It was not the eye-popping performance for which he had hoped, but Derrick Lewis nevertheless took a successful turn as an Ultimate Fighting Championship headliner.
“The Black Beast” bounced back from a slow start to dispatch Shamil Abdurakhimov with fourth-round ground-and-pound in the UFC Fight Night 102 ‘Lewis vs. Abdurakhimov’ (online betting) main event on Friday at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. Abdurakhimov (17-4, 2-2 UFC) met his end 3:42 into Round 4, his modest two-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Lewis (17-4, 8-2 UFC) struggled to get out of neutral. Abdurakhimov banked two rounds on the strength of his takedowns, as he repeatedly countered leg and body kicks by dragging the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder to the ground. Lewis started to turn the corner in the third round -- he rattled his counterpart with several right uppercuts -- and continued to progress in the fourth. There, the Houston native secured a takedown, softened Abdurakhimov with ground-and-pound and advanced to mount, finishing him with unyielding lefts and rights from above.
The 31-year-old Lewis has put together five consecutive victories.
Ngannou Kimura Submits Hamilton
Cameroon-born Frenchman Francis Ngannou submitted Jackson-Wink MMA export Anthony Hamilton with a first-round kimura in the heavyweight co-main event. Hamilton (15-6, 3-4 UFC) conceded defeat 1:57 into Round 1.
Ngannou (9-1, 4-0 UFC) stayed calm and composed, waiting for an opportunity to present itself. Hamilton advanced to a rear-waistlock clinch against the cage and unknowingly wandered into danger. Ngannou framed the kimura, ripped the former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder’s arm away from his body and maintained control when the two men hit the mat. The 30-year-old moved to a knee-on-belly position, torqued the shoulder lock and coaxed the tapout.
The fast-rising Ngannou has finished eight straight opponents.
Favored Anderson Crushes O’Connell
“The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner Corey Anderson put away Sean O'Connell with second-round punches from the mount in a featured encounter at 205 pounds. O’Connell (17-9, 2-5 UFC) wilted 2:36 into Round 2, as the Jeremy Horn protégé suffered his third consecutive defeat.
It was a complete blowout. Anderson (9-2, 6-2 UFC) struck for multiple takedowns in the first round and hammered away with elbow-laced ground-and-pound. The 27-year-old took down O’Connell again inside the first 15 seconds of the middle stanza, advanced to half guard and then climbed to full mount. From there, Anderson let loose with punches until the referee had seen enough.
Anderson has won four of his last five bouts, a split decision loss to former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua the only misstep.
Villante Dispatches Replacement Safarov
Former Ring of Combat champion Gian Villante took out Saparbek Safarov with second-round punches and standing elbow strikes in a crackling light heavyweight showcase. A replacement for the injured Patrick Cummins, Safarov (8-1, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to strikes 2:54 into Round 2.
Villante (15-7, 5-4 UFC) damaged the M-1 Global veteran’s left eye with a wicked jab and had him reeling with a crushing right uppercut in the first round. He swarmed for a potential finish, but Safarov proved to be a difficult nut to crack. The 30-year-old Legion Fight Team rep appeared to suffer a left knee injury while throwing a head kick but still managed to put Villante in real peril, dropping him to a knee with a clubbing overhand right.
Safarov finally broke midway through Round 2. Villante zeroed in on his wounded leg with kicks, backed him to the fence with punches and uncorked an unending streak of right hands and elbows to prompt the stoppage.