On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the UFC held UFC Fight Night 31: Fight for the Troops 3 from from Fort Campbell, Ky.

In the night’s main event, former Strikeforce title challenger and active United States Army Staff Sergeant Tim Kennedy took on Brazilian middleweight Rafael Natal. Kennedy made a successful promotional debut at UFC 162 in July, besting grappling Roger Gracie by decision. Natal, meanwhile, entered the contest having won five of his last six fights in the Octagon.

The co-main event featured former UFC title challenger and U.S. Marine Liz Carmouche against Canadian Alexis Davis. Also on the main card Brazilian middleweight Ronny Markes faced Cuba’s Yoel Romero, Russian lightweight Rustam Khabilov took on former Strikeforce title challenger Jorge Masvidal, and Ultimate Fighter winners Michael Chiesa and Colton Smith squared off.

The 13-fight event kicked off at 3:15 p.m. ET with four fights streaming live on the promotion’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Four additional bouts followed on Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET, with the five-fight main card taking place at 7 p.m. ET.

Tim Kennedy Sends Soldiers Home Happy with Big KO of Rafael Natal

Tonight wasn’t the night for the former military members on this fight card, unless they go by the name of Tim Kennedy. Showing great patience and a methodical approach, Kennedy waited for an opening before blasting Rafael Natal with a huge left hook that left the Brazilian unconscious.

The fight was largely uneventful until the finish. Natal remained on the outside, softening up Kennedy’s legs with kicks. He occasionally looked for a takedown, but the brute strength and overall awareness of Kennedy allowed him to stay off his back. As the round closed, Kennedy’s corner could be heard yelling for the left hook, as Natal’s hands were not high enough when on the defensive. Then, in the blink of an eye, Kennedy unleashed a bomb on the Brazilian’s chin, knocking him out cold.

Alexis Davis Outworks, Decisions Liz Carmouche

In a bout that many thought would be a grappling contest, Alexis Davis outstruck former UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche to a clear-cut unanimous decision. Despite suffering a cut that had the potential to halt the bout, Davis fought through to arguably sweep the judges’ scorecards.

Davis took the decision through aggression, Octagon control and precision striking. Though she ate a couple of huge punches from Carmouche, she slowed down the former Marine with chopping leg kicks and faster hands. Her clinch game was a little more on point, which allowed her to control and damage Carmouche. With this type of performance against a really tough fighter in Carmouche, Davis moves extremely close to a UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout in the near future.

Yoel Romero Steamrolls Ronny Markes Late via Knockout

It wasn’t the greatest fight to watch in terms of technique, but the finish was well worth the wait. Instead of using his Olympic-caliber wrestling, Yoel Romero used his power boxing to land a punch flush on the chin of Ronny Markes and knocked him clean out.

The fight was highlighted by sloppy takedown attempts by Markes and punch-heavy strike attacks. Romero likely won the first two rounds, but in the third he had Markes on the run. With his back against the cage, Markes took a home-run punch to the dome and fell back to the mat, clearly out of it. Romero smelled the blood and landed another ground strike before referee Mario Yamasaki saved the Brazilian from further damage. The win showcased the great strength and athleticism of Romero, as well as the jaw-rattling power he has in his fists. Furthermore, he won without having to use his superior wrestling.

Rustam Khabilov Edges Jorge Masvidal in Classic LW Bout

Looking to take home a “Fight of the Night” bonus check, Rustam Khabilov and Jorge Masvidal went to war. The fight went differently than many thought it would, as the Russian was unable to implement his wrestling as much as he would have desired.

The fight was highlighted by the good takedown defense and surprising offense of Masvidal. Khabilov is known for his throws and suplexes, but he was unable to utilize these techniques against his opponent. However, Khabilov was a strong counterstriker on the feet and landed some huge blows on his adversary. The highlight of his striking was a spinning-hook kick that landed flush on Masvidal, but surprisingly did not knock him out. When it was all said and done, the Russian earned the approval of the judges, taking a convincing unanimous decision.

Michael Chiesa Throws, Chokes Out Colton Smith

For a fight that wasn’t given a chance at being good, Michael Chiesa and Colton Smith put on a great show. In a pure grappling clinic, Chiesa earned a second-round stoppage due to a rear-naked choke, putting him back in the win column.

