Two fighters looking to get back in the win column were set to throw down Saturday at UFC Brasilia. Behind closed doors in an empty arena (Ginásio Nilson Nelson) thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rani Yahya and Enrique Barzola looked to get back to their winning ways. Peru’s Barzola was the TUF: Latin America 2 winner at lightweight, and had spent the bulk of his UFC career fighting at featherweight. He was moving down to 135lbs this time out, however. Yahya, who had a three-fight win streak snapped by Ricky Simon last year, had been a staple of the division since 2014.
Yahya fired off a nifty little superman punch in the opening minute of the fight. The two traded in the pocket moments later, went to the ground, scrambled, and wound up by the fence. Barzola found Yahya on his back, one hook in. He managed to escape, however, and the pair moved back to center. Yahya fired off a hard leg kick; if enough of those landed they’d certainly impair Barzola’s movement. Barzola then ate a big right hand, and Yahya shot in, taking the fight to the ground. From there, he looked to flatten Barzola out, but Barzola managed to get on top, fending off a leg lock attempt while landing hammer fists. Some fun scrambles in this sequence took the pair to the end of the round.
Rani Yahya continued with his leg kick attacks, and put Enrique Barzola on his back in the opening minute of round two. While Barzola would work to the fence, then to his knees, and look to power up, Yahya was on him like a backpack. That had to be draining, and the knees Yahya added certainly didn’t help. Yahya went fishing for a choke, while Barzola gasping for air was audible. He would eventually break free, and make it up, where they’d finish the round — but Barzola, frankly, was losing the fight.
The first slip of Rani Yahya came early in the third. That mistake came when he went after Barzola’s leg, only to eat a number of elbows to the head for his efforts. Barzola soon got on top, dropping hammerfists while Yahya tried to transition to top. Plenty of scrambles ensued, with Barzola being the fresher fighter, absolutely drilling his opponent’s body with elbows. More hammerfists came as well. Then came a knee-bar attempt, but with both men tiring, that didn’t last. Barzola got into side control, but they would make it the distance. A close one, with the question being whether Barzola did enough to earn a 10-8 in the third.
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Ultimately, the judges felt Barzola had done enough — two of them anyway — to call this one a draw.
Official Result: Rani Yahya vs. Enrique Barzola ends in a majority draw (29-28, 28-28, 28-28)