Cynthia Calvillo closed out the second UFC on ESPN card at the Apex facility in Las Vegas with a unanimous-decision win over Jessica Eye in the women's flyweight division.
The beginning of the fight won't go on any highlight reels. Each woman spent much of it feeling her opponent out before opening up in the second round. Calvillo and Eye had their moments in the striking department, but Calvillo's head kicks stood out in the action.
As the fight moved to the second, the even striking exchanges took a backseat to Calvillo's grappling. She scored a takedown, took Eye's back and worked toward finding a rear-naked choke. Though she didn't ever find it, the fight was on as Eye struggled to do much of anything in the grappling exchanges.
The third stanza saw improved striking from Calvillo. She has always been known more for her wrestling prowess, but she kept pace on the feet and beat Eye to the punch more often than not; she showed a strong understanding of range and timing.
Calvillo, who is the 10th-ranked strawweight and was making her debut at flyweight, had no problems wrestling Eye and maintaining dominant position. She looked stronger than Eye, who came into the bout as the No. 1 ranked flyweight after spending much of her career at bantamweight.
The one-sided nature of the fight extended into the fifth round. Calvillo put on a complete performance. Not only did she dominate in the grappling, but she also held her own against a solid striker. The unofficial stats showcased the disparity in output; Calvillo was in control.
This was the kind of performance that should move Calvillo squarely into the title picture at flyweight. Eye was ranked as the No. 1 contender, and Calvillo scored a fairly dominant win over her.
The rest of the card was marked by either quick finishes or competitive decisions. There were five first-round finishes on the evening, including three in under a minute to kick off the prelims.
- Cynthia Calvillo def. Jessica Eye via unanimous decision (49-46 x 2, 48-47)
- Marvin Vettori def. Karl Roberson via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:17 of Round 1
- Charles Rosa def. Kevin Aguilar via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
- Andre Fili def. Charles Jourdain via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x 2)
- Jordan Espinosa def. Mark De La Rosa via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 30-26)
- Mariya Agapova def. Hannah Cifers via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:42 of Round 1
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Gustavo Lopez via unanimous decision (30-26 x 2, 30-25)
- Julia Avila def. Gina Mazany via TKO at 0:22 of Round 1
- Tyson Nam def. Zarrukh Adashev via KO at 0:32 of Round 1
- Christian Aguilera def. Anthony Ivy via TKO at 0:59 of Round 1
Marvin Vettori vs. Karl Roberson
Marvin Vettori settled his beef with Karl Roberson via a stellar first-round submission win. After multiple attempts at a submission, the Italian Dream scored the rear-naked choke to bring the fight to a halt within the first frame.
Roberson bullied Vettori to the fence in the clinch, but his opponent countered by grabbing a standing guillotine attempt, which found the two fighters on the ground. That turned out to be the beginning of the end.
Vettori hasn't won a fight by submission since his UFC debut in 2016, but this was his ninth career submission win. As soon as Vettori got the fight to the ground, there was a clear disparity in skill, as Roberson was constantly on the defensive.
It did look like the 26-year-old might punch himself out as he went to work with ground strikes, but he stopped and latched on to his final choke attempt.
There was tension in the buildup to this fight. The two middleweights were supposed to meet last month before Roberson missed weight and was forced to withdraw due to rhabdomyolysis. He once again missed weight this time, but the bout went on, and Vettori was finally able to get his hands on him.
Once that happened, he did whatever he wanted and put in one of his best UFC performances to date.
Charles Rosa vs. Kevin Aguilar
For the first time in his UFC career, Charles Rosa won a fight away from the friendly confines of Boston. The Massachusetts native secured a split-decision win over Aguilar thanks to the heavier, more precise strikes in a close three-round battle.
Aguilar did well for himself to try to push the pace as the aggressor for much of the fight. But Rosa showcased his ability to counter and landed the more memorable strikes.
This was one of those contests that should make fans glad they aren't judges. Both fighters had their moments throughout the affair, and the judges were forced to make a decision between Aguilar's volume and Rosa's power.
The unofficial stats were about as close as it gets:
The key for Rosa now will be to keep winning. After starting his MMA career 9-0, he has alternated between wins and losses in his last eight fights.
Andre Fili vs. Charles Jourdain
The featherweight fight between Andre Fili and Charles Jourdain was one of the more promising matchps on paper, and it delivered. Both brought back-and-forth action that ultimately resulted in a split-decision win for Fili.
Split decisions aren't a new phenomenon for the Team Alpha Male product. This was the third of his UFC career, and he's now 2-1 in splits. The two both had moments on the feet, but the difference could have been in Fili's takedowns. He didn't do much with them, but the rounds were close, meaning everything could have an impact.
Jourdain's biggest moment came in the first round when he floored Fili with a left hand.
Jourdain is now 1-2 in his first three UFC fights, but the win was a knockout of Dooho Choi, and his other loss was to Desmond Green, so there's still a chance he ends up becoming a solid competitor in the division. This will just need to be a learning experience for him to live up to his potential.
Jordan Espinosa vs. Mark De La Rosa
With Mark De La Rosa on a three-fight losing streak and Jordan Espinosa dropping back-to-back matchups, this bantamweight bout felt like a "loser leaves the promotion" match. If that's the case, it was De La Rosa who was handed his walking papers.
There weren't many moments in the three rounds where Espinosa wasn't the one dealing more damage.
Even when De La Rosa was working for takedowns, Espinosa was hammering away at him with strikes. His quickness and overall athleticism were simply too much for De La Rosa as Espinosa continued to pile up the rounds and break his losing streak with a decision win.
This doesn't necessarily answer any questions for Espinosa. He lost his last two fights by submission, and De La Rosa wasn't able to get him to the ground to test that grappling. It was just important for him to get back into the win column at this point though, and that's exactly what he did in a dominant fashion.
Mariya Agapova vs. Hannah Cifers
Just 14 days ago, Hannah Cifers was submitted by Mackenzie Dern at 2:36 of the first round to kick off the main card of UFC on ESPN 9. It was deja vu all over again in Las Vegas as 23-year-old Mariya Agapova submitted the much smaller Cifers just 2:42 into the first round.
It was an impressive UFC debut for the fighter from Kazakhstan. She actually lost a fight on Dana White's Contender Series before going to Invicta and winning back-to-back bouts and making the transition to the UFC.
Cifers is a vastly undersized fighter event at strawweight. She was dwarfed in the cage by the bigger Agapova. But that's not to take anything away from a strong debut that saw her land impact strikes before latching on to the choke that would end the fight.
At just 23 years old and with seven of her nine wins coming by stoppage, Agapova announced herself as a prospect to keep an eye on.