Tony Martin made the most of fighting on the blockbuster UFC 229 card on Saturday night, knocking out Ryan LaFlare with a brutal head kick in the third round to open the show.
Martin and LaFlare were the very first fight on the prelims for Conor McGregor’s comeback title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, and after two relatively competitive rounds, Martin uncorked a head kick a minute into the third round that stopped LaFlare ]right in his tracks.
It was a breakout performance for Martin, who earned his first career knockout victory following a string of decisions.
"It was inevitable that I'd start getting finishes,” Martin said. I came in as just a grappler. My right hand kept landing and it just set up the left leg behind it.
"Ryan is a legit top 20 welterweight. He’s beat some legit top 15 guys. But nobody has beaten him like I beat him, and in the third round, when most people are content to coast [to a decision victory].”
Martin is now 2-0 at welterweight after moving up from 155 pounds in April. Having mixed results at lightweight, the 28-year-old expressed the massive difference in his performance since moving up a weight class.
"I'm not [a] big [welterweight]” he said. “My technique is enough to beat these guys. I'm no longer killing myself to make weight. Just the stress of not having to cut weight is worth giving up some weight [to my opponent] in the cage.”
]LaFlare is now 3-3 in his last six fights, with two of those losses coming by way of knockout.