Four bantamweight fights graced the UFC 259 card in Las Vegas on Saturday. Among the standouts, Song Yadong vs. Kyler Phillips, which saw China’s Yadong coming off a win over Chito Vera, albeit up a weight class. Phillips, meanwhile, had strung together two wins in 2020, and was looking for a third over his biggest opponent to date.
It was about a minute before Phillips, known as “The Matrix,” went Neo on his opponent. He landed a head kick on Yadong that would have finished lesser fighters. Additional strikes and even a spinning attack followed. Yadong managed to survive, and even walked Phillips down, firing an uppercut. He’d add a spinning high kick of his own, but Phillips was able to block it. Yadong then took a page out of Phillips’ book and launched a flying knee which fell short. Phillips, meanwhile, would land a right hand in an exchange, then change levels and land a takedown, although Yadong quickly popped back up.
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The start to round two was fast and furious, both men swinging. Phillips landed a spinning back kick off a clinch by the fence. Phillips had a very active round, and later in the frame would catch Yadong with a crisp jab. Phillips’ movement was fluid, and he gave Yadong a number of different looks. Towards the final minute, “The Matrix” dropped down and shot in for a takedown, landing it. Yadong scrambled free, but the point had been made. Phillips was winning the fight heading into the third.
Phillips opened the third with an early takedown, but bailed on it when Yadong sprawled. Yadong had a few moments early in the round, landing a few clean punches. But Phillips wisely stayed out of range, constantly moving. That changed a little as the round wore on, and Yadong was able to close the distance and put his opponent’s back on the fence. Trying to create space, Phillips fired off a spinning kick. A smartly timed takedown by Phillips with 90 seconds remaining halted Yadong’s momentum, until Phillips tried to take the back. Yadong reversed, ending up in guard. Phillips would finish the frame with a leg lock attempt, but they’d head to the judges. Yadong had done enough to win the round — but he’d lost the war.
Official Result: Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)