Luke Rockhold set up the finish with a head kick. | Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa/UFC/Getty
Luke Rockhold stepped right over Michael Bisping on the way up the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight ladder.
The former Strikeforce champion tapped Bisping with a second-round guillotine choke in the UFC Fight Night “Rockhold vs. Bisping” headliner on Friday at the Allphones Arena in Sydney. Bisping (25-7, 15-7 UFC), who had never before been submitted, conceded defeat 57 seconds into round two.
Rockhold (13-2, 3-1 UFC) showed no regard for the skills of “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner, as he walked down Bisping and ravaged his body and arms with a steady diet of heavy kicks during an increasingly one-sided first round. In the second, Rockhold wobbled and dropped the Brit with a head kick and followed with a quick volley of standing-to-ground punches before jumping on the guillotine. The opportunistic maneuver proved fruitful, as the American Kickboxing Academy ace rolled to a mounted position and completed a one-armed choke.
Bisping, who suffered a cut to his left brow during an incidental clash of heads in round one, has not won back-to-back fights in nearly three years.
Iaquinta Swarms, Stops Pearson
In the lightweight co-main event, Serra-Longo Fight Team’s Al Iaquinta turned away “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner Ross Pearson with second-round punches. Pearson (16-8, 8-5 UFC) collapsed under an accumulation of concussive strikes 99 seconds into round two.
The two men battled to a stalemate for much of the match. In the second round, Iaquinta (10-3-1, 5-2 UFC) countered a head kick from the Englishman with a straight right hand, briefly flooring him. While Pearson returned to an upright position, he was clearly rattled; and Iaquinta sensed it. The 27-year-old pursued the finish and sent rights and lefts crashing into Pearson until he folded.
Iaquinta, who was the runner-up on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, has recorded five wins in his last six fights.
Whittaker Snaps Hester Streak
“The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner Robert Whittaker took care of Clint Hester with a second-round knee strike and follow-up punches in their featured middleweight encounter. Whittaker (13-4, 4-2 UFC) closed the deal 2:43 into round two.
Hester (11-4, 4-1 UFC), who entered the cage on a seven-fight winning streak, had no answer for the New Zealand-born Aussie’s diverse attack. Whittaker leaned on a sturdy chin -- he ate a vicious spinning elbow in the first round -- and gradually wore down the Atlanta native with leg kicks, jabs and uppercuts. The 23-year-old also struck for a takedown and briefly advanced to full mount.
The two middleweights engaged in a wild exchange at the outset of round two. It did not benefit Hester, who spent his reserves in search of the home run. Once fatigue took hold, Whittaker moved in, dropped “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum to a seated position with a knee to the face and finished it with rapid-fire punches.
‘Hulk’ Palelei Smashes Harris
Soa Palelei won for the 12th time in his past 13 appearances, as he dismissed American Top Team’s Walt Harris with ground-and-pound from the mount in the second round of their heavyweight showcase. A replacement for the injured Daniel Omielanczuk, Harris (7-4, 0-3 UFC) wilted underneath “The Hulk” 4:49 into round two.
After a plodding and uneventful first five minutes, Palelei (22-4, 4-2 UFC) shifted gears. He backed up Harris with a leg kick and thudding right hands before swooping in for a single-leg takedown. The experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt climbed to full mount and methodically chipped away at Harris’ resolve, forcing the stoppage with repeated short punches and hammerfists.
Matthews Leaves Rocha Unconscious
Undefeated Australian prospect Jake Matthews rendered Vagner Rocha unconscious with a second-round rear-naked choke in an undercard match at 155 pounds. Rocha (11-4, 1-3 UFC) went to sleep 1:52 into round two, his four-fight winnings streak halted in emphatic fashion.
Matthews (8-0, 2-0) kept the pressure on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt through much of the first round. In the second, he whacked Rocha with a Superman punch, dumped him to the mat and swarmed with punches. A no-hooks rear-naked choke came next, and Rocha went limp on all-fours as he struggled to free himself.
Perosh Choke Taps Filho
Anthony Perosh submitted Blackzilians representative Carlos Augusto Inocente Filho with a first-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary light heavyweight contest. A 10-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu national champion in his native Australia, Perosh (15-8, 5-5 UFC) cinched the fight-ending choke 3:46 into round one.
