Germaine de Randamie gave UFC bantamweight women something new to worry about Saturday on "Fight Island."
The inaugural UFC women's featherweight champion, who was coming off last December's unsuccessful challenge of bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, was a multiple-time world kickboxing champ prior to starting in MMA over a decade ago. She made her mark with her hands.
On Saturday, at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, de Randamie used those hands to wrap up Julianna Pena in a guillotine choke to earn a third-round technical submission -- the first submission win of her career.
"I tell everybody: 'If you give me your neck, I'll put you to sleep,'" de Randamie said afterward, before making her case for a postfight bonus that UFC president Dana White awarded to her. "C'mon, Dana, the old kickboxer, I'm 36 years old. I deserve those 50 G's, baby."
The end came at 3:25 of Round 3, when Pena shot in for a takedown and de Randamie clamped on a guillotine. Pena did not tap, so referee Jason Herzog had to jump in and save her.
De Randamie controlled the early part of the fight her usual way. She maintained distance with her piston jab, keeping Pena, known for her grappling, out of takedown range until the final seconds of Round 1. Then, after getting a takedown at the horn, Pena came out for Round 2 emboldened and took de Randamie to the canvas. She advanced to half guard and eventually locked in a choke, only for de Randamie to escape and set up a choke of her own, which was a sign of what was to come.
"I felt really sloppy," de Randamie said. "I didn't feel loosened up, but she gave me her neck and I put her to sleep. That's how it goes. When my arms sank in, I told the referee she was out. I felt her go out.
"I'm a kickboxer and they all want to take me down. If you take me down, I choke you out."
This fight pitted two of the UFC's top bantamweights. De Randamie is No. 8 in ESPN's women's pound-for-pound rankings. In fact, both she and her opponent are more highly ranked at bantamweight than Saturday's main event fighters. De Randamie is No. 2 and Pena No. 4, while Irene Aldana is ranked fifth and Holly Holm sixth. Pena was the Season 18 winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2013.
UFC Fight Night took place at the Flash Forum inside the Yas Island safe zone, which has been dubbed "Fight Island."
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Holm puts on offensive showcase in fight vs. Aldana
Holly Holm puts the pressure on Irene Aldana in their main event bout at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi.
Holly Holm landed a side kick to Irene Aldana's face in the closing seconds, then moved forward with a hard punching combination as she let out a loud, sustained yell.
It was the exclamation point on what was a nearly flawless performance for Holm in a unanimous decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45) victory in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi.
-- Marc Raimondi
Felipe is in the UFC winner's circle for the first time in his career.
It was Felipe's boxing and forward movement that won him the fight, as De Castro appeared to wilt under the pressure and spent a good deal of the fight trying to fight his way off the perimeter.
According to UFC Stats, De Castro actually out-landed Felipe in total strikes 113 to 88, but his offense, at times, seemed more defensive than anything. Felipe constantly took the center of the Octagon and landed the much harder shots, to the body and head. De Castro answered with leg kicks and some decent counterpunching, but it was obvious Felipe's combinations had more weight behind them.
Fun to watch Felipe— Chito Vera (@chitoveraUFC) October 4, 2020
Felipe's body work was particularly impressive, as he scored to De Castro's midsection with the lead right hand and left hook. De Castro was exhausted by the end of the fight, and looked for every chance he could to slow down the action. In the third round, the referee repeatedly separated clinches along the fence, as De Castro attempted to rush into Felipe and hold him against the cage.
It's back-to-back losses for De Castro, who dropped a unanimous decision to Greg Hardy his last time out in May. Felipe improves to 1-1 in the UFC. His loss came via majority decision to Sergey Spivak in July.
-- Brett Okamoto
Kyler Phillips finishes Cameron Else in Round 2
Kyler Phillips stuns Cameron Else by finishing him with elbows early in Round 2 for the big win at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi.
Phillips got Else down in the second round, took his back and proceeded to blast him with hard ground-and-pound strikes from dominant position en route to a TKO at :44 of the second round.
The first round was foreshadowing for the second. Late in the first, Phillips was able to get Else down after a fairly competitive few minutes. Phillips was able to get into side control, then take Else's back before landing hard elbows. Else was clearly in trouble as the bell sounded, but he survived the frame.
Great finish for Phillips! I got my eyes on him! He's going to be here for awhile. Beautiful performance! #UFCFightIsland4— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 4, 2020
In the second, Phillips didn't waste any time taking Else down. From there, he slipped effortlessly to Else's back and slammed away with brutal punches and elbows. Referee Marc Goddard had no choice but to step in and call it.
Phillips, 25, has won three straight and earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus. The prospect out of Arizona is a veteran of "The Ultimate Fighter 27." Else, a 29-year-old, had a six-fight winning streak snapped. This was Else's UFC debut.
