LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in more than 2½ years, UFC heavyweight Andrei Arlovski is on a winning streak.
Arlovski (30-19) defeated Tanner Boser (19-7-1) via unanimous decision on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night inside the Apex. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Arlovski, despite the fact he landed fewer strikes than Boser in a fight that took place exclusively on the feet.
Both heavyweights fought at a very measured pace, and mostly looked to pick their spots with single strikes. Boser had plenty of success with kicks to Arlovski's lead leg, and employed the tactic throughout the 15-minute contest. Arlovski's lead leg was visibly battered by the end of the fight, but the judges ultimately sided with his offense over Boser's work to the leg.
Arlovski, 41, who has repeatedly stated that his best years are still to come, surprised Boser with a spinning backfist in the final seconds of the second round, and landed a nice right hand in the third, but Boser absorbed both shots well. Arlovski's mobility might have been slightly compromised in the final round, as Boser had an easy time finding the leg, although Arlovski never visibly winced or changed stances.
It marks Arlovski's 19th win in the UFC's heavyweight division, which is the most all time. He also picked up a decision win against Philipe Lins in May. It's the first time he has won consecutive fights since March 2018. He has not recorded a knockout since May 2015.
"I looked at Boser and saw myself 21 years ago," Arlovski said. "He's young, powerful, strong and hungry. I wish him good luck.
Very high level striking delivered with speed from 2 big guys.— michael (@bisping) November 8, 2020
"Obviously, I want to fight tomorrow for the title, but there are other heavyweights in the line. It's up to Dana White and the matchmakers. I love what I do. I love fighting. I love training hard. I have a great team."
Boser, who fights out of Alberta, Canada, carried some good momentum into the bout, having won his other two appearances in 2020. He was a sizable betting favorite, but falls to 3-2 in the Octagon.
-- Brett Okamoto
Santos, Teixeira leave it all in the Octagon
Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos each have their own chance to end the fight early in their main event matchup at UFC Fight Night.
Teixeira is on the wrong side of 40 years old. He hasn't fought for a title in more than five years. Yet, one of the most durable veterans in UFC history continues to put up victories against elite light heavyweights.
Teixeira submitted Santos via rear-naked choke at 1:49 of the third round Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
Santos rocked Teixeira in the first round and put Teixeira in big trouble to start the third. But Teixeira, as he has done time and again, persevered and found the finish.
-- Marc Raimondi
Barcelos was faster and more accurate, leading the dance the whole way in winning all three rounds on all three scorecards for his ninth victory in a row. The bout earned a $50,000 bonus for both men for fight of the night.
The 33-year-old Brazilian did not add to his total of 11 career finishes, but it was not for lack of trying. Barcelos landed several shots that would have put away a lesser man -- knees to the chin in both the second and third rounds, for example -- but Taha just kept on firing back.
These lads are a problem for anyone. UFCVegas13— Dan Hangman Hooker (@danthehangman) November 8, 2020
The problem for Taha was that he was a step behind and did not have the output of his opponent. Round 2, in particular, was mostly one-way traffic, as Barcelos landed 54 significant strikes to just 12 by Taha.
But Taha, who is 28 and from Germany, just couldn't find a lot of opening because he spent so much time and energy defending attacks by Barcelos both on the feet and on the canvas. Taha also might have been a bit rusty, having not fought in 13 months. In October 2019, he missed weight for his fight against Bruno Silva, then won the bout by choke but later saw the result overturned after he failed a drug test for a diuretic.
For Barcelos, it was his fifth UFC win, which according to ESPN Stats & Information research makes him the 13th Brazilian to start 5-0 in the UFC. It was his fourth consecutive victory at bantamweight, a streak bettered by only champion Petr Yan, contender Marlon Vera and upcoming title challenger Aljamain Sterling.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Chikadze stuns Simmons with massive head kick
Giga Chikadze welcomes Jamey Simmons to the UFC with a big head kick that promptly ends the fight in Round 1.
Coming in, Chikazde had fought three times this year. He had looked good in every bout, but the elite striker had been in search of his first finish. On Saturday, he got it.
Chikadze rocked Simmons with a head kick and then finished on the ground for a TKO at 3:51 of the first round in a featherweight bout. Chikadze first landed a gorgeous left body kick, which clearly hurt Simmons. With Simmons dropping his hands slightly, Chikadze recognized it and landed a perfect left head kick leading to the finish. After several shots to the downed Simmons, referee Herb Dean pulled Chikadze off.
