Fearless Whittaker Stops Brunson in One
Robert Whittaker put on a fearless display against knockout artist Derek Brunson in the main event of UFC Fight Night Melbourne on Saturday night.
The Australia-based Kiwi launched into the exchanges with Brunson from the first bell and looked like he had paid the price for it when the American backed him against the fence and caught him flush with a powerful right hand.
Whittaker went into defensive mode, frantically ducking away from Brunson’s onslaught. Brunson dived in for a takedown and Whittaker’s sprawl allowed him to regain composure. Brunson kept up his quest for his opponent’s chin, but he got too confident.
Whittaker cracked Brunson with a right hook that put him on wobbly legs and patiently picked his shots. A head kick sent Brunson reeling and a body-head combination sent him to the floor. Herb Dean gave Brunson every chance to get back into the fight, but eventually, he was forced to stop the bout as Whittaker kept up a consistent output with his ground and pound.
“We knew he was going to be tough, but I had no idea he was going to be that hard,” said Whittaker in his post-fight interview.
“I knew I had to weather the storm. He’s a heavy-hitter. I tried to duck and weave as much as I could. I stuck to the game plan. I ended up breaking him down and spotting his weakness.
“He hits hard. I’m sure all of his other opponents would attest to that. But, I hit hard too. I’m just as fast and just as strong. If you show me something, I’m going to take it from you.”
Underdog Holbrook Silences Melbourne with Win over Matthews
Andrew Holbrook came out of the gates like a man possessed tonight, and his performance seemed a lot more dominant than the split decision verdict suggested.
Victoria native Jake Matthews had his best round in the first, but Holbrook was constantly bearing down on him as he looked to get in and out with his attacks. The American came into his own in the second where he chained a number of submission attempts together, using a kimura lock to sweep from guard before locking up an evaded heel hook.
Such was Holbrook’s confidence that he goaded the hometown star in the middle of the Octagon in the third round. Despite the submission savvy Holbrook displayed in the second, Matthews took him down where he found himself in more trouble, with Holbrook looking close to finishing a toehold at one point.
Akhmedov Spoils Noke’s Homecoming
Both Omari Akhmedov and Kyle Noke rode a two-fight losing streak going into their main card clash, but Noke’s home backing did him no favors as he was dominated over three rounds in Melbourne.
In the first two rounds, Noke showed no urgency when the Russian brought him to the ground. Akhmedov used his top control well over the opening two frames, landing solidly as Noke managed nothing more than retaining his guard as his opponent scored with his steady output.
Knowing he had the first two rounds in the bag, Akhmedov allowed Noke to come at him in the final round. However, the TUF veteran only managed to throw out single shots, which were ineffective against the passive approach of Akhmedov.
Volkanovski Announces Multi-Division Aspirations after Debut Win
Alex Volkanovski opened his UFC account with a second-round finish over Yasuke Kasuya, despite the Japanese fighter looking like he could use his size to his advantage in the early exchanges.
Kasuya, a rear-naked-choke expert, looked to pummel through to Volkanovski’s back when he had the Aussie pressed up against the fence. Yet, when the pair hit the floor, Volkanovski managed to gain top position where he landed solidly.
The stoppage came in the second round when Kasuya looked to transition to a leg lock. Desperately trying to extend the leg of the UFC debutant, the Japanese lightweight left his head wide open and Volkanovski blasted away on his opponent until the referee stopped the action.
Speaking after the fight, Volkanovski highlighted that he was the smallest lightweight and featherweight on the roster, and hopes to move down to featherweight, and eventually bantamweight, where he would like to take on some bigger names.
Pedro Gets Debut Win after Early Trouble
It didn’t look likely that unbeaten Australian light heavyweight Tyson Pedro would walk away from his first trip to the Octagon with a victory when Khalil Roundtree dropped him with a big left hand in the opening minute of their main card fight in Melbourne.
However, just as he buckled by the shot, Pedro executed an inside reap takedown before patiently transitioning to his opponent’s back where he eventually forced the tap in the final minute of the opening round.
Taylor Records Controversial First UFC Win against Ham
Only an early eye poke stopped Ham’s forward trajectory in round one, and as soon as the action got back underway she got back on the front foot straight away. Despite Taylor fighting back with her own overhand rights, the left hand of Ham had the American on her bike just three minutes into the bout, but Taylor still managed to make into the second.
The right hand of Taylor played a bigger part in the second round, but it was still Ham who piled on the pressure, enjoying a rare height advantage over an opponent at strawweight. Taylor looked to change levels and take the South Korean down toward the end of the round, but Ham countered the shot marvelously and scrambled to mount before the whistle blew.
Taylor grew into the contest more and more and it looked as though Ham had cost herself the bout when she ate several big shots while trying to convince the referee that the fight should be stopped for an eye poke in the final minute of the fight. The moment proved to be crucial as the American somehow took all three rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards, to take the first win of her UFC career via split decision.
- Dan Kelly def. Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision
- Damien Brown def. Jon Tuck by split decision
- Jonathan Meunier def. Richard Walsh by unanimous decision
- Ben Nguyen def Geane Herrera by unanimous decision
Early Prelim Results
- Jason Knight def. Daniel Hooker by unanimous decision
- Marlon Vera def. Ning Guangyou by unanimous decision
- Jenel Lausa def Yao Zhikui by unanimous decision
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