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Rose Namajunas Outduels Amanda Ribas in UFC on ESPN 53 Main Event


Perhaps Rose
Namajunas can redefine herself at 125 pounds after all. If
nothing else, her latest performance represents a step in the right

The two-time
Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight titleholder
on Saturday used her vast array of tools to capture a five-round
unanimous decision over Amanda
Ribas in the
UFC on ESPN 53 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Scores
were 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47, all for Namajunas (12-6, 10-5 UFC),
who bounced back from consecutive losses to Carla Esparz and

Neither woman gained a discernible standup edge in a showdown that
was heavy on tactics and light on highlights. Namajunas was the
cleaner striker, but her Brazilian adversary was the busier of the
two. “Thug Rose” shined brightest in the ground exchanges. She
executed takedowns of her own and made a number of high-risk
head-and-arm throws from Ribas work in her favor—a development that
allowed the Milwaukee native to shift momentum and build a lead
with control time. Namajunas held off the Jungle Fight champion
down the stretch, as she fought conservatively across the final
five minutes and left her fate to the judges.

Ribas (12-5, 7-4 UFC) has lost four of her past seven fights.

Meanwhile, Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Karl
Williams fed Justin Tafa
an unhealthy diet of takedowns, ground-and-pound and positional
control, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision in their
three-round heavyweight co-main event. All three cageside judges
scored it for Williams (10-1, 3-0 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Tafa (7-4, 4-4 UFC) had his moments—he buzzed the tower with
several right uppercuts in the third round—but his lack of
effective takedown defense proved costly. Williams grounded him in
all three rounds, piled up points with punches and bled the clock,
all while steering clear of danger. Frustration grew for Tafa. A
short-notice fill-in for younger brother Junior
Tafa, the Australian managed to break free with a little more
than a minute to go in the bout. However, Williams swooped in for
one final takedown and kept the “Bad Man” bottled up until no time
was left.

Williams, 34, now finds himself on a seven-fight winning

Further down the card, Xtreme Couture’s Edmen
Shahbazyan overcame an inauspicious start to waylay A.J. Dobson
with elbows and punches in the first round of their middleweight
showcase. A late-notice replacement for Dusko
Todorovic, Dobson (7-3, 2-2 UFC) checked out 4:33 into Round

Shahbazyan (13-4, 6-4 UFC) had to sail through some rough surf.
Dobson wobbled him with a counter right hand, made a pass at a
guillotine and then staggered him with a left hook. Shahbazyan
answered with a takedown, only to have his opponent scramble into
top position. Some ground-and-pound followed before the two men
returned to their feet.
Shahbazyan regained his faculties, clipped the Strong Style Fight
Team product with a left hook, bullied him to the mat and cut loose
with elbows and punches until the job was done

It goes down as the 11th first-round stoppage on the Shahbazyan

Elsewhere, undefeated Reno Academy of Combat prospect Payton
Talbott cut down Cameron
Saaiman with punches in the second round of their bantamweight
Saaiman (9-2, 3-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 21 seconds into Round 2,
as he crashed and burned for the first time as a

Talbott (8-0, 2-0 UFC) dazed the South African with a knee and a
pair of standing elbows in the first round, forced him onto the
back foot and never allowed him to sniff a potential comeback. He
met Saaiman with a counter left hook at the start of the middle
stanza, sent him crashing to the mat and flurried with punches
until referee Chris Tognoni had seen enough.

An emerging force at 135 pounds, Talbott has finished seven of his
first eight opponents.

Deeper into the main draw, a new and improved Youssef
Zalal returned to the UFC for the first time since August 2022
and disposed of former King of the Cage champion Billy
Quarantillo with a rear-naked choke in the second round of
their featherweight attraction.
Quarantillo (18-6, 6-4 UFC) bowed out 1:50 into Round 2, suffering
the first submission defeat of his 24-fight

A short-notice replacement for Gabriel
Miranda, Zalal (14-5-1, 4-3-1 UFC) flirted with flawlessness.
The 27-year-old Factory X rep rocked Quarantillo with a knee strike
in the first round, tripped him to the canvas, moved to the back
with a body triangle and threatened with a face crank. The bell
sounded while the finish was near. Zalal picked up where he left
off in the middle stanza, swept the Gracie Tampa South standout to
the mat and again progressed to the back. This time, he snuck his
forearm underneath the chin, tightened his squeeze and closed the

Zalal has rattled off four straight victories, all of them by

Finally, Team Oyama’s Fernando
Padilla rebounded from a Sept. 16 defeat to Kyle Nelson
and put away promotional newcomer Luis
Pajuelo with a standing brabo choke in the first round of their
featherweight appetizer.
Pajuelo (8-2, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:45 into Round 1, his
five-fight winning streak at an end

The 6-foot-1 Padilla (16-5, 2-1 UFC) made the most of his six and a
half-inch reach advantage. He floored Pajuelo with a clean left
hand, swarmed with punches and settled in top position. From there,
Padilla dropped punches and elbows, then caught the choke when his
counterpart attempted to scramble to his feet. The tapout followed
soon after.

Padilla, 27, has won four of his past five bouts.

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