Round 1: Bahadurzada takes the center of the cage. He paws with his jab. Bahadurzada lands an outside leg kick followed by another. Howard answers with an outside leg kick of his own. He steps in with a right hand. Bahadurzada uncorks a high kick that’s blocked. Bahadurzada lands a right hand. Howard dodges a punch and counters with a hard outside leg kick. They clinch. Bahadurzada presses Howard against the cage. He delivers a knee to the midsection. Howard turns him after another knee to the body. They separate. Bahadurzada continues to land leg kicks. Howard misses with a huge left hook. Howard lands a right hand. Howard looks to get the fight to the ground but Bahadurzada defends the attempt. Bahadurzada delivers a knee to the body. Howard drives forward and secures a takedown. He works in Bahadurzada’s half guard. Howard advances to the mount position. Bahadurzada rolls and stands. Howard stays on him and looks for a single leg takedown. Bahadurzada defends the attempt and lands a right hand. Howard fires back. The round ends. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Bahadurzada.
Round 2: Howard leaps in with a left hook. Bahadurzada fires back with a right hand counter. They exchange. Howard lands a right hand. Howard glances a left hook off the side of Bahadurzada’s head. They clinch. Howard lands uppercuts and delivers right hands to the body. They separate. Bahadurzada lands a left hook to the body and takes Howard down. He lands short shots to the body. Howard looks for a triangle choke but doesn’t have it. Bahadurzada lets him up. Howard lands an outside leg kick, and another. Bahadurzada delivers a knee to the body as Howard looked to get the fight to the ground. They work for position along the cage. Bahadurzada lands a knee to the body. They separate. Howard lands a right hand followed by a leg kick. Bahadurzada looks for a takedown but Howard shakes off the attempt. Howard delivers an uppercut. Bahadurzada answers with knees to the body. Howard works to get the fight to the ground. He picks up Bahadurzada and slams him to the canvas. Bahadurzada quickly gets back to his feet. The round ends with Howard trying to get the fight to the ground. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Howard.
Round 3: They meet in the middle of the cage. Howard lands first in the final round with an inside leg kick. Howard steps in with a left hook. He closes the distance and works to get Bahadurzada down. He lets the leg go and unloads a flurry of punches. He lands to the body. Bahadurzada moves forward and delivers a knee. They clinch. Howard lands uppercuts while Bahadurzada delivers knees to the body. Howard decides to get the fight to the ground. Howard stands over Bahadurzada and lands a series of left hands. Bahadurzada rolls for a leg but Howard regains top position. He works in Bahadurzada’s half guard. Howard lands short left hands. He advances to the mount position. Howard postures up and Bahadurzada rolls. Howard takes his back with a minute remaining in the round. Howard covers up Bahadurzada’s mouth. Bahadurzada lands punches on Howard, who is behind him. The round ends. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Howard.
The judges scored the fight for Howard by unanimous decision. All three scorecards read 30-27.
“His Muay Thai is very good but I train with some of the best Muay Thai fighters in the world in Boston and I was prepared for him. I think I showed the fans and the UFC how much I have improved. I know I still have a lot of work to do on my wrestling and my jiu-jitsu so I’ll get back in the gym right away and get better in those areas. I am going after the welterweight title and I’m willing to work harder than anyone to get there.”
“John Howard fought great but I didn’t have the conditioning to go out there and perform the way I usually would tonight. I got sick five weeks out and it kept me from hard training for three weeks. I dislocated both my shoulders and the treatment I was getting for them wasn’t doing any good. I had family, friends, and fans from all over the world buy tickets to come see me fight tonight and I couldn’t pull out of the fight and let them all down. I always get injured but in this sport if you wait until you’re 100 percent healthy you’ll never fight.”