Justin Gaethje executed a perfect game plan. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Nick Newell thought he had what it took to unseat Justin Gaethje. Their brief, one-sided encounter proved otherwise.
Gaethje kept his perfect professional record intact and retained the World Series of Fighting lightweight championship with a second-round knockout against Newell in the WSOF 11 headliner on Saturday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. Buried by an accumulation of blows, Newell (11-1, 2-1 WSOF) wilted on the end of one last right hook 3:09 into round two.
The unbeaten Gaethje (12-0, 5-0 WSOF) withstood an early standup surge from the Fighting Arts Academy representative, sprawled out of takedowns and ripped into his challenger with high-velocity power punches. By the time the first round was over, it became clear that the battered, bloodied and exhausted Newell was on borrowed time. Less than two minutes into round two, Gaethje fired a right hook to the body and another to the head, the latter sending the defeated Newell crashing to the canvas.
Fitch Dominates ‘Superman’ Hallman
In the co-main event, the American Kickboxing Academy’s Jon Fitch brutalized Dennis Hallman with takedowns and ground-and-pound to carve out a unanimous decision. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Fitch (26-6-1, 2-1 WSOF), who has posted back-to-back wins for the first time since he rattled off five straight between Jan. 31, 2009 and Aug. 7, 2010.
A replacement for the injured Jake Shields, Hallman (53-15-2, 0-1 WSOF) was never much of a factor. Fitch secured takedowns in all three rounds, navigated the “Superman” guard and tore into the 38-year-old ground specialist with punches, hammerfists and elbows.
Hallman, who entered the cage on a modest three-fight winning streak, threatened with an armbar and a kneebar in the first round before turning to a heel hook in the second. His attempts proved to be little more than an annoyance to the ground-savvy Fitch.
Bollinger Choke Finishes Alfonso
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 alum Cody Bollinger submitted MMA Masters export Pablo Alfonso with a first-round rear-naked choke in a featured bantamweight encounter. Bollinger (16-2, 2-0 WSOF), who did not meet his contracted weight for the fight, coaxed the tapout 2:37 into round one.
Alfonso (9-6, 1-1 WSOF) did not have an answer for his 23-year-old adversary’s aggression. Bollinger struck for a takedown inside the first 40 seconds, slammed out of an attempted triangle and dodged a guillotine choke before settling in side control.
He later transitioned to Alfonso’s back, secured his hooks and sealed the deal with a rear-naked choke.
Bollinger has won three fights in a row.
Guillard Dispatches ‘JZ’ Cavalcante
American Top Team’s Melvin Guillard put away two-time K-1 Hero’s grand prix winner Gesias Cavalcante with second-round strikes in a lightweight showcase. Cavalcante (18-8-1, 2-2 WSOF) met his end 2:36 into round two, referee Telis Assimenios having seen enough to warrant the stoppage.
Quick hands and nimble feet buoyed Guillard (32-13-2, 1-0 WSOF), who failed to make weight for the match. “The Young Assassin” peppered Cavalcante with power punches from the perimeter and answered the Brazilian’s lone takedown by returning immediately to an upright position.
A ringing right cross from Guillard staggered “JZ” and left him vulnerable to the fight-ending volley. The punches, knees and standing elbows flew, with the dazed Cavalcante offering little resistance in return.
Debuting Heun Outduels Miree
American Top Team’s Jake Heun recorded his fifth win in five outings, as he pocketed a unanimous decision against Blackzilians representative Kendrick Miree in a preliminary light heavyweight affair. Heun (6-3, 1-0 WSOF) swept the scorecards by identical 29-28 marks.
Miree (5-2, 0-2) started strong in the first round, where he executed a pair of takedowns and briefly transitioned to his counterpart’s back. Heun, however, turned the tide in his favor in the second, as he found a home for his clubbing right hand, stayed out of tie-up range and made the Floridian pay for his takedown attempts with hammerfists and elbows in close quarters.
Heun stayed in his feet in round three, as well, scoring with sneaky jabs and uppercuts, all while mixing in the occasional leg kick.
Gracie Choke Submits Holyko
Neiman Gracie, the unbeaten 25-year-old nephew of Renzo Gracie, submitted Dustin Holyko with a second-round rear-naked choke in an undercard catchweight duel at 175 pounds. Gracie (2-0, 2-0 WSOF) finished it 2:21 into round two.
Holyko (2-1, 0-1 WSOF) roared out of the gate, as he backed up the Brazilian with punches and kicks. With roughly two minutes remaining in round one, the Floridian floored Gracie with a multi-punch combination in the center of the cage and swarmed for a potential stoppage. Holyko kept the wobbly grappler on the run for the rest of the frame but failed to finish it.
Gracie gathered himself during the break, struck for a takedown inside the first 30 seconds of round two and moved to the back with a body triangle. After a brief struggle, the choke was in place, leaving a reluctant Holyko no choice but to tap.
Caceres Denies Nova Uniao’s De Barros
Championship Fighting Alliance veteran Jose Caceres won for the fifth time in seven fights, as he captured a unanimous verdict over Nova Uniao’s Walber Brito de Barros in a preliminary catchweight clash at 175 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Caceres (8-5, 1-1 WSOF): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Scrambles dominated the match, with Caceres often getting the best of the ground exchanges. The older brother of Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Alex Caceres, he lit into the Brazilian with punches and elbows from top position, particularly in the second and third rounds.
De Barros (6-6, 0-1 WSOF) never fully established himself, though he opened a cut on the bridge of Caceres’ nose with an elbow strike in round two.
Unbeaten DeReese Outpoints Spencer
Multiple takedowns and mild ground-and-pound carried Muhammed DeReese to a unanimous decision over Rashaun Spencer in an undercard scrap at 205 pounds. DeReese (2-0, 1-0 WSOF) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks.
Outside of repeated clinches and an attempted guillotine choke in the second round, Spencer (4-7, 0-1 WSOF) was ineffective from an offensive standpoint. DeReese often assumed top position in the 15-minute encounter, moving to his fellow Floridian’s back in rounds two and three.