UFC Fight Night 131 Standout Performances

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The UFC octagon returned to New York, this time to “The City That God Forgot”, UticaUFC Fight Night 131 went down last night, as the main event featured two of the top bantamweights in the world: Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes. Plus, in a lightweight co-main event, undefeated Gregor Gillespie took on Vinc Pichel. More than half of the card ended in a finish, but only five can make this list.

Check out the UFC Fight Night 131 Standout Performances as we break down the top five performances from the UFC’s night in Utica.

UFC Fight Night 131 Standout Performances

#1: Marlon Moraes def. Jimmie Rivera via Knockout (Head Kick and Punches) at 0:33 of Round 1

UTICA, NY – JUNE 01: Marlon Moraes of Brazil celebrates after defeating Jimmie Rivera in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Adirondack Bank Center on June 1, 2018 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

These two fighters have been going back and forth ever since their rumored fight at UFC 219. When Dominick Cruz and John Lineker were forced out of their respective fights with Jimmie Rivera, Moraes was the rumored replacement. A set weight couldn’t be determined and the fight fell through. Throughout that week, both fighters went back and forth on social media:

Luckily for these two fighters, they both finally agreed to headline the UFC’s debut in Utica, New York. They would now have five rounds to settle their rivalry.

Coming into the fight, Rivera was riding a twenty fight win streak that lasted ten years. The most recent of those victories came against Thomas Almeida at UFC on Fox 25. Moraes was coming off his second straight victory as he knocked out Aljamain Sterling at UFC Fight Night 123 in December. A win for either man would put them in a position to fight the winner of the title fight between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt at UFC 227.

Round One

The two met in the middle, and to no one’s surprise, did not touch gloves. The fight started with a brief feeling out process. The first strike thrown was a leg kick from Marlon Moraes, one of his specialty techniques. As a few more seconds went by, both fighters feinted with their jabs.

Immediately after, Moraes threw a switch kick that went right over the guard of Rivera and landed on the top of his head. Rivera fell to the mat and Moraes jumped on him immediately. He connected with hard ground and pound that forced the ref to stop the fight. Moraes earned the biggest win in his career and snapped Rivera’s 20-fight win streak in just 33 seconds. After the fight, he begged for a title shot, and it’ll be hard to deny him one with his last two performances.

#2: Ben Saunders def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (Body Knee) at 1:56 of Round 1

UTICA, NY – JUNE 01: (L-R) Ben Saunders reacts after finishing Jake Ellenberger in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Adirondack Bank Center on June 1, 2018 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Coming into this fight, Jake Ellenberger had suffered his second straight loss at the hands of the heavy hitting Mike Perry. That fight took place in April of last year at UFC Fight Night 108, which made it over a year since Ellenberger last stepped in the octagon.

Opposite of him was Ben Saunders, who was coming off a fight of the night, knockout loss to Alan Jouban. The fight took place at UFC on Fox 28 back in February.

Round One

The fight started with Ben Saunders throwing a couple head kicks, using his long legs to keep distance. As the fight continued, Ellenberger was backing Saunders up, without throwing any strikes.

A little over a minute into the round, Saunders threw another head kick that was caught by Ellenberger. He threw some counter punches and backed Saunders up to the fence. There, they found themselves in a clinch battle. Saunders threw a couple of knees to the head of Ellenberger early.

They continued in the clinch as Ellenberger began to throw some punches, but Saunders kept throwing knees. Saunders connected with some knees to the body as they began walking towards the center before finding themselves on the fence again. It was there that Saunders threw the fight ending knee that connected to the body of Ellenberger, sending him crumbling to the mat. Saunders connected with a couple grounded strikes before the ref stepped in to stop the fight.

#3: Nathaniel Wood def. Johnny Eduardo via Submission (D’arce Choke) at 2:18 of Round 2

UTICA, NY – JUNE 01: Nathaniel Wood of England reacts after defeating Johnny Eduardo of Brazil by submission in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Adirondack Bank Center on June 1, 2018 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Prior to this fight, Johnny Eduardo was coming off a loss to Matthew Lopez at UFC 212 last June. His opponent, UFC newcomer, Nathaniel Wood was riding five straight victories. The most recent coming in March against Luca Iovine at Cage Warriors 92.

