Vagner Rocha, Evan Dunham and Ken Stone shined to cap off an eight fight preliminary card on Facebook for UFC Fight Night 25.
Cody McKenzie vs. Vagner Rocha
Vagner Rocha showed what Pablo Popovitch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about with a first round submission win over Cody McKenzie to close out the UFC Fight Night 25 prelims.
In his first bout in the UFC, Rocha faced a very stiff test in Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and for 15 minutes he faced an onslaught of striking from the former WEC contender. On Saturday night in Louisiana, Rocha was able to show off his ground skills after getting McKenzie to the mat on several occasions.
Rocha showed his high level ground skills working for several submissions including a kimura, a D’arce choke and two separate rear naked chokes. It was the 2nd rear naked choke that he locked in that McKenzie simply couldn’t slip out of and was forced to tap.
“I worked a lot since the last fight against Donald (Cerrone), trying to work my stand up. I still feel I made a lot of mistakes tonight, but my jiu-jitsu’s always there. It saves my life,” Rocha said after picking up his first victory in the UFC.
Rocha is now 1-1 in the UFC and moves on in the lightweight division, while Cody McKenzie drops his 2nd straight and may have to earn his way back for another shot in the Octagon.
Evan Dunham vs. Shamar Bailey
It wasn’t long ago Evan Dunham was considered a top contender in the UFC’s lightweight division, but two straight losses put him back to the drawing board. Apparently, Dunham drew up a winning plan for tonight as he dominated Shamar Bailey en route to a unanimous decision win.
Dunham showed off his rapidly improving stand-up skills working with coaches like K-1 legend Ray Sefo because he pummeled Bailey with a 1-2 combo repeatedly during the fight.
To Bailey’s credit, he took as many shots as possible during the fight, but never went down.
“He’s a tough guy, Shamar you’re a tough dude,” Dunham said following the win. “I hit him with some shots that I thought would have put a lot of guys down.”
Dunham never let up and punished Bailey for all 15 minutes to earn a lopsided decision win. The victory gets Dunham back on track and reminded everyone why he is still a top contender at 155lbs.
Matt Riddle vs. Lance Benoist
Lance Benoist had to muster every ounce of strength to survive a nasty broken nose suffered during his fight with Matt Riddle, but the 22-year old prospect did just that and came away with a unanimous decision victory.
It was the first 10 minutes of the fight where Benoist was able to shine as he picked Riddle apart on the feet, and worked for some strong striking on the ground as well. During one clinch exchange, Riddle was able to pull Benoist’s head down and land a big knee to the face that broke his opponent’s nose and he was soon spilling blood like a flooding river.
At that moment however it didn’t matter because Benoist continued his assault to pull through and win the 2nd round. The third round is where the nose started to hurt Benoist after Riddle got a takedown and started to unload shot after shot. Benoist was able to scramble and survive and pull out a win, although both fighters deserve credit for a great battle in the Octagon.
Ken Stone vs. Donny Walker
Ken Stone’s 0-2 record in the UFC didn’t show how good he had been through his fights, but he displayed his talent on Saturday night with a dominant submission win over Ohio fighter Donny Walker.
Stone looked strong striking to open the fight, cracking Walker with good shots before getting the fight to the mat. Once it was on the ground, Stone had no intention of letting Walker back up again.
Stone worked vehemently to get Walker’s back and then locked on a rear naked choke, deep under his opponent’s chin. Walker tried his best to slip out and didn’t tap out, but Stone’s grip wasn’t going to be broken. Stone wrenched up again with Walker now rolled to his belly, and the referee swooped in for a stoppage after it was clear Walker was choked out.
Clay Harvison vs. Seth Baczynski
Stepping up on short notice apparently agrees with Seth Baczynski because the former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ competitor made short work of Clay Harvison in their bout at UFC Fight Night 25.
Baczynski was released from the UFC following his lone fight in the Octagon at the TUF 11 finale, but now at 170lbs, he was ready to prove he belonged among the best of the best. Coming out on fire early, Baczynski just overwhelmed Harvison on the feet, blasting away with punches and softening up his fellow ‘Ultimate Fighter’ alum.
The 2nd round brought more of the same with Baczynski dropping Harvision and then pouncing on him like a puma, looking for the finish. Locking in a rear naked choke after some punishing strikes, Baczynski didn’t let up until Harvision tapped out, signaling an end to the fight.
TJ Waldburger vs. Mike Stumpf
Looking at TJ Waldburger’s record it’s apparent he’s a fan of the submission game. With a triangle choke victory over Mike Stumpf on Saturday night, he added his 11th win via submission to his accolades.
As soon as the fight started, Waldburger had Stumpf on the ground, taking his back and looking for a rear naked choke. Stumpf used his extensive training with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Jeff Curran to slip out, but it wasn’t long before he found himself in deep water ont eh ground again.
Back on the mat, Waldburger looked for a straight armbar, and as Stumpf rolled he soon found himself on the wrong end of a triangle choke. Waldburger locked down his leg, and Stumpf had no choice but to tap out. Waldburger earns his 2nd win in the Octagon, and definitely announced his presence to the welterweight division.
Robert Peralta vs. Mike Lullo
In his UFC debut, Mike Lullo faced a Muay Thai specialist in Edson Barboza Jr. who tenderized and battered his lead leg, which eventually led to the end of the fight. Apparently, late replacement fighter Robert Peralta saw that bout and decided to do his best Barboza impression on Saturday night in New Orleans.
Peralta punished Lullo’s lead leg with a series of thudding leg kicks that left the Chicago native with a nasty welt and likely a limp to match tomorrow. Lullo struggled to keep a hold of Peralta, and he paid for it with the stand up as Peralta continued to get the best of the exchanges.
Lullo was finally able to get his attack going in the third round, but it was just too little, too late as Peralta had already done too much damage to sway the judges. The final call was Peralta by unanimous decision, and the young fighter becomes a bright prospect in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Justin Edwards vs. Jorge Lopez
Former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ and Ohio native Justin Edwards made the most of his 2nd fight in the Octagon picking up a unanimous decision victory over Wanderlei Silva progeny Jorge Lopez.
Edwards, an experienced grappler and wrestler, used his ground skills to control the biggest part of the fight with Lopez, taking the fight to the mat and going for several submissions. Even when Lopez was able to separate and strike with Edwards, the former TUF 13 fighter was like a pitbull getting the fight back to the canvas.
The final round saw the strongest come from Lopez taking Edwards down, mounting him and eventually taking his back. Edwards survived the storm, and weathered the rest of the attack from Lopez, who came on strong but just couldn’t get close to a finish. Edwards now moves to 1-1 in the UFC with his victory on Saturday night.