While an unpopular decision with the partisan Russian crowd, Roosevelt Roberts earned a close decision against Alexander Yakolev at UFC Moscow.
A pair of towering lightweights met on the preliminary card at UFC Moscow on Saturday. 6’3 Alexander Yakolev went up against 6’1 Roosevelt Roberts, with Roberts looking to bounce back from his first career loss. Yakolev, meanwhile, was looking to win his second straight since dropping back down to lightweight.
Roberts was walking down his opponent early, firing uppercuts and kicks to the body when he could trap Yakolev along the fence. Yakolev seemed content to look to land counters, but that led to a lack of output early from the Russian fighter. Roberts, meanwhile, was punching his way in, working the body and head. He’d catch Yakolev several times, one blow wobbling Yakolev ever so slightly with about two minutes left in the round. That led to Yakolev initiating a clinch, looking to use a body lock to get the fight down. The takedown wasn’t there, but it at least allowed Yakolev to recover.
Roberts immediately took center in round two, only to quickly be taken down by Yakolev. The Russian worked from side control, controlling Roberts with ease — only to be warned by the ref for grabbing his opponent’s shorts. Yakolev however trapped an arm and began landing hammer fists. That led to a roar of approval from the crowd. Elbows to the body followed. Roberts nearly escaped, but Yakolev quickly took him back down. Roberts then locked in an arm-bar from the bottom, which Yakolev in a rough spot briefly. He rode it out and slowly worked free, transitioning to the top once again. Roberts made it back up, however, with a minute remaining in the round.
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Round three had the fight on the ground with Roberts on top early, but Yakolev easily scrambled free. Near the midway mark Yakolev opened up with his hands, landing to the body and head, but not without eating a few Roberts counters in return. Roberts would fire a knee to the body as Yakolev came in, but the Russian would take Roberts down regardless. Working from guard, he had two minutes to finish, or at least control, but Roberts quickly escaped. When they went down again it was Roberts on top, in mount. Yakolev nearly gave up his back, but Roberts could neither find a submission nor get off much ground n’ pound before the final bell.
In the end, it was the third straight decision to open the UFC Moscow card — with Roberts getting the nod.
Official Result: Roosevelt Roberts def. Alexander Yakolev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)