Prelims from Mandalay Bay air on Facebook, FX
LAS VEGAS – HeavyMMA is at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for Saturday’s UFC 143 pay-per-view. We’ll have live round-by-round and fight-by-fight coverage of each bout on the preliminary card right here starting at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Action on the preliminary card includes a welterweight bout between newcomers Dan Stittgen and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, featherweight contender Dustin Poirier vs. Max Hollway and TUF fan favorite Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa. So be sure to return here for coverage of all the preliminary card fights. The night’s first two fights stream at the UFC’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. Eastern, followed by a two-hour FX prelims special at 8 p.m. leading into the pay-per-view.
Dan Stittgen vs. Stephen Thompson
Thompson Twitter: @WonderboyMMA
Round 1: Early leg kick from Thompson, then to the body. Interesting leg kick from Thompson thrown from a sideways angle. Stittgen looking for an opening, but Thompson charges in and backs him up. Leg kick from Thompson, then two high kicks that just miss. Stittgen again rushes and backs Thompson up. Spinning back kick from Thompson backs Stittgen up. It’s all kicks from Thompson, and he lands two more, and a third. Stittgen lands a good leg kick. Another spinning back kick t the body. And then just like that, Thompson lands a head kick right to Stittgen’s face and then BAM. It’s over. Stittgen had no clue the kick was coming until the kick had landed.
Result: Stephen Thompson def. Dan Stittgen, knockout, 4:13 Round 1
Rafael Natal vs. Michael Kuiper
Natal Twitter: @rafaelsaponatal | Kuiper Twitter: @kuipermma
Round 1: Natal pushes into Kuiper early and bullies the fight to the floor. As they pop up, he looks for a guillotine, but it’s not there. After they clinch for a minute, they break apart, but Natal almost immediately looks for the takedown again. And after a swing and miss from Kuiper, Natal again shoots and drops his opponent. Kuiper powers back to his feet, but Natal again forces the action to the ground and looks for some openings from half guard with pressed against the fence. Kuiper tries to roll out and does, but back on the feet, he again swings and misses – and again Natal takes him down. After a few seconds on the ground, Kuiper is ale to power out and reverse. He lands a couple nice shots from on top. But Natal reverses and briefly gets an arm. It’s a 10-9 round for Natal on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: We’ll see if Natal goes right back to the takedowns in Round 2. Kuiper lands a nice kick and Natal follows with some strikes. But Kuiper is backing Natal up now. Kuiper is landing some decent punches here, and he lands some good shots inside in the clinch. Natal looks worn out, and Kuiper answers a Natal combo with a left of his own. Both guys land two nice punches. Natal teeps, and Kuiper just misses a high kick. Spinning back first from Natal is followed by another, and Kuiper continues to walk forward. With 90 seconds left, Natal is winging some punches, but they’re landing. Big right from Kuiper. Kuiper misses a roundhouse left, and Natal looks for a takedown that is stuffed pretty easily this time. But he stays with it and gets the takedown into half guard as the round nears the end. Kuiper landed some good shots this round, but Heavy gives it 10-9 to Natal.
Round 3: Leg kick from Natal. But a right hand from Kuiper lands and drops Natal right to his knees. Natal survives for now, but Natal is in trouble. Natal has no energy to defend. Kuiper is trying to pick his punches wisely. Steve Mazzagatti is right on top of them. He’s taking some big shots, but Natal is able to get back to guard. Kuiper not doing a ton of work, and Natal is able to get back to his feet. He looks for a takedown, and he gets a gentle one. Kuiper also tired, and Natal gets a beautiful pickup and slams Kuiper right into side control. He tries to pass to full mount, but it’s not there. But finally, he gets it. He’s got a minute to try to close things out from on top. Natal is looking for an arm triangle, and he’s got it. It’s locked in. Natal trying to finish. Kuiper hanging on. Miraculously, Kuiper survives the round. Kuiper won the first half of the round, but Natal came on strong after the slam and he’s going to get the round on our card, and 30-27 in the fight.
