looked fresh throughout the fight and he was never in trouble, and he looked like he's not ready to wind down his career. Held tried too many crafty things, and he ultimately gave the fight away by trying to do things that ended up with him at a disadvantage. He is much better than this performance showed.
Diego Sanchez def. Marcin Held by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
> Rafael Dos Anjos (#2, 25-8, 14-6 UFC) vs. Tony Ferguson (#3, 21-3, 11-1 UFC)
They traded some big shots. Dos Anjos landed a huge left hand at one point. They were trading a lot of punches and kicks but Dos Anjos was landing the harder punches. Dos Anjos tripped up Ferguson and ended up on top on the ground. Both men landed spinning back fists. Dos Anjos got the better of the round but Ferguson was finding his range late and I think he's set up to take over starting in the second round. But that round was 10-9 Dos Anjos.
Both guys looking sharp in the second round. Dos Anjos showing a little blood. They are trading. Ferguson does better when he's just boxing but when he starts mixing everything Dos Anjos is able to fluidly counter and rock him. They are both landing but Ferguson is pushing the pace and landing harder. Straight left hand from Ferguson had Dos Anjos in a whole heap of trouble. Ferguson landed big and blew a kiss to Dos Anjos. That round went to Ferguson, 10-9, and I had it 19-19 after two.
Ferguson continued to have Dos Anjos in trouble as he is the fresher of the two and he is pushing the pace more. Dos Anjos did land a huge head kick. Dos Anjos was having some good timing on his shots and was landing punches and kicks. They were trading hard shots. Ferguson started going after the body of Dos Anjos but Dos Anjos was pressing forward. Dos Anjos has slowed the momentum of Ferguson. Close round there but I gave it 10-9 to Dos Anjos and have him up 29-28 after three.
Dos Anjos has a swollen right eye and Ferguson rocked him with a big knee. Ferguson was getting the edge on the feet in the first half of this round. Dos Anjos would land a kick but then eat a couple punches from Ferguson in return over and over. Ferguson landed a big left hand that rocked Dos Anjos. Ferguson had him in trouble late. I gave round four 10-9 to Ferguson and had it tied up at 38-38 going into the final round.
Dos Anjos hasn't gone for any takedowns, but that has been because he's had his back to the fence, and he excels at using the fence for takedowns. Ferguson applied the pressure in the final round and was landing as he had Dos Anjos' back against the fence. Dos Anjos is bleeding heavily. Ferguson on the agressive attack landing hard combinations. This fight went the full distance and Ferguson had a strong fifth round, winning it 10-9. That gave Ferguson the fight on my scorecard with a 48-47.
The judges had it all 48-47 for Ferguson. That is now nine straight wins for Ferguson. He has earned his title shot and he absolutely deserves it, regardless of whatever happens. He didn't say much at all after the fight to stamp himself as the next challenger, but he should be.
Tony Ferguson def. Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)