Michelle Waterson had arguably the best performance of her career on Saturday in Philadelphia, defeating Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-27 on all three scorecards). The win could propel Waterson to a strawweight title shot next.
"I want to go get that gold, whoever it is," Waterson told commentator Jon Anik in the Octagon after the victory.
"The Karate Hottie" was sharper throughout, doing her best work on the ground. In both the second and third round, Waterson used a head toss to throw Kowalkiewicz to the mat. She then landed hard ground-and-pound. At the end of the second round, Waterson (17-6) nearly pulled off an arm bar submission, though her opponent survived at the horn.
Kowalkiewicz (12-5) came into this fight with an 87 percent takedown defense.
Waterson, who outlanded her opponent 64-57, has now won three straight. Kowalkiewicz is on a two-fight skid, having dropped her fight against Jessica Andrade last September.
Hermansson ecstatic after first-round submission
Jack Hermansson explains his emotions after submitting David Branch in 49 seconds and breaks down the finish.
Jack Hermansson wasted no time on Saturday, submitting David Branch via guillotine choke less than one minute into their fight. Hermansson took Branch to the mat and got his arms around his opponent's neck. Branch tapped after not being able to get out of the submission.
Hermansson has now won three straight. Johnson has lost four of his past six.
After the victory, Hermansson predicted where he would be in 2020.
"In a year I'm going to be the one with the belt around my waist," he told Anik.
Josh Emmett is back. After more than a year of inaction, Emmett needed just one shot to prove he's a top contender in the UFC's featherweight division. Midway through the third round, he landed a hard right on Michael Johnson's head that immediately sent his opponent to the mat. The referee immediately jumped in to stop the bout early.
"I've never gotten a bonus from the UFC," Emmett said after the win. "Dana [White], Sean [Shelby], Mick [Maynard], can I get one?"
Up until that point, Johnson appeared to be in control. He landed more significant strikes going into the third round and was likely up on the scorecards. But one punch can change everything.
Emmett rebounded from a second-round KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018. Johnson has now lost four of his past six.
Craig nearly submits Nzechukwu in first round
Paul Craig attempts an armbar in the first round against Kennedy Nzechukwu before eventually winning by submission in the third.
Paul Craig loves the last-second heroics. With less than one minute remaining in his contest against Kennedy Nzechukwu, Craig got his legs around Nzechukwu's head and choked him out with a triangle submission. Just two fights ago, Craig finished his opponent in the last possible second of the fight. This fight -- which saw multiple eye pokes from Nzechukwu and a point deducted for his actions -- was just Craig's second win in his past five. Nzechukwu (6-1) lost his first fight of his young career.
Yusuff drops Moraes with big right hand
Sodiq Yusuff drops Shaymon Moraes in the third round on his way to a unanimous-decision victory at UFC Fight Night on ESPN.
Sodiq Yusuff edged Sheymon Moraes by unanimous decision after a battle between two closely matched UFC featherweights. Yusuff (9-1) nearly knocked Moraes (11-3) out at the end of the fight, dropping his opponent with a short right with one minute remaining. Moraes survived but came away with the hard-fought loss. Yusuff, a winner in four straight, called out top jiu-jitsu practitioner Kron Gracie after the bout.
Rodriguez dominates Aguilar
Marina Rodriguez goes the distance with Jessica Aguilar for the unanimous-decision win at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Gaethje on ESPN.
Marina Rodriguez dominated Jessica Aguilar from the start, controlling all three rounds both from distance and in the clinch and coming away with the unanimous decision victory. Rodriguez opened up Aguilar's nose early with a hard strike and blood spewed for the entire fight. Rodriguez did most of her work in the clinch against the cage, landing hard knees to Aguilar's body and elbows to her face. Despite the impressive performance, she did have a point taken for multiple eye pokes. Aguilar has now lost two in a row while Rodriguez (11-0-1) remains unbeaten.
Green tributes win to Glenn Robinson
During his interview with Brett Okamoto, Desmond Green tributes his win vs. Ross Pearson to his manager Glenn Robinson, who died in 2018.
After nearly three hours of fights going the distance in Philadelphia, Desmond Green put an end to the lack of finishes. He was able to take down his opponent, Ross Pearson, midway through the first round and followed with a multitude of hard rights that forced the referee to end the bout early. It was Green's first UFC finish and first as a professional since March 2016. Green, a Rochester, New York, native, pleaded for a shot on that location's fight card on May 18. "I'll fight for free," Green said following his victory.
Aguilar defeats Barzola via unanimous decision
Kevin Aguilar and Enrique Barzola throw down over three rounds but ultimately it's Aguilar that comes out victorious at UFC Fight Night on ESPN.
Enrique Barzola had 37 takedowns in his six UFC fights entering his bout with Kevin Aguilar. After Saturday's fight, he had the same number. Aguilar's takedown defense -- stuffing every attempt by Barzola -- and standup game earned him the unanimous decision victory (29-28 on all three cards). Aguilar (17-1), who has won nine in a row, called for a top-15 opponent in his next fight. It was Barzola's first loss in his past five.
Holland wins split decision vs. Meerschaert
Kevin Holland gets the better of Gerald Meerschaert after a hard fought battle at UFC Fight Night: Philadelphia on ESPN.
Kevin Holland edged Gerald Meerschaert on the judges' scorecards (29-27, 28-29, 30-27) after a fight that saw each fighter trade multiple unsuccessful submission attempts. Both Holland and Meerschaert spent the majority of the fight grappling against the cage or on the mat and neither landed many significant strikes. Holland actually apologized to the crowd, which booed during the 15 minutes, for the little action. Holland (14-4) has now won six of his past seven. Meerschaert is on a two-fight losing streak.
Kenney defeats Borg in back-and-forth grapple match
Casey Kenney overcomes multiple takedowns from Ray Borg to win via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Philadelphia.
Casey Kenney earned a controversial victory, defeating Ray Borg by unanimous decision. Both fighters went back and forth throughout, though it appeared Borg had the advantage as he continually picked Kenney up in the air, dropped him and landed some shots in both the second and third round. Kenney (12-1) earned his first UFC victory, while Borg (11-4) has now dropped two in a row.
Moroz outlasts Mazo for victory
Maryna Moroz endures a strong final round from Sabina Mazo to come out on top in UFC Fight Night: Philadelphia on ESPN+.
Sabina Mazo, a 22-year-old making her UFC debut, entered her fight with Maryna Moroz with a lot of hype. She left defeated, as Moroz dominated the first two rounds and won by unanimous decision. Moroz finally came to life in the third round, landing some head kicks, but it was too little, too late. Moroz (9-3) got Mazo to the mat in the first round and landed hard ground-and-pound early. She also outboxed her opponent for the majority of the fight. It was Mazo's first career loss in seven bouts.
Perez defeats De La Rosa in unanimous decision
Alex Perez tires out Mark De La Rosa and wins in a unanimous decision to begin UFC Fight Night: Philadelphia on ESPN+.
Flyweight prospect Alex Perez continued his UFC rise, controlling all three rounds against Mark De La Rosa and winning via unanimous decision (30-27 on all three judges' scorecards). Perez took De La Rosa to the mat throughout the bout and landed hard ground-and-pound each time. De La Rosa, constantly on the bottom while Perez threw hard hammer fists, could not seem to get any offense going. Perez (22-5) has now won nine of his past 10 fights and bounces back from a first-round TKO loss to Joseph Benavidez in November. De La Rosa (11-1) lost his first bout since 2017.