Brady Hiestand, runner up at bantamweight in Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter, faced Fernie Garcia on the prelims of UFC Vegas 65. Both fighters were looking for their first win in the promotion after each losing their last fight.
Garcia landed a big counter right in the opening seconds of the fight that dropped Brady to his knees brutally. Fernie was able to turn that into a partial back take while Brady tried to recover.
He tried to lock up a choke but Brady stayed moving the whole time and somehow stayed conscious long enough to scramble into top side control and recover. Garcia eventually executed a sweep from the bottom and got again in an awkward partial back take. But once again, Brady kept with it and reversed the position, getting on top before being the one getting on his opponent’s back against the fence.
As he tried to luck up a body triangle Garcia turned into it and ended up on top. Hiestand scrambled to his knees and got in on a double leg takedown, which he successfully landed before shucking to the back. Hiestand then got one hook in and worked on trying to snake the arm under the chin so intently that Fernie did not have time to escape. Brady was able to lock up up a body triangle fully as a result with one minute left. Fernie looked to turn in but Brady pre-empted him and got on top in mount momentarily before being forced into full guard. Garcia then went for a guillotine which forced Hiestand to scramble to his feet. The pair resumed striking which is where the insane round ended. The score was difficult to judge. Although Brady got knocked down he had more sustained success and almost submitted Garcia late.
A fun R1 in the books for this matchup👏
— UFC (@ufc) November 19, 2022
The second round started on the feet, of course, where Garcia pressured and Brady tried to pop in and out of the pocket with singular strikes. Hiestand landed one good head kick after a minute but Garcia was not deterred. He then landed the exact same one, harder this time, but once again Fernie ate it like a sandwich. The stance switching and lateral movement was effective at getting Brady in and out cleanly.
Hiestand level changed but Garcia sprawled him out. Garcia was mostly working on his jab and low kicks this round. Hiestand then went for a single leg and was able to force Fernie to the fence, then grab the other ankle and turn it into a single leg. He then got in top half guard. Garcia tried to scramble out but got stuck on bottom in north-south and then side control. Garcia finally was able to roll to his belly, turn out of the grasp of Hiestand, and get back to his feet. Brady landed a good body kick but Fernie responded with a solid right hand into a level change against the fence. They soon got back to striking but then Fernie shot another takedown which Hiestand almost reversed in the final seconds. However, Garcia stayed on top and landed some likely ineffective ground and pound even as Brady stood up right at the bell. Brady had seemed to have won the second round.
The final round was a must-win for both fighters, as the score could easily be 19-19. Brady shot an early takedown and was just able to be the grindier, more tenacious fighter as he got his foe down to the mat again. Garcia turned to his back to stand up but Hiestand took the opportunity to take the back and drag Fernie back down. He only had one hook in but it seemed to be by choice, as he used his unhooked leg to control the leg of Garcia before eventually getting the body triangle when the opportunity to do so easily presented itself. For the first time the pace slowed which is understandable after the frantic scrambles and striking pace of the first ten minutes of the fight.
The back control of Brady Hiestand was likely going to win him the fight if Garcia could not escape and do something big before the end of the round. With ninety seconds left Garcia twisted and turned to escape but Brady just rolled with him and readjusted his body triangle. With one minute left Brady attacked the rear-naked choke and almost had it but Fernie Garcia refused to tap and eventually got his chin down to protect his neck. Fernie resorted to desperately trying to awkwardly land strikes to Brady, who was behind him. Hiestand responded with shots of his own, much harder ones.
After fifteen entertaining minutes it was almost a sure thing that Brady Hiestand had won the fight. When Joe Martinez announced the scorecards there were no surprises as the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ finalist won 29-28 on all three judges scorecards.
Official Result: Brady Hiestand def. Fernie Garcia by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)