UFC Vegas 28 prelims play-by-play and results

Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC Vegas 28 prelims consisted of eight bouts. Featuring several Octagon first-timers and several main card veterans. The action kicked off from inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, at 4 pm ET on ESPN+.

UFC Vegas 28 prelims: Puelles hands Leavitt his first career loss after nearly 10 minutes of control on the mat

To open the UFC Vegas 28 prelims, Claudio Puelles looked sharp early despite not having fought since September of 2019. Both traded stiff kicks before Jordan Leavitt looked to take the fight to the mat. His advances were short-lived before action returned to the feet. With a little over a minute left, “El Nino” gave his opponent some of his own medicine, landed a takedown and controlled from the top to end the first round.

Early in the second, “The Monkey King” again looked to get the fight to the ground, but Puelles defended well and turned a failed heel hook attempt on him into getting top control once again. Leavitt tried to sweep and reverse positions, but the Peruvian had an answer at every turn. Over the last 30 seconds, Puelles worked to back control and clearly was the more effective fighter in the round.

Sensing his ground advantages, Puelles initiated the grappling and scored the takedown. Leavitt continued to try and be active on the ground with strikes and looking to get back up, but his 26-year-old foe showed a skilled top game. Although he did not do a great deal of damage, which even led to the referee standing the fight up with a minute left, in the end it didn’t matter after Puelles had nearly 10 minutes of control time on the mat.

The Inka FC and 300 Sparta veteran scored the unanimous decision victory. He has now won three straight in the Octagon. He also hands the native of Nevada his first loss in the Octagon, and overall. Moving Leavitt’s record to 8-1.

Woodson stuffs 15 Zalal takedowns to earn the split-decision win

Early on, Sean Woodson chased Youssef Zalal, but “The Moroccan Devil” was the fighter landing stiffer punches and kicks as he moved around and tried to stay out of his foes long range. On two occasions Zalal looked to score a takedown but Woodson defended. However, the third try with about 15 seconds left was the charm to score some late points in a round he likely won.

In the second, Zalal found a space where he could get inside on “The Sniper” and land his shots or initiate the grappling. He certainly took shots on occasion. But he is leading the dance more than his opponent. However, the second round in general was much closer. Woodson landed more strikes and did not get taken down. Will the judges score the action of Zalal or the points scoring of Woodson?

In the third, the constant pressure of Woodson has seemingly had an effect. As Zalal is getting hit more and trying harder to get the fight to the ground. However, the 28-year-old Dana White Contender’s Series contract winner has stuffed every takedown thrown at him since the one he gave up to end the first. A late attempt by Zalal led to a Woodson snapping up his opponent in a choke that seemed deep but didn’t finish the fight. Yet it definitely gave him a strong finish to the round, to help sway the judges.

Which he did as he earned a split decision win in stopping 15 of Zalal’s 17 takedown attempts. He bounces back after a loss in his last UFC appearance and a year away from the cage. Zalal has now lost three straight after winning his first three in the promotion.

Manon Fiorot earns seventh straight win with TKO over UFC newcomer Tabatha Ricci

Manon Fiorot welcomed Tabatha Ricci to the Octagon in her UFC debut. And early on, the size difference between the two, after Ricci moved up to flyweight to get this opportunity, was seriously evident. Fiorot did a good job of using jabs and kicks to fight long and not let the newcomer get to the grappling where she prefers it. “The Beast” looked like one in the first, stuffing every takedown, stalked, and landed on the Brazilian throughout.

In the second, the story was the same as the first French native to win in the Octagon stalked and beat up her 26-year old opponent. A couple of minutes in, Fiorot landed a punch that floored her Ricci. “Baby Shark” showed her toughness in trying to survive through the onslaught, however, after about 15 seconds of trying to defend the wave of damage, the referee brought an end to the fight.

The 31-year-old has now won seven straight, two of those in the Octagon. Seven of her eight wins have now come by knockout. Ricci comes up short in her promotional debut, but the LFA veteran was handed a difficult spot, a division up and on short notice.

Mason Jones and Alan Patrick ends in a no-contest after an accidental eye poke

To start the round in the usual fashion, Alan Patrick came out aggressive with explosive bursts of action to do immediate damage. Mason Jones played the role of matador and tried to weather the early storm, by pressuring and trying to keep his opponent on his back foot. By the end of the round, the big actions started to take the air out of Patrick’s balloon. Plus, Jones fought smart and methodically, landing shots where he had them. In the last minute, the Welsh fighter got a takedown and pummelled the Brazilian on the mat.

