UFC 205 undercard Recap: Yoel Romero, Frankie Edgar get big wins

ByBRETT OKAMOTO via <a href="http://espn.go.com/" title="ESPN" class="espn_sc_byline">ESPN </a>
January 06, 2017, 9:31 AM

&#151; -- NEW YORK -- Middleweight contender Yoel Romero delivered a huge statement at UFC 205 on Saturday, at a great expense of one of New York's own.

Romero (12-1) knocked out Long Island native Chris Weidman with a flying knee to the head at 0:24 of the third round. The victory likely sends Romero to a title fight against current champion Michael Bisping, who was inside Madison Square Garden and gestured a middle finger toward Romero.

"See you soon, boy," Romero said.

Weidman (13-2), who spent hours lobbying for the legalization of professional mixed martial arts in New York, looked shellshocked after the loss. The former champion was in the process of shooting a double-leg takedown when Romero leapt forward with a knee.

The blow immediately send Weidman to the canvas, and Romero landed a few follow-up punches before referee Mario Yamasaki called the fight.

It has been a nightmare year for Weidman, who surrendered the title in a fourth-round knockout to Luke Rockhold last December. Weidman was scheduled to face Rockhold in an immediate rematch at UFC 199 in June but was forced to withdraw with a neck injury.

Before Saturday, it had been a trying year for Romero, 39, as well. The former Cuban Olympic wrestler failed a drug test in December, but he was given a reduced six-month suspension after the United States Anti-Doping Agency concluded the failed test was the result of a contaminated supplement.

Fighting out of American Top Team, Romero is a perfect 8-0 in the UFC. He was largely inactive in the opening round against Weidman, but Romero stole momentum in the second round after he swept Weidman off his feet in a clinch.

Romero bothered Weidman several times with the left body kick and appeared to be the fresher of the two heading into the final round. After the win, Romero jumped out of the Octagon and marched around its perimeter.

Bisping had previously stated he wouldn't fight Romero, even if he won at UFC 205, saying Romero had taken performance-enhancing drugs. Bisping is coming off a decision win against Dan Henderson in October.

Edgar takes down Stephens five times in decision win

Featherweight Frankie Edgar (21-5-1) picked up a satisfying, three-round win over Jeremy Stephens (25-13) and called for a bout at UFC 209 on Feb. 11, 2017, in Brooklyn.

Edgar, a New Jersey native, was dropped by a Stephens head kick in the second round, but Edgar managed to recover and finish the round hunting for a guillotine. Stephens landed his share of offense -- jabs, short uppercuts, a winging right to the body -- but Edgar's wrestling background turned up when he needed it.

Stephens countered Edgar's moves on the floor and never looked out of his league in terms of grappling, but all three judges scored it Edgar: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

Edgar, 35, bounces back from a five-round loss to Jose Aldo for the interim title at UFC 200. Edgar has said he is willing to drop to 135 pounds, but only for an immediate title shot. He has won six of his past seven.

Nurmagomedov dominates Johnson for submission win

Lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) tore through Michael Johnson (17-11) on the ground, submitting him via kimura at 2:31 of the third round.

After the victory, Nurmagomedov, who missed all of 2015 due to injury but is 2-0 this year, demanded a title shot in his next bout. He took a shot at featherweight champion Conor McGregor.

"I want to stay humble, but I have to talk. All guys talk too much," Nurmagomedov said. "I understand how crazy powerful the UFC [public relations] machine is. Your guy at the beginning of the year tapped like chicken, end of year he fight for title. It's crazy. This is true. This is not just talking."

Nurmagomedov was staggered by a left hand in the opening round, but once he closed distance and took Johnson down, Nurmagomedov was unstoppable. He pulverized Johnson with punches and elbows from the top and never allowed him to get back up. In the third, Nurmagomedov closed Johnson's left eye with punches and hurt him with a flush uppercut.

Prior to UFC 205, Nurmagomedov said he thought the UFC used him as leverage to negotiate the main event between McGregor and Eddie Alvarez. He threatened to never fight again if a title shot didn't come next. The most deserving contender other than Nurmagomedov would be Tony Ferguson, who has won nine consecutive.

  • Middleweight Tim Boetsch (20-10) thoroughly smoked Rafael Natal (21-8-1) on the feet and finished him via TKO at 3:22 of the first round.

    Boetsch took the center of the cage and calmly stalked down Natal, predominantly with the right hand. Boetsch dropped Natal with a right cross along the fence and put him to sleep with several hard follow-up shots before the referee could step in.

    A right hand earlier in the bout cut Natal over the left eye, and he looked a little timid from then on. Boetsch out-landed him in total strikes, 14 to five.

    After worrying about his job following a three-fight losing streak earlier this year, Boetsch has finished back-to-back opponents.

  • Brazilian welterweight Vicente Luque (11-5-1) dropped Belal Muhammad (10-2) with a left hook before finishing him quickly with a series of punches on the ground. Referee John McCarthy stopped the bout at the 1:19 mark.

    Luque accepted the bout on short notice, when Muhammad's original opponent Lyman Good was pulled due to a potential doping violation. Luque said he lost 30 pounds in two-and-a-half weeks to make weight for the bout.

    Luque is a member of the Blackzilians who was born in New Jersey. He picks up his fourth UFC win -- three of which have come via first-round finish. The 24-year-old has eight first-round finishes in his career.

  • Lightweight Jim Miller (28-8) extended his active win streak to three, defeating Thiago Alves (21-1!) by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). The bout took place at a catchweight since Alves, 33, missed the 156-pound limit by 6.6 pounds on Friday.

    Miller, of Sparta, New Jersey, landed several good body kicks on the feet, but his takedowns secured the win. His double-legs put Alves on his back in each of the three rounds, which made it impossible for the Brazilian to get into a rhythm.

    With the victory, Miller becomes the all-time leader in wins as a lightweight. He contemplated retirement earlier this year at UFC 200 but has won three in a row since.

  • Bantamweight Liz Carmouche (11-5) survived a knockdown in the third round en route to a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over Katlyn Chookagian (8-1).

    Carmouche, out of San Diego, worked her ground game to jump ahead of Chookagian on the scorecards early. Chookagian dropped her with a right head kick in the third, but Carmouche managed to scramble back up and finish the bout.

    The win improves Carmouche's UFC record to 3-3. Chookagian, who trains out of New Jersey, suffered her first career loss.

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