The Israel Adesanya hype train shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it has picked up speed.
The undefeated kickboxer ran circles around Xtreme Couture’s Brad Tavares in “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale headliner, as he captured a five-round unanimous decision on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Adesanya (14-0, 3-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45 marks from the judges.
Tavares (17-5, 12-5 UFC) whiffed on all but one of his takedowns and found himself trapped in standup exchanges with a vastly superior striker. Adesanya tore into him with a variety of strikes -- knees, punches, elbows -- from a variety of angles, methodically chipping away at the Hawaiian’s steely resolve. Tavares’ situation grew dire in the fourth round, where a short standing elbow from his razor-sharp counterpart sliced open a horrendous horizontal gash beneath his right eyebrow. Adesanya exploited the cut into the fifth round and even engaged the veteran on the ground, closing the bout in a mounted guillotine in a final show of superiority.
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Lightweight Final Goes to Trizano
Team Tiger Schulmann’s Michael Trizano got his foot in the door with the UFC, as he walked away with a split decision over Joe Giannetti in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 27 lightweight final. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with the unbeaten Trizano (7-0, 1-0 UFC).
Giannetti (6-1, 0-1 UFC) stayed glued to the former Ring of Combat champion for much of the first round, threatening with an inverted heel hook at one point. Trizano shifted momentum to his side in the second, where he countered a takedown into top position, passed to side control and traded attempted toe holds with his opponent. Giannetti took something of a lackadaisical approach in Round 3, and it did not do him any favors. Trizano blasted him with leg kicks, stayed busy with combinations and exited the Octagon with his hand raised.
Katona Dominates Cucciniello in Featherweight Final
SBG Ireland prospect Brad Katona proved superior in all phases, as he cruised to a unanimous decision over Jay Cucciniello in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 27 featherweight tournament final. Katona (7-0, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-26 marks from all three judges.
Cucciniello (8-1, 0-1 UFC) was in over his head. Katona sat him down with a left hook in the first round and did the same in the second before bringing takedowns into the equation. The 26-year-old Canadian grounded, pounded and controlled Cucciniello for a majority of the second and third rounds. Katona nearly finished it in the waning moments of Round 3, as he transitioned from full mount to the back and flattened out his counterpart before administering some ground-and-pound, hunting a potential choke and settling for a lopsided decision.
Caceres Edges Relentless Bravo
“The Ultimate Fighter 12” quarterfinalist Alex Caceres won for the second time in three outings, as he was awarded a split decision over Martin Bravo in a featured confrontation at 145 pounds. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Caceres.
Caceres (14-11, 9-9 UFC) did his best work inside the first 10 minutes. The MMA Lab export countered effectively at times in the first round and dazed Bravo twice with left hands in the second, where he also mixed in a takedown and a spinning backfist. Caceres’ pace dipped noticeably in Round 3. There, Bravo (11-2, 1-2 UFC) sent his mouthpiece flying with a two-punch combination, backed him up with relentless forward pressure and continued to fire punches with both hands. Unfortunately for the Entram Gym representative, his efforts went unrewarded.
Bravo, 24, has lost back-to-back bouts after starting his career 11-0.
Modafferi Elbows Vanquish Honchak
Syndicate MMA standout Roxanne Modafferi put away former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Barb Honchak with a volley of second-round elbows in their women’s flyweight rematch. Honchak (10-4, 0-2 UFC), who had never before been finished, succumbed to blows 3:32 into Round 2.
Modafferi (22-14, 1-2 UFC) answered crisp punching combinations from the Pat Miletich protégé with a takedown in the first round, settled in half guard and scored with ground-and-pound. In the second, she countered an ill-advised takedown attempt from Honchak, landed in full mount and went to work with punches and elbows. Modafferi later climbed to mount a second time and unleashed a sustained burst of elbows that prompted referee Marc Goddard to act.
The win avenged Modafferi’s October 2011 submission loss to Honchak.
Di Chirico Outpoints Overweight Marquez
Alessio Di Chirico recorded his second straight win, as he eked out a split decision over Syndicate MMA’s Julian Marquez in a three-round middleweight showcase. Judges Adalaide Byrd and Sal D’Amato struck 29-28 scorecards for Di Chirico, while Dave Hagen saw it 30-27 for Marquez.
Di Chirico (12-2, 3-2 UFC) stunned and nearly floored his counterpart with an overhand right in the first round and later executed a takedown. Marquez (7-2, 1-1 UFC) turned up the heat in the middle stanza, as he punched forward, threatened with a guillotine choke and answered a takedown with a kimura-to-armbar transition. He resumed his attack in the third round and cracked Di Chirico with clubbing right hands. However, the wily Italian interrupted Marquez’s advances with a pair of takedowns and did enough to sway the judges.
The loss snapped a five-fight winning streak for Marquez, who missed weight for the match by four pounds.
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