UFC Denver Fight Pass Preliminary Results and Recap

Joseph Morales and Eric Shelton face off ahead of UFC Denver
Joseph Morales vs. Eric Shelton Credit: Mike Straus/Cageside Press

The UFC marked its 25th anniversary on Saturday night (technically a couple of days early) by returning to where it all began: Denver, Colorado.

UFC Denver was kicked off on Saturday by a pair of flyweight fighters, perhaps some of the last UFC fans would ever see. Thanks to news that the promotion was considering scrapping the weight class — something already underway, as both Jose Torres and Jared Brooks had announced their release — flyweight’s days appeared to be numbered. Bad news for the likes of Mark De La Rosa and Joby Sanchez, who opened Saturday’s card — fighting at bantamweight instead of their usual home.

‘Bumblebee,’ as De La Rosa was otherwise known, came into the bout 1-1 in the promotion. He picked up his first UFC win last time out, a rear-naked choke submission of Elias Garcia. Joby Sanchez, meanwhile, was hoping to bounce back from a loss in his promotional debut back in February.

Eric Shelton and Joseph Morales also featured on the UFC Fight Pass preliminary card. They anchored the featured preliminary spot. For Shelton, a win was a must, as he entered the night 1-4 in the UFC.

The prelim action gets underway at 7PM EST — check back then for results and a full recap!

Mark de la Rosa vs. Joby Sanchez

In the opening fight at UFC Denver, Mark de la Rosa looked to take Joby Sanchez down early. Sanchez fought off the attempt, but de La Rosa proved dangerous on the feet as well, moving forward with a combo. Sanchez fired back, then backed off; ‘Bumblebee’ was the aggressor in the early going. Mark de la Rosa would work in a calf kick on several occasions; Sanchez found a home for his left hook, and they’d finish the round on the feet.

Round two saw de la Rosa work in another calf kick, and move to tie Sanchez up along the fence. However, Sanchez reversed, and nearly secured a takedown. Later in the frame, de la Rosa would take the back of a standing Joby Sanchez, but he was able to fight it off and escape. It was Mark de la Rosa who continued to press the action, and move forward, even as Sanchez bloodied his nose with counters. A head kick by de la Rosa seemed to secure him the round.

Round three opened with both men firing at a furious pace. By the midway point, de la Rosa’s face was splattered with blood. He remained the aggressor, however. A jab from him wobbled Joby Sanchez with about ninety seconds remaining in the fight. With under a minute to go, de la Rosa grabbed a leg and drove forward, looking for a takedown. Sanchez made it back to the fence, with de la Rosa still on him. He’d finally shake him off with fifteen seconds to go, but by then, it was too late.

Mark de la Rosa def. Joby Sanchez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Joseph Morales vs. Eric Shelton

Shelton was trying to lure Joesph Morales in early. That said, Morales was moving forward, forcing Shelton to use sideways movement to avoid him. Shelton then fired a right as Morales moved in, which sent Morales reeling in a near-knockdown. In the final ninety seconds, Shelton was able to get the fight down, briefly taking the back. Morales worked up and Shelton allowed the fight to go back to the feet, but he’d shoot another takedown moments later, only for Morales to lock in a guillotine. After a scary few seconds, Shelton broke free, and rode out the round on top.

In the second, Morales pushed forward and threw a leg kick early only for it to be caught. Shelton then took his opponent down; Morales scooted back to the fence, trying to post up and wall walk to his feet. Back up, he began pressing forward again, only for Shelton to eventually level change and make another takedown attempt. Morales fought that off only to be thrown down — but instantly he got up then jumped for a guillotine. Shelton broke free, however, finding himself on top with two minutes to go in the round. In a great sequence at the end of the round, Morales worked on a triangle, but they would head to a third.

Round three opened up with Morales scoring a takedown of his own in the first minute. Shelton would work free, and later look for a takedown of his own but wind up defending a guillotine once more. However, like each and every attempt throughout the fight, Shelton was able to pull free, and this time he had three minutes or so to work from top position. Shelton, however, spent the first half of that trying to control Morales, without scoring much damage. Morales eventually worked to his knees, only for Shelton to pull his legs out from under him again.

Eric Shelton def. Joseph Morales by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)

UFC Denver: Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez Fight Pass Preliminary Results:

Eric Shelton def. Joseph Morales by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
Mark de la Rosa def. Joby Sanchez by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)