-- Marc Raimondi
Todorovic (10-0) signed with the UFC after a successful showing on Dana White's Contender Series in August 2019. He scheduled multiple fights since, only to see them all fall through. The 26-year-old finally made his promotional debut on Saturday and he looked terrific. He mounted Townsend midway through the second round and dropped punches for a TKO finish at the 3:15 mark.
That was some of the cleanest and purest G&P I've seen in quite some time! Very good stuff. #UFCFightIsland4— #OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) October 4, 2020
Known for his finishing prowess -- six knockouts in 10 professional bouts -- Todorovic looked comfortable on the feet early. He touched Townsend with a left hook and right hand in the opening seconds, and continued to find a home for his punches, even though Townsend did answer at times with counter shots in the pocket.
Rather than continue to stand with Townsend in the second frame, Todorovic elected to take him down early, quickly passed his guard and eventually moved into mount. Townsend falls to 0-4 in the UFC. Three of those losses have come in 2020.
Todorovic earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
Condit drops McGee at end of Round 1
Carlos Condit lands a massive punch that drops Court McGee as the horn sounds at the end of Round 1 at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi.
Those who have been MMA fans for only the past few years might not know who they were seeing in Condit. The former WEC champion and UFC interim champ had not won a fight since 2015 and hadn't even competed since 2018.
Now he is back in the win column, putting on a steady performance with one spectacular moment to earn 30-27 nods from all three judges to break out of a five-fight losing streak.
"I've had some ups and downs, surgeries, but it's a pleasure to get back in here and compete against a guy like Court," said the 35-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Condit looking good! Much better than I thought, with the time off. Obviously not as fast as he was in his prime, but he's being smart and very calculated. #UFCFightIsland4— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 4, 2020
Speaking of ups and downs, the big moment of the fight came at the very end of Round 1. The fighters had stood at striking range and gone back and forth with mostly kicks, each man tenderizing the other's calves and torso for the first 4:59. But just as the horn sounded, a Condit right hook dropped McGee to his rear.
Condit had his opponent hurt, but he didn't throw caution to the wind in search of a finish. "Court's super tough," he said. "Super, super tough."
"Competing at this level for a long period of time, you're going to have wins and losses," Condit said. "I'm still about it. I still have fire in my gut.
"This fits right into the craziness of 2020 for me. It's been a while since I've had a win. I haven't fought in almost two years. It feels really good. I love this. I love what I do -- win or lose. I'm a competitor. I come here to show up and get my hand raised."
McGee, who won Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2010, appeared damaged as the middle round began. He wasn't throwing much, and his blood from his nose was dripping into his beard. He wasn't stunned or prime for a finish, but he couldn't get going. McGee, 35 and from Utah, did pick up the pace as the final 10 minutes unfolded, but Condit remained so busy that it was difficult for his opponent to find an opening to launch an attack.
McGee has lost his past three fights and five of six.
Culibao drops Jourdain late in first round
Josh Culibao stuns Charles Jourdain with a big right hook. The fight would continue into a split draw at UFC Fight Night.
Jourdain valiantly battled back after getting dropped in the first round -- but he'll have to settle for a tie.
Jourdain and Culibao fought to a split draw (30-27, 28-29, 28-28) in a featherweight fight. Culibao cracked Jourdain with a right hand to the nose in the first round, dropping Jourdain and putting him in trouble. Jourdain survived and did well the rest of the way, but it wasn't enough to secure a victory.
By the end of the first, Jourdain had recovered, finishing the round looking for a guillotine choke on the ground. The second round was incredibly close with Jourdain landing leg kicks and punching combinations and Culibao also landing with takedown attempts mixed in. Jourdain wobbled Culibao with punches in what was a wild third. Jourdain also had a triangle choke and armbar attempt in the third. Culibao was able to make his way up, though, and finish that round with stand-up exchanges.
Jourdain, 24, has just one win in his past four fights. The Canada native is considered a prospect, but is still stuck on one UFC win, over Doo Ho Choi last December. Culibao, a 26-year-old Aussie, is still seeking his first UFC win after a pair of very competitive -- and exciting -- bouts in the promotion.
Imavov picked up a unanimous decision win over Williams, via judges' scores of 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28. It was a unique matchup in that Imavov was scheduled to appear on Dana White's Contender Series last month, but was forced to withdraw. Williams took his place and ended up earning a UFC contract. The two were then paired against one another several weeks later.
The chin of Jordan Williams is incredible!!! 🤯 #UFCFightIsland4— Jamahal Hill UFC (@JamahalH) October 4, 2020
"I did learn a lot with this fight," Imavov said. "It's been a very long time since I fought three hard-fought rounds because I've finished most of my fights in the first round. I'm happy with the win, though, and I will be better the next time."
