UFC St. Louis: Stephens vs. Choi Fight Pass Preliminary Results and Recap

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Jessica Eye UFC - Eye was looking to save her job at UFC St. Louis
Jessica Eye Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

UFC Fight Night 124 took place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO on Sunday, with a trio of early bouts airing exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

UFC St. Louis (UFC Fight Night 124) started out with a slate of five UFC Fight Pass exclusive prelims, but with the injury/illness bug hitting both Zak Cummings and Uriah Hall, when all was said and done the streaming service was down to but three bouts. With a pair of women’s bouts in the bantamweight and strawweight divisions, however, the Fight Pass offerings held the promise of providing some gems in the rough.

It the featured UFC Fight Pass preliminary bout, Jessica Eye made her debut in the UFC flyweight division. She was looking to snap a four fight losing streak, and stave off a possible cut from the promotion. Opposite her in the octagon was Brazil’s Kalindra Faria. Faria had lost her UFC debut on short notice, against Italy’s Mara Romero Borella.

Mads Burnell vs. Mike Santiago

Kicking off the UFC St. Louis action were featherweights Mads Burnell and Mike Santiago. Burnell, of Denmark, entered the bout off a loss in his UFC debut to Michel Prazeres in September. Santiago, meanwhile, also entered off a loss, to Zabit Magomedsharipov, but was 1-1 in his UFC tenure to date.

Burnell missed weight for this one, which was contested at a catchweight as a result. Burnwell pressed the action early, scoring an early takedown and easily passing to side control. Santiago scooted back to the fence and wall walked up, only to have Burnell immediately go to work for another takedown. A whizzer, elbows, and a good sprawl kept Santiago upright that time; he moved to a guillotine attempt but could not secure it.

Burnell fell back on yet another takedown attempt, only this time, it was Santiago landing on top. This chess match finished out round one. In round two, an early exchange on the feet led to the pair going back to the ground, with Santiago on top working in some ground n’ pound. From half guard, he was a threat with submissions, looking to snake an arm around his opponent’s neck. After finally escaping, Burnell in turn scored a takedown of his own. Santiago gave up his back and Burnell peppered him with punches from above. Burnell was soon flattening Santiago out on the mat, with Santiago still eating shots. A rear-naked choke attempt came close, but Santiago survived the round.

In round three Mads Burnell drove Santiago into the fence early. Santiago managed to fend off the takedown for a time, but roughly ninety seconds in, Burnell was able to complete a double leg. He worked his way into half guard, and Santiago risked giving up his back again before thinking better of it. Santiago would not make it back to his feet until the final minute of the round, but Burnell was on him immediately, working for a single leg. In the end, all three judges saw the chess match going to Burnell.

Mads Burnell def. Mike Santiago by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Danielle Taylor vs. JJ Aldrich

In strawweight action, JJ Aldrich was tripped up by an inside leg kick early by the powerful Danielle Taylor. Aldrich was looking to find her range and work in a left hand in the opening seconds of the frame. She fired off a high kick that missed; Taylor meanwhile looked to find a home for her right hand. In the final two minutes of round one, Aldrich pressed forward looking for a trip/takedown. She finally secured it along the fence, landing in half-guard and peppering Taylor with punches. Taylor attempted to answer back from the bottom while looking for a way out.

Aldrich worked her jab to open round two, pressing the action early. With the late takedown likely awarding her round one on the scorecards, she was looking to build momentum in the second. As with the first, the action of the feet was back and forth; JJ’s jab connected several times, while Taylor scored with a crisp right with ninety seconds or so to go in the frame. They opened up in the final thirty seconds, with Aldrich landing from a distance, adding a body kick and a hard left hand.

JJ Aldrich scored with a combo almost immediately after the opening bell in round three. She was walking Taylor down, while Taylor was looking to escape. A big spinning back fist connected flush for Aldrich! She was looking lose, and fully in control of the bout at that point. A right hand clipped Taylor next. Aldrich went to the head with a kick, which connected at least partially. Taylor would try to battle back, but simply couldn’t connect, while Aldrich was scoring with both lefts and rights. The jab/cross was there, the kicks were there, and when Taylor returned fire, more often than not she found air.

Not surprisingly, Aldrich took home the unanimous decision in the end.

JJ Aldrich def. Danielle Taylor by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Kalindra Faria vs. Jessica Eye

In the featured fight of the UFC Fight Night 124 prelims, Jessica Eye was likely fighting for her job against thirteenth ranked flyweight Kalindra Faria. ‘Evil’ Eye had lost four straight in the UFC coming into the night.

The pair did not take long to get going Sunday, letting the hands fly in an early exchange. Eye caught Faria with a standing elbow coming out of an exchange, but moments later, Faria stunned Eye with a head kick! They’d go to the ground, with Eye attacking with a leg lock. Faria grabbed Eye’s leg in turn, and both worked for heel hooks. Eye was using the submission attempts to clear the cobwebs, but stayed on it, eating up a lot of clock time. With just a minute or so to go, still with their legs intertwined, Faria landed a hard elbow. Eye then attempted an arm-bar, but reverted back to a heel hook then knee bar.

Faria attached early in round two, and the pair clinched. Jessica Eye managed to take her opponent’s back against the cage, dragging her down and sinking hooks in. That gave Eye plenty of time to look for a rear-naked choke. With a body triangle secured, Faria simply could not reverse. Eye switched from the RNC attempt to grabbing an arm, but refused to let go of the body lock, which prevented her from hyper-extending the limb. Still maintaining back control, Eye dominated the remainder of the round, working in some ground and pound, fishing for submissions, and making Faria look like a rag doll.

Round three saw the action play out on the feet through the first two minutes. It was back-and-forth action with Faria having perhaps a slight edge in power. A spinning back fist after two minutes and a follow-up strike or two finally forced Eye to take the fight back to the ground. She wound up in guard, then worked her way to half-guard. Faria, however, was able to escape with Eye backing off to avoid an upkick. Faria then tried a takedown of her own, and landed a hard elbow against the cage. Eye then scored another takedown with a minute remaining; Faria attempted a triangle to no avail, and Eye finished out the round in control. The question was, how did the judges see it? Faria had the big head kick in round one, Eye dominated round two, and the third was close. In the end, Eye picked up the split decision.

Jessica Eye def. Kalindra Faria by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

UFC St. Louis: Stephens vs. Choi Fight Pass Preliminary Results:

Jessica Eye def. Kalindra Faria by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
JJ Aldrich def. Danielle Taylor by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Mads Burnell def. Mike Santiago by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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