Perennial middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi put himself squarely in the title picture at 185 pounds in the UFC 204 co-main event on Saturday, as he stopped Vitor Belfort in the second round at Manchester Arena.
“He’s a legend, fighting him was an honor,” Mousasi, who has won three straight, said.
Mousasi dictated the pace in the first round, staying busier throughout the frame and punctuating his attack with a stiff 1-2 in the final minute. Belfort had success in spurts, but he wasn’t consistent enough to rattle Mousasi.
In the second minute of round two, a right kick to the head by Mousasi rocked Belfort and sent him into the fence. A barrage of punches followed, but Belfort was able to survive. Mousasi kept the pressure on though, as he took Belfort to the mat and continued his assault. And after getting into the mount position, it was game over, as more unanswered blows brought referee Marc Goddard in to stop the fight at 2:43 of the second stanza.
With the win, the No. 9-ranked Mousasi upped his record to 40-6-2; the No. 5-ranked Belfort falls to 25-13.
MANUWA vs SAINT PREUX
Surprisingly, much of the first round was waged in the clinch and on the mat, with Manuwa initiating much of the action, but Saint Preux appearing to be more comfortable and effective wherever the fight went.
Manuwa began getting his striking game in gear in round two, and he landed effectively with both hands. OSP had little response for the Londoner, who weakened his foe with body shots before a right hand sent him to the deck. Saint Preux rose quickly, but a left hand put him down and out, with referee Leon Roberts calling a stop to the fight at 2:38 of the second frame.
The No. 8-ranked Manuwa moves to 16-2 with the win. The No. 5-ranked Saint Preux falls to 19-9.
STRUVE vs OMIELANCZUK
The first round was fairly even in the early going, with Omielanczuk having some success getting inside with his strikes, and Struve answering back with kicks and knees to the body. But a little past the midway point, Struve tripped Omielanczuk to the mat and went to work, controlling his opponent as he looked for the submission. He didn’t get it, but it likely locked up the round for him.
Struve got Omielanczuk to the mat in the second minute of round two, and this time the “Skyscraper” locked in a D’Arce choke that finished matters at the 1:41 mark.
With the win, the No. 12-ranked Struve moves to 32-8; the No. 14-ranked Omielanczuk, who was finished for the first time in his career, falls to 19-6-1 with 1 NC.
BEKTIC vs DOANE
The No. 15-ranked Bektic (11-0) got the fight to the mat in the second minute, and while Doane (14-7) got to his feet three times, the Bosnia native grounded him each time in response. With under two minutes left, Bektic took control, and after patiently working for an opening, he sunk in the rear naked choke that ended the bout at 4:22 of the first round.