The UFC arrived in Wichita for the first time as Heavyweights collided at UFC Fight Night 146: Lewis vs. Dos Santos, on March 9, 2019, from the Intrust Bank Arena. Doing its best to follow up on the stud of a card that UFC 235 was the previous week, UFC Fight Night 146 put on display a main card with well-balanced matchups that proved quite the challenge for me to make my predictions on. However, with a main event that featured Heavyweight titans Derrick Lewis vs. Junior dos Santos, this was an event that you could not miss.
Middleweight: Tim Boetsch (21-13) vs. Omari Akhmedov (18-4-1)
For a fighter who has been known in the past to come out fast and often burn himself out too soon, Omari Akhmedov fought the first round with a nice pace, spending a good portion of it controlling Tim Boetsch against the cage. I felt that throughout the remainder of the round, Akhmedov was the aggressor and maintained Octagon control. I gave him the first, 10/9.
Akhmedov broke Boetsch’s nose with a heavy straight right punch in the first moments of the second round. Again, we saw a different pace from Akhmedov, operating at a more moderate tempo than what we’ve seen previously of the Dagestani. Akhmedov also seemed more aggressive than the seemingly tentative Tim Boetsch. I gave the round to Omari Akhmedov 10/9, and I had the fight 20/18 going into the third.
Midway through the third, Tim Boetsch gathered a sense of urgency that he should have had much earlier in the fight, and begin steadily working the front kick. However, Akhmedov did a great job on the counter-attack and didn’t allow Boetsch to gain any momentum. Even though Boetsch was the aggressor here, Akhmedov got the better of him with the counter, and I thought Akhmedov got the shutout, 30/27. All three judges agreed.
Victor: Omari Akhmedov, unanimous decision
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush (17-4-1) vs. Drew Dober (20-10-0, 1NC)
Both fighters looked great in the opening minutes of the second fight on the main card of UFC Fight Night 146, with Beneil Dariush finding his range early and Drew Dober able to land nice shots when he got to the inside. Dober rocked Dariush twice in the round, and Dariush stood strong and displayed an iron chin. However, he looked absolutely exhausted near the end of the round, and I gave it to Drew Dober, 10/9.
Dariush landed a takedown early in the second, desperately trying to change the tempo and rhythm of the fight. The Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt did a magnificent job on the ground, easily transitioning to mount and delivering ground and pound from the top position. From here, there was a gigantic shift in momentum, as Dariush dominated on the ground, first threatening a kimura, then transitioning into a triangle, and finally locking up the armbar.
Victor: Beneil Dariush, 2nd round submission 4:41, armbar
Heavyweight: Blagoy Ivanov (17-2-0, 1NC) vs. Ben Rothwell (36-11)
Ben Rothwell looked absolutely menacing in this fight, relentlessly pursuing Blagoy Ivanov, and even though it had been over 1,000 days since Rothwell had last appeared in the Octagon, he had no rust to knock off tonight. Midway through the first, Ivanov began finding his range and delivered a few nice shots. However, Ivanov allowed Rothwell to stay to the outside for too long, and I felt that Ben Rothwell had the impetus going into the second.
Rothwell maintained his aggression to open the second, keeping Blagoy Ivanov on his heels throughout the round. Although Ivanov got a larger number of his own punches through, again I felt that he did a poor job of allowing Rothwell to stay outside and do his work. I had the fight 20/18 Ben Rothwell entering the third.
Rothwell slowed down his pursuit in the third, and allowed Ivanov to have a little more success with his hands. That being said, Rothwell was devastating in working his range and delivering punches and elbows throughout the round. I gave the third to Rothwell, and I had the fight 30/27 Rothwell. In a surprising turn of events, all three judges disagreed and scored the fight 29/28 for Blagoy Ivanov. Even though I picked Ivanov for the win, I thought that this was a very questionable decision.
Victor: Blagoy Ivanov, unanimous decision
Welterweight: Tim Means (28-11-1, 1NC) vs. Niko Price (13-2-0, 1NC)
Niko Price opened up this fight with a maniacal fury, landing combination after combination, and Tim Means was quickly in trouble. However, Means did a magnificent job of locking Price up and taking him down to change the tempo of the fight and regain his composure. Means maintained top position for the better part of ninety seconds, and both fighters were banged up as the fight went back to a stand up. Price was visibly much slower with his striking and head movement, and he allowed Tim Means to virtually pick him apart for the remainder of the round.
Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Niko Price, but as the round was coming to a close, he delivered a beautiful right hook to the temple of Tim Means, dropping Means to the canvas and getting the first round knockout. This was an incredible show for the hands and chin of Niko Price, and I couldn’t imagine this performance not landing both fighters a Performance of the Night bonus.
Victor: Niko Price, 1st round knockout, 4:50
Welterweight: Co-main – Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (21-5) vs. Curtis Millender (17-4)
In the co-main event of the evening, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos found his range early in the first round against Curtis Millender, then like clockwork he went with a level change and secured the takedown. From the top, dos Santos worked some ground and pound, and Millender chose to give up his back. Dos Santos obliged and quickly got his hooks in, but Millender escaped. Dos Santos seamlessly transitioned to mount, then again to Millender’s back, working a jiu jitsu clinic. He snuck his arm under Millender’s chin and quickly got the tap.
Victor: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, 1st round submission 2:35, rear naked choke
Heavyweight: Main event – Derrick Lewis (21-7-0, 1NC) vs. Junior dos Santos (21-5)
The main event of UFC Fight Night 146 featured a Heavyweight war between Derrick Lewis and Junior dos Santos. The first round opened with some great kicks from Derrick Lewis, and early on it appeared that he had the significant advantage in the stand up. Dos Santos caught Lewis with an overhand right, rocking Lewis, and Lewis returned it with a right hook that rocked dos Santos. Both fighters retreated and stepped back to settle in a bit afterward.
Then, Junior Dos Santos caught Derrick Lewis with a heavy spinning back kick to the abdomen, hunching Lewis over in pain. Dos Santos went in for the kill, and immediately got caught with a heavy hand from Lewis. Derrick Lewis would spend the remainder of the first in visible pain and hunching over when he had the chance. However, dos Santos could not get the finish as he had to play it safe against a Derrick Lewis who is always one punch away from a quick and definitive knockout.
Derrick Lewis seemed to have recovered a bit as the second round began, but Junior dos Santos caught him with a straight right that put Lewis in trouble. Dos Santos followed up with a flurry of straight punches, hooks and uppercuts which crumpled Lewis to the canvas. Dos Santos pursued with short punches until referee Herb Dean had seen enough.
Victor: Junior dos Santos, 2nd round TKO, 1:58