UFC Fight Night 187: Edwards Return is One to Forget After Eye Poke on Muhammad

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It was a bitterly disappointing return to action for Leon Edwards, who’s accidental eye poke against Belal Muhammad in the second round of their Welterweight bout resulted in a no contest. The British born fighter had not fought since July 2019, and a constant cancellation to his bout against Khamzat Chimaev meant Muhammad had a chance to step up to the task after in contrast competing just last month, but the unfortunate eye poke led to an anti-climactic turn of events. 

Leon Edwards was impressive to start within the opening round, looking the aggressor out of both men and hitting Muhammad with a sharp one-two hook. The number three ranked Welterweight was then able to clinch Muhammad up against the fence, to which his opponent eventually scrambled away from and attacked with an elbow on his way out.

Afterwards, Edwards executed a clean head kick that stunned Muhammad for a moment, but somehow recovered and clinched with Edwards to help regain focus. It didn’t last long before the pair were back trading in the centre of the octagon, where Edwards was constantly switching stances to keep his opponent guessing. Muhammad did get caught with an eye poke with just under two minutes to go, an early sign of what was to come but managed to continue. Muhammad connected with a few jabs late on but was still fairly patient in his approach, whereas Edwards again attacked with one-two combinations, doing significantly more damage and looking sharp going into the second. 

It was 18 seconds into the next round when a stiff jab by Edwards saw his fingers extended and land straight into the eye socket of Muhammad. The American dropped to the floor and started yelping in agony to which the doctor assessed the situation and immediately called the contest off. It was a huge shame for both fighters as they hoped to obtain an important win for their careers, and a decision on whether the bout will be rescheduled in the future is yet to be known.  

Co-main event

In the co-main event, Ryan Spann defeated Misha Cirkunov via TKO in the first round for his first win in almost a year. Spann made quick work of the fight but got caught with an early right hand and head kick in the opening seconds. Within moments, Spann replied with a huge right hand of his own that dropped Cirkunov and led to the ground and pound, almost ending the fight there and then.

However, the 29-year-old allowed his opponent, who was clearly in pain, to get back up to hit him again with a right hand to the side of his head, dropping the Latvian to the canvas and this time using the ground and pound to earn a stoppage just over a minute into the fight. It was a sorry return for Cirkunov who had not competed since September 2019, and an emphatic win for Spann after a previous loss to Brazilian Johnny Walker. 

Rest of the card

There were plenty of stoppages on the card to make up for the night’s main event, as Dan Ige beat Gavin Tucker via KO after just 22 seconds into the first round. It was undoubtedly named ‘Performance of the Night’ and gave Ige his quickest ever stoppage in his career. Tucker looked to connect with a left hook in the centre of the cage but was denied when a quick left hook of Ige landed sweetly into the temple and knocked Tucker out unconscious. That’s now seven wins from eight for the Hawaii native, who will be eager to climb up the rankings and earn a Featherweight title shot in the near future.  

Meanwhile, Davey Grant defeated Jonathan Martinez via KO in the second round of their Bantamweight contest for a third consecutive win for the Brit. It was a beautiful combination that ended the fight, a swift hook to the body followed by a devastating left hand to the temple sent Martinez straight to the canvas and out in a flash. The bout earned another ‘Performance of the Night’ award.  

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A rare sight of two no contests on the same card occurred, when Eryk Anders versus Darren Stewart was stopped towards the end of the first round due to an illegal knee. Stewart was leaning against the cage with a clear knee planted firmly on the ground when Anders charged in with a knee to the face that halted the bout momentarily. After taking advice from the doctor, referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight in what was another unfortunate ending.  

On the prelims, Charles Jourdain beat Marcelo Rojo via TKO in the third round for the Canadian’s first win since 2019. The stoppage came after a series of lethal blows on the ground and in the clinch from Jourdain eventually caught Rojo with a left hook that proved too much to handle and bring a smart stop to the contest, with serious wounds cutting up the face of the Argentinian. 

The only submission of the evening came when Rani Yahya defeated Ray Rodriguez in the second round of their Bantamweight contest. The expected grapple heavy bout ended when Yahya got into full mount and set up an arm-triangle choke towards the side of the cage. The pressure caused Rodriguez to tap for a 21st career submission win for the 36-year-old Brazilian. 

In the first fight of the evening, it gave us the fastest knockout in just 16 seconds, when Matthew Semelsberger beat Jason Witt in the very first round. Witt hit Semelsberger with a leg kick, to which was responded with a simultaneous left-hand crack to the jaw that signalled lights out for the 34-year-old American. The fight was awarded the third and final ‘Performance of the Night’ award.  

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