UFC Fight Night Prelims: Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira Hands Joe Merritt First Defeat

By Brian Knapp Jun 27, 2015

Alex Oliveira grows more comfortable with each Octagon appearance.

The American Top Team-trained welterweight picked up his fifth win in six fights, as he captured a unanimous decision from the previously unbeaten Joe Merritt at UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Romero” on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Oliveira (12-2-1, 2-1 UFC) prompted 30-27 scores from all three judges.

A former college football player at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, had his moments. He scrambled effectively, opened a cut near Oliveira’s eye with a short elbow strike and denied many of the Brazilian’s advances, on the feet, in the clinch and on the ground. However, the “Cowboy” was relentless. He avoided any meaningful standup exchanges and operated from the clinch. Oliveira secured takedowns in all three rounds and routinely advanced to the American’s back, fishing for submissions throughout and generally capitalizing on his adversary’s lack of experience.

‘Buscape’ Silva Sinks Gonzalez

Occasional takedowns, an active submission game and effective counterstriking carried Leandro Silva to a unanimous decision over Lewis Gonzalez in a three-round undercard clash at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Silva (18-2-1, 2-2 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-27.

Gonzalez (10-2, 0-1 UFC), a World Series of Fighting veteran who was three pounds overweight for the match, struggled to keep up. Silva controlled the majority of their clinches, scored effectively moving backward, mixed in kicks to the body and turned up the heat whenever the two welterweights hit the canvas. Though the submission he sought never came to fruition, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt had more than enough in his arsenal to get past Gonzalez.

Sims Wins Fourth Straight

Elevation Fight Team export Tony Sims wiped out Steve Montgomery with a short counter left hook and follow-up punches in the first round of their preliminary welterweight tilt. Sims (12-2, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 2:43 into round one, as he recorded his fourth consecutive victory.

Montgomery (8-3, 0-1 UFC) staggered his counterpart with a knee strike but could not capitalize on his window of opportunity. Sims recovered quickly, slipped under the American Top Team rep’s long arms and planted a left hook on the chin. Montgomery collapsed, ate another left and face planted in a semi-conscious state at the base of the cage. Sims finished it there with a volley of unanswered punches to the Floridian’s exposed head.

Kakai Nails Down Successful Debut

American Top Team’s Sirwan Kakai enjoyed a successful promotional debut, as he took a unanimous decision from Danny Martinez in an undercard scrap at 135 pounds. Kakai (12-2, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 nods from all three judges.

Repeated takedowns and damaging strikes in close quarters lifted Kakai. The 25-year-old floored Martinez (16-7, 0-3 UFC) with a first-round knee strike and never looked back. Kakai executed takedowns in all three rounds -- three of them inside round two -- and exploited his advantages in the clinch with knees, short punches and standing elbows. Martinez fought well in spurts, but too often, the Alliance MMA rep saw his momentum stymied by a takedown from the opportunistic Swede.

Kakai has won 12 of his last 13 bouts.


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