The UFC 259 is one of the most stacked main-card events in recent memory, but the prelim card Saturday night, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas was full of ranked fighters and exciting moments.
The prelim card along featured three champions and challengers, including #11 Dominick Cruz looking to get his first win in almost five years against Casey Kenney. Cruz would be competing in only his second non-title fight since September 2009. The two competed in a back and forth affair, that showed Cruz still has his fantastic fancy footwork, and that Casey Kenney was able to solve the puzzle at times. Ultimately, Cruz got that elusive win via split decision.
#14 Song Yadong was in action against Kyler Phillips. Yadong's impressive 6 fight unbeaten streak to open his UFC career was ended when Phillips was able to outlast him on his way to a unanimous decision. Phillips moves to 3-0 in the UFC as a result.
Elsewhere on the show, always the bridesmaid #2 Joseph Benavidez hoped to get back on track and attempt a march towards yet another title opportunity. Benavidez had lost four title matches dating back to 2012, and had #3 Askar Askarov in his way. Unfortunately for Benavidez, his aggressive start wasn't enough to weather the sustained storm of Askarov, who took home a unanimous decision victory.
A rare battle of two men sharing the same ranking, as #8 ranked Rogerio Bontorin took on #8 Kai Kara-France in another Flyweight battle to effectively break the tie in the division. Bontorin took control early, almost locking in several rear naked choke attempts. However, Kara-France fought them all off and uncorked a huge KO punch. A bit of confusion unfolded after, as Kara-France returned to seemingly go after Bontorin again.
Another former title challenger looking to get things going again is #12 Tim Elliott, fresh off of snapping his three-fight skid, and hoped to continue his winning ways against the struggling Jordan Espinosa. Elliott in the middle of the fight accused Espinosa of being a "woman beater," inside the cage, in which Espinosa said he "didn't know the whole story." Elliott said --inside the cage-- that he heard Espinosa choked a girl in 2018. You can see a transcript of the comments here, which were much more interesting than the fight Elliott won via unanimous decision
#15 Livinha Souza has been inching closer to a title fight, but was actually a significant underdog to the surging Amanda Lemos. That was for good reason, as Lemos completely bullied her ranked opponent en route to a quick, first round TKO victory. Lemos will likely be ranked when they're newly issued.