Oregon’s Vince Morales defeated Aiemann Zahabi in a close unanimous decision at UFC Ottawa. Morales is now 1-1 in the UFC, while Zahabi is on the first losing streak of his professional MMA career.
Aiemann Zahabi, the brother of great trainer Firas Zahabi, is looking to rebound from his first professional loss at UFC Ottawa. He signed with the promotion after three first-round submissions and three first-round knockouts in his first six fights. After winning in his Octagon debut by decision, Zahabi was knocked out by a spinning back elbow and did not fight in 2018.
Vince Morales was 7-1 with a five-fight stoppage streak when he got a shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He was unsuccessful, losing by second-round submission. So, he fought for Bellator next time out and won. Two months later, he replaced Frankie Saenz against Yadong Song at UFC Shanghai in November. He lost by unanimous decision.
Round one begins in this bantamweight clash as Zahabi takes the center initially, but Morales settles in with his back foot planted in the center. Zahabi lands a right hand, and circles out shortly thereafter in an attempt to pick some more shots.
Right hand lands from Morales, as the two bantamweights continue to attempt to figure the other one out. Right hand partially finds home from Morales, and a good kick to the midsection comes from Zahabi that’s punctuated with a right hand to finish off the combination.
A lot of feinting, ducking, and head movement being used by both guys here as we approach one minute to go in the opening round. More of the same follows in the final minute. The judges will have a tough time scoring this opening round. Morales looked to be the busier party by setting up more combinations. But Zahabi landed a little more efficiently.
Cageside Press scores the round 10-9 for Morales
Round number two commences with a low kick from Zahabi starting things off. Morales takes the role of aggessor here early as he walks the Canadian down to begin things in round two. Zahabi backs the American up with a kick to the body, and Zahabi shoots but ultimately fails on a takedown attempt early in the round.
Front kick from Morales, followed by a combination that sees him land a right uppercut through the guard of Zahabi. Solid right hand lands from Morales now as the American looks to be finding a little more success converting his strikes in round two. Another uppercut lands from Morales, and Zahabi uses Morales’ attempt to close the distance shortly thereafter to his advantage and gets his first takedown of the contest.
Zahabi fails to take the back and fires a kick that partially lands as Morales scrambles back to the center to reset. Under thirty seconds to go in the round as both men look content to ride another round out without landing an effective shot. Another close round here, as it could be anyone’s fight going into the third.
Cageside Press scores the round 10-9 for Zahabi (20-18 Zahabi)
Third and final round underway as both guys need to surmount effective offense here to stand out. Spinning back fist lands flush from Zahabi. But Morales eats it and gives a smile back to the Tri-star product. Uppercut finds home from Morales, followed by a combination that backs up Zahabi. Morales continues to be active as he fires another combination Zahabi’s way.
Zahabi wings a looping right hook that narrowly misses Morales. We are past the two minute mark in this fight. Right hand to the body from Morales. He’s consistently taken the role of aggressor for the majority of these past two rounds. Morales getting busy as he continues to land and backs Zahabi up, who temporarily had a takedown secured but lost it at the last second with Morales scrambling back up to his feet.
Morales is coming on strong here. Thirty seconds to go in the fight. Morales continues to move forward but finds no luck in finding that fight-changing shot as the horn sounds in this 135 pound contest.
Cageside Press scores the round 10-9 for Morales and scores the fight 29-28 for Morales
Vince Morales def. Aiemann Zahabi by unanimous decision (29-28×3)
— UFC (@ufc) May 4, 2019