Royval Wins Moreno Re-Match; Ortega Earns Another Submission Victory

February 26, 2024
2 months

Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico, was home to an enthralling UFC Fight Night card featuring the best Latin American fighters currently in the promotion. Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval fought for the second time in the main event. Brian Ortega was in action against Yair Rodríguez in a massive flyweight clash.

Royval Victorious in the Battle of Brandons

It was MMA breaking news when Brandon Moreno won the first fight against Brandon Royval with a first-round TKO victory back at UFC 255. Since then, both men have stepped up their game in the featherweight division. Moreno held the title and even the interim strap but ultimately came undone against Alexandre Pantoja. Royval has had a slower ascent and lost his championship fight against Pantoja too.

With both men reaching the championship quality and losing out to the Brazilian for the silverware, a re-match was sanctioned to the delight of MMA news sites. While the second meeting between the pair wasn’t as enthralling as the first, Royval picking up the decision will move him up the rankings. He could be in line for the third fight with Pantoja or take on Iraqi fighter Amir Albazi, who is also highly rated in the standings. Royval was supposed to fight Albazi on this card, but the latter pulled out due to injury.

However, the elephant in the room is that it wasn’t a brilliant win. It was a split decision with few points to separate the fighters. Royval was only up by a single point in the eyes of the two judges that gave it to him, while Moreno was way ahead by the other judge, who scored it 49-46. Should the pair meet yet again in the cage?

Ortega Secures Submission in Rodríguez Re-Match

Brian Ortega has concentrated solely on this second fight with Yair Rodríguez since the first match in July 2022. That fight saw Ortega have his shoulder dislocated, forcing a TKO loss. Nineteen months later, he got to get his hands on the man who had taken away so much time from his career.

Many combatants would have been rusty from such an extended time off or let the emotions of a return get the better of them. Ortega was not subject to either adversity as he remained calm and looked for his eighth submission victory. He applied the arm-triangle choke 58 seconds into the third round and forced Rodríguez to tap out. Ortega will now be able to command a decent spot in the featherweight rankings – where there are some great fights for him like the recently dethroned Alexander Volkanovski, the champion Ilia Topuria, or even another re-match and trilogy fight with Yair Rodríguez.

Jauregui Gets Decision Win Over Hughes

Mexico’s Yazmin Jauregui had an incredibly short 2023 from an MMA standpoint. She contested just one fight, and it lasted all over 20 seconds. Denise Gomes knocked her out with an early rampage of punches. Since then, she’s had significant time off to recoup and return after going 10-1 and Gomes tarnishing her undefeated status.

She fought Sam Hughes in the only women’s fight on the card. The American was also relatively inactive last year, having just fought once. Some would argue that Hughes failed to fight here as Jauregui put in a very controlling performance, making Hughes look second best in every department. The fight went the distance, and everyone in the arena knew that Jauregui would have her hand raised; Hughes’ expression was unmoved after hearing the decision.

The Mexican brawler will now look to break into the top 15 strawweight rankings. Fighters like Mackenzie Dern and Angelia Hill could make for exciting bouts. However, an all-Mexican showdown against Loopy Godínez would be great if the UFC planned to host more cards south of the border.

Naimov Gets Quick Win to Start Show

Erik Silva might have been born in Venezuela but could count on the support of the local Mexican crowd, having fought many times before signing with the UFC. Yet, after graduating from the 2022 Contender Series, he’s had a terrible time. He lost his first fight on the main roster and had over a year out because of it! He opened the show here in Mexico looking to get back to winning ways…but that didn’t happen.

Forty-four seconds into his fight with Muhammad Naimov, Silva was being backed up toward the cage wall – when it was evident to the ref that Silva had badly pinged his foot on the wiring. He gingerly stumbled, but the ref separated the fighters and had Silva assessed by the medical staff on hand. With his head in his hands, Silva was ruled out and lost the fight before it had begun. Naimov benefitted and won his third UFC win with the decision.

Ziam Gets Tight Split Decision

French MMA fighters are coming to the fore with their home country, which legalized the sport a few years ago. Farès Ziam and his compatriots like Benoît Saint Denis and Manon Fiorot aren’t just conquering the French scene; they’re looking for global domination, much like historical figures Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle.

At the weekend, Ziam metaphorically hoisted the French flag in the air as he defeated Claudio Puelles, a Peruvian fighter. The bout went all three rounds and was a close contest as the Europeans relied on a split decision. Ziam ended the night with a 15-4 record, while Puellas slipped to 12-4. This outcome seemed to serve as a stimulus for the rest of the night as the card had four split decisions – yet no KO finishes. 

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By Dean McHugh.