Ronda Rousey didn't need her go-to finisher at UFC 170. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Ronda Rousey holstered her trademark armbar in favor of a new weapon.
Rousey retained her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight crown with a first-round technical knockout over Sara McMann in the UFC 170 headliner on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. A knee strike to the liver folded McMann (7-1, 1-1 UFC) 66 seconds into round one, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist beaten for the first time as a professional.
“We studied her videos and noticed that no one ever really tries to hit her to the body,” Rousey said. “Since she’s a wrestler, she has that bent posture, so we felt like it was the best thing to concentrate on the liver shot for this camp. The left knee has been working for me the most during this camp, and I thought if I stayed consistent on that one spot that it would eventually work.”
McMann tagged the champion with power punches during their initial exchange, but Rousey (9-0, 3-0 UFC) closed the distance and trapped her along the cage. Standing elbows and knees opened up the challenger for the fight-ending blow. McMann collapsed to her knees upon absorbing the liver shot, leading referee Herb Dean to intervene on her behalf.
“I thought it was a good fight,” McMann said. “I got hit in the liver. No matter how hard you train, it’s not like you can get your liver stronger. I just look forward to going back to the drawing board. I hope to get a rematch and put on a better fight.”
McMann did not dispute the stoppage.
“I was trying to get back up, but it’s my own fault,” she said. “If you see a fighter drop, [the referee] is trying to protect us. I should have gotten back to my feet quicker.”
Cormier Smashes Cummins in 79 Seconds
In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier dazzled in his light heavyweight debut, as he needed a little more than a minute to smash through Patrick Cummins with savage first-round punches. A late replacement for the injured Rashad Evans, Cummins (4-1, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to the blows 79 seconds into round one.
Cormier (14-0, 3-0 UFC) went to work right away, cracking the Reign MMA representative with a pair of right uppercuts, the second of which left Cummins in a dazed state. The American Kickboxing Academy ace then swarmed with unanswered punches, securing his first stoppage since arriving in the UFC in April.
“It had to happen this way,” Cormier said. “It could not have gone the distance. I’m mad that he even hit me twice because of all the talking he did. It feels good. When you talk, you’ve got to be able to back it up. That’s what I do. Pat has a bright future in the UFC, but this was a big challenge for him. I feel good about my first time down [at 205 pounds].”
Standup, Sprawl Spurs MacDonald
An effective sprawl and a multi-pronged standup attack carried Tristar Gym’s Rory MacDonald to a unanimous decision over 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Demian Maia in a high-stakes welterweight encounter. All three judges arrived at the same verdict: 29-28 for MacDonald (16-2, 7-2 UFC).
Maia (18-6, 12-6 UFC) was in prime form in the first round. He secured a takedown inside the first 20 seconds, softened the Canadian with elbows and eventually moved to mount. However, Maia expended a great deal of energy in achieving the dominant position. By round two, fatigue had set in on the Brazilian. MacDonald peppered him with jabs and body kicks, leaning on his superior conditioning in turning the corner.
Though physically compromised, Maia managed to score another takedown in the third round. His inability to control MacDonald proved costly, as the former King of the Cage champion rose to his feet and picked up where he left off with accurate and damaging punching combinations.
“I think if I overreacted and got stressed out against a guy of his caliber that it wouldn’t have taken him long to tire me out,” MacDonald said. “The animal is back. I’m ready to kick some ass. I’m ready to kill. I’ve got my mindset back on track, and I’m ready for that title.”
Surging Pyle Finishes Waldburger
Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Mike Pyle dispatched T.J. Waldburger with third-round ground-and-pound in a featured clash at 170 pounds. Pyle (26-9-1, 9-4 UFC) closed the deal 4:03 into round three, as he won for the fifth time in six appearances.
The matchup was competitive for two rounds, but the tide turned in Pyle’s favor in the third. There, he wobbled Waldburger (16-9, 4-4 UFC) with an overhand right, a spinning back elbow and a pair of standing elbows in the clinch before diving on a guillotine choke. The maneuver failed to secure the desired submission, but Pyle settled into mount and ultimately transitioned to the fading Texan’s back, finishing it there with elbows and punches.
“He was tough,” Pyle said. “He hit me with some good shots. His leg kicks were pretty hard. I expected a battle, and that’s what I got. We prepared for him fully, and he did just what we thought he would.”
‘Wonderboy’ Thompson Manhandles Whittaker
Stephen Thompson put away “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner Robert Whittaker with first-round punches in a welterweight showcase. Thompson (9-1, 4-1 UFC) drew the curtain on the Aussie 3:43 into round one, as he delivered his third straight victory in spectacular fashion.
Whittaker (11-4, 2-2 UFC) was on his heels from the start. Thompson floored him with a straight right, swarmed with punches as he stood and dropped him again before finishing the kneeling 23-year-old with a series of unanswered blows. Whittaker had never before been stopped by strikes.
“The more I do this, the more I get comfortable with it,” Thompson said. “I’m a striker. That’s who I am. I wouldn’t say I’m the best MMA fighter, but I’m working on it. I’m getting better every day, and you’ll see me back in here very soon. When I see him go down, I know I have to be careful. I’ve seen guys rush in and get knocked out, so I’m very hesitant going in, but I knew he wasn’t getting back up, and I finished him from there.”
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