The UFC Fight Night 159 (informally known as UFC Mexico) main card had one knockout, one no contest, and three decisions. Join us as we delve into each main card bout, fight-by-fight.
UFC Fight Night 159 Main Card Recap
Jeremy Stephens vs Yair Rodriguez
Yair Rodriguez scraped Jeremy Stephens’ eye in the opening seconds of the fight. Although it didn’t look like he had been gouged, Stephens could be heard saying “he got me good.” Judging by the replay, Rodriguez scratched Stephen’s eye with a pawing or swiping maneuver. Despite being given all of five minutes to recover, Stephens was unable to open his eye. The damage had already been done. The ringside doctor had no choice but to stop the fight. People in the crowd began throwing bottles into the octagon in protest of the unfortunate situation. As disappointing as it was to have this fight end just seconds in, it would be much worse if Stephens had any permanent damage to his eye. Reports indicate that he should make a full recovery.
Carla Esparza vs Alexa Grasso
Alexa Grasso and Carla Esparza both came into this fight 2-2 in their last four. The two top-ranked straw weights had some interesting scrambles in the first round. Esparza was able to finish two of her four takedown attempts. But Grasso was able to stand the fight back up on both occasions. The second round was similar. Esparza was able to take the fight to the ground and Grasso was able to land some decent strikes. Grasso appeared to twist her ankle. But by the third round, she seemed completely unfazed by it.
Grasso rattled Esparza in the third round but failed to turn up the heat while Esparza was wobbled. After recovering, Esparza was able to get top position on the ground with Grasso. Grasso worked from the bottom and put Esparza in a painful-looking armbar. But Esparza refused to quit fighting. After her arm was twisted like spliced wire, she eventually got back into top position. The fighters stood up for the final 22 seconds of the fight. Esparza began throwing punches with her damaged arm as if nothing had happened. Grasso seemed to be getting the better of the final exchange on the feet. Both women showed tremendous skill and heart. But in the end, there could only be one winner. One judge scored the fight a draw. The other two judges scored it 29-28 for Carla Esparza.
Brandon Moreno vs Askar Askarov
Hailing from Dagestan, Askar Askarov was far from home. Undefeated in ten professional fights, he would be facing his toughest challenge to date. His opponent was the number nine ranked UFC flyweight, Brandon Moreno.
The first round was competitive. Askarov was able to display some of his grappling abilities and Moreno was able to land some decent shots. It really could have gone either way. The second round saw the tides shift in Moreno’s favor. Moreno even dropped Askarov with a left head kick, but Askarov was able to get ahold of Moreno’s legs and wait out the final seconds of the round. Moreno seemed to maintain control of the third round. He threatened Askarov with a rear-naked-choke submission, but the Dagestani was able to defend against it successfully. In the end, the judges declared the fight a split draw.
Irene Aldana vs Vanessa Melo
Although this fight was to be contested at bantamweight, Vanessa Melo came in at 140 pounds. Irene Aldana ultimately chose to take the fight at a catchweight and she didn’t disappoint. Aldana landed numerous kicks and displayed crisp boxing throughout the three-round contest. Vanesa Melo advanced in the face of adversity, albeit with limited success. At the end of the three-round affair, Irene Aldana was the clear victor. After this most-recent win in front of her home country, she has won four of her last five fights. Perhaps her next opponent will be in the top 10.
Martin Bravo vs Steven Peterson
Martin Bravo came into UFC Fight Night 159 on a two-fight losing streak. Steven Peterson had gone 1-3 in his last four. Both men had all the motivation in the world to throw all they had at one another. Bravo implemented a high paced attack, throwing 167 strikes in the first round. At the high altitude of Mexico City, this strategy is both impressive and effective.
Peterson was more than willing to trade on the feed. In fact, Bravo tried to nullify some of the chaos with takedowns in the first and second rounds. But Peterson was able to quickly get back to the feet each time. This would be a game-changer in the second round. Peterson was able to stand up and finish Bravo shortly thereafter. Steven Peterson hit Martin Bravo with a vicious spinning back fist right as Bravo attempted his own spinning back fist. Bravo was immediately unconscious upon impact. Steven Peterson followed up with a hammer fist and was pulled off of his opponent. The finish is a new contender for knockout of the year.