Olivier Aubin-Mercier keeps climbing the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight ladder, rung by rung.
Takedowns, time-consuming top control and occasionally effective ground-and-pound carried “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” winner to a split decision over Tony Martin in the featured UFC Fight Night 116 prelim on Saturday at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. All three judges scored it 29-28: Gregory Monskie and Jeff Mullen for Aubin-Mercier, Eric Colon for Martin.
For the better part of two rounds, Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) lured the Team Sityodtong standout into the clinch, tripped him to the mat and set up shop in top position. Undeterred, Martin (12-4, 4-4 UFC) shifted momentum in the third, where he countered an attempted single-leg takedown with a guillotine before transitioning to an anaconda choke. Aubin-Mercier freed himself, only to wander into further danger. Martin wheeled to his back, secured his position with a body triangle and spent the last half of the round popping the judo black belt with punches and hunting a potential choke.
Aubin-Mercier, 28, has rattled off three straight victories.
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Spitz Waylays Reeling Hamilton
Sikjitsu’s Daniel Spitz took out former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Anthony Hamilton in the first round of their preliminary heavyweight clash. Hamilton (15-8, 3-6 UFC) succumbed to blows 24 seconds into Round 1.
Spitz (1-1) retreated from the bigger man and probed for openings. They traded right hands near the fence, and Hamilton wound up on the wrong side of the exchange. Spitz’s fist clanged off the side of his head and sent him to all fours, where the Jackson-Wink MMA rep was met with a volley of right hands that prompted referee Dan Miragliotta to intervene.
The 37-year-old Hamilton has lost three fights in a row.
Resilient Hall Stuns Jotko
Two-time Ring of Combat champion Uriah Hall withstood serious adversity to put away Krzysztof Jotko with second-round punches in their preliminary middleweight tilt. Hall (13-8, 6-6 UFC) brought it to a close 2:25 into Round 2, snapping a three-fight losing streak.
Jotko (19-3, 6-3 UFC) manhandled the Xtreme Couture export for much of the first five minutes. He swarmed Hall with punches, secured a takedown, achieved full mount on two occasions and even threatened with a standing rear-naked choke. None of it netted the desired result, and all the heavy lifting came at a price. By the conclusion of the first round, Jotko was visibly fatigued.
The pace of the American Top Team-trained Pole slowed further in the second round. There, Hall countered a lazy jab with a looping overhand right that found the mark. The impact floored and dazed Jotko, leaving him unable to defend the attack that followed.
Burns Overhand KOs Saggo
Combat Club representative Gilbert Burns knocked out Jason Saggo with a crushing right hand in the second round of their undercard encounter at 155 pounds. Saggo (12-4, 3-3 UFC) hit the deck 4:55 into Round 2, as he suffered his second defeat in as many appearances.
Burns (12-2, 5-2 UFC), who fled hurricane-ravaged Florida in advance of the fight, walked through the Canadian’s kicks, countered effectively and executed takedowns in both rounds. Late in the second, the 2005 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships bronze medalist slipped a jab and fired an overhand with devastating consequences. Saggo collapsed under his own weight. No follow-up shots were required.
The knockout was the first for Burns since May 2014.