ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- He needed this, and he knew it. It had been some time since Corey Anderson had his hand raised in the Octagon. Precisely 501 days, which amounts to roughly 43,286,400 seconds, since Anderson stopped Sean O'Connell in two rounds on Dec. 9, 2016.
Anderson, the UFC No. 10-ranked light heavyweight, lost twice in 2017, and feared his stock was dropping. He had the perfect foil to snap his two-fight losing skid against Patrick Cummins (10-5) -- and it’s what he did.
Anderson (10-4) had his way with Cummins from the beginning, swelling his right eye in the first and pounding that weak area in the second, causing a small cut to hemorrhage blood. After repeated takedowns, Anderson coasted in the third on his way to a unanimous 30-26 (twice) and 30-27 victory on the UFC Fight Night 128 undercard from Boardwalk Hall, the first time the Ultimate Fighting Championship has been to Atlantic City’s fabled arena since UFC 53 in 2005.
“That went 100 percent according to the game plan,” Anderson said of his victory over Cummins. “We knew the jab would dictate the pace. I could see his stuff coming because he isn’t as fast as my training partners. It was the perfect game plan. This was exactly what we asked for.
“At this point, I’m coming off two losses, so I can’t really call anybody out. I’d like to avenge my losses, but I saw Misha Cirkunov in the crowd. He had that look in his eye, like it’d be a good fight. If he wants it, I’ll take it. I’m back, let’s go.”
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Welcome to the UFC Ricky Simon. Making his UFC debut, Simon got a quick introduction to why the UFC has the best fighters in the world, taking on Georgian Merab Dvalishvili in a three-round bantamweight bout. Simon, fighting primarily in King of the Cage and Legacy Fighting Alliance, hadn’t lost in two years. Dvalishvili was coming off a loss.
Dvalishvili (7-4) was winning the majority of the fight, when Simon pulled off a mounted guillotine in the end and referee Liam Kerrigan called a halt in the last second of the fight when he felt Dvalishvili was out cold, giving the surprising victory to Simon (13-1).
The decision was greeted with a chorus of boos.
“I got up, looked at his eyes and he was gone,” Simon said. “I sunk in a deep choke and he was out. I stood over his body and he was limp. He was flailing and then went limp. Benito Lopez has been dodging me for years. He’s pulled out of many fights. I’m coming for him.”
Ryan LaFlare (14-2) rejoined the win column with a three-round welterweight unanimous decision over Alex Garcia (15-5) by scores of 30-27 across the board. LaFlare has won three of his last four, while Garcia has lost for the third time in his last five fights.
In the first stoppage of the night, welterweight Siyar Bahadurzada (24-6-1) won for the third-straight time when he dropped Luan Chagas (15-3-1) in the second round with a right kick to the midsection. Chagas stood there stunned for a moment before collapsing, causing referee Gary Copeland to wave it off at 2:40 of the second round.
“I want to kick someone out of the top 10,” Bahadurzada proclaimed afterward. “We stuck to the game plan. My coaches are geniuses. They laid out exactly how the fight was going to play out. I went in there, did it and won. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great finish. It’s a kick to the body. That’s the ultimate finish.”
“I want to destroy the welterweight division. This is my division. I’m going to be champion by 2019.”
In the first fight of the night, Tony Martin (13-4) defeated Keita Nakamura (33-9-2) in a three-round decision with identical scores of 30-27. Martin won for the first time since a three-round setback to Olivier Aubin-Mercier back in September 2017. Nakamura lost for the third time in his last five fights.
“I thought it was a dominant performance. Next, I want someone who’s going to come after me and try to win the fight a lot more,” Martin said. “I feel like he was more in survival mode once he felt the right hand. I hurt him a couple of times and tried to jump on him, but heard my coaches telling me to calm down.
“This was my first fight at 170 and they wanted to see how I reacted. They didn’t want me to push the pace too heavy. I have a lot of work to do after this. I’m going to bulk up and add some muscle. I want to go out there next time and dominate.”
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.