McCann put her naysayers in timeout.
The Next Generation MMA mainstay downshifted to the
Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight division and
disposed of Diana
Belbita with an armbar in the first round of their featured
UFC Fight Night 235 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las
Belbita (15-9, 2-5 UFC) conceded defeat 4:59 into Round 1 but not
before her limb bent the wrong way.
McCann (14-6, 7-5 UFC), who had beaten the Romanian by unanimous
decision back in 2019, was far more decisive in their rematch. She
closed the distance without fear and unleashed a variety of
weapons, from overhand rights and spinning back kicks to push kicks
and her patented spinning back elbow. McCann delivered a late
takedown, climbed to full mount and uncorked a series of elbows
before she transitioned to the armbar for the finish.
Meanwhile, former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Charles
Johnson rallied from an inauspicious start to stun the
previously unbeaten Azat Maksum
by unanimous decision in their three-round flyweight encounter. A
short-notice substitution for Nathan
Maness, Johnson (14-6, 3-4 UFC) swept the cards with 29-28
scores from all three members of the cageside judiciary.
Maksum (17-1, 1-1 UFC) floored the Murcielago MMA standout with a
counter right hand in the first round, then threatened his neck
with a guillotine and brabo choke. Johnson spent the rest of the
period clearing the cobwebs and inching his way back into the
fight. He outstruck Maksum for much of the second round and turned
up the heat further when it counted most in the third. There,
Johnson answered single shots from the Brave Combat Federation
veteran with two and sometimes three of his own, nearly put him to
sleep with a ninja choke and secured a late takedown, consolidating
those efforts by climbing to full mount.
The victory closed the book on Johnson’s three-fight losing
Elsewhere, MMA Masters export Themba
Gorimbo wiped out Pete
Rodriguez with punches in the first round of their welterweight
In his first appearance since Oct. 15, 2022, Rodriguez (5-2, 1-2
UFC) bowed out just 32 seconds into Round 1.
Gorimbo (12-4, 2-1 UFC) barely broke a sweat. The 33-year-old
Zimbabwe native sat down the MMA Lab product with a devastating
overhand right on the counter, plowed into top position and let the
punches flow until referee Herb Dean had
seen enough. A late replacement for Kiefer
Crosbie, Rodriguez never knew what hit him.
It was Gorimbo’s first sub-minute finish as a pro.
Further down the undercard, former Road Fighting Championship
titlist Jeong Yeong
Lee flexed his superiority in all phases and laid claim to a
unanimous decision over Blake
Bilder in a three-round featherweight clash. All three cageside
judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Lee (11-1, 1-0 UFC), who now
finds himself on an eight-fight winning streak.
Bilder (8-2-1, 1-2 UFC) had no pathway to victory. Lee hammered the
body with punches from both hands, cut off attempted takedowns with
elbows to the side of the head and outclassed “El Animal” once the
action spilled onto canvas. Bilder was in survival mode for much of
the back half of the fight. Lee had him ducking for cover with
ground-and-pound late in the second round and paired a takedown
with suffocating control in the closing stages of the third.
The 33-year-old Bilder has suffered back-to-back defeats after an
8-0-1 start to his career.
Finally, Dana White’s Contender Series alum Luana
Carolina put away ex-Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder
Stoliarenko with punches in the third round of their women’s
Stoliarenko (11-8-2, 2-6 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:52 into Round
Carolina—who forfeited 20% of her purse after missing weight for
the match by two pounds—outstruck and outmaneuvered the Lithuanian
at range, tortured her with knees in the clinch and managed to
extricate herself from a few harrowing submission attempts. The
Brazilian broke free from a triangle choke late in the third round,
returned to a standing position, staggered a visibly exhausted
Stoliarenko with a thudding right hand and executed a head-and-arm
throw. Carolina moved to a mounted crucifix, met little resistance
and cut loose with a sustained burst of punches until the job was
Stoliarenko has lost five of her last seven bouts.
In other action, Factory X rep Marquel
Mederos (9-1, 1-0 UFC) made a successful promotional debut with
a unanimous decision over onetime Titan Fighting Championship
Quinones (7-3-1, 0-2 UFC) in a three-round lightweight affair,
as he earned matching 29-28 marks on the scorecards; and Syndicate
Pogues (11-4, 2-1 UFC) rode efficient combination punching and
stellar takedown defense to a unanimous decision over former LFA
Petersen (8-2, 0-1 UFC) in a three-round heavyweight tilt,
drawing 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 scores from the cageside judges.