UFC 298: Anthony Hernandez Weathers Storm, Breaks Down Roman Kopylov, Snatches Submission

Anthony Hernandez ahead of fight with Roman Kopylov, UFC 298
Anthony Hernandez, UFC 298 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Hot middleweight prospects Roman Kopylov and Anthony Hernandez faced off to open the UFC 298 main card.

Russian Roman Kopylov began his UFC career with a rocky start, but then reeled off four straight knockout wins to earn a shot at the top-15. Anthony ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez did something similar, but his primary weapon for his four-fight winning streak was his wrestling, grappling, and weaponized cardio. In the end those skills were enough, as he weathered an early storm to finish Kopylov in the second round.

Hernandez pressured forward to start the fight while Kopylov looked to poke at him with straight shots and retreat to avoid takedowns. When Fluffy caught a body kick he almost took down Roman, but the Russian defended well. Kopylov began to put his strike together even better, and his body kick was especially damaging. Hernandez got in on his legs for the first time against the cage but Kopylov defended. Still, Anthony persisted and got back to a single leg attempt. Kopylov could not get free from him against the fence, but Hernandez could not get him down. However, he did land an elbow or two before the end of the round.

Round two began with another big body kick from Kopylov from his southpaw stance. Fluffy pressed forward but got hit with a massive shot. He wobbled for a second but then called Kopylov on for more and walked him down. Kopylov stayed calm but eventually fell down awkwardly from pressure. Hernandez took his back and slowly broke him down, taking away his base and attacking the rear-naked choke. He got his arm under the chin and squeezed with all his might. Kopylov got out the first time by turning to the side, but at the second time of asking he could not escape. Hernandez nodded and smiled into the camera, knowing he had the victory in his grasp right before Roman tapped.

A five-fight win streak at middleweight should shoot ‘Fluffy’ into the top-fifteen at 185-lbs. He has main event and even title potential in the future. Middleweight can definitely use a wrestler who makes it exciting, and challenges this striking-heavy division.

Official Result: Anthony Hernandez def. Roman Kopylov by Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2, 3:23