Given the successes of Tatiana Suarez and Kanako Murata, I wonder if we'll see more women convert from the international wrestling ranks. World-class wrestling revolutionized MMA in its early days; it's about time we see this change within the female divisions. #UFC228 pic.twitter.com/QOlHZHgcIG— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) September 9, 2018
Tatiana Suarez looked like a future star as she pounded Carla Esparza into smithereens for nearly three rounds in the UFC 228 featured preliminary bout.
Suarez took “Cookie Monster” down virtually whenever she wanted and dished out a frightening beating with elbows, punches and hammerfists. Esparza (14-6) never quit, but when Suarez moved to full mount late in the third, referee Kerry Hatley had no choice but to pull Suarez off when she rained down a storm of punishment via punches and elbows.
The end came at 4:33 of the third, allowing the ultra-promising prospect to rise to 8-0 in her most impressive performance thus far.
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Sterling Destroys Stamann
The rivalry between Aljamain Sterling and Cody Stamann didn’t last very long as the “Funkmaster” dazzled the capacity crowd with one of the rarest submissions in MMA.
After taking Stamann’s back from a scramble in the second, the New Yorker nearly landed a full Nelson. Sterling had to change his attack, though, when Stamann (17-2) powered his way out of it. From there, while riding high on back mount, Sterling locked in the ol’ stump puller knee bar from the back, forcing Stamann to tap out just as his knee apparently popped. The spectacular end came at 3:42 of the second, allowing Sterling to rise to 16-3.
Neal Absolutely Starches Camacho
Local welterweight prospect Geoff Neal electrified the crowd by pulling off one of the best knockouts of the year.
Neal (10-2) picked Frank Camacho apart with brilliant striking in the opening period and nearly took him out with a left hook just before the horn ended the stanza. Neal picked up where he left off and tore into his prey, but Camacho (21-7) hung tough and slugged it out with him. However, Neal nearly decapitated Camacho with a left head kick, knocking him completely out. The end came at 1:23 of the second, giving “Hands of Steel” a highlight reel knockout for ages.
Stewart Mauls Byrd After Shaky Start
British middleweight Darren Stewart (9-3) withstood quite an offensive output from Charles Byrd in the opening frame to rally for a stunning knockout in the second round.
“The Dentist” rolled with Byrd’s punches and rocked his opponent with a right elbow behind the ear. Byrd (10-5) tried to survive, but Stewart chased him down and eventually put him away with another elbow to the head. “Kid Dynamite” crumbled in a heap and had to be rescued by referee Jacob Montalvo, officially ending the battle at 2:17 of the second.
Sanchez Rolls in Unanimous Verdict
Longtime veteran Diego Sanchez, the first-ever "The Ultimate Fighter" champion, took nemesis Craig White to the woodshed for three rounds. Sanchez stormed out of his corner and plowed into the Englishman, taking him down and tearing him apart with ruthless ground-and-pound.
White rocked Sanchez a few times in the fight with a left hook to the jaw and an up-kick, but other than that, it was vintage “Nightmare” for three rounds. Sanchez (30-11) won the fight by a large margin, but the three cageside judges only saw it 30-27 across the board. White fell to 15-8 with the effort.
Miller Turns Back the Clock
Jim Miller set a record by competing inside the Octagon for the 30th time and he made it count.
The New Jersey native rocked lightweight Alex White with a straight left to the head early in the first and never looked back. Miller (29-12) swarmed “The Spartan” with follow-up punches and when White fell to the ground, it was over.
Miller immediately pounced on his foe’s back and sunk in a textbook rear-naked choke, forcing the tap. White (12-5) officially bowed out in just 89 seconds.
Aldana Edges Pudilova
Bantamweights Irene Aldana and Lucie Pudilova put on a show for three rounds as the women tore into each other from the start. Aldana began by landing nasty leg kicks and moved with behind her jab, but the Czech fighter turned the tides with harder strikes. Aldana once again seized control in the third by busting her foe’s nose wide open, and when time was running out, the women stood toe-to-toe, trying for a finish.
In the end, it was Mexico’s Aldana (9-4) who won via split decision, winning via tallies of 29-28 (twice) and 28-29. Pudilova fell to 8-3.
Brooks’ Gamble Pays Off
Flyweight contender Jarred Brooks kicked UFC 228 off with a win over Roberto Sanchez. “The Monkey God” was a late replacement as he took the fight on just five days’ notice and his decision to step up paid off.
Sanchez (9-1) was the aggressor in the opening round, but the Detroit fighter turned the tides in the second, using his superior wrestling prowess to win the judges’ favor. In the end, two of the three judges scored it for Brooks (14-2) via tallies of 29-28 while the third had the same score for Mexico’s Sanchez.