It would be an understatement to say UFC 229 lived up to the hype. On the night of the biggest mixed marital arts event of all time, every athlete on the card wanted to put on a show and all 24 fighters did just that, especially those on the undercard. Today we go over the best moves and highlights from the prelims.
The night opened up with welterweight prospect Tony Martin taking on former headliner Ryan LaFlare. The fight was fairly close with many having LaFlare up on the scorecards until Martin landed this picture-perfect round kick to the dome and finished him off with ground-and-pound.
Nik Lentz took on former title challenger Gray Maynard. The bout was much closer than expected and Maynard looked better than he has in years, but late in the second round Lentz got him backing up to the cage and landed yet another perfect head kick. Lentz finished him off with ground-and-pound. Notice how Lentz throws the right straight while stepping into a southpaw stance and then unloads the kick. This makes the kick come up at an unexpected angle and land right over the opponent’s shoulder through the blind slide.
Next up was the headlining fight of the Fight Pass prelims with Yana Kunitskaya facing off with Lina Lansberg. The contest went about as expected with Yana dominating Lansberg on the ground for most of the bout, but she didn’t strike enough to finish and took home a 30-27 (x3) unanimous decision.
Scott Holtzman brutally knocked out Alan Patrick Silva Alves with short elbows on the ground from full guard. Although Alves was a sizeable favorite, Holtzman dominated and eventually landed this beautiful counter right hand to set up the finish on the ground.
Aspen Ladd viciously finished Tonya Evinger. The odds were nearly dead even on this one, but Ladd took her down with ease and then relentlessly dropped punches and elbows from mount until the ref had seen enough. Ladd is only 23 and already a perfect 7-0 with all but one of those wins coming by KO or submission. If you’re looking for a new and exciting prospect at woman’s bantamweight to root for, Ladd might be your lady.
Vincent Luque took on UFC newcomer Jalin Turner. Luque was the biggest favorite of the night and looked every bit of the -700 he closed at. As Turner landed a spinning elbow, Luque took a deep angle to his right and countered the spin with a beautiful right hook and finished from full guard.
Finally, the prelims were headlined by two of the best flyweights in the world as Jussier da Silva took on Sergio Pettis. The fight ended up being the worst of the night with Pettis looking for his regular pressuring counters and Formiga trying to take it to the ground. Unfortunately for fans, Formiga’s grappling was too much for Pettis to handle and he was held or controlled on the ground for most of the bout. Although the win was underwhelming, Formiga is on a three-fight winning streak and might be next in line for a title shot.