Ben Nguyen left no room for discussion.
Listed as a +155 underdog by BetDSI.com, the fast-rising Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight contender submitted “The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott with a first-round rear-naked choke at UFC Fight Night 110 on Saturday at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Elliott (-205), who replaced an injured Joseph Benavidez on short notice, bowed out 49 seconds into Round 1.
Nguyen buzzed the former Titan Fighting Championship titleholder with a head kick, countered a head-and-arm throw and transitioned to the back while standing. He then moved his arms into position for the choke, forced Elliott to collapse to the canvas and prompted the tapout.
“This was a real rollercoaster for me,” said Nguyen, who improved to 4-1 in the UFC. “Obviously, I expected to fight Benavidez and then we had to change our game plan with Tim. We noticed that he tends to lean to that side quite a bit so I knew I could time my striking, and it all worked out. Tim’s style is very different so it was a lot of work, but we got the job done.”
The main event also saw an upset, at least on paper, as 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt disposed of Derrick Lewis with fourth-round punches. Lewis packed his bags 3:51 into Round 4, his six-fight winning streak having run its course. Hunt (+128) shut down the monstrous Texan’s takedowns and kept his foot on the gas until “The Black Beast” buckled. He bullied an exhausted Lewis (-165) to the cage late in the fourth round, cutting loose with punches and elbows until referee Marc Goddard had seen enough. The stoppage whipped the crowd of 8,649 into a frenzy.
“I have the most respect for Derrick,” Hunt said. “If this fight had been my last, it would’ve been perfect to end here in Auckland, but it looks like we will still have time left. I want big fights against top opponents. I only have a few fights left, so I want to go for anyone above me.”
Finally, welterweight newcomer Luke Jumeau made the most of his opportunity and upended the favored Dominique Steele (-207) by unanimous decision on the undercard. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Jumeau (+165). The loss was Steele’s third straight and left him in a precarious position on the UFC roster.
“My whole career has been overseas, so this was an incredible moment for myself and my fans,” Jumeau said. “To be fighting for the largest promotion in the world right here in my home was special. I won’t lie; I definitely felt the jitters.”