Eddie Wineland was a step quicker than Brad Pickett at UFC 155. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The capable fists of former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland proved too difficult an obstacle for Brad Pickett to overcome.
Wineland (20-8-1, 2-2 UFC) cracked the Englishman repeatedly with damaging right hands en route to a split decision victory at UFC 155 “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Two of the three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Wineland; a third cast a puzzling 29-28 vote for Pickett (22-7, 2-2 UFC).
“He’s got a melon on him like a coconut,” Wineland said. “I hit him with everything I had. I felt him go limp, but I just couldn’t put him away. He regained his composure really well. He’s a tough, solid dude, and I was impressed. I hit him hard.”
Wineland set the tone midway through round one when he dropped Pickett to a knee with a series of powerful right hands. The American Top Team standout recovered and kept his head in the fight, only to watch Wineland bob and weave out of danger and continue to peck away with his punches. Pickett opened a cut near Wineland’s right eye with a left hook in the second round and another small gash across the bridge of his nose in the third, but those were merely small victories inside a much larger battle that did not go his way.
“I pride myself on the way I push myself, and that’s how I train,” Wineland said. “I train hard, and I fight hard. I come to go from minute one to minute 15.”
Fast-Rising Perez Batters, Bloodies Bloodworth
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative Erik Perez put away Byron Bloodworth with first-round ground-and-pound in a preliminary bantamweight affair. Bloodworth (6-3, 0-2 UFC) met his end 3:50 into round one.
A wicked knee to the body changed the complexion of the fight in an instant. Perez pursued his wounded quarry to the canvas and set up shop in top position. From there, the punches and elbows flowed, one of them opening a nasty gash near Bloodworth’s hairline. That cued Perez to pick up his pace.
Soon after, referee Kim Winslow had seen enough and intervened on the fallen fighter’s behalf.
Perez (13-4, 3-0 UFC) has finished all three of his UFC opponents inside one round.
Resurgent Varner Outpoints Guillard
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and effective power punching carried former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner to a split decision over Melvin Guillard in an undercard tilt at 155 pounds. All three judges scored it 30-27, two of them siding with the victorious Varner (21-7-1, 3-2 UFC).
Guillard (30-12-2, 11-8 UFC) leaned heavily on leg kicks, particularly in the first round. Varner was not dissuaded.
The resurgent MMA Lab export absorbed the punishment and kept pressing forward, his stout right hand firing freely. In rounds two and three, Varner brought out the takedowns, answering Guillard’s jab and leg kicks by grounding him repeatedly.
Varner delivered three takedowns in the third round alone and withstood a Hail Mary armbar attempt from his Florida-based foe. Once on the cusp of lightweight title contention, Guillard has lost four of his last five bouts.
Jury Ground Game Overwhelms Johnson
Alliance MMA’s Myles Jury kept his perfect professional record intact with a one-sided unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson in an undercard bout at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for the unbeaten Jury (11-0, 2-0 UFC).
A 24-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Jury struck for takedowns in all three rounds. The Hazel Park, Mich., native carved through Johnson’s guard with surprising ease, attacking him with elbows and punches from top position. Johnson (12-7, 4-3 UFC) had no answers from his back. Jury iced the victory with a strong third round, as he lured the Blackzilians export into the clinch, scored with a nice trip takedown and racked up the points with effective ground-and-pound.
The defeat halted Johnson’s three-fight winning streak.
Duffee Waylays Englishman De Fries
Todd Duffee wiped out Philip De Fries with a searing right uppercut and a series of thudding follow-up shots 2:04 into the first round of their preliminary heavyweight scrap. The 27-year-old Duffee (8-2, 2-1 UFC), who had not competed inside the Octagon in more than two years, now owns seven first-round finishes among his eight professional victories.
De Fries (9-2, 2-2 UFC) struck for a takedown inside the first minute and unloaded with a volley of right hands when the American Kickboxing Academy export attempted to rise to his feet against the cage.
Duffee welcomed the punishment in exchange for a more advantageous position. Once the two men separated, De Fries was in serious trouble. Duffee cracked the Englishman with a beautiful right uppercut, trailed him to the fence with straight right hands and polished him off with one last left hook.
Holloway Edges Garcia on Points
Max Holloway posted his third consecutive victory with a controversial unanimous decision over Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts mainstay Leonard Garcia in a preliminary featherweight duel.
All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them for the 21-year-old Holloway (7-1, 3-1 UFC) -- a late replacement for the injured Cody McKenzie.
Garcia (15-10-1, 2-6 UFC) landed with more accuracy and authority, but still fell short on the scorecards.
The 33-year-old Plainview, Texas, native rebounded from a slow start in the first round and had Holloway in an almost perpetual backpedal during the final 10 minutes. With Terminator-like conviction, he aggressively pursued Holloway on the feet, splitting the Sin City air with the wild power punches for which he has become known.
Holloway, who sat down Garcia with a straight left hand 90 seconds into the bout, countered well but fatigued noticeably in rounds two and three. The “Bad Boy” stayed in his face with looping punches and mixed in a pair of takedowns, but he did not do enough in the eyes of the judges to avoid his fourth defeat in as many fights.
Moraga Guillotine Submits Cariaso
MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports representative John Moraga submitted Chris Cariaso with a third-round guillotine choke in an undercard battle at 125 pounds. Moraga (13-1, 2-0 UFC) finished it 1:11 into round three, extending his winning streak to seven fights.
Cariaso (14-4, 4-2 UFC) was effective with kicks to the legs, body and head throughout the first 10 minutes. He occasionally mixed in well-timed punching combinations and even threw in a late second-round takedown. A little more than a minute into round three, Moraga lulled his foe into a false sense of security in the clinch.
The 28-year-old Phoenix native trapped Cariaso in a standing guillotine choke, forced him to a seated position against the cage and sealed the deal.