UFC Fight Night: Aspen Ladd falls flat in featherweight debut with loss to Norma Dumont

Norma Dumont, right, controlled the first three rounds of Saturday's UFC Fight Night main event and stifled a late push from Aspen Ladd to secure her third straight win inside the Octagon. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Isn't this the way things always seem to play out in mixed martial arts? Fans got hyped to watch one of the sport's most enduring stars perform -- in this case, former women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate -- but it turned into a letdown when she ended up having to pull out weeks before the UFC Fight Night main event after she contracted COVID-19.

Tate was replaced by another ex-champ in the main event, but before fans could get their hopes too high, Holly Holm was forced to pull out of her fight against Norma Dumont due to injury. Enter Aspen Ladd, fresh off a bantamweight fight canceled just two weeks ago after she missed weight, making her featherweight debut.

The UFC ended up with a third-fiddle main event slated for the same night as Bellator 268 in Phoenix, as MMA's second-tier promotion featured the two semifinals of that company's glittery Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix -- one of them a title fight and the other involving the reigning champ at heavyweight.

The storybook ending would have seen Ladd and Dumont put on a performance for the ages. There was no storybook ending. There was a bedtime story.

Dumont did perform efficiently in winning a unanimous decision in this snoozer of a main event at UFC Apex, but even in dominating for her third straight victory, the 31-year-old Brazilian did nothing to suggest that she could make the featherweight champ, Amanda Nunes, break a sweat.

If Nunes was watching the fight in her Florida home, one hopes she was holding her baby in her arms, because that would have made bedtime in the Nunes household a piece of cake. This fight was not an advertisement for a rejuvenated women's featherweight division. It was a lullaby.

This was supposed to be Ladd's showcase, really. Who gets put in a main event two weeks after missing weight and having a fight canceled? The UFC was uncharacteristically forgiving with her, perhaps because the company was hoping to finally have a 145-pound contender to throw in with the champ. As it stands, the featherweight division is basically a mirage. Nunes also reigns and mostly fights at bantamweight, and there are practically no 145-pound contenders on the roster to chase her.

But given the chance to step up in a major way, Ladd did next to nothing. It was certainly not Dumont's fault that in Round 1, Ladd landed three strikes; in Round 2, she connected with four. Ladd spent those first 10 minutes, and much of the 15 that remained, plodding stiffly in front of her opponent. Sleepwalking.

Between rounds, as she sat in her corner with her coach yelling at her, Ladd wore a glazed look, as if hypnotized. And even during the five minutes between those breaks, when the fight was supposed to be taking place, the 26-year-old Californian looked only slightly more awake.

Dumont, who recorded her third straight win, might be the next woman up for a 145-pound title shot after her third straight win. But after this loss, it's back to the drawing board as Ladd searches for a way to get back on track. -- Wagenheim

Heavyweight: Andrei Arlovski (32-20, 2 NC; 21-14, 1 NC UFC) def. Carlos Felipe (11-2, 3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Arlovski made his pro MMA debut in 1999, when Felipe was 4 years old. Arlovski became UFC heavyweight champion in 2005 on a card headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Vitor Belfort. The man known as "The Pitbull" has fought in the UFC 36 times, third most in company history behind Jim Miller -- who made his record 38th Octagon appearance in the fight right before -- and Donald Cerrone.

When this fight began, however, Arlovski looked like a young man, bouncing lightly as he peppered the plodding Felipe with punches and kicks. As the three rounds wore on, though, the 42-year-old Arlovski slowed down and became more hittable. But by that point Felipe, 26, was tired as well, so the fight made it to the final horn, at which point Arlovski got his hand raised (all three judges scored the fight 29-28).

Arlovski, a Belarussian who fights out of Coconut Creek, Florida, has won four of his past five. His past eight wins have come by decision. Felipe, who is from Brazil, saw a three-fight winning streak come to an end.

Jim Miller crumbles Erick Gonzalez with left-handed KO shot

Jim Miller picks up a knock out win the second round as he delivers a vicious left hand that breaks down Erick Gonzalez.

Lightweight: Jim Miller (33-16, 1 NC; 23-15, 1 NC UFC) def. Erick Gonzalez (14-6, 0-1 UFC) by second-round KO (punches) | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Nearly 40 fights into his UFC run, Miller is still winning fights -- and adding to his arsenal.

