UFC 143 Prelims: Fast-Rising Poirier Submits Holloway

By Brian Knapp Feb 4, 2012
The ascent of Dustin Poirier shows no signs of slowing down.

Poirier (12-1, 4-0 UFC) submitted the previously undefeated Max Holloway with a mounted triangle armbar in the opening round of their featherweight fight at UFC 143 “Diaz vs. Condit” on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The tapout came 3:23 into round one.

Holloway (4-1, 0-1 UFC) held his own on his feet, but Poirier secured a takedown and went to work. He mounted the Hawaiian with 2:57 to go in the first frame, racked up points with heavy ground-and-pound and waited for an opening. Holloway obliged. Poirier initially fished for an armbar but ultimately transitioned to a triangle and then locked up the triangle armbar after moving into a mounted position.

“I’m happy. I came in here to get a win and finish the fight. I’m 4-0 in the UFC, and I’m for real. I’m here to be a champion. One punch at a time -- I will be a champion,” Poirier said. “He’s tough. He’s a great kickboxer. I took him very seriously and trained as if I were facing Anderson Silva. I don’t mess around. This is my life.”

Low Blows Cost Caceres Decision

Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres File Photo

Bruce Leroy landed two low blows.
Edwin Figueroa survived a pair of wicked groin shots to notch a split decision against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 quarterfinalist Alex Caceres in a foul-marred bantamweight bout. All three judges scored it 28-27, two of them for Figueroa (9-1, 2-1 UFC).

Caceres (6-5, 1-3 UFC) landed two low blows in the match, one in the first round and another in the second. He was warned by referee Herb Dean for the first infraction and penalized two points for the second.

Outside of a first-round head kick that dropped and nearly finished Caceres, Figueroa did little in terms of meaningful offense. Caceres kept him at bay on the feet and controlled him on the ground, mounting him twice inside the first five minutes and seizing back control in all three rounds. Still, the two-point penalty loomed large, and his inability to finish cost him on the scorecards.

Brown Scores TKO in Second

His roster spot perhaps on the line, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 quarterfinalist Matt Brown put forth a dominant performance and stopped Chris Cope on a brutal volley of second-round punches. The end to their preliminary welterweight match came 79 seconds into round two.

“That’s exactly what I need to be doing. I got away from who I am. I’m back,” Brown said. “I was always learning new things and trying them out, but this really isn’t the place to be trying them out; enough of that. My corner told me in between rounds that his left hand was getting kind of low. I got a right hand that can knock out anybody, so I believe you’ll see more of that.”

Brown (13-11, 6-5 UFC) pressured Cope relentlessly, attacking him in the standup and in the clinch. He landed liberally with punches and knees throughout the first five minutes. In the second round, Brown clipped his foe with a right hand, followed it with a left hook and trailed Cope (5-3, 1-2 UFC) to the ground. There, he finished it with unanswered punches.

Riddle Earns Split Verdict

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 alum Matt Riddle turned the tide of his welterweight bout with a series of heavy kicks to the legs and body of Henry Martinez, as he captured a split decision from the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them in favor of Riddle (6-3, 6-3 UFC).

Martinez (8-2, 0-1 UFC), who entered his Octagon debut on the strength of a four-fight winning streak, put his stamp on the match in the first round, as he blistered Riddle with repeated multi-punch counters. However, midway through round two, Riddle altered the direction of the fight with his kicks and closed with a flourish, unleashing a violent flurry in the final seconds.

Running out of steam, Martinez could not keep up in the third round. Riddle kept the kicks coming, mixed in a crisp left cross and struck for multiple takedowns. He punctuated his victory with some heavy ground-and-pound as the 170-pound tilt reached its conclusion.

Natal Hands Kuiper First Loss

Rafael Natal File Photo

Natal edged Kuiper after 15 minutes.
A steady diet of takedowns, some wild punches and a few submission attempts carried Rafael Natal past the previously unbeaten Michael Kuiper en route to a unanimous decision in a preliminary middleweight duel. All three cageside judges scored it for Natal (14-3-1, 2-1-1 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Kuiper (11-1, 0-1 UFC) had trouble staying upright for much of the bout but had the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in serious trouble in the third round, as he let loose with a barrage of ground punches. Natal weathered the attack, later mounted the Dutchman and threatened him with an arm-triangle choke near the end of the period. With that, the decision was his.

‘Wonderboy’ Dazzles in Debut

Undefeated newcomer Stephen Thompson made a significant splash in his promotional debut, as he flattened King of the Cage veteran Daniel Stittgen with a beautiful first-round head kick. The blow left Stittgen (7-2, 0-1 UFC) unconscious 4:13 into round one.

Thompson (6-0, 1-0 UFC) lulled the 31-year-old Woodstock, Ill., native into a false sense of security, attacking his legs and body with precise but non-damaging kicks. He then softened Stittgen with a couple of punches down the pike and fired the head kick with meaning and purpose. It had the desired effect.

“Those lead-leg round kicks -- we use them a lot in karate,” Thompson said. “If you develop them, they can pack a lot of power, and people don’t see them [coming].”

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