A series of trip takedowns, ground-and-pound and a point deduction to his opponent for an illegal upkick carried Daron Cruickshank to a unanimous decision over Chris Tickle at “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
All three cageside judges scored it for Cruickshank (11-2, 1-0) by matching 29-27 counts.
Cruickshank largely abandoned the flashy standup game for which he has become known, choosing instead to ground his foe with repeated inside trip takedowns. Referee Steve Mazzagatti docked Tickle (7-5, 0-1 UFC) a point for an illegal upkick in the first round. A 30-year-old Pontiac, Ill., native, Tickle bounced back in round two, as he answered a Cruickshank head kick with a ringing right cross. The blow put Cruickshank on the seat of his pants, but the King of the Cage veteran recovered in full guard after a few harrowing moments.
The bout slipped away from Tickle in the third round, as Cruickshank struck for another takedown, landed in mount and added to his lead.
Jury Guillotine Puts Away Saunders
Myles Jury kept his perfect professional record intact, as he submitted Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Chris Saunders with a first-round guillotine choke in an undercard bout at 155 pounds. Saunders (9-3, 0-1 UFC) asked out of the hold 4:03 into round one.
Jury (10-0, 1-0 UFC) kept Saunders at bay with his long arms and legs. Front kicks to the chest were a featured part of his offense. Later in the round, Jury upped his aggression level and started to find a home for his left jab and right cross. Saunders scored with a takedown off an attempted flying knee but fell right into the guillotine. The tapout followed a brief but futile struggle.
“When somebody says they trained their whole life for something, that is what I just did right here,” said Jury, who has finished all 10 of his opponents within one round. “I worked my whole life for this.”
Sicilia Blasts Pride Veteran Marcello
Sam Sicilia capitalized on the opportunity in his promotional debut, as he smashed through Pride Fighting Championships veteran Cristiano Marcello en route to a second-round technical knockout in their preliminary lightweight duel. Sicilia (11-1, 1-0 UFC) closed the deal 2:53 into round two.
A tepid first round featuring wild swings and misses from Sicilia and virtually no offense of note from Marcello gave way to the second. There, the Brazilian veteran obliged his heavy-handed opponent with a firefight and paid dearly. Sicilia had the 34-year-old reeling with a left hook and followed it with a pair of close-quarters knees that sent the Brazlian jiu-jitsu black belt to the mat. He then pounded away at Marcello with unabated right hands until his victim lay unconscious at the base of the cage.
“Once you smell blood in the water, you hit gears you didn’t even know you had,” Sicilia said. “[My power] is where I get a lot of my confidence. I look fatigued, but you fight to stay in the cage when you know you’re one punch away from winning.”
Proctor Knee, Hammerfists Stop Larsen
Team Aggression’s Joe Proctor stopped Jeremy Larsen on first-round strikes in a preliminary lightweight duel. Larsen (8-3, 0-1 UFC), a 28-year-old Tucson, Ariz., native met his end 1:59 into round one, his two-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Proctor (8-1, 4-0 UFC), a protégé of longtime UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon, floored the Arizonan with a beautiful knee from the Thai plum, followed him to the mat and finished it there with a series of rapid-fire hammerfists. A dazed Larsen stumbled backward upon rising to his feet.
“This is the biggest stage of my life,” said Proctor, who has rattled off four consecutive wins. “I knew this fight was going to be tough. This feels awesome.”
Perez Armbar Submits Albert
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Erik Perez finished John Albert with a first-round armbar in their undercard matchup at 135 pounds. Referee Kim Winslow stepped in on Albert’s behalf 4:18 into round one, though he did not appear to submit to the hold, verbally or otherwise.
Albert (7-3, 1-2 UFC) struck for an early takedown and transitioned immediately to his opponent’s back. However, in his haste to secure a choke, he left Perez an avenue for escape. The 22-year-old settled in full guard, only to be met with a triangle choke from Albert. Perez (11-4, 1-0 UFC) fought to free himself with his fists and forced Albert to switch to an armbar. The Victory Athletics standout lost his grip, and Perez moved to an even more advantageous top position, snatched Albert’s left arm and went belly down with it. With Albert wincing in notable pain, Winslow intervened.
A late replacement for Byron Bloodworth, Perez has rattled off six consecutive wins.