CLEAN!! Giga kick to the body then the follow up kick to the head. #UFCVegas13— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 8, 2020
With the victory, Chikadze put his name in some lofty territory. He joined former champion Max Holloway in 2015 as the only featherweights to go 4-0 in a calendar year, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Chikadze and Kevin Holland are the only UFC fighters to go 4-0 in 2020. Plus, Chikadze is only the sixth fighter to start his UFC career at 5-0 at featherweight.
In his postfight interview, Chikadze called out veteran Jeremy Stephens for a December fight.
"I want at least [my] next one co-main or even main event," Chikadze said.
Chikadze, 32, has won seven straight overall and earned $50,000 for a performance-of-the-night bonus. The Republic of Georgia native is a veteran of Glory Kickboxing. Simmons, a 28-year-old fighting out of Wisconsin, was making his UFC debut and saw a three-fight winning streak snapped.
-- Marc Raimondi
Yan might not be as famous as her fellow Chinese strawweight Zhang Weili, but she's well on her way after a performances like Saturday's.
Yan (13-1) dominated a former title challenger in Gadelha (18-5) to improve to 6-0 in the UFC. Yan didn't come close to recording a finish, but strong takedown defense and laser-sharp work on the feet carried her to a clear-cut decision. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Yan.
The victory actually moves Yan ahead of Zhang, the 115-pound division's current champion, in total wins -- 6-5 -- in the UFC. Yan has yet to record a finish in the Octagon, but that's really the only knock on the 31-year-old, who now holds wins over multiple established names in Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill.
Yan held a glaring speed advantage over Gadelha on the feet, which helped her dictate the fight. She picked Gadelha apart anytime the fight was at range, darting in with jabs and straight rights, and then exiting before Gadelha could counter. Gadelha tried to answer Yan's speed by taking her down, and managed to do so several times, but struggled to keep Yan down or capitalize with any significant offense.
According to UFC Stats data, Yan out-landed Gadelha in total strikes 128 to 69, and defended eight of Gadelha's 10 takedown attempts.
Gadelha, who challenged unsuccessfully for the UFC championship in 2016, saw a two-fight win streak snapped.
Trevin Giles knocks out Bevon Lewis in Round 3
After fainting just before he was to fight in August, Trevin Giles rebounds and knocks out opponent Bevon Lewis at UFC Fight Night.
Giles was faster with his hands and also quicker afoot, a combination that on multiple occasions in the first two rounds allowed him to land a clean punch and step just out of range. When Lewis came out for the final five minutes more aggressively, Giles had an answer for that, too, using his speed to land a pair of hard right hands that collapsed Lewis against the cage at 1:26 of Round 3.
The fighters spent much of the first round either out of striking range or clinched against the cage, and while Lewis landed more strikes (41-25), it was Giles who landed the better ones (12-8). His speed kept him safe and put Lewis on the defensive.
Giles, a 28-year-old full-time Houston police officer, had not fought since a split decision win over James Krause in February. He was scheduled to fight again in August but passed out backstage minutes before he was to make the walk to the Octagon.
Lewis, 29 and from Albuquerque, New Mexico, never seemed to get up to speed. He has lost four of his past five bouts.
"It feels great," Giles said. "I always love to finish a fight, especially after having the last decision and then not being able to fight. I feel relieved that I was able to get out here and just get it done.
"I was pretty composed in there. I'm really happy with my performance. I gauged him very well. I hid the jab away from him well enough and kept sneaking it in on him. Everything I needed to work for me worked. I'm really happy about that."
Romanov body-slams coaches after submission win
Alexandr Romanov throws his coaches to the ground after a submission win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima at UFC Fight Night.
UFC fans found out in his promotion debut that Romanov is extremely dangerous in top position. For a second act, he pulled off a submission rarely seen in mixed martial arts.
Romanov put de Lima to sleep with an orthodox forearm choke -- he clasped his hands together and simply drove his forearm into de Lima's neck until his foe was unconscious. The submission finish came at 4:48 of the first round.
"We have worked a lot on the ground with my team," Romanov said. "All I do in the cage is because of the great work of my team."
Afterward, Romanov called out heavyweight Marcin Tybura, the man he was supposed to fight in his UFC back in July until Tybura tested positive for COVID-19.
On Saturday, de Lima did land some hard shots on the feet. But Romanov was able to close the distance and take de Lima down. Romanov has shown himself to be an absolute monster on top, and de Lima had no answers for the odd choke setup.
