Two Dana White’s Contender Series veterans faced off at lightweight on the prelims of UFC Orlando. Mexican Genaro Valdez (10-1) looked to get his first UFC win after getting knocked down a record six times in one round in his insane promotional debut while the Israeli Natan Levy (7-1) looked to build off of a win in his sophomore effort and improve to 2-1 in the promotion.
Natan opened up southpaw while Valdez came out orthodox, creating an open stance matchup which led to each man throwing heavy round kicks early on. The pair traded punches and kicks for a while without either man being hurt, but Valdez was swinging for the fences as usual and finally landed a big, clean right halfway through the round. The powerful round kicks of Levy were being utilized to soften up the arms of Valdez, presumably, as he kept throwing them despite most being blocked. A right hook by Levy sent Valdez down to a squat with a minute left, but the Mexican popped right backup. He didn’t stay up long.
A side kick to the head, a la Chito Vera, dropped Valdez once more. He again got back up and this time hurt Levy, only to get hurt by a body shot and another punch upstairs. Valdez was still throwing bombs when the round ended, but he was clearly down on the scorecards.
Valdez’s calf was bruised badly to start round two from the early lead leg kicks by Levy, but he came forward with strikes as ever. Levy was able to get out of the way of a lot of the blitzes from Valdez and counter others. A big combo from Valdez landed to the chin ninety seconds in the round but Levy showed off his chin as he stayed on his feet. With three minutes left in the round another flurry landed which send Levy backwards and Valdez followed up with a clinch to land knees. Valdez was working the body consistently in round two and it seemed to be taking a toll on his foe’s gas tank.
Levy shot a takedown and shucked to the back halfway through the round but was unable to get his hooks in and Valdez turned it into a normal clinch against the cage. A nice outside trip by Levy sat Genaro Valdez to his back in full guard, but the Mexican refused to stay flat on his back and he worked to get to the fence and wall walk upwards. Levy tried to suck his foe’s hips out and keep him on his back with Valdez in a seated position. Levy was inactive, causing boos from an impatient crowd in Orlando, while Valdez threw some short elbows before the round ended with him getting to his feet and partially eating a head kick.
It could have been tied one round apiece going into the final frame, as each man had been hurt in the opening two rounds. The doctor checked the extremely swollen foot of Valdez at the start of round three but she allowed the fight to continue after a short examination.
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Valdez landed a short elbow in the clinch early and seemed prepared to give all he had before the fight ended. Unfortunately a leg kick went upwards and hit the groin, causing a stoppage while Valdez recovered. The fight resumed with four minutes to go and immediately a clean body kick landed from Levy. Valdez responded by chasing Natan down and landing punches. Levy clinched up but this time Valdez was able to separate without getting taken down. Natan Levy’s counter punching was still sharp but he soon went for another takedown, a single leg, but again Valdez defended it.
Levy next shot a double leg and this time was successful. Valdez turned and gave up his back to get to his feet against the fence. He then attempted a switch but Levy stayed in control, kicked out the foot of Valdez, and grinded him down against the fence. Levy landed foot stomps and tried to get his hooks in as the round drew to a close but was unable to. Meanwhile, Valdez worked to separate the grip of Levy but only ended up on his butt again. The fight ended with a massive suplex from Levy which punished a fence grab by Valdez only seconds previously.
When the judges scorecards were read, Natan Levy had won a unanimous decision to gain the first winning streak of his UFC career.
Official Result: Natan Levy def. Genaro Valdez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)