Miller stopped Gonzalez via knockout 14 seconds into the second round with a vicious left hand. Miller was landing that big left at the end of the first round, too, but Gonzalez survived that first encounter. He was not able to do that in the second round, as Miller absolutely folded him up.

It was Miller's first KO/TKO since UFC 200 against Takanori Gomi in July 2016. And by simply fighting on Saturday, Miller took over sole possession of the record for the most fights in UFC history (38).

"Old dog, new tricks," Miller said in his postfight interview. "Got a KO."

Gonzalez had some moments in the first round, including some combinations and ground control. Miller was able to get on top, but Gonzalez did damage with elbows from the bottom. Back on the feet, Miller, always known as a grappler, started landing blistering left hands.

"He's a tough dude, coming in with nothing to lose," Miller said. "He came out scrapping. He hit me good in the first round."

Miller, 38, said his goal was always to get to 40 UFC fights and that seems easily attainable at this point. Now, he's hoping to be featured on UFC 300, the same way he competed at UFC 100 and UFC 200. Miller has been in the UFC since 2008. The New Jersey native is tied with Demian Maia for the second-most wins in UFC history (22) and his 14 finishes are tied for third most in UFC history.

Gonzalez, a 29-year-old from California, was making his UFC debut and had a two-fight winning streak snapped.

Women's flyweight: Manon Fiorot (8-1, 3-0 UFC) def. Mayra Bueno Silva (7-2-1, 2-2-1 UFC) by unanimous decision | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Fiorot cruised to her eighth straight victory by basically doing what she does in the gym -- hit the immobile heavy bag, again and again.

Her opponent employed an interesting strategy. Buena Silva stood in front of Fiorot for much of the fight's 15 minutes, took a combination of punches to the head, shook her noggin to indicate the punches had not hurt her, then stood there to get hit in the head again. And Fiorot was happy to oblige, again and again.

Fiorot, who is 31 and from France, got the nod from all three judges -- who scored the fight 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 -- by throwing around 100 shots in every round. While many were blocked by Bueno Silva's high guard, enough penetrated the Brazilian's defense to leave the 30-year-old Silva with a battered, bloody face by the end. Fiorot also landed a couple of takedowns and threatened a submission in Round 3 of an incredibly one-sided fight. Bueno Silva has just one win in her past four fights.

Men's featherweight: Nate Landwehr (15-4, 2-2 UFC) def. Ludovit Klein (17-4, 1-2 UFC) by third-round submission (anaconda choke) | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Landwehr worked for an anaconda choke for a significant amount of time in the second round. He just couldn't achieve the angle he needed to get the choke locked in.

One round later, though, that's exactly what Landwehr was able to do. "Nate the Train" took out Klein via anaconda choke at 2:22 of the third round. Until the third, it was a back-and-forth battle with both men getting legitimate offense in. It was the first submission win of Landwehr's career.

"Nate the Train, baby," Landwehr said in his postfight interview. "I think I still got a job after that!"

The fight really picked up in the third round when Landwehr won a scramble on the ground and worked hard to get that choke cinched in with Klein on his back. But Klein was able to survive that precarious position and come back at the end of the round with a spinning back fist.

At that point, however, it seemed like Landwehr had already stolen the momentum, and he kept coming forward with big shots in the third round. A tired Klein went for a takedown in that third round, Landwehr ended up on top and that's when he went back to the choke.

"I'm gonna ruin my cred out here in these streets," Landwehr said. "I still got power in these hands. This was a one-time out. I just wanted to show y'all I could do that."

Landwehr, 33, has alternated wins and losses in his four-fight UFC run. The Tennessee native is the former M-1 featherweight champion in Russia. Klein, a 26-year-old Slovakian prospect, has lost two straight after winning his UFC debut over Shane Young with a first-round TKO at UFC 253 in September 2020.

Bruno Silva pulls off wild comeback KO win vs. Andrew Sanchez

Bruno Silva lets loose a flurry of punches on Andrew Sanchez while he is pushed up against the cage to get a knockout win in the third round.

Middleweight: Bruno Silva (21-6, 2-0 UFC) def. Andrew Sanchez (13-7, 5-5 UFC) by third-round knockout (punches) | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Silva was drained after being taken down seven times, while also absorbing three groin strikes. But in the third round, Silva somehow found the energy to surge back for his 18th career knockout -- his second in two UFC outings.

