Movsar Evloev emerged victorious via unanimous decision against Diego Lopes tonight at UFC 288, but the short-notice newcomer made him work very hard for it.
Leg kick for Lopes and then one from Evloev in response. Another leg kick from Lopes and then a solid straight.
Lopes lands in close and Evloev responds with a right hook. Lopes still looking to trade though and lands well, putting Evloev in some early adversity.
Evloev does well to bring Lopes down, but Lopes is trying to work a submission attempt. Evloev is wise to it though and escapes, then settles in his opponent’s guard.
Lopes looking to strike off his back and then gets a leg up onto Evloev’s shoulder as he looks to manufacture a submission attempt. Evloev adjusts though and is free for now.
However, Lopes then works for an armbar and rolls with it. he seems to have this. Evloev trying to defend as best he can and somehow manages to survive and get back on top.
Evloev still happy to stay on top despite that scare. He lands a nice right hand. Lopes working again for a submission, this time potentially trying to set up a leg lock. Evloev is ok though and lands a few punches. Lopes close to working a triangle choke submission as the round draws to a close.
Nice right hand from Evloev. He lands again but this time Lopes also connects with a left hook.
Right hand again from Evloev. He misses on a strike and Lopes lands a couple of short hooks.
Body kick for Evloev. He misses with a spinning kick upstairs. One-two for Evloev. He lands that again nicely.
Left hook from Lopes. A couple of right hands from Evloev. Swing and a miss from Lopes. Both fighters land a punch apiece.
Body kick from Evloev. Double jab and a right hand for Evloev. Punch for Lopes, but then Evloev swoops in and lands a takedown.
Evloev takes his time then starts to land some body punches, then works the body-head combo nicely. Evloev stacking up and landing some hard punches as the late-replacement Lopes is clearly starting to run out of steam.
Evloev lands another series of solid body punches as the round draws to a close.
Lopes with a flurry of punches off the guard as he attempts to find his second-wind. Body punch from Lopes.
Nice jab for Evloev. He attempts a head kick that’s blocked. He gets a right hand through. Good elbow to the head from Evloev and Lopes lands a counter.
Double-jab for Evloev. Now he clinches up against the cage. he lands an elbow in close and then gets the takedown.
He stands over him looking for ground-and-pound, but Lopes scrambles. Evloev nicely drags him down, but Lopes stands again. Evloev remains clinched to the back and kicks the back of his opponent’s legs. Now a kick to the head from an unusual position.
More solid kicks to the back of the calf from Evloev. Suddenly Lopes drops with a kimura attempt and it looks dangerous. Evloev has to roll to escape that danger. Lopes still threatening though and Evloev stands with him.
Evloev around to the back and chopping at the back of his legs again. Lopes again goes to the ground with a kimura attempt that doesn’t pay off again, but then he transitions and is working for a knee-bar.
This looks tight too and it feels like most opponent’s would have tapped to one of these submissions by now, but Evloev is showing very impressive defensive ability and is able to ride out the final seconds of the round with his leg precariously extended without tapping.
This turned out to be an exciting fight then with Lopes giving the undefeated Evloev a serious challenge with his submission game in particular, catching him in a few potentially fight-ending ones over the course of 15 minutes.
However, Evloev showed off terrific submission defense and was the sharper of the two in the striking department as the rounds progressed as well as securing key takedowns and working some spells of control and ground-and-pound on his way to a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x2, 30-27).