Stay up to date with what’s happening today with the UFC 286 PPV main card, which is going down from the O2 Arena in London, England.
This post will cover the first-three matches on the main card, with the co-main and main events getting their own posts. Top-10 middleweights Marvin Vettori and Roman Dolidze will be waging war to jump start the PPV portion of UFC 286, followed by top-ranked flyweights Jennifer Maia and Casey O’Neill scrapping it out. The final matchup we’ll cover here will be a welterweight tilt between longtime UFC veteran, Gunnar Nelson, and the consummate overachiever in Bryan Barberena.
The early prelims begin at an extra start time of 12:30pm ET/9:30am, PT, immediately followed by the regular preliminary card. Both broadcasts can be streamed on ESPN+. The PPV main card is slated for 5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT, and can be purchased on ESPN+.
Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberena by submission (armbar) at 4:51 of round 1: Welterweight
There was some feeling out going on here, with Barberena using his leg kick as a range finder. Once they clinched up, Nelson held Barberena against the cage with double unders until a takedown opportunity presented itself. From there, Nelson methodically worked until he spotted the chance to spin for an armbar. Nelson went for it, cranked on it, and forced Barberena to tap out!
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 18, 2023
Jennifer Maia def. Casey O’Neill by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): (W) Flyweight
Maia started the bout by working her boxing to address the forward progress of O’Neill. A couple of crosses go through for O’Neill, but she was wearing those Maia counters on her face. Maia caught a kick and transitioned to a single leg, but O’Neill urgently fought it off to keep things on the feet.
The hands of Maia continued to be effective early in the second round. She was throwing her punches two, three, or four at a time. Rarely did she throw just one strike. O’Neill was coming forward, and she was throwing her hands too, but she wasn’t landing nearly as much as Jennifer. The footwork of Maia was also on point. Despite Casey coming forward, she was struggling with the side to side movement of Maia. Things did pick up a bit for O’Neill at the end of the round, but it didn’t feel like enough for her to win the round.
The same sort of pace continued into the final round. O’Neill marched forward while Maia stayed on her bike firing counters. O’Neill was landing, but wasn’t having prolonged success. Maia would come back with some counters to disrupt Casey’s rhythm, and then dance out of the way so that O’Neill would have to chase her again.
Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2): Middleweight
Vettori started attacking the legs right away, and Dolidze was just kind of taking it. Dolidze responded with some heavy hands that backed up Vettori, and prompted a smile from him. Vettori regrouped and returned to his leg attacks from range. Dolidze was looking to leap in with hooks, but had to get through the legs kicks first. An accidental clash of heads brought on a brief timeout, but the bout quickly got back underway. Dolidze started to connect with his overhand right, which backed up Vettori, but didn’t prevent the former title challenger from swinging back.
Dolidze pushed the pace in the second round, moving forward and forcing Vettori to work. Vettori was up to the task, moving backwards while countering his opponents with a variety of strikes. The punches of Dolidze weren’t quite as tight as they were in the opening round, which was making him more hittable.
Vettori continued to work his volume from the outside, and he wasn’t exactly hurting Dolidze per se, but he was scoring. On the other side of that coin, whenever Dolidze did connect, he was moving Vettori around. The leg kicks continued to be there for Vettori, and I don’t think Dolidze blocked any of them.
About the author: Eddie Mercado has covered combat sports since 2015. He covers everything from betting odds to live events and fighter interviews. He holds a 1-0 record in pro MMA and holds a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. (full bio)
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