Leonardo Santos earned a unanimous decision victory over Efrain Escudero tonight at UFC fight Night 51 largely thanks to his periods of control on top, while also managing to survive a scare in the second round when he was dropped by the former TUF winner.
A touch of gloves and we’re underway. Santos with a combination of punches to start. Leg kick for the Brazilian too.
Escudero with a right hand. Body kick for Santos. Both men exchanging strikes early here. Low leg kicks for Escudero. Santos just misses on an uppercut attempt.
Santos gets into the clinch and presses Escudero against the cage. He’s hunting for a takedown and manages to drag him to the mat and despite it being a litte awkward he stays on top. Santos trying to get to mount, but in the end has to settle for half guard.
Short elbows from on top for Santos. He moves up almost to full mount and then takes Escudero’s back with a little over a minute of the round remaining. He softens him up with a few punches and tries to slide in his arm for a choke, but quickly lets it go. He continues chipping away then gets his hooks in and rolls onto his back. Not much time left and he tries for an armbar, but his opponent escapes.
Low kick from Escudero and a left and right behind it. He’s looking to push the pace a little more here. He eats a knee from Santos to the mid-section though.
Escudero struggling a little to get in on Santos’ reach. He does land a right hand though. Jab lands for Santos. He misses with a hook. Santos keeping the jab in Escudero’s face and then swoops in on a clinch attempt and pushes him against the cage.
Escudero switches around then moves away. They go back to striking and big right hand from Escudero suddenly drops Santos.
Escudero opts to keep the fight standing and Santos gets back up somewhat unsteadily. Santos misses with a head kick attempt. Escudero lands a few punches. Santos tries to land a takedown, but it’s sloppy and it’s he who ends on the mat and again Escudero decides to not risk going to the mat with him.
Back standing in the final minute and Escudero lands again. Santos looks tired, but he musters a spinning kick to close out the round, but Escudero was well out of range.
Santos working behind the jab again. Escudero lands a punch to the body. Leg kick for Santos. Escudero in and out with a few punches.
Right hand lands for Escudero. More jabs for Santos and they are landing lightly, but Escudero is just walking through them to land his own punches.
A couple of front kicks to the body from Santos. He tries to go upstairs too, but it just misses. Santos bursts in on a takedown and turns the corner with it to complete the move.
Santos in half-guard and then works his way into mount at the half-way mark of the final round. Santos works to his opponent’s back. Santos now with his back up against the cage and his legs triangled around Escudero’s body as he tries for a rear-naked choke, but he can’t get his arm under the chin.
Into the final 30 seconds and Escudero lands a few punches backwards as Santos tries once again to get the choke, but he’s again unable to lock it in and that’s the end of the round.
Onto the judges scorecards then and the takedowns and control on top from Santos in the first and third rounds are enough to secure him the unanimous decision victory (29-28 x3).