Brian Hall spoiled Brazilian prospect Pedro Souza's American debut. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Brian Hall rudely greeted Pedro Souza’s arrival on American soil.
Hall held his own in the standup, landed his share of takedowns and controlled a majority of the grappling exchanges, as he took a unanimous decision from the CM System prospect in the Legacy Fighting Championship 34 headliner on Friday at the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica, Miss. Hall (7-2) swept the scorecards, drawing 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 nods from the judges.
The two flyweights traded knockdowns in the first round before settling into a rhythm. Hall operated effectively within the confines of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s guard, attacking with ground-and-pound while dodging various submission bids, from kneebars to armbars. Souza (13-1) was strongest when he trapped his adversary along the fence with wild punching bursts, but his failure to corral Hall in close quarters for more extended stretches ultimately led to his undoing.
In the co-main event, Austin Lyons won for the third time in four appearances, as he walked away with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins. All three cageside judges scored it for Lyons (12-3): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
The mercurial Brookins (14-7) had his moments, particularly in the grappling exchanges, but a tepid approach to the standup proved costly. Lyons seized control of the bantamweight tilt in the second round, where he floored the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran with a right hook and kept him in a sustained state of retreat with follow-up blows.
Brookins transitioned to Lyons’ back in the second and third rounds, but repeated rear-naked choke attempts did not yield the finish he needed. The 29-year-old has dropped three of his past four bouts.
Another “Ultimate Fighter” graduate enjoyed far more success.
Gilbert Smith submitted Bellator MMA alum Ben Brewer with a first-round guillotine choke in their welterweight showcase. Brewer (8-2) conceded defeat 4:57 into round two, his seven-fight winning streak snapped mere seconds from the safety of his corner.
Smith (9-3) surrendered a takedown inside the first minute and was forced to free himself from a standing guillotine from the promising 21-year-old. He eventually shifted to top position, softened Brewer with ground-and-pound and threatened briefly with a kimura. In the closing seconds of the first frame, Smith latched a guillotine, secured full guard and finished it. Brew could not withstand the squeeze.
Meanwhile, Arkansas-based lightweight Thomas Gifford stopped previously unbeaten Barata MMA prospect Wade Johnson on second-round strikes in an entertaining 160-pound catchweight confrontation. Johnson (7-1) wilted 3:21 into round two.
Gifford (8-6), who entered the cage on a three-fight losing streak, waded through heavy fire. Johnson landed with authority and variety, mixing leg kicks with stout punching combinations to the body and head. Gifford, however, as not deterred. In the second round, the 23-year-old leveled Johnson with a left hook, backed it up with punches and dropped him a second time with a brutal knee to the face. A volley of unanswered right hands came next, resulting in the stoppage.
Elsewhere, Grady Hurley utilized takedowns, ground-and-pound and a handful of submission attempts in capturing a unanimous decision from Joel Cooper in their featured clash at 185 pounds. Hurley (8-1) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
Cooper (3-2) was forced to play defense for much of the match and often wandered into tight spaces. Hurley did his best work in the second round, where he scrambled to his opponent’s back, fished for a rear-naked choke and advanced to full mount. Behind on the scorecards, Cooper made his move in round three, as he dove on a pair of leg locks. However, his efforts went unrewarded, and Hurley again achieved full mount in the closing seconds.
Finally, William Walker submitted Bobby Taylor with a second-round triangle choke in a lightweight showcase. Taylor (3-5) asked out of the match 1:25 into round two, his streak of three consecutive victories a thing of the past.
Walker (2-1) stifled his counterpart with his relentless pursuit of clinches and takedowns. His approach drained Taylor’s reserves and left him visibly fatigued after a competitive first five minutes. In the second round, Taylor reversed into top position following a successful takedown from Walker, only to be met with the fight-ending choke.