It was a long night of much anticipated fighting when UFC 252 took place at the UFC APEX Saturday, Aug. 15, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The televised preliminary card was kicked off by Temecula fighter Ashley Yoder, who took on Brazilian mixed martial artist, Livinha Souza, in what turned out to be a remarkably close strawweight showdown. Both fighters entered the night looking to bounce back from losses, Yoder to Roxanne Modafferi, Souza to Brianna Van Buren.

Souza would appear to find her stride first. The pair exchanged kicks early on but would deliver a huge punch to the face of Yoder while she remained on her back in the first round. With both women back on their feet moments later, Souza came over the top with another heavy blow. A lot of power was behind every right hand from Souza. Yoder tried to answer by shooting for a takedown, failed, but did land a kick to the body. The two would end up in a clinch along the fence in the final minute.

Temecula’s Ashley “The Spider Monkey” Yoder, left, takes on Livinha Souza of Brazil in a strawweight bout during UFC 252 Saturday, Aug. 15, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Valley News/UFC photo

Yoder, aka “The Spider Monkey,” opened round two with her jab, and went on the hunt, pressuring the Brazilian, who backed up to the fence. Souza would fire off her right again, but that attack was anticipated by Yoder who briefly took the fight down in response. Souza popped right up, leading to a clinch. That led to a battle for position, Souza at times bringing the fight back upright where the pair traded kicks, Souza employing an inside leg kick. She would go back to that kick several times throughout the round. Yoder went after the back again in the final minute, and again wound up too high and went over the top.

The third round saw Souza again attack with an inside leg kick. The pair would spend time clinching by the fence, but the fight stayed standing. Yoder was pressing the action, Souza returning fire. Yoder fired off a combo led by her jab, and her output seemed to be just ahead of a Souza rebuttal. A low blow on Yoder then briefly halted the action. Despite the interruption, Yoder had found her groove, outside of continually having to withstand the inside leg kick of Souza.

Yoder attacked the back again in the final minute of the fight, leading to a scramble that ended with Souza on top. Something that might have left an impression with the judges, with the fight very much up for grabs.

Three of Yoder’s previous four fights heading into the mid-August fight had ended in split decisions. That was not the case at UFC 252 as the final result was a unanimous decision against her. The official results showed Livinha Souza defeating Ashley Yoder 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, but that 30-27 card will likely raise some eyebrows, in what was essentially a remarkably close fight. As for now, Yoder said she will be back to training for whoever she has to fight next, after a much-needed vacation.

Ashley Yoder of Temecula lands a kick against Livinha Souza of Brazil in their strawweight bout at UFC 252. Valley News/ESPN+ photo

When it comes to the UFC, a highly anticipated middleweight championship fight and a battle for the vacant light heavyweight championship will headline UFC 253 Saturday, Sept. 26. A location for the event has not yet been confirmed, with rumors stating the UFC APEX in Las Vegas and Fight Island in Abu Dhabi are both in play.

In the main event, Israel Adesanya will put his middleweight title on the line in his second title defense, taking on Paulo Costa in what has developed into a grudge match. Adesanya won the title in October 2019 by knocking out Robert Whittaker. He then beat Yoel Romero in March in a highly disappointing fight by decision. Adesanya is 19-0 in his career and 8-0 in the Octagon, with all eight UFC victories coming since February 2018. Costa is 13-0 in his career and a massive man for the 185-pound division. He has ended 11 of his 13 career fights by knockout.

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