NEW ORLEANS, September 17 – Lightweight standout Evan Dunham got back in the win column after two straight losses to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard, pitching a punishing three round shutout victory over The Ultimate Fighter 13 alum Shamar Bailey in UFC Fight Night action at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Saturday night. Watch post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Dunham, who improves to 12-2; Bailey falls to 12-4.
The standup was fast-paced and crisp, with Dunham the more effective of the two. Bailey wasn’t far behind though, as a thudding shot to the head reddened Dunham’s forehead. Dunham’s 1-2s mixed in nicely with his kicks though, and despite a late takedown from Bailey, it was the Oregon native’s round.
There was no let-up from both men in round two, with Bailey starting strong and Dunham roaring right back. Two minutes in, Dunham’s attack looked to be wearing on Bailey, whose Octagon movement began to slow, making him a more stationary target. Yet despite taking many flush shots, Bailey’s chin wouldn’t dent, and he stayed in the fray, even though his takedown attempts were coming up empty. By the end of the round, Bailey was dealing with a cut over his eye, adding to his woes.
Energized by the minute’s rest, Bailey’s work rate increased as the final round began, with Dunham remaining calm as he picked his shots and shook off the occasional flush punch to the head that landed. What soon became the storyline though, was how Bailey was still standing under the increasingly ferocious assault of Dunham, who picked things up even more as the crowd roared. Even a final guillotine choke attempt by Dunham wasn’t enough to take Bailey out, and while the Indiana vet didn’t win the fight, he earned plenty of respect for his gritty effort.
McKENZIE vs. ROCHA
Vagner Rocha evened his UFC record to 1-1 with stellar groundwork against Cody McKenzie, winning the lightweight bout via second round submission. Watch post-fight interview
“I worked a lot since the last fight,” said Rocha, whose late-notice UFC debut against Donald Cerrone in June resulted in a decision loss. “I still made some mistakes, but my jiu-jitsu’s always there.”
McKenzie’s customary rush into the battle came with a little restraint at the bell, but after drawing an imaginary line in the Octagon and daring Rocha to cross it, the old McKenzie was back and ready to go. Through it all, Rocha didn’t lose his cool, getting in a couple hard shots before shooting in for the takedown. McKenzie immediately tried to lock on his patented guillotine choke, but Rocha easily pulled loose, and after the two scramble for position, it was the Brazilian looking for the submission and almost catching McKenzie’s arm and neck. Finally, with less than a minute left, McKenzie broke free and got back to his feet, where he landed some solid punches before the round concluded.
With the crowd chanting his name, McKenzie took the fight to Rocha as the second round began, but after landing some strikes, his second guillotine attempt also came up empty. Rocha’s submission attempts were looking a lot more ominous, and his busy ground attack had The Ultimate Fighter alum always guessing. And finally, Rocha struck paydirt, sinking in a rear naked choke that prompted McKenzie to tap at 3:49 of round two.
With the win, Rocha ups his record to 7-2; McKenzie falls to 12-2.
BENOIST vs. RIDDLE
Unbeaten welterweight newcomer Lance Benoist battled through blood and the punches and knees of Matt Riddle to do enough good work in the first two rounds to take a razor-thin unanimous decision victory. Watch post-fight interview
All three judges saw it 29-28, a result that was roundly booed by the fans in attendance. Both men were awarded $55,000 for putting on what was named the Fight of the Night.
Benoist (6-0) jarred Riddle with the first right hand he landed, but the Pennsylvania native quickly recovered. After a swooping head kick missed its mark, Riddle decided to close the gap and tie his opponent up, but a low knee from Benoist brought a brief halt to the action. Upon resuming, Benoist went back to work, only to have a knee get caught by Riddle and turned into a takedown. With 1:45 left in the round, Benoist reversed position and used the advantage to score some points with ground strikes until the bell sounded.
The two southpaws kept it standing for much of the first 90 seconds of round two, with Riddle (5-3) breaking the pattern with a takedown. After scrambling to their feet, Benoist turned the tables with his own takedown, and with blood streaming down his face from his nose, he began opening fire. Riddle did some good work from the bottom, landing an upkick and attempting a submission, and at the bell, the crowd roared in appreciation for the rapidly heating up action.
Riddle came out fast in the third, getting the bout to the mat, where he landed knees from side control and kept firing strikes from his opponent’s guard. It was to be where the bout remained until the final bell, as Riddle controlled the final frame impressively, but not impressively enough to sway the decision in his favor.
STONE vs. WALKER
After back-to-back knockout losses to Eddie Wineland and Scott Jorgensen, the third time was the charm for Ken Stone, as he earned his first Zuffa victory with a first round submission of Donny Walker. Watch post-fight interview
Stone’s ground game was on point from the start, as he got Walker to the mat and immediately went to work. Eventually, he got Walker’s back and sunk his hooks in. Next came the rear naked choke, and while Walker resisted for as long as he could, he soon went to sleep, forcing referee Myron Gaudet to halt the bout at the 2:40 mark.
