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Chiesa, Graves get sub wins, Pennington earns close victory

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MICHAEL CHIESA vs BENEIL DARIUSH

Former Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa made his case for a spot in the lightweight top 10 Saturday, as he rebounded from a slow start to submit Beneil Dariush in the second round at Tampa’s Amalie Arena.
 


Dariush showed off the continued improvement of his striking game as the bout commenced, with hard leg kicks and sharp punches to the head keeping Chiesa at bay. Chiesa, as game as they come, kept looking for daylight, but it was a Dariush round, one punctuated by a late takedown.

The thudding kicks to the leg kept coming by Dariush in round two, but it was Chiesa who turned things around with a takedown. Taking Dariush’s back immediately, Chiesa worked for the rear naked choke and he got it, with Dariush tapping out at the 1:20 mark.

With the win, Spokane’s Chiesa moves to 14-2; Yorba Linda’s Dariush falls to 12-2.

More from Fight Night Tampa: Full results | Postfight bonus recap | Watch: Dana White has final say on Fight Night Tampa | Teixeira KO’s Evans in main event | Namajunas, Swanson go distance for wins; Nurmagomedov takes shorter route | Dodson makes it look easy in bantamweight return | Chiesa, Graves get submission wins, Pennington gets close victory | Backstage Interviews: Glover Teixeira, Rose Namajunas, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cub Swanson, Michael Chiesa, Raquel Pennington, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Michael Graves | Octagon interviews: Glover Teixeira, John Dodson | Best images from Fight Night Tampa

PENNINGTON vs. CORREIA

Bantamweight contenders Raquel Pennington and Bethe Correia battled tooth and nail for three hard-fought rounds, with Pennington earning her second straight win, taking a split decision over Brazil’s “Pitbull.”
 


Pennington had a good first round, patiently picking at Correia with straight punches throughout. “Rocky” did go back to the corner with a cut over the right eye, courtesy of a solid left hook by Correia.

29-28 twice and 28-29 for the number 11-ranked Pennington, now 7-6; Paraiba’s Correia, competing for the first time since her August 2015 loss to Ronda Rousey, falls to 9-2

The number eight-ranked Correia got a little busier in the second, but the cleaner and more effective blows were still coming from the Coloradan, who fought well at long range and in the clinch.

Doing her best to bully Pennington in the trenches, Correia got in some good shots on her opponent as she turned up the heat in the final frame, which remained standing until the end.

PONZINIBBIO vs. McGEE

It was a wild one while it lasted, but by the tail end of the first round, it was all Santiago Ponzinibbio, as he halted Court McGee via strikes in their welterweight matchup.
 


McGee set a fast pace as soon as referee Herb Dean waved the two into action, and he was able to catch Ponzinibbio with several solid shots. Ponzinibbio took a little while to get into his rhythm, but once he did, he began tagging his opponent with kicks to the leg and punches upstairs as he matched McGee’s pace. With a minute left, Ponzinibbio dropped McGee with a right hand, and while the Utah native rose to his feet, the Argentinean didn’t let him off the hook, with a barrage of hard shots bringing in Dean to stop the fight at the 4:15 mark.

Ponzinibbio improves to 23-3 with the win; McGee, who was stopped for the first time in his career, falls 18-5.

GRAVES vs. BROWN

Former Ultimate Fighter standout Michael Graves was calm and efficient in his bout with fellow welterweight prospect Randy Brown, taking his time before submitting the New York in the second round.
 


The first half of round one was fought primarily in the clinch as Graves sought a takedown. Brown fought him off well until referee Dan Miragliotta separated the two, and then Graves got his takedown. Graves kept his foe grounded for the rest of the round and landed a few good strikes, but Brown was busy from the bottom, as he looked to lock up a triangle choke.

Graves opened up the second with another takedown, and this time, he gave Brown no room to breathe, patiently using his ground and pound to set up a rear naked choke that produced a tap out at 2:31 of the round.

Coconut Creek’s Graves moves to 6-0 with the win; Brown falls to 7-1.

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