Credit: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC / .
We may already be seeing the final wear of Robert Whittaker after his difficult time as champion and his hard fall. The “Reaper” that faced Darren Till in the stellar of UFC on ESPN 14 He was both more timid and less measured than in his days as champion, dragged into a slow-paced fight with little activity by his rival. While Till was content to wait for counterattack opportunities with little offense of his own Whittaker found himself complicated in the distance, unable to close efficiently and launching into predictable bursts and desperate flies, connecting just enough and adding low kicks and a few takedowns to win the unanimous decision..
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua added his third win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who retired after his split decision loss at this veteran crossing. After a somewhat slow start, both men became involved in an even quarrel and extremely similar to their previous meetings, where they ended up rewarding more the will than the technique and both were stunned by the blows of their rival. The two fighters also brought the action to the canvas, but it was finally Shogun who convinced the judges with his best precision and cardio, use of effective low kicks and a decisive takedown in the third round.
In what may have been his last fight in the UFC, Fabricio Werdum subdued Alexander Gustafsson via armbar in two minutes, 30 seconds.. After initial exchanges the jiu-jitsu expert sought his specialty and “The Mauler” was unable to stop the takedown or maintain a momentary superior position. Working freely, Werdum took his back, threatened to hang himself and from there made the transition to the armbar, and although Gustafsson tried to roll to defend himself the Brazilian maintained the position, caught the body with his legs and finally closed the winning key.
Carla Esparza overcame Marina Rodriguez and gave her her first loss by a split decision. Lack of defense against takedowns and ability to escape the canvas ended up costing Rodriguez, who still put up a good fight controlling the striking at will, making good use of the elbows in the lower position and threatening submissions. Esparza absorbed punishment in the standup but his persistent takedowns paid off and allowed him to control for long stretches, with an offense that was not remarkable but still present, although two unsuccessful leg wrench attempts left her in a vulnerable position and could have cost her the fight.
It took Paul Craig just two minutes and six seconds to subdue Gadzhimurad Antigulov by triangle hang.. It was Antigulov who sought the takedown after the initial exchanges but quickly found himself defensive from the top position. Craig defended himself first with a guillotine, then a triangle, went to the high guard and from there to an armbar, and although Antigulov survived all this and threw hard blows to the body, the “Bearjew” did not give up and went again to a triangle that was closing until achieving the tapas.
Alex Oliveira defeated Peter Sobotta by clear unanimous decision. Sobotta could not mark his pace or distance and spent the 15 minutes almost at the mercy of his rival, responding in exchanges and looking for his offensive and takedowns, achieving little more than exposing himself to counterattacks. Oliveira started working the low kicks and quickly found the key to his triumph: body kicks that repeatedly paused Sobotta, leaving the Brazilian “Cowboy” to work at ease in the distance and add his hands that even stunned his rival in the second round.
Khamzat Chimaev remained undefeated and scored his second win of the year in 10 days, knocking Rhys McKee out by TKO in three minutes, nine seconds.. McKee was overwhelmed from the start, unable to stop a takedown that saw his rival lift him up to work in front of his own corner. Chimaev rolled onto the tarp, controlling with ease, releasing fierce ground and pound and threatening the backshoot and the kill, stopping escape attempts when submission failed and returning to the ground and pound until the referee stopped the fight.