Sanchez had the better of the first two rounds, finding success in seven of his nine takedown tries and dishing out damage while the fight was on the ground. But he couldn't finish the job, and while both fighters entered Round 3 tired, Sanchez appeared to be worse off. Silva came out punching and kicking with aggression and accuracy.

The action was halted briefly after a Sanchez knee found the groin of Silva, and referee Keith Peterson deducted a point. This fight may have been headed for a draw, but Silva made sure that was not the case by going after a depleted Sanchez and unleashing unanswered punches against the cage until Peterson jumped in at 2:35.

Silva, who is 32 and from Brazil, has won six in a row, including a first-round KO of Wellington Turman in his UFC debut in June. Sanchez, a 33-year-old fighting out of St. Louis, has lost two fights in a row.

Welterweight: Danny Roberts (18-5, 7-4 UFC) def. Ramazan Emeev (20-5, 5-2 UFC) by split decision | Watch this fight on ESPN+

Roberts earned a vital win in a tough, back-and-forth battle.

After nearly two full years away, Roberts beat the very game Emeev (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) via split decision as a slight underdog. Emeev opened up a cut on Roberts' forehead in the second round, but Roberts was able to counter his excellent wrestling for the most part and land enough on the feet throughout.

Roberts, 34, has now won two straight. The England native had not competed since a second-round knockout of Zelim Imadaev in November 2019. Emeev, a 34-year-old Dagestan native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.

Women's flyweight: Luana Carolina (8-2, 3-1 UFC) def. Loopy Godinez (6-2, 1-2 UFC) by unanimous decision | Watch this fight on ESPN+

The spotlight coming into this bout had been focused on Godinez, who made UFC history by fighting on a seven-day turnaround -- the shortest stretch in the promotion's history. But what about Carolina, who was stepping into the cage with her third scheduled opponent for this date?

Carolina, who is 28 and from Brazil, is a tall fighter who is best when competing at distance. And she made that possible on Saturday by utilizing improved defensive wrestling to fend off 13 of Godinez's 15 takedown tries. That made it possible for her to build a 53-23 edge in significant strikes, on the way to earning 29-28 scores from all three judges. Carolina has won three of her four UFC bouts.

Godinez, a 28-year-old from Mexico who fights out of Vancouver, British Columbia, was coming off a first-round submission win over Silvana Gomez Juarez on Oct. 9. The modern-era record for shortest time between wins is 10 days by Khamzat Chimaev, who achieved the feat last year. That particular mark lives on in the UFC record books.

Danaa Batgerel comes away with KO win vs. Brandon Davis

Danaa Batgerel uses a looping right hand to sit Brandon Davis down, then bombards him with a flurry of punches and a knee to get the knockout win.

Men's bantamweight: Danaa Batgerel (10-2, 3-1 UFC) def. Brandon Davis (14-9, 2-6 UFC) by first-round TKO (strikes) | Watch this fight on ESPN+

The UFC has its first legitimately promising up-and-comer from Mongolia ready to take a leap up in competition.

Batgerel stopped Davis via TKO at 2:01 of the first round, after a big overhand right put Davis down. Batgerel followed with big shots to Davis, who struggled to recover on the ground. Referee Herb Dean had no choice but to step in and stop Batgerel's onslaught.

This is the 32-year-old Batgerel's third straight first-round KO/TKO, all in the past seven months. Batgerel, who fights out of JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was coming off a 50-second TKO over Kevin Natividad at UFC 261 in April. Davis, a 31-year-old Georgia native, was making his return to the UFC after two years away, during which time he had put together a four-fight winning streak on the regional circuit.

Strawweight: Ariane Carnelossi (14-2, 2-1 UFC) def. Istela Nunes (7-2, 0-1 UFC) by third-round submission (rear-naked choke) | Watch this fight on ESPN+

For much of this fight, you couldn't slip a piece a paper between these two fighters from Brazil. That was the way Carnelossi needed it to play out, and she made sure to smother Nunes from start to finish.

The 28-year-old Carnelossi, facing a striker with an advantage in reach and standup skills, got takedowns in all three rounds as Carnelossi kept Nunes clinched against the cage for long stretches. She did not do a whole lot with that positional control, however, until midway through the final round, when she took the fight to the canvas and quickly locked in a rear-naked choke. Carnelossi elicited the tapout at 2:57 for her 14th win in her past 15 bouts.

Nunes, 29, was making her UFC debut in her first fight since the summer of 2018. She got the better of exchanges from distance, but each time Carnelossi closed in and seized control.