UFC on ESPN 10 was the third event held at the UFC‘s APEX, and the main event featured a women’s flyweight contest between Jessica “Evil” Eye (15-7) and Cynthia Calvillo (8-1-1). The card didn’t look incredibly strong on paper, but the fights were better than advertised tonight.
Calvillo impresses in flyweight debut
After struggling to make the strawweight limit of 115 pounds, Cynthia Calvillo moved up to flyweight. Standing across the octagon from her was the number one ranked flyweight in the world, Jessica Eye. Throughout the first round, both women seemed to be feeling each other out. Eye controlled the center of the cage, and seemed content to counter strike as Calvillo moved forward. Calvillo was able to land a few shots with some decent speed. Calvillo was able to land two flush head kicks early, but neither had enough power on it to do damage. Eye was able to catch Calvillo several times coming in, but Calvillo used her speed to land her shots as well. The first round was a very competitive striking match with neither woman trying to take the other down.
Calvillo came out in the second round with a little more pep in her step, but Eye continued to hold the center of the cage landing solid straight punches. About a minute into the second round, Calvillo finally shot for the first takedown of the fight. Eye stuffed the initial attempt, but Calvillo did a really good job of chaining her takedown attempts and got Eye to the ground. With about two minutes left in the round, Calvillo was able to secure Eye’s back. Calvillo was able to hold the back position for the rest of the round. The third round started a lot like the first round. Calvillo tried to use her speed on her feet while Eye held the center of the octagon. Both women landed some decent shots, but the round was won by Calvillo with about a minute left in the round when she was able to secure another takedown. Calvillo was able to secure Eye’s back for the second consecutive round.
In the fourth round, Calvillo was able to secure another takedown. For the third consecutive round, Calvillo was able to get to Eye’s back once the fight got to the ground. However, with about two minutes left in the round, Eye was able to get back to her feet. She spent the rest of the round chasing down Calvillo. Eye was able to land some solid shots which made the round a lot closer than it should have been. The fifth and final round was contested completely on the feet. Calvillo’s speed seemed to give Eye problems in the fifth as Calvillo continued to land the cleaner shots. With about two minutes left in the fight, Eye started pressing forward and sitting down on her punches. After getting hit with some clean shots, Calvillo was able to land a takedown on Eye. That takedown likely won Calvillo the round. On my personal scorecard, I had Calvillo up four rounds to one heading to the scorecards. The judges agreed with our scorecard giving Calvillo the unanimous decision victory (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).
Vettori Subs Roberson in the first
The co-main event of the evening was the fight that had the most heat on it leading into the evening. UFC middleweights Karl Roberson (9-2) and Marvin Vettori (14-4-1) were originally scheduled to fight a weeks ago. However, a tough weight cut, Roberson was not able to fight. Vettori confronted Roberson in their hotel lobby after the cancellation. Roberson then missed weight yesterday which added even more fuel to the fire. Both men entered the evening on two-fight winning streaks. In the first round, both men seemed to respect the others power early. About halfway through the round, the two men engaged in some grappling, and Roberson was able to get Vettori’s back for a few second. Vettori was then able to secure a takedown, and he almost secured a choke several times. With about one minute left in the round, Vettori landed some huge ground in pound which rocked Roberson. Roberson gave up his back, and Vettori secured a rear-naked choke which ended the fight. The third straight win for Vettori after losing a split decision to current UFC middlweight champion, Israel Adesanya. Vettori should be expecting a top-15 opponent in his next fight.
Fili takes close decision over Jourdain
One of the more anticipated fights of the evening was between UFC featherweights, Andre Fili (21-7) and Charles Jourdain (10-3). Fili came forward immediately and the two fighters looked to engage early. Jourdain and Fili exchanged some heavy shots in the first minute of the fight. Throughout the first round neither man tried to initiate any grappling as both men seemed content on a stand-up war. Fili seemed to be landing the more powerful shots throughout the round, but Jourdain floored Fili with about a minute left in the first round. Fili was able to work his way up to his feet after getting rocked. Both men continued to exchange the rest of the round, but with about ten seconds left, Fili landed a huge takedown and closed the round on top.
The second round started the exact same way as Fili immediately pressed the action to start. The two men continued to throw heavy shots at each other, but Fili continued to control the center of the octagon. Jourdain seemed content on hanging back and exploding forward with his combinations. While both men had their moments in the second round, Fili was more aggressive and seemed to be getting off first in the exchanges throughout the round. Jourdain landed some nice leg-kicks near the end of the round, but Fili landed a takedown which seemingly clinched the round for him. The third round featured some heavy exchanges early, but Fili was able to secure his third takedown about halfway through the round. Jourdain was able to get back to his feet, and he landed some heavy shots in the last couple of minutes. Fili did a good job of landing from the outside, but Jourdain was throwing smoke with everything he threw. Fili seemingly clinched the fight in the final twenty seconds when he was able to secure another takedown. In the end the judges gave the split decision victory to Andre Fili (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Espinosa hands De La Rosa his fourth straight loss
Jordan Espinosa (15-7-1) and Mark De La Rosa (11-5) was a fight where both men had their back against the wall in the UFC. Both men entered the cage tonight with multiple fight losing streaks desperately needing a win. One of the fighters really stood out in this contest. Espinosa was able to right the ship tonight giving De La Rosa his fourth consecutive loss. Espinosa was able to use his speed on the feet to keep his distance and land some solid shots. It became very apparent early that the only way De La Rosa would win this fight is by taking Espinosa down. De La Rosa was not able to land a single takedown, and he got rocked in the first round while he was on a single leg. Overall this was a pretty dominant performance from Espinosa, and the judges agreed giving him the decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26). One has to wonder if this is the last time we see De La Rosa in the UFC for a while.
Merab Dvalishvili spoils Gustavo Lopez’s UFC Debut
It was quite the eventful week for UFC bantamweight, Merab Dvalishvili (11-4). Just a couple of days ago, Dvalishvili was expecting to fight former title challenger, Ray Borg. However, due to a family emergency, Borg had to pull out of the fight. Combate Americas bantamweight champion, Gustavo Lopez (11-5), volunteered to take the fight in his UFC debut on short notice. Lopez has serious knockout power and a decent overall skillset, but I was concerned in this matchup going in with little to no prep. In our UFC on ESPN 10 preview, I said that Dvalishvili needed to lean heavily on the wrestling in this matchup, and that is exactly what he did. After entertaining the striking early, Dvalishvili focused most of the fight on taking things to the ground. Without training, it was hard for Lopez to stop Dvalishvili from taking him down. Lopez was able to land some solid shots throughout the fight, but nothing ever threatened to end the evening for Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili stuck to his game plan, and landed a UFC bantamweight record, 13 takedowns en route to a unanimous decision victory (30-26, 30-26, 30-25).
Final Takeaway from UFC on ESPN 10
This fight card received a lot of criticism throughout the week, but I think that the card delivered. I was very impressed with the flyweight debut of Cynthia Calvillo. I think after this win a fight with Katelyn Chookagian would make sense. Calvillo should jump right into the top five of the flyweight rankings after beating the previously top ranked contender, Jessica Eye. Overall, it was a very solid night of fights, and we have a new contender in the UFC’s flyweight division.