Austin Lingo exhausts Luis Saldana in an enticing featherweight duel


Sign up for ESPN + here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL, and “The Ultimate Fighter” live to your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device through the ESPN app. The armed cardio made all the difference for Austin Lingo.

The Fortis MMA prospect overcame a rough start, bit his proverbial spokesperson and made a unanimous decision from Luis Saldana in the UFC featured on ESPN 29 preliminary on Saturday at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Lingo (9-1, 2-1 UFC) received 29-28 points from the three cage judges.

Saldana (15-7, 1-1 UFC) opened a cut near the right eye of the former Legacy Fighting Alliance headliner and passed it with a kick to the body in a first productive ride. However, his outing plunged into the middle stanza, where Lingo applied maximum pressure, went to chase a head with both hands, and nearly knocked his opponent down when he countered a flying knee with a right hook. Saldana deteriorated further in the third. Lingo stalked its prey around the cage, dropped it with a brutal right hand in the gut and assumed the top position before closing the turn by stepping back and securing himself with a body triangle.

The loss was Saldana’s first in more than four years and slammed the door to her best career five-game winning streak.

Kelleher routs outclassed Pilarte

Timed eliminations, suffocating superior control and stable ground and pound took former Ring of Combat champion Brian Kelleher to a unanimous decision over Domingo Pilarte in a three-round bantamweight drop. The three cage judges scored 30-27 for Kelleher (23-12, 7-5 UFC), who has won four of his last six fights.

Pilarte (8-3, 0-2 UFC) was essentially a non-factor. Kelleher executed takedowns in all three laps, racked up over 12 minutes of checking time and added to his lead with punches, elbows and hammers from inside the guard. He threatened with a pair of guillotine strangles in the second round, but otherwise appeared to content himself with humiliating Pilarte with an approach of death by a thousand strokes.

Operating at Revolution Dojo, Pilarte has not recorded a victory since July 17, 2018.

Newcomer Nunes Fells Malecki

Striker’s House star Josiane Nunes defeated previously undefeated Bea Malecki with a devastating setback in the first round of the women’s bantamweight affair. Malecki (4-1, 2-1 UFC) crashed and burned 4:54 in the first round.

Nunes (8-1, 1-0 UFC) managed to sail to a visible height and achieve a disparity. Malecki pointed kicks at the Brazilian’s body, head and legs, but failed to keep her at bay. Nunes wore down the Swede with relentless pressure and punches, eventually forcing her to wither towards the end of the first lap. Malecki disengaged from a close-range exchange and rounded the fence, only to be met by the end-of-fight blow. No follow-up fire was required.

Nunes, 27, has won seven straight wins.

Menacing Knight Waylays Cherant

Thornton’s martial arts export William Knight buried former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Fabio Cherant with first round punches of their light heavyweight tilt. Cherant (7-3, 0-2 UFC) faced 3:58 in the first round.

Knight (10-2, 2-1 UFC) set the tone with a series of brutal inside kicks and managed to withstand the return shot. Cherant backed him up against the fence with powerful punches at one point, but led with his chin and paid the price. Knight leveled him with a compact left hook on the counter, dragged him to the canvas, and sealed the deal with follow-up punches.

Cherant did not survive the first round in any of his UFC appearances.

Sign up for ESPN + here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL, and “The Ultimate Fighter” live to your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device through the ESPN app.

The spectacular Bahamian KO Roberts kick

VFS Academy product Ignacio Bahamondes entered the “Knockout of the Year” race, as he knocked out Roosevelt Roberts with a wheel kick on the third lap of their slight incline. Roberts (10-3, 4-3 UFC) hit the 4:55 deck in round 3 and has been winless since May 30, 2020.

A clean combination of punches, searing leg kicks and a tight-fitting teardown defense backed the Bahamondes’ attack. The 23-year-old Dana White’s Contender alum didn’t leave the cage unscathed, as Roberts cut through several cuts with a damaging jab. Still, the Bahamondes’ high performance (12-4, 1-1 UFC) ultimately overwhelmed the martial arts rep Adrenaline. Roberts disengaged from the clinch at the end of the third round, absorbed a point-blank elbow, then the spectacular end-of-fight kick with five seconds left in the game.

Bahamondes have won three of their last four fights.

Brahimaj Choke sleeps Palatnikov

Ramiz Brahimaj of Fortis MMA put Sasha Palatnikov to sleep with a choke in the back in the first round of their pair of welterweights. Palatnikov (6-4, 1-2 UFC) hoisted the white flag at 2:33 of the first round, as he suffered his second straight loss at 170 pounds.

Brahimaj (9-3, 1-1 UFC) executed a withdrawal in the first minute, threatened with a triangle strangulation of the arms and mounted at full power. The Bronx, New York native then moved to the back and tightened the choke. Palatnikov struggled to break free but passed out in the clutches of his determined counterpart.

Brahimaj, 28, scored all nine of his victories by submission. Advertising

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