Three different opponent changes didn’t phase Dustin Poirier, who pulled off an impressive mounted triangle choke/armbar combination to put away newcomer Max Holloway.
Originally when UFC 143 was announced, Poirier was poised to take on Erik Koch in a fight that would have likely secured the winner a shot at featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Unfortunately an injury knocked Koch out of the fight, followed quickly by his replacement Ricardo Lamas, who fell by the wayside due to injury as well.
In stepped the youngest fighter in the UFC, 20-year old Hawaiian Max Holloway.
To his credit, Holloway stepped into the fight with no nerves because he was gunning for Poirier from the moment the bout started. Holloway showed off his striking acumen, but the one area where there was concern was his ground game and it showed once Poirier got him to the mat.
Poirier pulled for an armbar and then transitioned to a triangle choke. Holloway tried to roll out, but then got stuck in a mounted triangle choke courtesy of Poirier. With nowhere to go, Poirier grabbed the arm and cranked on it a bit more, and Holloway had no choice but to tap.
With a perfect record thus far in his UFC career, Dustin Poirier moves one step closer to securing a shot at the UFC featherweight title and a fight with Jose Aldo.
“I came in here to get a win and and I finished this fight. I’m 4-0 in the UFC now, I mean come on guys. I’m here for real, I just showed it again. I train hard, I don’t cut corners, I’m here to be a champion, one punch at a time,” said Poirier.
It took a lot of heart and some testicular fortitude for Edwin Figueroa to pull out a split decision win over Alex Caceres.
Just a few moments into the fight, former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ competitor Alex Caceres landed an inside leg kick that rocketed into Figueroa’s groin. The third time UFC fighter rolled around on the ground in obvious pain as referee Herb Dean gave Caceres a strong warning for the low blow.
Once Figueroa recovered he reacted pretty well considering the circumstances. He uncorked a huge high kick that blasted Caceres in the face, as he fell like a tree down to the mat. Figueroa followed him to the ground trying to get the finish, but couldn’t get inside enough of Caceres’ guard.
Caceres actually did well to reverse positions and ended up taking Figueroa’s back, almost locking in a rear naked choke before the round came to a close.
The second round saw another low blow rattle Figueroa’s cup as the young fighter again dropped to the ground. This time Herb Dean saw enough and deducted two points from Caceres’ scorecard and that ultimately meant the difference in the fight.
A close third round ended and the judges returned some of the oddest scores for a winning fight in UFC history. 28-27 scores were read across the board, but Figueroa did enough to get the nod by two judges and picked up the split decision win.
It had been over two years since Matt Brown landed a knockout in the UFC, but he rectified that in a big way at UFC 143.
Taking on fellow ‘Ultimate Fighter’ alum Chris Cope, it was obvious from the early going that Brown was going to be the better stand-up fighter, he was just looking for his range to land the perfect shot.
Brown had a strong first round, but going into the second his coaches advised him that Cope was dropping his hands during exchanges, and he need to capitalize.
As the second round got going it was apparent that Brown pays attention to his coaches’ advice.
Brown came out aggressive and landed a big overhand right that caught Cope behind the ear. It was somewhat of a delayed reaction, but Cope was definitely rattled by the punch, and Brown wasted no time following up with a quick left hook that dropped him to the canvas.
Brown followed up with a few more punches before referee Kim Winslow swooped in to stop the fight.
“I’ve got a right hand to knockout anybody,” Brown said after the win. “Believe you’ll see more of that”
Former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Matt Riddle may have saved his job on Saturday night with a split decision victory over late notice replacement Henry Martinez.
Riddle entered UFC 143 on back-to-back losses and there was no room for error, but Greg Jackson student Henry Martinez wasn’t going to make it easy for him.
Martinez came out gunning with quick, accurate striking and despite the fact that he’s clearly a lightweight, he hung tough with the much bigger and taller Riddle. Knowing that he was probably down after the first round, Riddle started to fire back in the second and third rounds putting his reach and length to good use.
It was a back and forth battle throughout, but ultimately the power shots landed by Riddle seemed to be the difference in the judges’ minds. Martinez will stick around however and drop down to his more natural 155lbs and hopefully a full training camp for his second UFC appearance.