If Kurt Holobaugh’s aim was to make a statement, consider the deed done.
The onetime Titan Fighting Championships titleholder blasted through Matt Bessette with first-round punches in the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series 1 featherweight headliner at the UFC Training Center in Las Vegas. Bessette (22-8) bowed out 2:58 into Round 1, his run of seven consecutive victories at an end.
Holobaugh (18-4) pressed his interests from the start. The 30-year-old kept Bessette on his back foot with sweeping power punches, crisp counters and a punishing jab. An overhand right from Holobaugh staggered the CES MMA champion and set the stage for the finish. Holobaugh pushed him to the fence and unleashed with punches to the body and head before a final right hook dropped a beaten Bessette at the feet of referee John McCarthy.
In the heavyweight co-main event, three-time Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Azunna Anyanwu wiped out Greg Rebello with second-round punches. Anyanwu (14-4) brought it to a close 3:04 into Round 2, winning for the fifth time in as many appearances.
Rebello (22-8) dictated the terms of the engagement for much of the bout, pairing thudding left hands with leg kicks. Just past the midway point of the second round, Anyanwu floored the Team Sityodtong representative with a crushing overhand right and pounced with hammerfists until the job was done.
The loss snapped Rebello’s two-fight winning streak.
Meanwhile, Xtreme Couture prospect Boston Salmon rebounded from his first professional setback -- a controversial decision defeat to Zac Riley on Sept. 9 -- to claim a unanimous decision over Ricky Turcios in a three-round bantamweight showcase. Scores were not announced.
Salmon (6-1) did his business on the feet, where he zeroed in on his counterpart with clubbing straight lefts and sneaky right hooks. The 26-year-old Hawaiian struck well in combination and countered when opportunities presented themselves. Turcios (8-1) scored with leg kicks, but his takedown game stalled against a superior striker. The Team Alpha Male standout made his move in the third round, where he bottled up Salmon in the clinch and neutralized some of his advantages, but the finish he needed was nowhere to be found.
Afterward, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White announced that Holobaugh and Salmon would receive Ultimate Fighting Championship contracts.
In other action, Janjira Muay Thai export Charles Byrd (8-4) choked Jamie Pickett (6-3) unconscious with an arm-triangle 4:55 into the first round of their middleweight encounter; and Jackson-Wink MMA rep Joby Sanchez (10-2) captured a unanimous decision from former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Manny Vasquez (11-3) in a three-round flyweight tilt.