The fight was a bit awkward, in that the two middleweights violently clashed heads in the first and third rounds. Imavov appeared to get the worst of it in the first round, but Williams was rocked by the second one, and mistakenly thought it was an eye poke. He asked for a timeout but wasn't granted one, and Imavov took advantage with some stiff punches to the head.
Imavov threatened to submit Williams with a guillotine late in the second round, but there were no near finishes beyond that. Imavov ran away with the third frame, however, and left no doubt he had won on the scorecards.
It's six wins in a row now for Imavov, who fights out of Paris.
Elbows and knees. Knees and elbows. Lookboonmee went back to those techniques again and again, especially in the first two rounds, to take Frey out of the fight.
Lookboonmee, a 24-year-old from Thailand, got off to a masterful start, landing practically everything she threw in the first round and absorbing little from Frey. In Round 1, Lookboonmee out-landed her opponent 36-9, hitting her target at a 73% clip to 42% for Frey.
Muaythai clinic, nice job Loma 👌🏾👌🏾👌🏾 #UFCFightIsland4— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) October 4, 2020
It didn't get much better for Frey in the second round as Lookboonmee appeared fully comfortable, maintaining distance with front kicks until it was time for her to counter one of Frey's rare advances.
Frey finally tried something new in Round 3, getting a takedown just 15 seconds in. The 35-year-old from Arlington, Texas, even advanced to side control. But before she could threaten with a submission attempt of ground-and-pound, Lookboonmee got the fight back to standing and resumed control.
Lookboonmee rebounded after losing via unanimous decision to Angela Hill on Feb. 22.
"The UFC is absolutely amazing," Lookboonmee said. "I am so grateful to compete and make money for my family in a global pandemic and I can't thank the UFC enough for the opportunity they have given me.
"I feel like with Angela Hill -- fighting such an experienced and well-known opponent -- I felt the pressure and maybe I wasn't ready mentally for that yet, but I came into this fight very mentally strong and I'm happy with the win."
Frey, a former Invicta FC atomweight champion, is 0-2 in the UFC. Lookboonmee, who also competed in Invicta as a 105-pounder, has won two of three inside the Octagon.
Two judges scored the fight 30-27 for Lookboonmee, and the third had it 29-28.
The story of the fight went from how good Kenney looked to astonishment that Heili could take that amount of punishment without ever going down.
Kenney pummeled Heili for three rounds in a unanimous-decision victory (30-25, 30-26, 30-27). Kenney landed hard straight left hands and hard body kicks throughout the fight. By the end, Heili was bleeding from his nose and right ear -- and the entire right side of his torso was bruised and red.
Kenney is a savage! Lad can mix it up 💽 #UFCFightIsland4— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) October 4, 2020
"He ate some solid left hands that a lot of people go down with," Kenney said. "Alateng is tough as nails."
After the decision was read, Kenney climbed out of the cage and screamed in the direction of UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard that he wants to fight again next week. Kenney said in his postfight interview that he wants to be more active and figured he needed to really make it known up close and personal.
"I guess I had to say it a little louder," Kenney said. "... I felt like I needed to do that."
Kenney, 29, has won two straight and eight of his past nine. The Arizona resident is 4-1 in the UFC and seems to be climbing the bantamweight ladder. Heili, a 28-year-old Mongolian fighter, had a four-fight winning streak snapped.
Vendramini finishes Ayari early in Round 1
Luigi Vendramini clobbers Jessin Ayari with a flurry of punches early in Round 1 as he gets the finish at UFC Fight Night.
Lightweight Luigi Vendramini might have woken up all of Abu Dhabi on Saturday with a loud first-round finish (and even louder postfight celebration).
Competing in the event's curtain-raiser, which took place in the early morning hours local time, Vendramini defeated Jessin Ayari via TKO just 72 seconds into the bout. Immediately after the fight was called, Vendramini unleashed a long, echoing scream inside the crowdless Flash Forum Arena.
"Two years, two surgeries, my life was terrible," said Vendramini, who hadn't fought since September 2018. "Everything happens for a reason. Now, I feel like my life starts now."
The finish was a thing of beauty as Vendramini staggered Ayari with a counter left hook to the chin and then swarmed him with punches. Ayari did a great job of clearing the cobwebs at first, and did well moving his head to avoid Vendramini's follow-up shots, until the Brazilian elevated a nasty right head kick that put Ayari down. Vendramini jumped on Ayari after he fell to the canvas and finished the bout via strikes.
It was the first UFC win of Vendramini's career, and his seventh first-round finish overall. He did not compete the past two years due to multiple ACL surgeries.
"I debuted in the UFC and lost," said Vendramini, who earned a $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.
"I don't feel like a UFC fighter when I lose. I had to win against somebody. Now, I'm a UFC fighter."