Welcome to CagedInsider’s liveblogging coverage of UFC 197 – a pay-per-view event featuring the long-awaited return of Jon Jones. Woot! Woot!
First up is a Fight Pass prelim bout that has TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero against Kevin Lee.
Lee wastes no time cranking up the striking output right out of the gate, launching kicks, lead hooks and jabs at Escudero and preventing the ex-wrestler from setting himself. Escudero grins and bears it though, and halfway through the round manages to duck under and get behind his opponent to lift him. Lee doesn’t let himself go down, and takes the opportunity to return the favor with a duck-under and lift from behind as well. Escudero prevents it, and fires back with a sequence of aggressive lefts and rights that has Lee backpedaling. The round ends with them duking it out.
Escudero is brimming with confidence in Round 2, and while Lee is quick to counter his strikes with a one-two combo to the face, the TUF winner stays within range. About a minute in he gets a quick double-leg takedown, and though Lee scrambles back to his feet, the message is clear: he has to worry about Escudero’s wrestling in addition to his strikes. For the rest of the round they stay upright and trade blows, and exhaustion slows them down.
It’s a pretty even fight going into the third, so Escudero turns up the aggression and starts knocking Lee’s head back. Lee switches tactics and goes into wrestling mode, and in a flash hoists Escudero up and dumps him to the canvas. He goes to work from within his foe’s half-guard, dropping fists and forearms and going for a guillotine. Time runs out with Lee pounding away.
Result: Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via Unanimous Decision