The first round was extremely competitive, as both men got takedowns, swept each other and almost finished with deep submission attempts. Both men escaped the round, but it was Chiesa who came out in the second looking for the finish. Up against the cage, Chiesa used a judo throw to plant Smith on the crown of his head. Seeing Smith dazed, Chiesa jumped on the choke and quickly tapped Smith in the battle of TUF winners.

Preliminary Card Summary

Controversy reared its ugly head in Bobby Green’s fight with James Krause. The bout lasted just one round. After landing two low blows with inside leg kicks, Green dropped Krause with a kick that appeared to be at the belt line, but also caught Krause in the cup for a third time. Referee John McCarthy ruled it as a TKO from a body kick for Green, though many in attendance did not agree. It was an unfortunate stoppage to what was turning out to be a fun bout.

If you didn’t think that Francisco Rivera threw heat before his fight with George Roop, you definitely know now. In an entertaining two-round affair, Rivera and Roop spent most of their fight on the feet banging. However, it was the crisp, powerful boxing of Rivera that prevailed, as he floored Roop in the most violent of fashion.

Dennis Bermudez and Steven Siler decided to put on a barnburner in their featherweight bout, which saw possibly the best round of the night in the opening stanza. Both men were sharp on the feet, but it was the wrestling and ground-and-pound of Bermudez that made the difference. There were many exchanges of submission attempts, but it was clear who the winner was, as Bermudez swept the judges’ scorecards.

Kicking off the Fox Sports 1 portion of the prelims was a women’s 135-pound battle. After some feeling out on the feet, it was all Amanda Nunes, who planted Germaine de Randamie on the mat and quickly got the mount. After moving the Dutch fighter off the cage, she was able to further solidify the mount and drop huge elbows. Despite the fact that de Randamie was blocking a majority of the strikes, she did not improve her position and referee Herb Dean waved off the fight in the first round.

In an early “Fight of the Night” contender, fans witnessed a fun kickboxing bout that saw Lorenz Larkin take a unanimous decision over Chris Camozzi. There were no attempts to take the fight down, and both men utilized multiple striking techniques on the feet. Larkin was the more powerful, precise striker, and he bloodied and beat Camozzi. Both men, especially Camozzi, showed great heart throughout the fight.

It didn’t take long for Yves Edwards and Yancy Medeiros to get after it in their one-round slugfest. Edwards got the better of the exchanges on the Hawaiian early, but it was an uppercut from Medeiros that slipped through and crushed Edwards in an exchange that put down the Bahamas native. A few follow-up shots later, and Medeiros was deemed the winner via knockout.

Army veteran Neil Magny dropped a grueling bout to Seth Baczynski in a grappling fest. Most of the bout saw clinch positions on the cage, with scattered takedowns mixed in. Baczynski got most of the takedowns in the fight, but faded in the third round. However, all three judges scored the bout two rounds to one, giving “The Polish Pistola” a unanimous nod.

Kicking off the card was a brief middleweight bout, as Derek Brunson used a lightning-quick head kick to drop Brian Houston early in the fight. Sensing the blood, Brunson rushed Houston and slapped on a rear-naked choke. Houston fought off the choke valiantly, but succumbed to it just 48 seconds into the fight.

FULL RESULTS

Tim Kennedy def. Rafael Natal via KO (punches) at 4:40 of Rd. 1
Alexis Davis def. Liz Carmouche via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Yoel Romero def. Ronny Markes via KO (punches) at 1:39 of Rd. 3
Rustam Khabilov def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Michael Chiesa def. Colton Smith via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:41 of Rd. 2
Bobby Green def. James Krause via TKO (body kick) at 3:50 of Rd. 1
Francisco Rivera def. George Roop via TKO (punches) at 2:20 of Rd. 2
Dennis Bermudez def. Steven Siler via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Amanda Nunes def. Germaine de Randamie via TKO (elbows) at 3:56 of Rd. 1
Lorenz Larkin def. Chris Camozzi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Yancy Medeiros def. Yves Edwards via KO (punches) at 2:47 of Rd. 1
Seth Baczynski def. Neil Magny via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Derek Brunson def. Brian Houston via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:48 of Rd. 1

Photo: Tim Kennedy (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.