Round One

The fight started with a touch of gloves and the two exchanged leg kicks. They continued as Eduardo threw a kick that was caught by Wood. Wood landed a couple of good punches as the two found themselves in the clinch. As they broke apart, Eduardo landed a good punch as the two met in the center once again. The two kept exchanging as Wood continued to land solid leg kicks, while Eduardo was landing the better punches.

Wood rushed in and landed a strong combination that ended with a stiff left hand. After that exchange, Eduardo threw a counter punch that knocked Wood off balance but he was able to stay standing. The two continued to trade until Eduardo landed a good left-right combo that wobbled Wood. Eduardo closed the distance, landing to the body, then to the head and bloodying the nose of Wood. He continued the pressure as he landed multiple right hands as Wood’s nose swelled up quickly, likely broken.

The horn sounded and it seemed that Eduardo had clearly won the round, giving him the advantage going into round two.

Round Two

The round began as Eduardo lunged in swinging, hoping to connect, but missed on every attempt. The two exchanged punches as Eduardo landed on Wood, causing him to back up, covering his eye. The ref let Wood know that it was a punch and not a poke as the action continued.

The two circled around the center of the octagon as each man continued throwing solid shots that were connecting. About a minute and a half into the round, Eduardo lunged in for a takedown, but Wood stuffed it easily.

Wood found himself on top as he was already looking to lock up a d’arce choke. He tried flipping Eduardo over to finish the choke, but couldn’t roll him over as Eduardo was defending well. Wood continued to attack the choke, thinking eventually Eduardo will put himself in the wrong position. He was right, as Eduardo rolled over, locking in the choke for Wood as the tap came seconds later.

#4: Gregor Gillespie def. Vinc Pichel via Submission (Arm Triangle) at 4:06 of Round 2

UTICA, NY – JUNE 01: Gregor Gillespie celebrates after submitting Vinc Pichel in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Adirondack Bank Center on June 1, 2018 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Coming into the fight, undefeated Gregor Gillespie was coming off his 11th straight win. That win was over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC on Fox 27 back in January, as he finished the fight in the first round. His opponent, Vinc Pichel, recently fought on the same night, defeating Joaquim Silva by decision for his 4th straight win.

Round One

The round began and fifteen seconds in, Gillespie already landed his first takedown. He was able to use the cage to pass guard and took side control. With Gillespie on top, Pichel was still working, landing good punches. He landed an elbow that cut Gillespie early. Eventually, Pichel burst out from underneath him. This exposed Pichel to a front choke, but Gillespie gave it up and tried to circle to his back instead. This allowed Pichel to stand back up, avoiding a dangerous situation had Gillespie gotten his back.

The two stood back up as Gillespie threw a hard knee and then broke the clinch, throwing a good combination. As soon as he finished his combo, he shot in for another takedown, eventually dragging Pichel down. They stood up again and Gillespie landed another knee and then shot in once again. Gillespie found himself in a good position and threw down some ground and pound before ending up in Pichel’s guard. As Gillespie was in half guard, he looked at trying for an arm triangle before quickly giving it up.

He used the arm triangle attempt to quickly pass into full mount. Once he got into the mount, he looked to attack the arm triangle again. But he ended up having to let it go once again. Pichel scrambled out, allowing Gillespie to look for yet another front choke. Just as before, he decided to try and circle to take the back, allowing Pichel to stand up. They stood up and Gillespie landed a knee once again on the break.

This time, the two met in the middle instead of the fight going back to the ground again. They weren’t in the center for long as Gillespie shot for another takedown, but Pichel was able to stay standing.

Gillespie shot in for another takedown, and this one was defended as well. That didn’t stop Gillespie from trying to finish it as he used his second effort to get Pichel down once again. With about 17 seconds left, Gillespie began to attack an anaconda choke, but the round ended. Round one was a clear dominant win for Gregor going into the second.

Round Two

The round started, and 20 seconds in, Gillespie was back in for another takedown. Pichel scrambled, allowing Gillespie to be in the front choke position before circling to the back, a prevalent pattern in this bout. This time, Gillespie finally got Pichel’s back.

