shined under the glare of an altogether unexpected

The monstrous 6-foot-5 Fortis
rep overcame an inauspicious start and took another step
forward in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
light heavyweight division, as
he chopped down Ion
with a knee strike and follow-up punches in the second
round of their makeshift
UFC Fight Night 215
headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in
Las Vegas. Nzechukwu (11-3, 5-3 UFC) finished it 62 seconds into
Round 2, stepping up to shoulder the marquee when the original
main event fell apart in the hours leading up to the

Cutelaba (16-9-1, 5-8-1 UFC) dazed the “African Savage” with a
thudding right hand in the first round, tripped him to the floor
and climbed to full mount. Nzechukwu stayed composed under duress
and worked back to his feet before being returned to the mat via a
head-and-arm throw. Cutelaba threatened with a scarf hold armlock
but failed to pin down the submission. Early in the second round,
Nzechukwu clipped him with a perfectly timed knee, gave chase with
punches and reset.
A second knee sent Cutelaba careening into the fence, where he was
met by power punches from both hands until referee Keith Peterson
had seen enough

Undefeated Cortes-Acosta Moves to 9-0

A penetrating jab and concussive power punches carried former
Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Waldo
to a unanimous decision over Chase
in the three-round heavyweight co-main event.
Cortes-Acosta (9-0, 2-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28
and 29-28 marks from the cageside judges.

Sherman (16-11, 4-10 UFC) enjoyed some success with hearty leg
kicks through much of the first round but utilized them less and
less often as the fight progressed. Cortes-Acosta operated behind
his jab and flurried when the opportunity presented itself. He
peaked in the second round, where he had Sherman reeling more than
once with debilitating shots to the head. The Sanford MMA rep
somehow survived but lacked the necessary fuel to respond in Round
3. Cortes-Acosta was more measured down the stretch, his caution
perhaps a byproduct of fatigue, but managed to get enough done to
leave little doubt about the decision.

The 33-year-old Sherman has lost five of his past six bouts.

Salikhov Storms Past Fialho

American Top Team’s Muslim
took out Andre
a spinning wheel kick and follow-up punches in the third round of
their welterweight attraction
. Salikhov (19-3, 6-2
UFC) slammed the door 1:03 into Round 3, as he recorded his sixth
victory in seven appearances.

Fialho (16-6, 2-3 UFC) was effective in spurts and damaged the
sanda stylist’s left eye with an overhand right in the first round.
However, momentum shifted dramatically in the middle stanza, where
Salikhov landed a spinning back kick to the body and a spinning
backfist upstairs before setting the Sanford MMA export on unsteady
legs with a Superman punch. He forced the dazed Fialho to retreat
to the canvas, where he met him with a series of hammerfists. The
respite between rounds did not provide enough time for recovery.
Salikhov resumed his assault at the start of Round 3, doubled over
Fialho with a spinning back kick to the body, connected with a
jarring wheel kick upstairs and followed up with punches to prompt
a standing stoppage.

Salikhov has secured 13 of his 19 career wins by knockout or
technical knockout.

Della Maddalena Routs Overmatched Roberts

Fast-rising 2021 Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jack
Della Maddalena
put away Danny
with punches in the first round of their welterweight
showcase. Della Maddalena (13-2, 3-0 UFC) drew the curtain 3:24
into Round 1 and did so in emphatic fashion.

Roberts (18-7, 7-6 UFC) endured three-plus minutes of torment and
torture before he finally wilted. Della Maddalena flurried with
crisp combinations right out of the gate, floored his Next
Generation MMA-trained opponent with a right uppercut and allowed
him to stand when the opportunity to finish did not present itself
on the ground. Clearly in survival mode, Roberts failed to mount a
meaningful counterattack.
Della Maddalena backed him to the fence, froze him with hooks to
the body and closed it out with unanswered

The 26-year-old Della Maddalena has won 13 fights in a row, 12 of
them via knockout, technical knockout or submission.

Johnson Tops Slumping Zhumagulov

Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Charles
rebounded from a July 23 loss to Muhammad
with a split decision over Zhalgas
in a foul-filled flyweight feature. All three
cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards: Douglas Crosby for
Zhumagulov, Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato for Johnson.

The three-round clash was interrupted on multiple occasions by low
blows and eye pokes. Zhumagulov (14-8, 1-5 UFC) pieced together
effective punching combinations and did real damage to his
opponent’s legs through his commitment to low kicks. The American
Top Team product also attacked the body with aplomb, firing hooks
from both hands into Johnson’s exposed ribcage. Nevertheless,
Zhumagulov’s work went for naught. Johnson (12-3, 1-1 UFC turned up
the heat in a dominant third round, where he stepped into right
hands, pressured the Kazakhstan native backward and connected with
front and side kicks to the body.

Zhumagulov, 34, now finds himself on a three-fight losing

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UFC Fight Night 215 Prelims: Silva Kick Vaporizes Bleda

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Kennedy Nzechukwu Smashes Ion Cutelaba in Makeshift UFC Fight Night 215 Headliner

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