Result: Rafael Natal def. Michael Kuiper, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Matthew Riddle vs. Henry Martinez
Riddle Twitter: @riddletuf7
Round 1: Big early swing from Martinez, the newcomer to the UFC. Big height advantage for Riddle, who eats a kick to the body. Martinez hanging in there nicely as Riddle peppers some jabs. They get in tight on each other and trade punches inside. Martinez with a nice combo to the body. After they dance, Martinez lands some really nice shots, and then again – though Riddle answers with a big one. Martinez really is holding his own nicely and is showing no signs of jitters in his first UFC fight. He backs Riddle up with a right, and again they quickly dirty box before separating. Riddle JUST misses a knee as the round craws to a close. Martinez landed the more effective shots in the round, and he gets it 10-9 on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Good side kick from Riddle after some fakes from each guy. Riddle tries to get inside and he eats some good short punches. Body kick from Riddle. But Martinez continues to get inside and lands short punches that are starting to add up. Good right from Riddle, then a head kick that just misses. He tries to clinch, but Martinez quickly gets out of there. Good shot from Martinez, who now has Riddle’s nose bloodied. High kick from Riddle is blocked, but he lands a pair of kicks to the body and just misses a front kick. Riddle eats a right, then just misses a head kick and lands some good shots, including a front kick. They absolutely completely brawl at the end of the round and Riddle is jacked up with excitement. He high-fives Martinez after the horn and begins jumping around the cage to get the crowd into a quick frenzy. He’s trying to steal the round, and he comes close. But Heavy is going with Martinez again, 10-9.
Round 3: Riddle comes out aggressive and lands some good kicks. Then a left jab sneaks through and Martinez’s face is now floodied up as well. Good body kick from Riddle, and he has gotten the momentum to swing in his favor. The question is, can he put Martinez away this round, because it’s possible he’s behind 2-0 on the cards. Another great body kick from Riddle, and another. Then a front kick to the body. Martinez throws a kick that Riddle catches and takes the fight to the ground. Martinez looks for an omoplata that isn’t there, and Riddle takes his back. He’s got 2:30 to get something done. Martinez powers to his feet, but Riddle lands a nice kick as they break. Riddle gets things to the ground and is working out of guard, landing some good ground and pound with 40 seconds left. Big elbows coming down with 20 seconds. Martinez is trying to defend, and Riddle is landing only sporadically as the round closes. It’s a 10-9 round for Riddle, but Heavy has Martinez the 29-28 winner in the fight – which is going to be close and could be a split.
Result: Matthew Riddle def. Henry Martinez, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Matt Brown vs. Chris Cope
Brown Twitter: @IamTheImmortal | Cope Twitter: @chriscope5
Round 1: Early teep from Cope, and a leg kick from Brown. Cope swings over the top with a combination and Brown tries to come inside. They clinch up and trade positions along the fence as referee Kim Winslow looks in to check on the traded knees. Big knee from Brown as they split up, and then a nice jab from Brown on the other side of the cage. After Cope gets a little sloppy on a jab, Brown shoots and gets an easy takedown. Cope gets back to his feet and they tie up with Brown looking for knees. Cope turns things around and they trade knees. Brown reverses and tries to change levels for a takedown, but Cope stuffs it momentarily. Brown changes to a single and Cope bounces to keep his balance for a moment, but Brown gets the takedown. Cope pops right back up, but eats a knee. Cope has a nice little combination, then a good leg kick a few moments later. But HeavyMMA gives the first round to Brown, 10-9.
