In celebration of International Fight Week, the UFC has taken over glimmering Las Vegas, Nevada with a whirlwind of three cards in three nights. The first of these cards, which went down Thursday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, was UFC Fight Night 90.
Headlined by a title fight between UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos and former Bellator lightweight king Eddie Alvarez, the 12-fight card aired entirely on UFC Fight Pass, and featured impressive showings from prospects, veterans, and contenders alike.
Here’s a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
Alvarez Crowned King with First Round TKO
The main event of the evening pitted lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos with challenger Eddie Alvarez in the first of fight week’s four title fights. Given the skillsets of the two men, this one looked like it could be a real war of attrition. It was not.
From the moment the bout began, Dos Anjos plowed forward with his patented hyper-aggression, while Alvarez looked to circle out of danger. Less than four minutes into the first round, however, Alvarez did what the likes of Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz could not: he wobbled Dos Anjos with a punch. And when he did, he did not let up. Pouring it on with a salvo of punches—and even a flying knee attempt—Alvarez eventually cornered his wounded foe against the cage for a standing TKO.
The first-round win marks the climax of one of the longest journeys to UFC gold in the history of our sport. After years near the top of the lightweight division, Eddie Alvarez is finally a UFC champ. With this title win, he moves to 28-4 overall, and 3-1 in the UFC.
And just like that, Dos Anjos’ unlikely reign as a fairly dominant UFC champ comes skittering to a halt. Brazil has also lost it’s last UFC champion—though that could change in any of Fight Week’s three remaining title fights. Now 25-8 overall, it’ll be interesting to see how Dos Anjos bounces back.
Lewis Fends Off Nelson for Split Decision Win
The co-main event of the evening occurred in the heavyweight division as brick-fisted TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson took on the absurdly powerful Derek Lewis. In an outcome that very few fans anticipated, this heavyweight slobberknocker made it all the way to the final bell.
Though Nelson completed 7 of his 10 attempted takedowns, and amassed almost 10 minutes of control time, he was ultimately hurt by his failure to mount any meaningful offense, landing just 4 significant strikes over the course of the three-round affair. Lewis, on the other hand, let his hands fly whenever he wasn’t on his back, and very nearly took Nelson’s head off a few times. In Vegas, the judges’ seemed to prefer Lewis’ strategy to Nelson’s takedown-heavy game plan, as they ultimately awarded “The Black Beast” a split decision victory.
With the win, the hulking Lewis trundles onto a four-fight streak, and appears to be closing in on a date with a top-ranked foe. He’s now 16-4 overall, and 7-2 in the UFC. Nelson, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after a February defeat of Jared Rosholt. He’s now 21-13 in total, and more worryingly, 1-4 in his last 5 bouts.
Jouban Outguns Muhammad in Welterweight Barnburner
Originally, model turned UFC welterweight Alan Jouban was expected to take on Nordine Taleb in Vegas. When Taleb withdrew from the bout with an injury, however, Jouban was forced to shift his focus to undefeated debutant Belal Muhammad.
As is so often the case of Jouban’s fights, this one was pure action.
The first two rounds saw Jouban drop his opponent three times, nearly finishing him on each occasion. Yet every time Muhammad hit the canvas, he would clamber back to his feet, baffling all onlookers with the sturdiness of his chin. Then, in round three, Muhammed forced a major momentum swing with some serious aggression of his own, wrapping things up by testing the durability of Jouban’s jaw. In the end, however, Jouban’s many successes in the first two rounds proved enough to earn him a unanimous decision win.
With the win, the part-time model moves onto a two-fight streak, further distancing himself from a knockout loss to Albert Tumenov last October. He’s now 14-4 overall, and 5-2 in the Octagon. Muhammad, meanwhile, tastes defeat for the first time and loses his UFC debut. That said, he seems to have a very bright future with the organization. He’s now 9-1 in total.
Duffy Dominates Clarke in 25 Seconds
The first bout of the main card came courtesy of the lightweight division as Irish Joe Duffy looked to rebound from a recent loss to Dustin Poirier, and Canada’s Mitch Clarke went on the hunt for his first victory since May of 2014.
It was an absolute blowout for the Irishman. Just seconds into the fight, Duffy sent his Canadian foe spinning face-first onto the canvas with a right over the top. Moments later, he was locking in a rear-naked choke as his dazed foe struggled to recover. The tap came at the 25-second mark of round 1.
With this blitzkrieg win, which is the fourth fastest sub in UFC lightweight history, Duffy rebounds from his loss to Poirier and reasserts himself as one of the game’s top lightweights. He’s now 15-2 overall, and 3-1 in the UFC. Clarke, meanwhile, falls onto a two-fight skid. The Canadian is now 11-4 in sum, and a tough 2-4 in the Octagon.
Mina Snuffs Pyle with Flying Knee
The prelims were wrapped up by an appealing welterweight scrap. In one corner we had mullet-rocking 40-year-old Mike Pyle, who looked to build on the momentum of a recent TKO of Sean Spencer. In the other, we had Alberto Mina, an undefeated Brazilian whose last bout saw him narrowly defeat Yoshihiro Akiyama.
This one was all Mina. After a strong first round, the Brazilian ended things in the second, first catching a kick, then polishing his retreating foe off with a rocket-fuelled flying knee and some follow-up punches.
With the dazzling knockout win, Mina moves to a solid 13-0, with all but one of his wins coming by way of stoppage. Though he is certainly no spring chicken at 34 years old, he continues to emerge as a prospect to watch in the ever-competitive welterweight division. Pyle, meanwhile, loses in his 40th pro fight. He’s now 27-12-1 overall.
