Daniel Kelly paid no mind to the sportsbooks. In fact, he had a nice laugh at their expense.
The four-time Olympian entered his UFC Fight Night 101 clash with Chris Camozzi as an underdog -- BetDSI.com listed him at +173 -- and walked away with a unanimous decision on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The judges rewarded Kelly’s efforts with 29-28, 29-27 and 30-27.
The victory was not without considerable difficulty, as Camozzi (-210) split open the Australian judoka with a standing elbow strike in the first round, drenching the cage in blood. Nevertheless, Kelly moved forward and chipped away at “The Ultimate Fight 11” alum. He spent much of the second round in top position and dragged Camozzi to the mat again in the third, doing enough to find favor on the scorecards.
Kelly, 39, has rattled off three straight wins.
Camozzi was not the only favorite to fall short Down Under. Jake Matthews (-502) wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against the once-beaten Andrew Holbrook in the lightweight co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Holbrook (+396).
A Chris Lytle protégé, Holbrook was persistent on the ground, where he bombarded the Australian prospect with one submission attempt after another. He moved to Matthews’ back in the first round, responded to a pair of takedowns with a belligerent bottom game in the second and attacked the 22-year-old throughout the third, winning for the second time in three appearances under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner.
Meanwhile, Derek Brunson (-119) saw his five-fight winning streak grind to a halt in the headliner, as he was victimized by a Robert Whittaker head kick and follow-up punches in the first round. Brunson threw caution to the wind and charged at “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner with his hands low and his chin high. Whittaker (+100) ran him into a counter left hook and later dazed the North Carolinian with a head kick before forging the finish with unanswered punches on the ground.
Three other UFC Fight Night “Whittaker vs. Brunson” underdogs were victorious. Damien Brown (+127) eked out a split decision over Jon Tuck (-147); Jonathan Meunier took a unanimous verdict from Richard Walsh (-130); and Jason Knight (+125) pocketed a unanimous decision against Dan Hooker (-145).