Romanov, 29, remains undefeated and is now 2-0 in the UFC with a pair of finishes. He earned $50,000 for a performance-of-the-night bonus. The Moldova native beat Roque Martinez by second-round submission (arm triangle) in September. De Lima, a 35-year-old Brazilian, has alternated wins and losses in his past nine fights.
Elkins submits Garagorri late in Round 3
Darren Elkins digs deep to submit Eduardo Garagorri late in Round 3 of their UFC Fight Night bout.
Elkins snapped a four-fight skid -- by far the longest of his career -- with the third-round submission.
It was an interesting matchup, in that it was clear by the third round Elkins' only path to victory was his grappling. He dominated Garagorri on the floor in the first round but ceded momentum to Garagorri as the fight progressed. Garagorri appeared to be on his way to winning the final round on the feet, until Elkins jumped on his back and secured a rear-naked choke at the 2:22 mark.
Wheeew, the damage!! Gotta be happy for that dude, hard fought win.— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) November 8, 2020
Fighting out of Uruguay, Garagorri looked shell-shocked by Elkins' wrestling early on, as he struggled to create any kind of space in the opening round. The efficiency of Elkins' takedowns started to wane in the second round, however, and Garagorri went to work with his jab and a straight left hand that opened a small cut under Elkins' left eye.
It was more of the same for Garagorri in the third until Elkins desperately got hold of his waist, swung behind him and jumped on his back. It was impressive grappling from that point on, as Elkins secured a body-triangle on Garagorri as he continued to stand near the fence and slid the left arm under his chin for the finish.
Prior to this four-fight skid, Elkins had never lost back-to-back fights his entire career. He holds the second-most wins in UFC featherweight history with 14, trailing only former champion Max Holloway.
"I have the most takedowns in the featherweight division," Elkins said. "I'm tied for the most appearances in the featherweight division. That just shows you my longevity. It's been over 10 years I've been with this company. I've always liked fighting for the UFC and am glad to be doing what I love.
"I'd like to be back here around March. Me and Kron Gracie could match up. He's been out for a while. Let's try to do February or March. The last two fights, that's the guy I've wanted to fight."
Griffin and Brahimaj were trading blows against the cage early in Round 3, each man bloodied and battered, each delivering more damage, when referee Mark Smith suddenly jumped in to end it. Why? A Griffin elbow had landed to Brahimaj's left ear and nearly torn it off his head, leaving the ear hanging.
The result was a TKO at 2:03 of Round 3. It was Griffin's eighth career knockout win, but his first since 2016.
That ear omg 🤮 #UFCVegas13— Katlyn Chookagian (@blondefighter) November 8, 2020
"I think his ear fell out of his head," said Griffin. "I'm sorry for that. It was bad."
Griffin, a 34-year-old fighting out of Sacramento, California, broke out of a two-fight losing streak. He did so with unrelenting footwork and a crisp jab that for much of the fight kept Brahimaj at distance -- which kept the fight standing, where Griffin had the edge. He outlanded his opponent 82-46.
Brahimaj, who is 27 and trains as part of Fortis MMA in Dallas, was making his UFC debut after twice having seen it canceled. He was competing for the first time since March 2019. But when he has fought, he has done his best work on the canvas. All of eight of his pro wins have come by submission. But this time Brahimaj did not even attempt a takedown, thanks largely to Griffin's distance management.
In a battle of friends and former training partners, Lopez got a quick result.
It was a fast-paced sprint, as Lopez was able to land hard on the feet, then get things to the ground and finish Birchak by rear-naked choke at 2:43 of the first round. Lopez and Birchak have trained together in Las Vegas and both have represented 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu over the years. Birchak was coming in on less than a week's notice.
Lopez showed a lot in his debut never surrendered this ones interesting now that I know they're friends— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) November 8, 2020
Birchak missed early on a flying knee, which Lopez countered nicely with a left hook. Lopez followed with a hard right hand that dropped Birchak. While Birchak was able to get back to his feet, Lopez soon got him down again, took his back and choked him out.
Lopez, 31, earned his first UFC victory. The Washington state native has won four of his past five overall. Birchak, 34, was on a two-fight winning streak coming in. This was the Arizona native's return to the UFC after being released in 2016.
"My striking has improved so much," Lopez said. "I am a grappler. I know Birchak comes in with a black belt out of 10th Planet, but I know my grappling's good. I hurt him well, broke him down, saw the neck and got in the rear-naked choke.
"I don't fight guys based on anger. I do this because I love what I'm doing. I'm here because I want to become the best. I surround myself with amazing people here at Xtreme Couture. Just because I know you doesn't mean I'm going to pull those punches. I'm going to hit you hard."