Norman Parke stormed the UFC, winning the lightweight tournament of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes and then going 3-0-1 in his next four fights. He’s stumbled lately, however, losing his last two; so he entered the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 76 on Saturday looking to make Reza Madadi his stepping stone to a career resurgence.
With a 2-1 record in the UFC, Madadi had aspirations of his own in Dublin, looking to defeat Parke and start building some momentum in the Octagon.
The strategy for each was clear from the opening bell. Parke wanted mostly to keep the fight standing and at a good striking distance, where he could utilize his reach advantage. The Iranian-born Swede, Madadi, wanted to use his wrestling expertise to put the fight on the floor.
Parke’s was the more successful strategy. Having a strong background in Judo, the Northern Irelander nullified most of Madadi’s takedown efforts, and was successful at keeping his distance, especially in the opening two rounds.
Although Madadi isn’t a bad striker, Parke’s reach and movement allowed him to control the center of the Octagon, where he peppered Madadi with combinations. Parke established himself as the busier and more accurate striker, which, combined with his takedown defense, made the first two rounds easy to score in his favor.
The third round started off much the same, with Parke stuffing takedowns and keeping his distance, but Madadi did a much better job in closing the gap, where he could land some effective strikes. It was, by far, his best round.
Although Madadi was getting in some uppercuts and short shots, Parke secured a takedown in the latter half of the round, and from that point on, there was little successful offense from either fighter.
Parke wasn’t able to finish and make the splash that he had hoped for, but after going the distance, all three judges scored the fight in his favor, putting him back on the winning track.