*** For MMAmania.com's UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" play-by-play coverage of the main card RIGHT HERE. ***
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) invades American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, tonight (March 15, 2014) for UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler."
Before the cowboys of the main card commence shooting their pistols, the "Prelims" took shape online through Fight Pass and FOX Sports 2 (FS2), providing mixed martial arts (MMA) fans with a mediocre bunch of scraps early on in the evening.
Headlining the FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" was Kelvin Gastelum against Rick Story in a pivotal bout for both contested at 170 pounds, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 winner improved to 9-0 with a split decision win over "Horror."
Gastelum and Story were testing their might in the first round, trading punches with Gastelum doing a better job of mixed up the hits. The Yuma MMA youngster dropped jaws when he clocked Story with a head kick, following up with hard punches and a string of submission attempts.
Toward the end of the second round, "The Horror" exploded with his hands, decking Gastelum with a huge left hook and tried to put away the downed reality show winner.
Story brought his attack to the body in the third round, while Gastelum switched the levels and took him down. Story wound up on top after shaking him off, and then the scrambles ensued. With thirty seconds left, they swapped punches scrappily in to end the contest, each looking to sway the judges.
A women's bantamweight match up saw Jessica Andrade defeat Raquel Pennington in a heavily entertaining affair, validating this relatively newly formed division as a pack of dynamite.
The former TUF 18 semi-finalist did a great job of standing in the line of fire against the experience Brazilin, even though she was unsuccessful for the majority of the time standing up and on the ground.
Both fighters pleased the crowd in the second round, engaging in a slugfest amidst the courses they were tied up for. They even traded guillotine attempts towards the end.
Andrade was coming forth with force, but it was Pennington who explored more angles and used leg kicks, as well. The former Invicta product looked very improved, notwithstanding the fact that she came up short after a strong end to the third round where she battered Andrade with huge takedowns and flurries.
The "prelims" rolled on as Dennis Bermudez rag dolled Jimy Hettes early and often, blasting through him en route to a third-round TKO victory,
It was the best we've ever seen Bermudez inside the cage in his career, who earns his first finish since mid 2012. "The Menace" was crisp in his boxing, ferocious with his shoots, and gave no chance for Hettes to breathe.
Bermudez turned it on in the third round, rocking and dropping Hettes before dishing out a calculating and powerful combination, including a knee to the cranium, which did the damage. The featherweight made is six straight (tying Jose Aldo for most consecutive wins at featherweight), and being the first man to finish Hettes in the process, too.
Alex Garcia didn't exactly turn Sean Spencer into a human punching bag, but he was able to snatch up a hard-fought victory through difficult moments throughout three rounds.
The fight started off with both strikers being patient, picking their shots cautiously. Garcia did land a couple of takedowns, yet Spencer wasn't too fazed by them.
The second round was damn wild, as Spencer rocked Garcia badly with a right hand, and when he continued to pounce on him, Garcia dropped him with a right of his own -- continuing the pressure. Spencer survived, and continued to engage in a slugfest after a few scrambles on the ground. It seemed like Garcia hurt Spencer worse than the Golden Gloves champ hurt the Montreal-based fighter until the last few seconds, where Spencer wobbled Garcia once more.
Garcia opted to use his wrestling skills in the third round, as Spencer was more than eager to continue the battle of strikes on the feet. Unfortunately for Spencer, a comfortable and safe game plan was the answer to sway the judges in the last sequences.
Frank Trevino and Renee Forte engaged in a snoozer and a half as the Fight Pass main attraction, with the latter keeping his undefeated record in tact by winning the three-round fight.
Trevino used takedowns to break Forte, landing multiple double-leg scoops in the second and third rounds. The fight was close on the feet, and although Forte wasn't exactly controlled and won the first round, Trevino was in command for the majority of their fight.
In the third round, Trevino landed some big elbows and started to string up good combinations, which kept landing to seal his first UFC victory.
The third youngest fighter on the active roster, bantamweight Justin Scoggins is turning out to be quite the prospect, purely dominating Will Campuzano in a fight that wasn't even close.
Scoggins was the aggressor early, mixing up wrestling with his flashy, lightning-quick strikes. He was eating up Campuzano on the feet in the first round, experimenting with all kinds of kicks.
A mistake from the young fighter saw him caught in a guillotine choke in the second round after shooting in sloppily, yet he continued the onslaught afterwards.
Campuzano had literally no success apart from the second round submission attempt, as he was dominated by the "new breed of fighter" we keep hearing about when applicable.
Sean Strickland proved he could hang with the Octagon with a rear-naked choke victory over Bubba McDaniel in the first round.
The former King of The Cage (KOTC) middleweight champion was no match for the TUF 17 alumni, who didn't have an answer for "Tarzan" on the ground.
Strickland locked in the submission after a slick transition over McDaniel, and the Greg Jackson-trained had no choice but to tap early, dropping his second fight in a row.
Robert Whiteford also secured his first UFC victory against Daniel Pineda in the very first fight of the night, opening up the Fight Pass "Prelims."
Whiteford showed he had the grappling advantage in throughout the fight, even though "The Pit" worked well defensively off of his back. Pineda landed a couple of hard kicks to the body when the fight was contested on the feet, although he couldn't trouble Whiteford with anything significant.
Whiteford cut Pineda bad in the second round, hurting him with a head kick, and did a good job of canceling a last-gasp kneebar attempt from Pineda with just two minutes left in the third round.
Here are the entire UFC 171 "Prelims" quick results:
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story -- Gastelum wins by unanimous decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington -- Andrade wins by split decision (28-29, 29x28x2)
Jim Hettes vs. Dennis Bermudez -- Bermudez wins by TKO (strikes) at 2:57 of round three.
Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer -- Garcia wins by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino -- Trevino wins by unanimous decision (29-28x3)
Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins -- Scoggins wins by unanimous decision (30-27x3)
Bubba McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland -- Strickland wins by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:33 of round one.
Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford -- Whiteford wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Make sure to follow our UFC 171: "Hendricks vs. Lawler" play-by-play coverage of the main card RIGHT HERE.