Ben SaundersThe first UFC event of the year is in the books, and it was an entertaining one, as half of the fights ended via stoppage and that included a submission never before seen inside the Octagon. Although one fight was yanked from the card about a week in advance, there were still 12 total bouts on the night. Based on the 5Dimes Sportsbook closing odds, 10 favorites earned victories on the night, while two underdogs got the job done. Favorites That Won In the main event of the evening, featherweights BJ Penn and Yair Rodriguez threw down, and by “threw down,” I mean Rodriguez launched the kitchen sink at Penn for six minutes until the fight was stopped. Penn showed toughness, but that was about it as he ate kick after kick after kick, eventually getting dropped with a head kick/cross combination before a torrent of ground and pound finally ended the bout. Yair proved himself worth of being a massive -335 favorite (bet $335 to win $100) while Penn lost as a +300 underdog. In the co-main event, Joe Lauzon pulled a fast one against Marcin Held in a lightweight fight. Lauzon landed some nasty elbows in the opening seconds and then threatened with an armbar at one point, but that was about it as Held controlled him against the fence and with repeated takedowns over the course of the remaining 13 minutes. Despite that, the judges sided with Lauzon via split decision, a score so bad that Lauzon even admitted he had lost in his post-fight interview. Lauzon luckily held serve as a -135 favorite. In a flyweight bout, Sergio Pettis nearly finished John Moraga in the first round and then kept the pressure and pace up over the remaining two frames, withstanding a few takedowns and grappling attempts from Moraga to easily win a unanimous decision. Despite being ranked lower, Pettis proved the betters true as a -155 favorite. In a double lightweight debut, Drakkar Klose laid a beatdown on Devin Powell over the course of three rounds. Klose connected with some downright vicious looking punches, knees and kicks, repeatedly pressing Powell into the fence after exchanges and keeping Powell from getting off on his kicking game or his grappling. In the end, the judges easily sided with Klose, who was a rightful -305 betting favorite. In a heavyweight shocker, Aleksei Oleinik was mounted by Victor Pesta in the first round, but that opened up an opportunity for him to lock in his patented Ezekial choke, which forced the younger Pesta to tap out from top position. It was the first time in UFC history the submission had been successfully pulled off and Oleinik did it as a -135 favorite. In a lightweight contest, Tony Martin played it smart against short notice injury replacement Alex White, repeatedly working for takedowns and pressuring his opponent over the course of three rounds. Martin slowed down in the third, but he still managed to avoid extended striking exchanges by pushing White against the fence and the judges awarded him a unanimous decision, proving his -165 odds true. In a women’s strawweight fight, Nina Ansaroff earned her first UFC win, surprisingly turning to her grappling against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger to win the first two rounds and then finish the fight in the third with a rear naked choke. Ansaroff was victorious as a -170 betting favorite. In a heavyweight scrap, Walt Harris landed some huge blows against Chase Sherman, eventually putting Sherman away with a brutal 1-2, knee, 1-2 combination that dropped him to the canvas early in the second round. Harris closed as a -150 favorite. In a light heavyweight battle, Joachim Christensen put all his tools on display against Bojan Mihajlovic, easily outworking Mihajlovic in the clinch and landing some heavy strikes from distance. Eventually, Christensen connected with a nasty uppercut in the third round to drop Mihajlovic and set up a TKO finish worthy of his -240 betting favorite status. In the opening bout of the evening, Cyril Asker earned heavyweight redemption against Dmitri Smoliakov. Asker took Smoliakov down, then proceeded to advance to mount and unleash a torrent of unanswered blows until the ref put a halt to the contest. Asker closed as a -115 betting favorite. Underdogs That Won In a welterweight contest, Ben Saunders tuned up Court McGee’s body in the first half of the fight with repeated brutal kicks. McGee’s grit and pressure started to wear Saunders down as the fight wore on, allowing McGee to pick up a third round takedown and easily take the frame, but it wasn’t enough as the judges sided unanimously with the lanky “Killa B.” Saunders cashed as a +120 dog (bet $100 to win $120) while McGee lost as a -130 favorite. In a bantamweight scrap, Frankie Saenz and Augusto Mendes put on a very exciting show, rocking each other with repeated big shots over the course of three rounds. Saenz had a strong second frame, but Mendes was able to hurt him in every round and when it was all said and done, the judges sided with Mendes 2-1 to award him a split decision as a +145 underdog.  


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