Makdessi Edges Baghdad in Back-and-Forth Striking Battle
The second last bout of the undercard saw Canadian lightweight John Makdessi attempt to rebound from back-to-back losses. His opportunity to do so came against France’s Mehdi Baghdad, who was eager to return to the win column after a January loss to Chris Wade.
It was a razor-close contest. For three rounds, the two strikers traded on the feet, with Baghdad attempting more strikes, Makdessi throwing with greater accuracy, and both men landing just over 85 total strikes a piece. In the end, however, the judges gave Makdessi the split nod.
The split decision marks Makdessi’s first win since April of 2015. The Canadian is now 14-5 overall, and 7-5 in the Octagon. Baghdad, meanwhile, is winless in his first two bouts with the UFC—though the competitive nature of this one means it barely qualifies as a loss. He’s now 11-5 overall.
Birchak Outhustles Lopes in Wild Fight
When American bantamweight Anthony Birchak last stepped into the cage, he found himself on the receiving end of one of Thomas Almeida’s many highlight reel knockouts. In Vegas, he looked to bury that ugly memory with a big win over grappling aficionado Dileno Lopes.
Though Lopes’ was able to amass more than five minutes of control time, largely in the clinch, Birchak was able to stuff all but two of his foe’s 12 attempted takedowns. Birchak’s takedown defense, when coupled with his 101-35 striking advantage, would ultimately prove enough to sway the judges and earn him a split decision win.
With the victory, Birchak moves to 13-3 overall, and 2-2 in the UFC. Lopes, meanwhile, comes up short in his North American debut and will return to Brazil with an 18-3 overall record.
Munhoz Weathers Early Storm for First Round Sub
Back in 2014, Hawaiian bantamweight Russell Doane burst into the UFC with two straight wins. Since then, however, he’s experienced back-to-back losses at the hands of Iuri Alcantara and Jerrod Sanders. In Vegas, the Hawaiian looked to return to his winning ways opposite grappling whiz Pedro Munhoz.
It was a wild one while it lasted, as things began with Doane busting his foe up on the feet, tagging him repeatedly, and opening a cut on his hairline. Flaunting an incredible chin, however, Munhoz was able to weather the early storm and eventually jump into position for a first-round guillotine choke.
The submission win marks Munhoz’s first taste of victory since a May 2014 TKO of Matt Hobar. It moves him to a strong 12-2 overall, and 2-2 with one no contest in the UFC. Doane, on the other hand, suddenly finds himself on a three-fight skid. Now 14-6 overall, the Hawaiian will have to make his next bout count.
Arantes Forces Verbal Tap with Abrupt Armbar
The fourth bout of the evening paired 28-year-old Brazilian Felipe Arantes with 35-year-old American Jerrod Sanders in an intriguing clash of experienced bantamweights.
Though this one initially looked like it might come down to Sanders’ stifling top game, Arantes instead reminded the world just how deadly his bottom game is with a lightning-fast armbar win in the second. Capitalizing on the briefest of unguarded moments from his American foe, the Brazilian extended the arm to a chorus of verbal taps.
With the armbar win—which is his second in a row—Arantes moves to 18-7-1 overall, and 5-3-1 in the UFC. Sanders, meanwhile, loses by submission for the first time since March of 2011. He’s now 15-3 overall and 1-2 with one no contest in the UFC.
Burns Bounces Back with Big Win Over Sajewski
Last November, lightweight prospect Gilbert Burns experience the first loss of his promising pro career, coming up short to Rashid Magomedov. In Vegas, Burns attempted to rebound from that first bit of adversity opposite Poland’s Lukasz Sajewski.
Burns bounced back in the biggest possible way. First rocking his Polish foe on the feet, the Blackzilians rep then threatened with a guillotine, before dragging the fight to the canvas, where he locked up an armbar with just three seconds left in the first round.
With the armbar win, which is his third in the UFC, Burns ties Jeremy Horn, Dustin Hazelett and Ronda Rousey for the second-most armbar wins in UFC history. Only Royce Gracie has more wins of this kind at four.
In victory, Burns is now a strong 11-1 overall and 4-1 in the UFC. Sajewski, meanwhile, experiences the first stoppage loss of his 15-fight career. He’s now 13-2 overall, and a tough 0-2 in his first two UFC bouts.
Submission Win Pushes Beltran to 3-0 in the UFC
Bout two occurred in the men’s bantamweight division, as Mexico’s Marco Beltran took on Brazilian submission machine Reginaldo Vieira.
Despite Vieira’s grappling accolades, it was ultimately Beltran who would lock up the sub. After rattling his foe with an onslaught of crackling strikes—including several up-kicks—the Mexican prospect was able to seal the deal with a rear-naked choke in round two.
Now 3-0 in the UFC, Beltran is following in the footsteps of his training partner Yair Rodriguez, not just in the way he’s racking up wins, but in his propensity for spectacle. He’s now 8-3 in sum, while his vanquished foe is now 13-4 in total, and 1-1 in the UFC.
Luque Locks up D’Arce in the Second
Fight week’s action began in the welterweight division as Vicente Luque and Alvaro Herrera collided in an intriguing clash of TUF veterans. The story of this one was Luque’s grappling. Over the course of the bout, the Brazilian fighter was able to control his Mexican opponent on the mat, where he softened him up with short elbows before locking up an D’Arce choke in the second.
With the submission win, Luque moves onto a two-fight streak, having tapped Hayder Hassan with an anaconda choke last December. He’s now 2-1 in the UFC and 9-5-1 overall. Herrera, meanwhile, is now 9-4 overall, 1-1 in the UFC.
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