Travis Browne had no trouble dispatching Chad Griggs.
Browne (13-0-1, 4-0-1 UFC) submitted the Strikeforce import with a first-round arm-triangle choke at UFC 145 “Jones vs. Evans” on Saturday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Griggs (11-2, 0-1 UFC), who entered the cage on a career-best six-fight winning streak, tapped out 2:29 into round one.
The Hawaiian rattled Griggs with a beautiful flying knee and, moments later, scored with a takedown. From there, Browne mounted, transitioned to the choke and finished it. Knocking on the door of Top 10 status in the heavyweight division, it was his first submission win in more than three years.
“My kids have gone through so much with me being away for eight weeks. I have two little beautiful boys. It was so hard,” Browne said. “I belong here. UFC heavyweights, watch out.”
Brown Grounds, Pounds ‘Wonderboy’
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 alum Matt Brown grounded and neutralized the previously unbeaten Stephen Thompson, as he captured a unanimous decision in a preliminary welterweight match. All three cageside judges saw it for Brown (14-11, 7-5 UFC): 30-27, 29-27 and 30-27.
Thompson (6-1, 1-1 UFC) had his moments, but they were too few and far between. Brown struck for takedowns in all three rounds and opened multiple lacerations on the South Carolinian’s face with short elbows from the top. In the third round, he swept Thompson’s legs, sliced through his guard and ultimately moved to the mounted crucifix position. Brown then transitioned to a topside triangle and battered his foe with punches. Thompson survived until the end, but his face bore the marks of a clear defeat, his first as a professional.
Kicks Carry Njokuani Past Makdessi
Backed by a series of gnarly leg and body kicks, WEC veteran Anthony Njokuani cruised to a unanimous decision over John Makdessi in an undercard battle at 155 pounds. Njokuani (15-6-1, 2-2 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 counts.
Makdessi (9-2, 2-2 UFC), a Tristar Gym representative, rarely moved into range, cut off by the Nigerian’s 7.5-inch reach advantage. Njokuani short-circuited his foe with thudding kicks to his lead leg and midsection, mixing in occasional blows to the head. He also landed the most significant punch of the fight, when he wobbled Makdessi with a counter left hook in the first round.
Danzig Controls, Upends Escudero
Superior clinch work, clean boxing and airtight takedown defense carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 6 winner Mac Danzig to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero in a preliminary lightweight tilt. All three cageside judges scored it for Danzig (21-9, 5-5 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Danzig controlled Escudero (18-5, 3-4 UFC) in close quarters and ripped into the MMA Lab standout with crisp punches to the head and body. However, he did not walk out of the cage unscathed. In fact, he limped out, his right ankle visibly damaged by an Escudero heel hook in the first round. Still, Escudero failed to finish the submission and his chances diminished as the fight wore on, unable to mount any offense of consequence.
Clements Takes Split Verdict
Chris Clements made a successful promotional debut, as the Shawn Tompkins protégé took a split decision from Keith Wisniewski in an undercard bout at 170 pounds.
Clements (11-4, 1-0 UFC) turned a close fight into his fifth straight win with a strong third round, as he ruthlessly belted his foe’s body with punches. Referee Fernando Yamasaki did Wisniewski no favors. The Duneland Vale Tudo representative took down and mounted Clements in the first round, only to be subject to a puzzling Yamasaki restart while working effectively from half guard later in the frame.
Clearly the superior striker, Clements went to work with his hands and feet. Wisniewski (28-14, 0-3 UFC) never went away, but he lacked the firepower necessary to bring down the 36-year-old Canadian. The judges saw it 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27.
ATT’s Brimage Outpoints Blanco
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum Marcus Brimage outdueled Sengoku veteran Maximo Blanco and captured a split decision in a preliminary featherweight bout. Two of the three cageside judges scored it for Brimage (5-1, 2-0 UFC) by 30-27 and 29-28 counts; a third cast a dissenting 29-28 ruling for Blanco (8-4, 0-1 UFC)
Brimage was the aggressor in rounds one and three, as he attacked with clean punching and excellent movement. Blanco spent far too much time in retreat mode, eager but largely unable to counter the American Top Team export. The Venezuelan did his best work in the second round, where he kicked effectively to the legs, body and head.
However, Blanco’s momentum proved fleeting, as Brimage picked up his pace in the final frame and took hold of his third consecutive victory. The two featherweights traded post-fight black flips afterward, much to the chagrin of the Georgia crowd.