Demian Maia was not yet ready to cede his place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
Repeated takedowns, guard passes and submission attempts carried Maia to a unanimous verdict against the previously unbeaten Ryan LaFlare in the UFC Fight Night “Maia vs. LaFlare” headliner on Saturday at Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro. Maia (20-6, 14-6 UFC) swept the scorecards with 49-46s across the board.
LaFlare (11-1, 4-1 UFC) was ill-equipped to deal with the Brazilian’s otherworldly ground skills. Maia struck for takedowns in all five rounds and achieved full mount in every round but the fifth. LaFlare steered clear of danger on the canvas, with the exception of a tight fourth-round arm-triangle choke.
The fight took something of a bizarre turn in round five, where fatigue set in on Maia. LaFlare targeted the compromised 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist’s body and legs with kicks and sprawled out of takedowns. Maia was eventually docked a point by referee John McCarthy, as he repeatedly refused to rise to his feet in a timely manner when the former Ring of Combat champion disengaged on the ground; a final dive to his back in the waning seconds was enough to force McCarthy’s hand. By then, however, a decision was out of reach for LaFlare.
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Silva Guillotines Reeling Koscheck
In the welterweight co-main event, former Jungle Fight champion Erick Silva submitted Josh Koscheck with a first-round guillotine choke. A replacement for the injured Ben Saunders, Koscheck (17-10, 15-10 UFC) surrendered 4:21 into round one.
Koscheck landed a standing elbow in close quarters and worked the clinch but whiffed on a number of winging right hands. Silva (18-5, 6-4 UFC) floored the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler with a thudding left hand with roughly three minutes remaining in the first round, permanently altering the complexion of the fight. The X-Gym export staggered Koscheck with another left hand at the two-minute mark, followed up with a right hook and responded to a desperate takedown attempt by snatching the tap-inducing guillotine.
The 37-year-old Koscheck has suffered five straight defeats, four of them via first- or second-round stoppage.
Santos Choke Finishes Martin
Nova Uniao standout Leonardo Santos disposed of Tony Martin with a second-round rear-naked choke in a featured scrap at 155 pounds. A replacement for the injured Matt Wiman, Martin (9-3, 1-3 UFC) bowed out 2:29 into round two.
Martin controlled much of the first round, where he countered a failed takedown with one of his own, pressed his interests in the clinch and paired leg kicks with stinging right hands. Round two did not go according to plan for the Palos Heights, Ill., native.
Santos (14-3-1, 3-0-1 UFC) executed a trip takedown, advanced to mount and forced the American to surrender his back. After a brief struggle, he snaked his arms around Martin’s neck and waited for the concession.
Santos, 35, will carry a nine-fight unbeaten streak into his next appearance.
Nunes Leg Kick Buckles Baszler
American Top Team’s Amanda Nunes stopped the well-traveled Shayna Baszler with a first-round leg kick in a women’s bantamweight showcase. Her left knee buckled by the blow, Baszler (15-10, 0-2 UFC) collapsed to the mat in obvious agony 1:56 into round one.
Nunes (10-4, 3-1 UFC) wielded substantial speed and power advantages. The Brazilian left Baszler visibly impaired with a crippling body kick and follow-up two-punch combination to the head. She backed the Josh Barnett protégé to the fence and slammed her shin into the knee.
Baszler dropped where she stood, incapable of defending herself. Nunes piled on with punches and was later admonished by referee Mario Yamasaki for her failure to immediately comply with his call for the stoppage.
The 26-year-old Nunes has recorded three wins in her last four outings, losing only to Cat Zingano.
Burns Armbar Spoils Oliveira Upset Bid
Prized Blackzilians prospect Gilbert Burns submitted Alex Oliveira with a third-round armbar, authoring a dramatic come-from-behind victory in a featured clash at 155 pounds. A replacement for the injured Josh Thomson, Oliveira (10-2-1, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 4:14 into round one.
The heavily favored Burns (10-0, 3-0 UFC) had trouble navigating the Tata Fight Team’s length and reach throughout their entertaining confrontation. Oliveira ripped into him with crisp punching combinations, leaving the four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion with significant damage to his left eye.
Seemingly down two rounds to none and needing a finish, Burns secured a takedown and climbed immediately to mount less than 20 seconds into the third frame. From there, he rolled to an omoplata and set off a series of scrambles and submission attempts that led to the fight-ending armbar.
The defeat halted Oliveira’s three-fight winning streak.
Castro Triangle Submits Fili
Godofredo Castro submitted Team Alpha Male’s Andre Fili with a flying triangle choke in the first round of their featherweight showcase. Fili (14-3, 2-2 UFC) asked out of the match 3:14 into round one.
Neither man gave ground. Castro (12-3, 4-3 UFC) executed an early takedown but failed to corral the Californian on the canvas. Fili returned to his feet and put the Brazilian’s back to the fence, only to be met with the flying triangle.
The 24-year-old did everything he could to free himself, posturing and stacking through a series of adjustments. Eventually, the pressure from the choke became too much, leaving Fili no choice but to tap out.
Castro, 27, has rattled off three straight wins, all of them first-round finishes.