NEW YORK – James Vick likely made the move from prospect to contender in UFC 217 prelim action at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, as he stopped Joe Duffy in the second round of a battle between lightweight rising stars.
Not surprisingly, the two fought at a fast paced, competitive clip in the opening round, with Duffy leading the action throughout, but Vick countering well and getting in his share of shots. A pair of takedowns by Duffy may have been the difference maker on the scorecards, though.
The action remained too close to call in the second round, with neither fighter able to pull ahead. That was at least until the closing seconds of the frame, when Vick dropped Duffy with a right uppercut. The Texas native moved in for the finish with a flurry of shots, yet just when Duffy appeared to be getting his bearings back, referee Todd Anderson had seen enough, halting the bout at the 4:59 mark.
With the win, Vick moves to 12-1; Duffy falls to 16-3.
HARRIS vs GODBEER
After some back and forth to exchanges to kick off the bout, Harris scored a takedown a minute in and he kept Godbeer grounded for the next three minutes. When the two rose, Harris landed a low knee, and as Godbeer turned and referee Blake Grice called time and moved in to separate the two, Harris landed a kick to the head. Godbeer fell and the Octagonside physician deemed him unable to continue, prompting the DQ call by Grice, which came at 4:29 of the opening round.
ICYMI: @003_OSP wins in DEVASTATING fashion
SAINT PREUX vs ANDERSON
Stepping in on short notice for the injured Patrick Cummins, light heavyweight contender Ovince Saint Preux came to NYC to fight Corey Anderson and left with a spectacular knockout victory to extend his winning (and finishing) streak to three.
The game plans were clear for both fighters in the first round, Anderson wanting to grapple and Saint Preux wanting to keep it standing. And while both had their moments, the most telling scoring was being done by OSP, who knocked Anderson’s mouthpiece out with a kick early in the second frame.
Midway through round two, Anderson got the takedown and was able to keep his foe grounded long enough to work his ground-and-pound attack. And even when the two rose, Anderson was not letting the Tennessee product free, as he mauled him against the fence until the horn.
Saint Preux finally got the space he needed to work in the third, though, and a single left head kick ended matters, with referee Dan Miragliotta stepping in at 1:25 of the final frame.
With the win, the No. 6-ranked Saint Preux moves to 22-10. The No. 7-ranked Anderson falls to 10-4.
BROWN vs GALL
Brown (10-2) chased Gall around the Octagon as the bout began, trying to corner his foe. Gall avoided the early rushes, but once Brown locked up with the New Jersey native, he was able to do good work before getting the bout to the mat. Gall tried to stay busy from his back as he looked for a submission, but Brown wasn’t allowing it and he wrapped up a solid first frame.
The bloodied Gall (4-1) got taken down early in the second stanza, but this time he was able to scramble into the top position. Eventually moving into side control, Gall evened the score with his ground strikes and nearly locked in a choke before the end of the round.
Repeating his strategy of the first round, Brown came out fast and this time was able to rock his opponent briefly with an uppercut as Gall shot in. After a flurry of shots, Brown settled into the top position and kept himself close while getting in his strikes. Gall nearly locked in a guillotine choke with a little over a minute left, but Brown pulled free, securing his eventual victory on the scorecards by tallies of 29-28 twice and 29-27.
BLAYDES vs OLEINIK
An action-packed first round saw both fighters throwing hammers from the start, but Blaydes’ shorter shots put him ahead early. Throw in a couple takedowns, and the Chicago native was in control, but he pushed the pace even further in the final minute, dropping Oleinik with a right hand and then pounding away with both hands in the closing seconds.
The No. 9-ranked Oleinik (52-11-1) had some success with his striking early in the second, and the No. 12-ranked Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) responded with a takedown. Of course, that’s the Russian’s world, but Blaydes was able to get out of trouble and land several hard blows, only to land a grazing kick on the downed Oleinik as the two rose. It appeared that referee Blake Grice was halting the bout due to the kick, but the Octagonside physician disagreed, recommending that the fight be stopped at the 1:56 mark due to the accumulated punishment Oleinik had taken.
RAMOS vs ZAHABI
Fighting off an initial burst from Zahabi, Ramos settled into a groove throughout the rest of the opening round, with both top prospects scrambling and trading strikes over the course of a competitive first five minutes.
Zahabi found his timing in the standup game in round two, landing several hard shots and moving out of range before getting caught with incoming fire, but early in the third, the spinning back elbow Ramos had been trying to score with all night finally hit home, catching Zahabi flush and ending the fight immediately. The official time of referee Todd Anderson’s stoppage was 1:58 of the third round.
With the win, Sao Paulo’s Ramos ups his record to 11-1; Montreal’s Zahabi falls to 7-1.