BLAYDES vs HUNT
Rising heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes survived some early bombs from Aussie superstar Mark Hunt to roar back and use a steady ground-and-pound attack to take a unanimous decision win in the UFC 221 co-main event at Perth Arena.
Scores were 30-26 twice and 29-27.
After some uneventful standup to kick off the action, Blaydes scored a takedown with a little over two minutes gone, but Hunt rose to his feet immediately, and soon, the “Super Samoan” drilled Blaydes with a right hand that staggered the Chicago native. Hunt landed two more right hands and the end appeared to be near, but Blaydes rebounded well with a pair of takedowns that stole Hunt’s momentum and got him out of the round.
Blaydes’ goal was clear as round two commenced, and it was to get Hunt to the mat again. Hunt avoided the first attempt, but midway through the frame, he was grounded by Blaydes. “Razor” stayed busy enough to cut Hunt and keep the fight on the mat, much to the dismay of the crowd.
Blaydes got a pair of takedowns to open the final round, and he moved immediately into the full mount. Blaydes went on the attack with strikes while smothering any attempts by Hunt to get back to his feet. With 2:20 left, Hunt made it to his feet, only to get slammed back to the mat. And seconds later, the same sequence repeated itself. With a little over a minute left, Hunt got daylight, but once more, a Blaydes takedown put the ball back in the up and comer’s court, capping the biggest win of his career.
With the win, the No. 9-ranked Blaydes moves to 9-1 with 1 NC. The No. 5-ranked Hunt falls to 13-12-1 with 1 NC.
TUIVASA vs ASKER
Unbeaten Australian heavyweight prospect Tai Tuivasa made short work of Cyril Asker, taking just a little over two minutes to score yet another first-round knockout.
The pace was fast from the start, but once Tuivasa began landing his bombs, it was clear how the fight was heading, and in the second minute, he rocked Asker with a short right elbow that drove him into the fence. The Frenchman tried to weather the storm, but the punches and elbows kept coming, with referee Steve Perceval eventually halting the contest at the 2:18 mark of round one.
Western Sydney’s Tuivasa moves to 9-0 with nine first-round knockouts. Asker falls to 9-4.
MATTHEWS vs LI
Victoria’s Jake Matthews delivered his best performance since returning to welterweight, winning a three-round unanimous decision over China’s Li Jingliang.
Matthews (13-3) had a dominant first round, showing off a vastly improved striking game that included a left hand that dropped Li with a little over two minutes left. Matthews looked for the finish on the mat as he fired off strikes and then sought out a rear naked choke, but Li made it out of the round.
Li (14-5) caught Matthews with a hard uppercut to kick off round two, but Matthews responded with a hard shot of his own and a guillotine choke attempt as the two went to the mat. As Matthews tried to finish, Li fouled the Aussie by gouging his eye, allowing him to get out of the choke and back to his feet without a point deduction from referee Mark Simpson. The two proceeded to trade hard shots, Li holding the edge over the bloodied Matthews.
Matthews got Li to the mat briefly in the opening minute of round two, and he landed some hard strikes in the process. Midway through the round, a right hand put Li on the deck again, but the resilient Beijing native found daylight once more. Matthews finished strong down the stretch though, with some solid striking and a late takedown wrapping things up by scores of 29-28 and 30-26 twice.
PEDRO vs SAFAROV
Sydney light heavyweight standout Tyson Pedro got the main card off to a winning start for the home team, as he submitted Dagestan native Saparbeg Safarov in the first round.
A big leg kick by Pedro to open the bout was greeted by a Safarov takedown, but the Aussie got up quickly and broke loose. Pedro went on to score well with his strikes, and while Safarov fired off haymakers in return, when the two locked up again, Pedro landed a kimura sweep, with the tap coming moments later at the 3:54 mark as Safarov’s arm was trapped.
With the win, the No. 13-ranked Pedro improves to 7-1. Safarov falls to 8-2.