Filho (6-4, 0-2 UFC) never got out of the gate. Perosh followed a crashing straight right hand with a takedown and went to work on the canvas. He bludgeoned the Brazilian with standing-to-ground punches and achieved full mount on multiple occasions, navigating the Filho guard without much resistance. Perosh, 42, ultimately moved to the back, slid the choke into place and waited for the tapout.
Alvey Pockets First Octagon Victory
Former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Sam Alvey stopped Dylan Andrews with ground-and-pound from the mount in the first round of their undercard pairing at 185 pounds. The end came 2:16 into round one, as Alvey (24-6, 1-1 UFC) posted his fifth win in six outings.
Andrews (17-6, 2-2 UFC) executed a takedown inside the first minute, transitioned to mount and set off a series of scrambles between the two middleweights. Alvey refused to be held down. Andrews attempted a takedown from the rear waist lock position, but the Team Quest export countered by locking legs with Australian. As the two men crashed to the mat, Alvey fell on Andrews’ head, leaving him stunned and vulnerable. He quickly jumped to mount and separated Andrews from his senses with a volley of lefts and rights.
Smolka Side Kick Finishes Vaculik
Louis Smolka took care of Richie Vaculik with a spectacular stepping side kick and subsequent right hands in the third round of their preliminary flyweight encounter. A short-notice replacement for the injured Neil Seery, Smolka (8-1, 2-1 UFC) brought it to a close 18 seconds into round three.
Before being blindsided, Vaculik (10-3, 1-2 UFC) was in control. The 31-year-old Aussie stymied Smolka with head-and-body punching combinations and timely takedowns, nearly scoring a finish of his own with a rear-naked choke in the second round. Bleeding from a cut to the bridge of his nose, Smolka persevered. Early in round three, the 23-year-old Hawaiian met Vaculik with a heel-to-face kick, trailed him to the mat and polished off his eighth victory with unanswered punches.
Returning Clements Dispatches Grujic
Chris Clements wiped out “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” alum Vik Grujic with a knee strike and a hailstorm of right hands in the opening round of their undercard tilt at 170 pounds. Clements (12-5, 2-1 UFC), in his first appearance in more than a year, drew the curtain on the Australian 3:06 into round one.
Grujic (7-4, 1-2 UFC) secured a takedown inside the first 30 seconds, but his inability to corral the Canadian on the canvas proved costly. Clements returned to his feet and cracked the 37-year-old with a knee to the head while he exited a failed takedown attempt. The dazed Grujic stumbled across the cage, his counterpart in pursuit. Sensing the finish was near, Clements let loose with a series of vicious right hands, the last of them sending the Aussie to the mat and forcing referee Herb Dean to call for the stoppage.
Kelly Kimura Submits Zachrich
Four-time Australian Olympian Daniel Kelly impressed in his organizational debut, as he submitted Luke Zachrich with a first-round kimura in a preliminary middleweight scrap. Zachrich (14-4, 1-2 UFC) conceded defeat 4:27 into round one, as he lost for just the third time in his last 14 fights.
Kelly (8-0, 1-0 UFC) was relentless with his forward pressure, backing up “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 graduate with clubbing punches. The 37-year-old judoka later trapped Zachrich in the clinch and unleashed a volley of uppercuts before executing a trip takedown. From there, Kelly softened his adversary with ground-and-pound, passed guard and framed the fight-ending kimura.
‘Bama Beast’ KOs Tuerxun
American Top Team’s Marcus Brimage knocked out Jumabieke Tuerxun with a head kick and follow-up punches in the first round of their undercard clash at 135 pounds. A replacement for the injured Patrick Williams, Brimage (7-3, 4-2 UFC) finished it 2:58 into round one, putting an end to a two-fight losing streak.
Tuerxun (14-3, 0-3 UFC) was tentative from the start. Brimage kept him at bay with a steady diet of kicks and straight left hands. Tuerxun attempted to dive on a takedown, only to be met by a sweeping kick to the chin from the “Bama Beast” as he withdrew. The blow sent him to the canvas in a semi-conscious state, his head propped up by the cage. Brimage then cleaned up with a quick burst of punches.
The 28-year-old Tuerxun has lost three fights in a row.