UFC 217 Fight Pass Preliminary Results and Recap

Oleksiy Oliynyk (Aleksei Oleinik) UFC
Aleksei Oleinik Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

UFC 217 finally arrived Saturday, with a historic night of action unfolding at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Three title fights, including the return of Georges St. Pierre against Michael Bisping, topped the UFC 217 card, but earlier on in the evening, a pair of bouts on UFC Fight Pass kicked off the action. In the featured preliminary bout, heavyweight submission expert Oleksiy Oliynyk faced off against the rugged Curtis Blaydes. Ranked ninth in the UFC’s heavyweight division, Oliynyk entered the bout with an absolutely staggering professional record of 52-10-1, and was 4-1 in the UFC to date.

Last time out, Oliynyk stepped into the big time with a second round submission of Travis Browne.

Opposite Oliynyk in the cage at MSG was twelfth-ranked Curtis Blaydes. A relative newcomer to the UFC’s heavyweight rankings, Blaydes, 7-1 (1NC) to start the night, was coming off a UFC 213 victory over Daniel Omielanczuk.

Just prior to that, Aiemann Zahabi, brother of TriStar Gym’s Firas Zahabi, took to the octagon, meeting Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos in bantamweight action.

The UFC 217 Fight Pass Preliminary card kicks off at 7PM EST time, exclusively on UFC Fight Pass in North America. Be sure to check back for updates throughout the night!

Aiemann Zahabi vs. Ricardo Ramos

Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos entered the bout a 2-1 favorite — could Canada’s Zihabi pull off the upset?

After the action got underway, Zihabi clinched, landing knee to the body, and wound up in a scramble as they went to the ground. Ramos showed considerable skill with the transitions on the ground, but so did Zihabi, and they got right back to their feet. Ramos unleasheed some heavy leg kicks, one of which knocked Zihabi over. Zihabi was slowed by the kicks, but managed to throw a pair of crisp uppercuts, proving he wasn’t out of the bout just yet. Ramos then shot for a takedown, but Zihabi rolled with it and popped back up. Zihabi then landed a kick that was follwed by a right hand that appeared to catch Ramos unsuspecting. Ramos recovered, and managed to close the round with a slam, taking the back and adding some shots from above before the bell sounded.

Ramos went back to his leg kicks in round two, which had proved very successful in the first frame. He’d later add a bit of flash with a spinning elbow attempt that came close to connecting. Zihabi then launched a body kick and clipped his opponent again. His jab and right cross combination was finding its way through, as was an uppercut that Ramos seemed hard pressed to avoid. Ramos would get his own jab going as the clock wound down, but it was a much closer round than the first.

Round three opened up with Zihabi throwing more volume, the uppercut once again hitting home. Ramos was also looking to up his output, and his jab picked up where it left off in the second. A spinning attack missed, but a second spinning elbow connected clean, launching Zahabi back and earning the instant knockout!

Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi by KO (spinning back elbow), Round 3, 1:58

Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Curtis Blaydes

The two big men exchanged punches early before Blaydes took Oliynyk down, a questionable decision with the submission expert. They came right back to the feet, however, where Blaydes came close to catching his opponent while Oliynyk’s back was turned. Oliynyk was not afraid to pull off a spinning back fist/elbow or two, but telegraphed them. Blaydes used one to score another takedown, then a second moments later where he was finally able to get on top. A hard kick to the spine drew a warning from the ref, but the action was able to continue.

Back on the feet, the pair opened up, trading looping punches, with both men landing. Oliynyk would then find himself dropped by an uppercut, but latched on to a leg to gain time to recover. He’d survive, only to be wobbled again by another uppercut and a knee to the body before the end of the round. Rocked and bloodied, he made it back to his corner, but how would he look in the second?

Blaydes again caught Oliynyk early in the second with an uppercut as the pair continued to exchange blows. A takedown by Blaydes seemed to work in Oliynyk’s favor, as he gained time to recover, then on the way out, Blaydes grazed Oliynyk’s ear with an illegal kick, as Oliynyk was clearly a downed opponent. The referee called the doctor in to examine Oliynyk, and the fight as called, a puzzling move for a blow that barely touched the fighter. The action was reviewed via instant replay, the first use at a UFC event since the NYSAC adopted new video replay rules, as the fans in attendance chanted “let them fight.”

In the end it was ruled that the damage from the kick didn’t cause the stoppage, but rather Oliynyk could not continue due to the earlier damage incurred, giving Blaydes the victory.

Curtis Blaydes def. Oleksiy Oliynyk by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 2, 1:56

UFC 217 Fight Pass Preliminary Results

Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi by KO (spinning back elbow), Round 3, 1:58
Curtis Blaydes def. Oleksiy Oliynyk by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 2, 1:56