One of three bantamweight fights at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 57 found Raulian Paiva paired up with Sergey Morozov.
Both fighters were looking to bounce back from high-profile losses: Morozov to Douglas Silva de Andrade in February, Paiva to Sean O’Malley back in December.
A key fight for both men opened with a couple of jabs being traded. The first real damage was done by Raulian Paiva, who rocked Morozov in the opening minute. They’d tie up, giving Morozov some recovery time. Paiva would then find a bit of space, and fire a big overhand right. That missed, but Paiva walked the Khazakh fighter down, and would land the right moments later. That one didn’t have as much on it, luckily for Sergey Morozov.
Morozov would fire a spinning back fist a little later, but he’d yet to do anything that had really hurt Paiva. The Brazilian took a good swing at Morozov’s lead leg, but Sergey appeared to have recovered from the damage inflicted earlier. Moments later, both men landed, and Paiva took another big swing. Paiva seemed able to absorb damage better; in the last sixty seconds or so, both would do a little head hunting.
The big swings appeared as if they’d continue in round two, but a minute in, Morozov changed levels and landed a perfectly timed takedown. Morozov laced the legs, preventing Paiva from scrambling out. Paiva would eventually get free, and utilize butterfly hooks, but he had to be wary of the ground n’ pound. Paiva shrimped towards the fence, then rolled, looking for a leg lock. Morozov stacked Paiva up, then dragged him back down. Every time Paiva appeared to have an avenue of escape, Morozov was all over him.
In the final minute on the second round, Paiva would take a couple of attempts at securing a choke while standing, including a guillotine against the fence. Neither were successful, and they’d head to the third.
There was a good chance the bantamweight duo were even to start round three. Morozov dropped for a takedown about a minute in, and nearly had it, but Paiva popped back up. Morozov would land a trip; Paiva was up in a heartbeat once again. This time, off the break, Morozov landed. Morozov landed a left. In the second half of the round, Paiva shot for a takedown, but there was little hope of completing it. Morozov went after a takedown again with a minute to go; Paiva defended with a choke. They’d trade after that, each man landing. Next, they’d collide as both tried to shoot in on the other. Morozov flashed a jump knee with 30 seconds to go. Paiva ripped the body with a kick and launched a right hand. Paiva would land a takedown in the final seconds of the round.
An exhausting fight in the end, with Paiva the clear winner in round one, and Morozov battling back in the second. The victor would likely be determined by round three; in the end, it was Morozov with his hand raised.
Official Result: Sergey Morozov def. Raulian Paiva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)