The UFC Fight Pass portion of the UFC 211 preliminary card is complete. Gadzhimurad Antigulov kicked things off with a swift submission win, Enrique Barzola and Gabriel Benitez engaged in a very entertaining scrap, while Cortney Casey thoroughly dominated Jessica Aguilar for a big victory. Here’s how the trio of fights played out.
Cortney Casey def. Jessica Aguilar by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) – Women’s Strawweights
Casey came out throwing powerful shots straight off the bat, trying to make the most of her size advantage. A hard leg kick felled Casey, and Aguilar threw big ground-and-pound in response. Casey attempted a submission off of her back, and eventually they went back to striking after a frantic opening minute or so. Aguilar was tagged by a Casey uppercut prior to taking Cortney down, but Casey was aggressive with her legs while on the bottom. Referee Kerry Hatley made a curious decision to stand the fighters up after he deemed there wasn’t enough action on the ground. Casey scored with an uppercut and a hard knee towards the end of the first round, looking every bit the part of the faster, superior athlete. Aguilar cracked Casey just after the horn sounded, which definitely hurt her opponent.
Casey kneed Aguilar yet again as she ducked for a takedown in round 2, but Jessica put her on her back. Aguilar was struggling to get past Casey’s legs and mount any meaningful offense. Casey was winning the overwhelming majority of the striking exchanges, putting her combination work to great use. Aguilar caught a kick and put Casey down but was later stunned by an upkick. At the end of the round, Aguilar got past Casey’s leglock and finally had some top control time in Casey’s guard, but the offense was minimal.
Casey continued to fluster into the third and final round with her handspeed and timing. Aguilar cracked Casey with a singular right hand but the former WSOF champ was bleeding out of her nose and mouth. Uppercuts and elbows furthere bashed Aguilar’s face in. Aguilar couldn’t get the takedowns and Casey was showing no signs of slowing down. Whether it was in the clinch or at range, Casey was damaging Aguilar with a brutal array of strikes. Aguilar tried fighting back but she just didn’t have it in her to mount a serious comeback. A tremendous win for Casey to get herself back to .500 in the UFC (record of 3-3), while Aguilar’s first bout since 2015 ends in another defeat, and she’s yet to win inside the Octagon.
Enrique Barzola def. Gabriel Benitez by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) – Featherweights
Benitez got off to a good start with a straight left to that momentarily stunned Barzola. A hard body kick by Benitez was countered by a Barzola takedown. Benitez was able to reverse and get back to his feet. Barzola had success going upstairs with his kicks, but he also kept absorbing Benitez’s left hands. Benitez struggled to defend the takedown but didn’t take much damage. Barzola closed the first round strongly with strikes against the fence, another takedown, and some ground-and-pound after a failed triangle-armbar attempt.
Barzola continued to press forward for the takedown, but he continued to struggle to hold Benitez down. A brief guillotine by Benitez didn’t trouble the Mexican. Unlike in round 1, Benitez wasn’t able to generate as much offense while on the feet.
The relentlessness of the Peruvian appeared to be wearing on Benitez as the fight progressed. He was even able to get some sustained time on top, maneuvering his way to the back early in the third round. Barzola had the rear-naked choke but Benitez was able to get out of a really bad spot and return to his feet, where he fired off a sharp left hand from southpaw position. Barzola had two shots stuffed but not a third one, which was needed after it looked like he was drained. Both men emptied the tank and exchanged labored punches and kicks, and a big left hand dropped Barzola at the buzzer, but not out cold. In the end, Barzola got the nod despite the late knockdown, with the early part of the round essentially getting him the W. Barzola improves to 3-1 in the UFC, while Benitez drops to 3-2.
Antigulov nearly had his back taken on the opening takedown of the fight, but he was able to turn the tables and get the Danish fighter’s back. He sunk in both hooks and searched for the rear-naked choke. After rolling him over a second time in the scramble, the Russian was able to get the forearm underneath the chin and get the tap. Antigulov is now 2-0 in the UFC, with both wins coming by first-round submission, while Christensen drops to 1-2.
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