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LONDON, ENGLAND – While British fan favorite Tom “Kong” Watson turned in one of his best performances ever in his second-round stoppage of the always dangerous Stanislav Nedkov on the undercard of UFC on FUEL TV 7 in London’s Wembley Arena, and Andy Ogle, Vaughan Lee and Phil Harris also walked away with significant wins, some of his countrymen didn’t fare as well on Saturday
In the featured contest of the undercard, Brazilian Renee Forte bested local favorite Terry Etim by decision after three hard-fought rounds, with two judges scoring the fight 29-28 for the Team Nogueira member, while the third had Forte winning all three rounds.
Etim scored points early in the first round with precision leg kicks and hooks. Forte responded in kind with a flying knee which may not have hit the Liverpool native but it created an opportunity for the Brazilian to back Etim up against the cage. Etim circled away, failed in hitting a head kick and found a leg kick of his own being caught by his opponent. Forte later landed an elbow to the head, and Etim went for a spinning heel kick which Forte dove into. While still being hit with the kick, Forte scored a takedown shortly before the end of the round.
The British fan favorite landed a few knees from the plum clinch in the early part of round two. Forte answered with a lethal combination, and a left finally put Etim down. Forte scored with several hammerfists from the top position, but his opponent managed to tie him up in a full guard to regain his senses and momentarily stop the damage. It was all for naught, though, as Forte advanced position to full mount and hit a game Etim with shots from above as the round ended.
The Brazilian seemed in a much better position going into the third, and he fought a perfect round, grappling with Etim against the cage and controlling him there. Etim did land knees to the head during the round, but found himself back on the bottom thanks to a Forte leg trip.
With the unanimous decision win, Forte’s first win in the UFC, his MMA record improves to 8-2, while Terry Etim’s drops to 15-5.
Watch fight highlights here
Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo bested Liverpool’s Paul Sass by unanimous decision in an exciting lightweight battle. The scorecards read 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for the American.
Liverpool’s Sass was determined to make it a quick night for Castillo in London. Right away, he jumped onto Castillo’s shoulders and tried to pull him to the ground for his patented triangle choke. Castillo slammed him down hard, with his head bouncing off the mat. Sass immediately went for Castillo’s leg and ate several shots to the head for his troubles. Castillo worked towards an arm triangle from half guard without getting it. Sass valiantly threw his legs up for another triangle attempt but was also unsuccessful in his bid. Multiple further attempts to secure a leg lock failed in succession, and Castillo had no problems escaping the position and landing punches, elbows and hammerfists from top position.
A scramble early in round number two ended with Castillo on top with Sass throwing elbows from the bottom. Sass locked in full guard, while Castillo replied with elbows of his own from the top. Sass attempted an armbar but – once again – ended up being slammed to the mat. At the halfway point of the round, referee Neil Hall brought the combatants back to their feet. Castillo ducked under a left from Sass and scored another takedown and vicious ground and pound to end the round.
Sass switched things up and took to striking to begin the third round, landing a right hook, a spinning kick to the chest and leg kicks on his opponent. Castillo eventually timed Sass’ strikes, ducked under and took the Brit down to the mat. The American landed several elbows from top position, with Sass doing what he could to tie up his opponent. Castillo moved into north-south position, then side mount, and struggled for an arm triangle when the round and the fight ended.
The decision win improves Danny Castillo’s MMA record to 15-5, while Paul Sass drops to 13-2 with the loss.
Watch highlights from the fight here
ANDY OGLE VS. JOSH GRISPI
At featherweight, Andy Ogle continued Britain’s early winning streak with a unanimous decision victory over a game Josh Grispi. The judges scored the bout 30-28, 29-28 and 29-28.
Grispi took the fight to the ground right away in the first round, locking Ogle in a crucifix position. When Grispi realized he had little chance of working towards a finish with Ogle on top and his own back against the cage, he changed to an arm-in triangle. Ogle tried to break free by lifting up Grispi and slamming him to the ground, but ended up being unsuccessful in his attempt. Ogle tried to punch to get out of the hold, yet Grispi held on to his favorable position until Ogle escaped to Grispi’s full guard with one minute remaining in the round. Neither fighter was able to impose his will until the round ended.
Ogle briefly found himself on his back again in the beginning of round number two but ended up in top position during the struggle and started working for a rear-naked choke. Grispi got back to his feet with Ogle still on his back and then dropped back down to the mat, trying to shake the Brit. Ogle secured hooks soon after and punched to Grispi’s head and ribs. After another struggle on the ground, Grispi stood back up with Ogle hanging off of his back through the end the round.
The Brit opened round three with a right that connected, followed by a kick to the ribs and then a takedown. Grispi attempted to use a guillotine choke to reverse positions, but Ogle slipped out and got back on top in closed guard. After elbowing Grispi’s ribs, Ogle postured up to get leverage for a series of punches to the head. Ogle moved to the side and begun landing crushing knees to Grispi’s rib cage before being locked back in Grispi’s guard through the end of the round.
