Martin Kampmann fought back from the brink yet again.
Floored by a vicious left hook inside the first minute of a spirited encounter, Kampmann recovered and responded with a rousing second-round technical knockout of Jake Ellenberger in “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale headliner on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Brought down by a smashing knee from the clinch, Ellenberger (27-6, 6-2 UFC) folded 1:40 into round two. Kampmann (20-5, 11-4 UFC) has won three fights in a row, the last two in stirring comeback fashion.
The 30-year-old Dane’s outing did not start well. Ellenberger swarmed with punches and delivered a clean, crippling left hook to the jaw that dropped Kampmann where he stood. He somehow recovered on the ground, tied up the man they call “The Juggernaut” and eventually worked into position for a guillotine. It was an opportunity missed for Ellenberger.
“They forgot to smack me enough in the back,” Kampmann said. “I usually have to get punched a little bit to wake up. He caught me with a big [shot] that kind of dazed me.”
Ellenberger bloodied the Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative with another barrage in the second round, but his pace slowed noticeably from that point forward. Kampmann staggered him with a short right hook to the temple, clinched and scored the fight-ending knee.
“I saw the opportunity to finish,” said Kampmann, “and I just wanted to get him.”
The defeat was Ellenberger’s first since September 2009. The 27-year-old Nebraskan had never before been knocked out.
“I knew Martin was going to be a tough fight coming in,” Ellenberger said, moments after his six-fight winning streak was snapped. “He caught me, and he had a better night. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the ref [to stop the fight]. He had a better night. What can you do?”
Chiesa Chokes Iaquinta, Wins ‘TUF 15’
Mike Chiesa rendered Serra-Longo Fight Team member Al Iaquinta unconscious with a first-round rear-naked choke to win Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in the co-main event. Iaquinta (5-2-1, 0-1 UFC) refused to submit and instead went limp 2:47 into round one.
Iaquinta had his undefeated foe on the run with power punches, but strayed too close and left himself vulnerable. Chiesa (8-0, 1-0 UFC) -- whose father died during the 13-week season of the FX network reality series -- snatched a body lock, tripped Iaquinta to the mat from behind and secured his position with hooks. He then calmly fished for the choke until he had it in place.
“This is exactly what I wanted,” Chiesa said. “This is been such a journey, and there is no way I was going to sell myself short by losing tonight. I wasn’t going to make it an option. Hats off to Al, man. He’s an animal, and he was in my head all season. I overcame a lot of things to win this fight. I want to thank all the fans, because it is truly a blessing to have people behind me.”
Oliveira Guillotine Submits Brookins
Highly touted Brazilian prospect Charles Oliveira became the first man to submit Jonathan Brookins, as he coaxed a tapout from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 winner with a second-round guillotine choke. Oliveira (16-2-1, 4-2, 1 NC, UFC) brought the featherweight showcase to a close 2:42 into round two.
Leg kicks, right hands and occasional knees were Oliveira’s weapons of choice, but Brookins answered with a series of short punches in close quarters, one of which bloodied the Houston-based Brazilian’s nose. In the second round, Oliveira struck for a takedown, unleashed some short elbows from top position and cinched the fight-ending guillotine when Brookins left his neck exposed while moving to a seated position.
“This is my house. I love it here,” the 22-year-old Oliveira said through a translator. “[Featherweight] is my division. I’m going to go step-by-step to get my belt.”
Holloway, 20, Outclasses Schilling
A savage body attack and near-flawless takedown defense carried Max Holloway to a lopsided unanimous decision against the overmatched Pat Schilling in a featured featherweight encounter. All three judges scored it for the once-beaten Holloway (5-1, 1-1 UFC) by identical 30-27 counts, giving the youngest fighter on the UFC roster his first Octagon triumph.
Outside of a kneebar attempt in the closing seconds of the first round, Schilling (5-2, 0-2 UFC) was out of his element. The 20-year-old Hawaiian buried one left hook after another into Schilling’s right side, and the punches had crippling affects. Holloway grew more comfortable and his opponent’s situation more dire as the fight deepened. Round two was particularly one-sided and nearly resulted in Schilling being finished. Only the bell saved him.
“I just wanted to show that I belong in the UFC,” Holloway said. “I’m still a baby. I’m just going to keep training hard and hopefully I will be around for a long time.”
Lawrence Head Kick KOs Cofer
Justin Lawrence knocked out Hardcore Gym’s John Cofer with a beautifully timed third-round head kick in a lightweight showcase. Lawrence (4-0, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 19 seconds into round three, as he remained unbeaten as a professional.
Cofer (7-2, 0-1 UFC) held his own on the feet through two rounds, mixing in a pair of takedowns for good measure. However, the 28-year-old Savannah, Ga., native’s luck ran out early in round three. Lawrence backed him towards the cage with an errant jab and right cross, finishing the combination with the kick. It landed with an audible smack below Cofer’s left ear and sent him crashing to the canvas in a dazed state. With that, the fight was done.
“My coaches told me to quit moving straight back in the first round, and then I started seeing more openings,” Lawrence said. “I’m here in the UFC, and I’m here to stay.”
More “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale Coverage »
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