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It almost certainly wasn’t the way Alexander
Romanov
envisioned extending his 14-bout professional winning
streak.

The Moldovan remained unbeaten in unusual fashion at
UFC on ESPN 22
, taking a technical split decision against
Juan
Espino
(10-2, 2-1 UFC) in a preliminary heavyweight contest at
the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The bout reached an
abrupt end 1:05 into Round 3, when Espino rendered Romanov (14-0,
3-0 UFC) unable to continue after landing an accidental knee to the
groin from the clinch position. As a result, the bout was scored
where it stood: Dave Hagen
and Tony Weeks saw it 29-28 for Romanov, while Chris Lee submitted
a 29-28 tally for Espino.

Early on, the matchup was about which heavyweight could get the
advantage through takedowns and in the clinch. Romanov authored
arguably the most significant moment in Round 2, when he assumed
top position and battered “The Ultimate Fighter 28” winner with
heavy punches and elbows. Espino appeared to be on the verge of
being stopped, but the Spainard was ultimately able to survive
until the final stanza.

There, Espino scored an early takedown and then pressed Romanov
into the fence when “King Kong” returned to his feet. After the
foul landed, Romanov spent the full five-minute recovery period on
the canvas before informing the cageside physician that he could
not continue.

Returning Penne Edges Godinez

Jessica
Penne
was successful in her first Octagon appearance in nearly
four years, as she earned a hard-fought split-decision triumph
against former Legacy Fighting Alliance and BTC Fight Promotions
champ Lupita
Godinez
at strawweight. Judges Michael Bell and Derek Cleary
saw it 29-28 for Penne (13-5, 2-4 UFC), while Rick Winter submitted
a 29-28 scorecard in favor of Godinez (5-1, 0-1 UFC).

When the fight was at range, Godinez landed more effective
combinations with more force than Penne, but all too often, the
ex-Invicta
Fighting Championships
title holder was able to lure her
adversary into the clinch. One of Penne’s best sequences occurred
in Round 1, when she thwarted a headlock takedown attempt and
transitioned to Godinez’s back, where she spent nearly two minutes.
Penne also took her foe’s back in Round 2, and although Godinez was
never seriously in danger of being submitted, she couldn’t do
enough to sway the scorecards in her favor with a strong
third-round push.


Meerschaert Puts Fabinski to Sleep

Make that 24 career submission victories for Gerald
Meerschaert
. The 33-year-old
Roufusport
representative used one of his specialties to
vanquish Bartosz
Fabinski
, putting his opponent to sleep with a guillotine choke
2:00 into Round 1 of a middleweight affair. In victory, Meerschaert
(32-14, 7-6 UFC) snaps a two-bout losing streak.

The combatants spent the early moments of the fight battling for
position in the clinch. When Fabinski (15-5, 3-3 UFC) attempted to
change levels for a takedown near the fence, that allowed
Meerschaert to lock in a guillotine. From there, he moved to mount,
then adjusted the hold while hooking his legs around his
opponent’s
. Fabinski did his best to break his foe’s grip
before being rendered unconscious.

Hubbard Wears Down Newcomer Bush


Elevation Fight Team
representative Austin
Hubbard
weathered a strong start from Dakota Bush
to earn a unanimous decision in a lightweight affair. All three
cageside judges submitted 29-28 tallies in favor of the former

Legacy Fighting Alliance
title holder.

Bush, who accepted the bout on a week’s notice, came out swinging
heavy leather in the opening round and had success with his lead
left hook, one-two combinations and kicks to the calf. His energy
waned over the final 10 minutes, however, as Hubbard (13-5, 3-3
UFC) landed takedowns and mounted his adversary on multiple
occasions. Bush (8-3, 0-1 UFC) showed resilience by attempting to
scramble out of bad positions, but he didn’t have enough left in
the tank to seriously threaten Hubbard down the stretch.

Gravely Finishes Birchak


Dana White’s Contender Series
alum Tony
Gravely
earned his second consecutive Octagon triumph, as he
defeated well-traveled veteran Anthony
Birchak
via technical knockout in a bantamweight showdown. The
end came 1:31 into Round 2, when Gravely (21-6, 2-1 UFC) countered
a low kick with a left hook to drop Birchak (16-8, 2-4 UFC) and
pounced for two follow-up hammerfists to get the
finish
.

The largest betting favorite on the card, Gravely performed as
such. During a frenetic opening stanza, the
American Top Team
representative dropped his foe with a
straight right hand, secured multiple takedowns and nearly forced a
stoppage with heavy ground-and-pound from top position. Birchak’s
best moment came when he had Gravely trapped in a tight guillotine,
but he couldn’t maintain the squeeze long enough to get a tapout.
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