The 37-year-old instead tried for the takedown in the second, however, his 11 years younger foe was the fighter who got it to the mat. The momentum was clearly in Jones’ corner as the round proceeded, but an inadvertent eye poke from the former Cage Warriors welterweight champion led to a pause in the action. The fight never restarted as Patrick said he could not see and the bout was called a no-contest.

It’s a disappointing end for “The Dragon” as he was seemingly on his way to a win, and a bounce back from a UFC debut loss in January. Nevertheless, he was impressive despite the unfortunate result.

Kamuela Kirk upsets UFC veteran Makwan Amirkhani in short-notice UFC debut

Makwan Amirkhani had a big Octagon experience advantage over newcomer Kamuela Kirk as the pair entered the cage at UFC Vegas 28. But Kirk looked like the veteran early as he fought with composure in stuffing a couple of takedowns and landing some solid strikes. Eventually “Mr. Finland’s” efforts to get things to the mat won out and he was able to score a takedown with two minutes left. It was the most notable moment in an even round between the two competitors.

In the second, “The Jawaiian” seemed to get a better sense of Amirkhani’s rhythm and techniques to take him down. And he landed several strong strikes, including a nice flying need to the body. However, halfway through the Fin was once again able to get the fight on the mat where he had the advantage. But Kirk didn’t rest on his laurels and attempted to end things off his back. He even secured a triangle armbar that seemed seconds from ending the fight, but Amirkhani somehow survived it and got to the end of the round.

In the final round, despite having had notable moments of top control, Amirkhani looked exhausted, but he gutted it out and was able to get a third takedown a little over a minute in. The 32-year-old controlled most of the round with his grappling, until a failed return to the mat was reversed by Kirk and he ended up the man on top for the last minute.

In the end, Kirk’s activity on the ground and leading things on the feet earned him the unanimous decision win in an impressive UFC debut on short notice. Amirkhani has now three of his last five in the Octagon.

Muslim Salikhov out strikes Francisco Trinaldo to earn fifth straight win

Moving up to welterweight, Francisco Trinaldo looked to be the aggressor early and keep the skilled striker in Muslim Salikhov on his back foot. The Russian handled the pressure well and landed several good strikes, including a loud kick that blasted into the Brazilian’s midsection. With 30 seconds left, “Massaranduba” rushed in for an exchange of strikes and took a right hand that wobbled and floored him. However, despite his opponent trying to finish the fight with ground-and-pound, he was able to survive into the second round.

Despite being hurt minutes before, Trinaldo was unfazed in the second and still pressured to open the round. The durable 42-year-old has shown how game he is and is landing some solid strikes of his own. It’s just that his opponent is landing more, and the strikes of note in each round. With two minutes left another right stunned Trinaldo, but he fought on competitively to finish the round.

Sensing he was behind, Trinaldo fought very aggressively and threw a lot of strikes in an attempt to find one that could finish his opponent. It was a highly competitive round and Trinaldo’s best of the fight. It wasn’t enough as the “King of Kung Fu” earned a unanimous decision on the judge’s cards. He has now won five straight. The loss ends the ageless Trinaldo’s three-fight win streak.

Ilir Latifi breaks losing streak with cautious win over Tanner Boser

Ilir Latifi entered his prelims bout with Tanner Boser badly in need of a win after losing three straight. A minute and half into the fight he got the fight exactly where he wanted. On the ground, so he could unload with ground-and-pound. However, instead of punches, Latifi chose to cut through Boser’s defenses and get to side control. But he didn’t do much in the position and “The Bulldozer” was able to get back to the feet with a minute left. Nonetheless it was a Latifi round.

In the second, Boser looked to strike from a distance and avoid getting caught up in any grappling exchanges. It worked and he landed a shot that seemed to hurt the Swede (it could have be an eye poke) and he tried to finish the fight. But with two minutes left “The Sledgehammer” was able to endure and make it into the third.

With the fight likely on the line, Latifi got a needed takedown early in the third. That’s where it stayed for the round as Latifi played it safe and Boser seemed glued to the mat and couldn’t get up. The strategy worked and Latifi earned a split-decision win to get back into the win column for the first time since 2018. Boser is now 3-3 in the UFC and has lost for the seventh time by decision.

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