Round 2: Good right from Brown, then a body kick. Cope looks for an outside leg kick, then has a front kick blocked. Cope nearly takes Brown’s leg out. Then tries again and lands nicely, but Brown catches it and gets off some good shots before they break again. Then all of a sudden a right from Brown right to the ear, then a big left hook from Brown drops him. He’s hurt, and Brown gets inside, drops down and lands the shots on the ground to finish it off. Herb Dean gives Caceres a “strong warning.” Figueroa
Result: Matt Brown def. Chris Cope, knockout, 1:19 Round 2
Alex Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa
Caceres Twitter: @bruceleeroyglow
Round 1: Figueroa eats a kick from Caceres to open. Left hand from Caceres lands, but Figueroa lands a left and starts to rub his eye. But then Caceres lands an absolutely brutal left kick low blow. Just brutal. And Figueroa is down. There would be no shame if he couldn’t get back up. It’s one of the worst shots to the babymaker ever. But after Herb Dean talks to Figueroa, he gets up and punches the canvas. He stands up with about 90 seconds into his 5-minute recovery time. We restart, and Figueroa looks to throw some kicks of his own. Good left from Caceres. Then a right kick to the head that is half-blocked. But then Figueroa lands a massive head kick and drops Caceres. He’s hurt badly. Figueroa pounces and starts to land shots. But Figueroa can’t finish him, and Caceres is able to recover. Somehow Caceres is able to get FIgueroa’s back and looks for a rear naked choke, but it’s not there. Figueroa gets up. But Caceres again takes the back and is looking for a choke. He loses it with 1:10 left, but gets a body lock as Figueroa looks to get out. Full mount for Caceres, but Figueroa powers out. And again Caceres takes the back. But he’s not going to be able to finish him. What a turnaround in a crazy round. Caceres gets the 10-9 round on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: A couple of good kicks from Caceres to open the round, and Figueroa gives chase and lands a nice pair of shots of his own. Another head kick from Caceres, then a spinning back kick just misses – both coming after Figueroa complained of a low blow that wasn’t low enough and Dean wasn’t giving him time for. They scramble and again Figueroa gives chase. But once again, Caceres lands a low blow. Figueroa again gets time to recover. He’s going to use it all up this time. And Caceres is going to lose a point this time. They restart, and Caceres seems pretty irked. He lands a high kick and is going to keep coming forward. Then a big knee to the body and he follows it up with some big punches. He gets the fight back to the ground and begins to look for the rear naked choke with 2 minutes left in the frame. He’s going to keep working for it, but Figueroa gets out and turns things around. Caceres looks to grab an arm now that he’s turned back around on his back. But he can’t keep it. It would have been a 10-9 round for Caceres, but the point taken away makes it a 9-9 with Caceres up 19-18 after two on the Heavy card.
Round 3: Good teep from Caceres, and it’s followed by a high kick. Good spinning back kick from Caceres. Figueroa misses with a high kick. They scramble and Caceres works to get to Figueroa’s back. He does and he’s looking for a standing rear naked choke. He has to give it up, though, and Figueroa dumps him off momentarily. But Caceres is right back to his back and they’re seated against the fence. But Figueroa manages to get out and get on top. Does he have enough energy to steal the round, is the question. He doesn’t. It’s a 10-9 round for Caceres on the Heavy card and a 29-27 victory thanks to the point deduction.
Result: Edwin Figueroa def. Alex Caceres, split decision (28-27, 27-28, 28-27)
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway
Poirier Twitter: @DustinPoirier | Holloway Twitter: @BlessedMMA
Round 1: Poirier swings and misses, but Holloway just misses a a flying kick, then a flying knee just misses. Holloway again fakes with the flying knee. He’s staying right in the pocket. Poirier again misses, and a Holloway kick smacks off his arm. Spinning back kick from Holloway misses. And another flying knee from Holloway, but Poirier catches it and tries to shoot for a takedown. He gets a beautiful slam and passes to mount quickly. Some good shots from Poirier and Holloway briefly turns away from them, nearly giving his back. Poirier isolates an arm, and he’s bending Holloway’s arm back at a wicked angle. But somehow, Holloway spins out of it. But Poirier gets right back on top, traps the head and looks for a triangle. He grabs the arm again, pulls up and torques. It’s a gorgeous finishing move, and Holloway has to tap.
Result: Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway, submission (triangle-armbar), 3:23 Round 1