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ATLANTIC CITY, June 22 – After his February win over Bart Palaszewski, Japan’s Hatsu Hioki wanted one more fight before taking on UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. That turned out to be a mistake, as Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas momentarily halted the longtime contender’s road to the title Friday night with a close, but unanimous, decision win in UFC on FX preliminary card action at the Revel Casino.
“It’s surreal,” said Lamas, who has won all three of his UFC bouts after a successful run in the WEC. “I’ve been fighting for Zuffa for three years now and not a lot of people know me. Hopefully now they will.”
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Lamas.
Hioki bookended a strong middle part of the first round by Lamas with impressive ground work at the beginning and end of the frame in which he nearly locked up his foe’s arm on two occasions. Lamas was clearly the better striker though, and his wrestling allowed him to power out of trouble when necessary.
Looking to impose his striking game as the second round began, Lamas used his takedown defense, a jarring knee, and a thudding body shot to keep Hioki on the defensive before switching things up by pulling guard with a guillotine choke locked in. Hioki pulled free and wound up in the top position, but after a brief stalemate, Lamas tried for the guillotine from his back two more times, both coming up short, but scoring points at the same time.
Remaining in control, Lamas was content to pick at Hioki with strikes as the Japanese contender followed him around the Octagon not doing much of anything until late in the round, when a takedown attempt was met by another Lamas guillotine. Again, the resilient Hioki pulled free, but by then it was too late for a miracle comeback, and Lamas had secured his biggest win to date.
With the win Lamas moves to 12-2; Hioki saw a six fight winning streak snapped in falling to 26-5-2.
NIJEM vs. KEITH
Things didn’t start out too well for Ramsey Nijem in his lightweight bout with debuting C.J. Keith, but after recovering from an inadvertent low blow, he got the fight to the mat, moved into mount position and finished things off with a series of ground strikes, prompting referee Yves Lavigne to step in at the 2:29 mark. With the TKO win, the former Ultimate Fighter finalist improves to 7-2; Keith suffers his first pro loss, falling to 8-1.
JARDINE vs. STORY
Rick Story bounced back from losses to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann with a unanimous decision victory over UFC newcomer Brock Jardine.
Story controlled much of the first round with serviceable standup and good control on the mat, but his methodical attack didn’t make many fans in the increasingly restless crowd. Jardine got a couple of looping shots in during the frame, but not enough to stop Story’s forward motion.
Nothing changed in the second round, with the exception of Jardine not landing any shots of note and Story (14-5) controlling things even more emphatically, though not enough to appease the crowd or finish the fight.
Jardine (9-2) never threatened Story in the final frame, with “The Horror” producing the bout’s most compelling moment when he dropped his foe with a right forearm with under three minutes left. But that was it, as Story snapped a two fight losing streak with the shutout 30-27 decision win.
SILER vs. GAMBINO
Utah featherweight Steven Siler made it 3-0 in the Octagon with a quick and emphatic first round submission win over previously unbeaten UFC debutant Joey Gambino.
Siler didn’t provide a pleasant welcome to the newcomer in the opening moments of the first round, bloodying the New Yorker with his strikes and controlling the bout from the outset. Gambino saw a brief ray of light when he briefly stunned Siler with a counterpunch, but the former Ultimate Fighter competitor responded by taking his foe down and sinking in the guillotine choke that forced a tap out at 2:47 of the first stanza.
With the win, Siler improves to 21-9; Gambino falls to 9-1.
CATONE vs. CAMOZZI
Middleweight up and comer Chris Camozzi got off to a relatively slow start against Brick, New Jersey’s Nick Catone, but by the third, the Coloradan was in control, earning a final round stoppage win due to cuts.
Catone (9-3) showed little sign of the rust associated with a 15 month injury-induced layoff, as he fought effectively on the feet throughout the opening round and even capped things off with a single leg takedown in the final minute. Camozzi looked relaxed in there, almost too relaxed, as he moved around the Octagon, only scoring with sporadic strikes.
Camozzi (17-5) settled down and stalked Catone to begin round two, and the gaps in the exchanges were closing as the New Jersey product began to show blood on his nose. Catone appeared to tire as the round progressed, but a takedown in the final 90 seconds showed that he still had some gas left in the tank for the final round.
Yet despite Catone’s strong finish to the second, Camozzi turned up the heat in the third, and after some close quarters action, complete with knees and punches, Catone’s face was a mask of blood. Moments later, referee Dan Miragliotta brought in the Octagonside physician to check Catone out, and the bout was waved off at the 1:51 mark.
RAMOS vs. BROWN
Welterweight veteran Matt Brown nabbed his third straight victory, stopping Brazil’s Luis Ramos after landing a punishing series of shots in the second round.
After a fairly uneventful opening round, the action heated up in the second, with Ramos stalking and Brown calmly countering, opening a cut on the bridge of his opponent’s nose. With two minutes left, Brown landed with a flush right knee to the face, staggering Ramos, who responded by holding on for dear life against the fence. Brown eventually shook his foe loose and proceeded to fire off a series of knees and punches to the face. The barrage continued as Ramos moved back to the fence, and a series of uppercuts prompted referee Gasper Oliver to halt the bout at 4:20 of round two.
With the win, Brown ups his record to 17-11; Ramos falls to 19-8.
MILLER vs. FUNCH
Longtime middleweight standout Dan Miller successfully began the second chapter of his UFC career as a welterweight, submitting ultra-game Ricardo Funch in the third round to break a two fight losing streak.
The first round was a war of attrition, with each man battling it out for superior positioning against the fence for much of the first five minutes, with periodic bursts of action from Miller probably earning him the round.
In the second, with the Jersey crowd cheering him on, Miller (14-6, 1 NC) went on the attack, nearly sinking in a guillotine choke on two occasions. Midway through the round, Miller went to the deck looking to lock up Funch’s leg, but the Brazilian pounded his way out of trouble and added in a couple of flush head punches for good measure before the fight continued in a standing position against the fence for the rest of the round.
Round three provided some of the best action of the fight, with Miller dropping Funch (8-4) with a right hand with a minute gone. A flurry of ground strikes followed, but Funch quickly cleared his head and got back to his feet, swinging back at this foe even though he was still operating on rubbery legs. Miller was not to be denied on this night though, as the guillotine choke he had been looking for the entire fight finally got sunk in, forcing Funch to tap out at 3:12 of the final round.
STONE vs. PAGUE
Dustin Pague stepped into the Octagon for the second time in two weeks in the bantamweight opener, but he was unable to repeat his win over Jared Papazian, as Ken Stone eked out a three round split decision win over the Virginia product.
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 28-29 for Stone, who improves to 11-3; Pague falls to 11-7.
Stone and Pague kept it standing for the majority of the bout, with Stone doing good work at times, but when he got aggressive and tried to press his advantage, he was often on the wrong end of some crisp counters from Pague. The lanky Pague’s takedown defense kept his opponent at bay in round two, but Stone was able to take the fight to the mat in the final round, enabling him to pull ahead and secure the victory.