Pichel repeatedly returned to his feet, but Gillespie was persistent in returning him to the mat, and Pichel eventually rolled over, giving Gillespie side control. Gillespie tried to pass to full mount but instead found himself in Pichel’s half guard. After a few more pass attempts, Gillespie locked in an arm triangle that forced Pichel to tap. Gillespie dominated the entire fight en route to the finish.

#5: Julio Arce def. Daniel Teymur via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:55 of Round 3

UTICA, NY – JUNE 01: Julio Arce celebrates after submitting Daniel Teymur of Sweden in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Adirondack Bank Center on June 1, 2018 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Coming into the fight, Julio Arce was riding a six-fight win streak. The most recent of those wins coming at UFC 220 in January against Dan Ige. His opponent, Daniel Teymur, came into the fight coming off the first loss of his career. That loss coming against Danny Henry at UFC Fight Night 113.

Round One

The first didn’t see all that much action. Both fighters were utilizing their kicks for the most part, to the legs, body, and head. Most punch attempts were met with little success. With about a minute and a half left in the round, the two found themselves in the clinch. There, Teymur landed a couple knees and attempted to trip Arce before the two broke apart.

Round Two

In the second round, Arce began to gain some momentum. He started landing his punches and continued with his accurate kicks. As Arce continued to land, Teymur also was coming on strong with some nice leg kicks. But Arce seemed to be getting the better out of the striking game in this round.

At one point, they were locked up in the clinch on the fence where Teymur tried getting him down again, before separating. With about a minute and a half left in the round, the two found themselves in the clinch again. Teymur landed a couple good body knees before breaking the clinch with a good looking combo.

It wasn’t too long after until they locked up again. Teymur changed levels, looking for a single leg takedown. As he kept working for the takedown, Arce was landing good punches to his body and head.

Teymur let go of Arce’s leg and Arce looked to lock in a d’arce choke. He couldn’t lock it in as the two separated and met in the center. They spent the last thirty seconds there and the round ended with a spinning backfist from Teymur.

Round Three

The beginning of round three looked a lot like round one. Both men were effective with a kick-heavy offense. Teymur looked to be the aggressor in this round as he may have been down 2-0.

About a minute and a half into the round, the two closed the distance and landed good uppercuts on each other before breaking apart. Teymur threw a leg kick, and Arce caught it and threw Teymur down to the mat. As Arce came down on top of Teymur, he landed some good punches to his grounded opponent.

As Teymur attempted to scramble to his feet, Arce took his back immediately. For the next minute, Arce was fighting to lock in the rear naked choke. Teymur was doing a good job at defending the submission, but Arce was eventually able to lock it up. Teymur tried to fight the hands to get out of the choke, but it was just too tight as he was forced to tap.

Next Week

Yet another debut for the UFC is in the books as UFC Fight Night 131 went down in Utica, New York. We saw an outstanding performance in the main event as it took only 33 seconds for Marlon Moraes to knock out Jimmie Rivera. Moraes is hoping to get the next title shot, and he has definitely earned it as he proved he’s one of the best bantamweights in the world.

In the co-main event, we saw another great performance as Gregor Gillespie dominated Vinc Pichel. The decisions may not have been the most entertaining, but the finishes sure were. These were the top five standout performances from the UFC’s night in upstate New York.

Next week, the UFC returns to pay per view as one of the most anticipated cards of the year, UFC 225, goes down from Chicago. In the main event, we see a middleweight title rematch between the champion, Robert Whittaker, takes on the #1 contender, Yoel Romero. Their first fight went down at UFC 213 as Whittaker defeated Romero via unanimous decision. Since then, Romero went out and defeated the former champion, Luke Rockhold, with a brutal knockout at UFC 221. Injuries have forced Whittaker to sit out since their first fight, but he’s healthy and ready now to defend his title.

In the co-main event, former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos, takes on Colby Covington for the interim welterweight title. The two have been exchanging words since the announcement of their fight. They will settle it in the octagon with a shot at the champion, Tyron Woodley, on the line.

So, join me next week as we look back on what promises to be an exciting card from Chicago. We will determine the five standout performances from the card and rank them one through five.

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Discovered the UFC and the sport of MMA the night Nate Diaz upset Conor McGregor and since then I have been a die hard fan and have rarely missed a fight.

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