With the win, Andy Ogle’s record is now 9-2, while Grispi’s drops to 14-5.
See highlights from the fight here
TOM “KONG” WATSON VS. STANISLAV NEDKOV
Southampton’s own Tom “Kong” Watson brought the fans at Wembley Arena to their feet with one of the most inspired performances of his career against a very dangerous opponent in Bulgaria’s Stanislav Nedkov who went down and out at 4:22 minutes of the second round of the evening’s first middleweight fight.
Watson’s strategy was readily apparent from the very beginning of round one, as he constantly sought to put Nedkov’s back against the cage, grab him around the neck in a Muay Thai plum and hit one knee to the head after the other. The tough Bulgarian blocked more knees than actually landed and created space at several points during the round to throw and land hooks with bad intentions. One left hook/right hook combination set him up for a takedown on Watson, and once the Brit hit the ground, Nedkov unleashed a barrage of punches from above. “Kong” fought valiantly to survive and improve his position but wasn’t able to shake Nedkov until the round ended.
After Watson opened the second round with a leg kick, Nedkov landed a left-right-left combination which led to another takedown and more ground and pound. With 3:20 minutes left in the round, Kong got back to his feet. Sensing that his opponent was running out of steam, the Brit went back to his knee-based attack while mixing in punches against the cage. Nedkov connected with a haymaker which gave him the opportunity to score another takedown. Watson got back to his feet almost immediately and went into attack mode, hitting a barrage of knees and punches to the head and uppercuts to the body. With only 20 seconds left in the round, it seemed as if the cage had been the only thing holding up the Bulgarian. Watson saw his big opportunity, landed a big left, Nedkov went down, and the referee halted the bout before the Brit was in a position to inflict even more damage from top position.
Watson’s TKO victory lifts his professional MMA record to 15-6, while the previously undefeated Nedkov suffered his first defeat and drops to 12-1 with one no contest.
See Watson's post-fight interview here
VAUGHAN LEE VS. MOTONOBU TEZUKA
In a bantamweight contest, Birmingham’s Vaughan Lee scored a unanimous decision over Japanese fighter Motonobu Tezuka, with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27 for the Brit.
Lee and his Japanese opponent traded leg kicks to begin the first round, and while the Brit would have preferred this to keep going, Tezuka quickly moved in for a takedown, pressing Lee against the fence. The two fighters kept struggling hard, with Tezuka fighting for the takedown and Lee striving to break free from the grappler’s grip while peppering him with shots to the head and side. Despite referee Leon Roberts separating the combatants at 2:20 minutes of the round, Tezuka went straight back to a single-leg takedown attempt on the Birmingham native and wrestled with him against the cage until the round ended.
The second round presented more of the same, with Tezuka valiantly attempting take the fight to the ground. After Lee landed a kick to the midsection and a leg kick at the beginning of the round, the Japanese grappler immediately grabbed Lee’s leg and dragged him to the mat, attempting various leglocks to no avail. Lee eventually moved to Tezuka’s back but couldn’t capitalize on the situation. With 1:20 minutes left, Lee landed a punch to the abdomen and barely missed with a headkick. Tezuka immediately went back into grappling mode and got his opponent back down to the mat briefly with 11 seconds left in the round. As the fighters got back to their feet, Lee nailed Tezuka with a knee to the jaw.
The third and final round consisted of more grappling against the cage on Tezuka’s part and Lee defending against the Japanese up-and-comer’s takedowns while landing punches and elbows of his own.
With the win, Vaughan Lee’s record improves to 13-8-1, while Tezuka’s falls to 19-6-4.
Watch highlights from the bout here
PHIL HARRIS vs. ULYSSES GOMEZ
Portsmouth veteran Phil “Billy” Harris earned his first UFC victory, taking a close, but unanimous decision over Ulysses Gomez in the flyweight opener.
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 29-28 for Harris, who improves to 22-10 with 1 NC. Gomez falls to 9-4.
Gomez came out firing kicks to the legs of Harris, keeping the Brit from getting too comfortable. One strayed low, bringing a brief stop to the action and garnering Gomez a warning from referee Neil Hall. When the action resumed, Harris was able to catch a kick and put Gomez on his back, but he let his foe get to his feet almost immediately, which may have been a mistake given the continuing leg attack that Gomez implemented throughout the round.
The two groundfighters kept their battle going on the feet in round two, and while Gomez stuck to his strategy of peppering Harris with leg kicks, Harris began to find his range with his own attacks, as he tagged his opponent with solid punches to the head and body.
The third round was another tough one to call, with the scoring depending largely on whether you favored Harris’ aggression and punching or Gomez’ endless supply of leg kicks, and according to the judges, it was Harris doing enough to get the nod.
See highlights from the fight here