A sudden last-minute change on Saturday caused UFC’s “Fight Night” card to take place without a five-round main event.
An undisclosed medical issue for heavyweight Derrick Lewis took him out of an expected main event booking against Serghei Spivac. The fight was scheduled to headline a show from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
The official medical issue for Lewis is unknown. However, it was noted on the UFC broadcast that his circumstance was unrelated to COVID-19 or weight-cut issues.
Lewis was aiming to end his 2022 on a high note after struggling earlier this year. The two-time title challenger suffered a pair of finish losses in recent months, getting stopped by Tai Tuviasa and Sergei Pavlovich.
The fight was scheduled to be Spivac’s first UFC main event opportunity. This came after earning two stoppage wins this year.
It is not known at the moment whether a fight between Lewis and Spivac will be re-booked for a later date.
Nzechukwu Prevails In Unexpected Main Event Spot
Thrown into the main event spotlight on short notice, Kennedy Nzechukwu picked up a second-round finish over Magomed Ankalaev.
A series of knees from Nzechukwu hurt Ankalaev and eventually helped bring the fight to its end.
Nzechukwu notably landed a knee up against the cage that hurt Ankalaev. He followed up on this blow with a series of punches to a grounded Ankalaev, causing the fight to end eventually.
Nzechukwu is now on a two-fight winning streak, with a victory over Karl Roberson also being part of his ongoing streak.
The result added to a rough year for Cutelaba. He has now suffered three consecutive finish losses, with the other two coming via submission in the first round.
Cortes-Acosta Remains Undefeated, Earns Second Win Within A Month’s Time
Waldo Cortes-Acosta kept his undefeated pro record intact in the co-main event spot of the evening, using his boxing skills to defeat Chase Sherman on scorecards.
A tough Sherman was able to endure all three rounds of a fight where Cortes-Acosta significantly out-landed him. However, by the end, he had a wide margin on scorecards and no chance of winning.
Sherman was most active with leg kicks, which would connect on Cortes-Acosta. Cortes-Acosta mostly cared to land hard, impactful punches throughout the fight to earn a comfortable lead on scorecards.
Sherman was in the most trouble during the second round, looking wobbled and near being finished. The fatigue of Cortes-Acosta later in the fight possibly slowed the pace of the battle, allowing Sherman to remain in the contest.
Cortes-Acosta has now scored nine wins as a pro. He won his UFC debut late last month, overcoming Jared Vanderaa on scorecards. He wanted a quick turnaround after his win Saturday, offering to compete again in early December.
Sherman’s current UFC stint, which first kicked off in 2020, now has a total of two wins and five losses.
Salikhov Returns With Late Finish
Muslim Salikhov stopped tough welterweight Andre Fialho in the third round of their bout, putting together enough clean shots to make the referee step in and end the fight.
Salikhov started to take over the fight in the second round. He got Fialho to the ground at one point, using that position to land a long series of ground and pound shots.
The fight came to an end in the final round after Salikhov landed with a few kicks. Fialho briefly got seated by a spinning back kick to the body. Shortly after, that same kick connected to his head, visibly rocking him. The referee stopped the fight after Salikhov landed another clean right hook to Fialho.
Salikhov suffered a loss in his previous appearance against Li Jingliang. His UFC record is now an impressive six wins and two losses.
Fialho’s busy rookie year in the UFC has now likely come to an end. He competed five times in 2022, earning two wins and three losses.
Della Maddalena Earns Third Consecutive UFC Win, Calls For Fight In Australia
Welterweight prospect Jack Della Maddalena had another impressive showing this weekend, putting away veteran Danny Roberts in the first round with strikes.
Della Maddalena finished the fight late in the opening round with a series of punches to the body and head of Roberts.
Roberts shelled up against the cage while absorbing punches from Della Maddalena, eventually crumbling to the canvas and causing the fight to end.
Della Maddalena earned a knockdown earlier in the fight, getting Roberts down with a clean right uppercut.
Della Maddalena has now put away all three of his UFC opponents within a round. Earlier this year he made a splash with victories over Pete Rodriguez and Ramazan Emeev.
After the fight, Della Maddalena called for a fight at UFC 284 in his home country of Australia.
Roberts was fighting to come back from a decision loss that he took against Francisco Trinaldo earlier this year. Before then, he had two consecutive wins in the UFC cage.
Johnson Makes Comeback To Earn First UFC Win
Charles Johnson picked up his first UFC win to open the main card, prevailing in a close striking battle against flyweight Zhalgas Zhumagulov in a split decision outcome.
Johnson slowly turned the fight around after starting slow. The sharp striking of Zhumagulov likely earned him the first round of the bout, although the output of Johnson increased later on and allowed him to take two rounds.
The final frame in particular was a strong performance from Johnson, pressing forward and clearly looking for a finish against a tiring Zhumagulov.
Zhumagulov frequently connected with leg kicks in the fight. These shots added up for him and caused Johnson to slip and look visibly hurt during the third round.
The fight was paused on four different instances due to unintentional fouls being committed. Neither fighter had a point deducted after the one eye poke and three groin strikes that connected during the 15 minutes of competition.
Johnson, a former LFA champion, lost his UFC debut earlier this year against Muhammad Mokaev.
Zhumagulov has now lost three consecutive losses. Previous defeats saw him drop a split decision to Jeff Molina and get finished by Manel Kape.
The Rest of the Card
The striking skills of former title challenger Jennifer Maia paved the way for her to earn a unanimous decision win against Maryna Moroz.
Miles Johns bounced back from his second-ever loss on the prelims with a decision victory over Vince Morales. Johns mentioned after that coach James Krause, who has recently been criticized for his conflict of interest gambling on MMA outcomes, was not allowed to be in his corner for this event and is currently serving a UFC suspension.
Ricky Turcios returned to the win column in an incredibly back-and-forth battle against Kevin Natividad, prevailing via split decision in the end. The bantamweight contest saw both fighters have close moments with their grappling and striking.
Vanessa Demopoulos put together her third consecutive strawweight win on Saturday night, winning a scrappy stand-up battle against Maria Oliveira.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 29 alum Brady Hiestand scored his first UFC victory on Saturday, using his ground control skills to defeat Fernie Garcia via unanimous decision.
Natalia Silva scored a highlight-reel finish for her second UFC win, flooring Tereza Bleda with a spinning back kick to the head before finishing the fight on the ground. Bleda was making her UFC debut with an undefeated record of six wins.
Main Card (4:00PM EST / 1:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass Canada)
Bout 11: Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Ion Cutelaba via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 1:02)
Bout 10: Waldo Cortes-Acosta def. Chase Sherman via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 9: Muslim Salikhov def. Andre Fialho via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 1:03)
Bout 8: Jack Della Maddalena def. Danny Roberts via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:24)
Bout 7: Charles Johnson def. Zhaglas Zhumagulov via Decision, Split
Preliminary Card (1:00PM EST / 10:00AM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass Canada)
Bout 6: Jennifer Maia def. Maryna Moroz via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 5: Miles Johns def. Vince Morales via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Ricky Turcios def. Kevin Natividad via Decision, Split
Bout 3: Vanessa Demopoulos def. Maria Oliveira via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Brady Hiestand def. Fernie Garcia via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 1: Natalia Silva def. Tereza Bleda via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 1:27)