With the win, Stone improves to 10-3; Walker falls to 14-8.
BACZYNSKI vs. HARVISON
Seth Baczynski made an impressive return to the UFC, using his striking game to set up a second round submission win over Clay Harvison in a meeting of welterweight alumni of The Ultimate Fighter series. Watch post-fight interview
Season 11’s Baczysnki (14-6) appeared to have some issues with Harvison’s movement as the bout opened, but as the round moved on, the “Polish Pistola” began to score effectively with knees to the head and body, as well as a hard elbow from close range that kept Harvison on the defensive.
Things didn’t get much better for season 13’s Harvison (9-4) in the second round, as he was dropped by a right uppercut, submitted to some thudding ground strikes and then finished off with a rear naked choke that forced a tap at 1:12 of the frame.
WALDBURGER vs. STUMPF
Talented Texan TJ Waldburger secured his second UFC victory in three tries, submitting late replacement Mike Stumpf in the first round. Watch post-fight interview
A kick to the leg that caused Stumpf to lose his balance as the bout opened was all Waldburger needed to capitalize, as he took Stumpf down and then took his back. Stumpf quickly recovered, but Waldburger wasn’t letting go as he got the hooks in on his foe. The patient Stumpf soon found daylight though, getting to his feet briefly before Waldburger took him back to the mat. After a wild scramble that included a flying knee attempt by Stumpf, Waldburger got the bout to the mat and almost got caught in a guillotine, but the slick submission artist made some magic of his own, catching Stumpf in a triangle choke that produced a tap out at 3:52 of the opening frame.
With the win, Waldburger improves to 14-6 and also received a $55,000 bonus for Submission of the Night; Stumpf, who came in on short notice to replace the injured Daniel “Ninja” Roberts, falls to 11-3.
PERALTA vs. LULLO
Octagon newcomer Robert Peralta spoiled the featherweight debut of Mike Lullo, scoring a three round unanimous decision victory over the Illinois native. Watch post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Peralta’s kicks and knees scored early and often in the first round, prompting Lullo to pull his foe to the canvas. Peralta (15-3) immediately rose, looking to keep his scoring run going. Soon, Lullo’s legs reddened, bringing back memories of the low kick assault he took in his UFC debut against Edson Barboza at UFC 123 in November of 2010. Lullo fired back with his own punches and kicks, but the crowd erupted when Peralta responded with a kick-punch combination to the body and then pressed the action even more with overhand rights, more leg kicks, and a flash knockdown.
As the second round opened, Lullo (8-3) had a huge knot on the left side of his head, but he kept throwing both punches and kicks. The only thing was, they didn’t appear to have any effect on Peralta. As the round approached the two minute mark, Lullo rushed in for a takedown, but had to settle for pinning his foe to the fence. Eventually, Peralta broke free, but Lullo was the busier of the two fighters as he looked to even up the scoring.
Both fighters came out busy for the final round, with Lullo breaking up the striking pattern with a takedown attempt that Peralta was able to avoid, but the two again remained pinned to the fence with Lullo in control. Finally, with less than 90 seconds left, Lullo got his takedown, but only for a brief moment, as Peralta sprung to his feet. Another takedown followed with 30 seconds left, but it wasn’t enough for Lullo to get the judges’ nod.
EDWARDS vs. LOPEZ
A third round surge wasn’t enough for highly-touted welterweight prospect Jorge Lopez to get the win in his bout with The Ultimate Fighter 13’s Justin Edwards, who instead took the close unanimous decision victory. Watch post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Edwards, who improves to 8-1; Lopez falls to 11-2.
Edwards closed the distance quickly and efficiently against Lopez, and his grappling prowess and strength was evident as he almost locked in a guillotine choke early. Lopez fought free and had some success when keeping his distance, but at close range, Edwards scored with short elbows and controlled the lockups. As the round progressed, Lopez got his licks in, but whenever he would move in to capitalize, Edwards usually got the better of the action.
The fighters traded kicks as round two commenced, with Edwards scoring a takedown moments later and then attempting another guillotine choke that Lopez broke out of before getting back to his feet. A second trip to the mat saw Edwards score with a series of punches before Lopez shot back to a standing position, but the Wanderlei Silva-protégé was unable to get back in the scoring column before the round ended.
Lopez secured his first takedown of the fight in the opening minute of the third, but Edwards immediately went to work on his arm. Lopez kept his cool, and when he got loose, he jumped into the mount position and then took his opponent’s back. Edwards turned out of trouble, but into some more as Lopez held side control. With two minutes left, the two got back to their feet, but only briefly, as Lopez scored another takedown. Edwards almost took Lopez’ arm in the closing seconds, but the Las Vegas resident was able to escape before the bell.
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