Zak Cummings presented Nicolas Dalby with a set of problems he could not solve.
Clubbing left hands, overwhelming pressure and veteran savvy carried Cummings to a unanimous decision over the former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder in the featured welterweight prelim at UFC Fight Night “Rothwell vs. Dos Santos” on Sunday at Zagreb Arena in Zagreb, Croatia. All three cageside judges saw it 30-27 for Cummings (19-4, 4-1 UFC), who replaced an injured Bartosz Fabinski on short notice. Sherdog scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27 for Cummings.
Cummings set the tone with a strong first round -- he dropped the Dane with a right uppercut-left hook combination -- and never looked back. He routinely backed up Dalby (14-1-1, 1-1-1 UFC) with punches, proved opportunistic in the grappling exchanges and cut off a late rally from the Rumble Sports standout with a late third-round takedown.
A graduate of Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Cummings has won six of his past seven bouts.
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Perez Batters Leg Lock-Minded Entwistle
“The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” winner Alejandro Perez won for the fourth time in five outings, as he put away Ian Entwistle with first-round ground-and-pound in a preliminary bantamweight matchup. Entwistle (9-3, 1-2 UFC) verbally submitted 4:04 into round one.
Perez (17-6, 3-1 UFC) avoided repeated leg lock attempts from the Thailand-based Englishman -- Entwistle complained at one point that the American Kickboxing Academy rep had greased his lower extremities. Perez was checked by the referee and cleared. He eventually found himself on top of Entwistle and pounded away with unanswered punches until the stoppage was called.
Taisumov Uppercut Stops Hadzovic
Surging M-1 Global veteran Mairbek Taisumov cut down Damir Hadzovic with a first-round uppercut in their undercard tilt at 155 pounds. Taisumov (25-5, 5-1 UFC) brought it to a close 3:44 into round one, as he extended his winning streak to four fights.
Hadzovic (10-3, 0-1 UFC) did not back down but wilted in the face of superior firepower. Taisumov staggered him with a straight right in close quarters, backed him towards the cage and unloaded. Several punches penetrated the Serbian’s defenses before a right uppercut dropped him where he stood and prompted referee Kevin Sataki to intervene.
Stasiak Choke Submits Pejic
Damian Stasiak spoiled the Octagon debut of Filip Pejic, as he submitted the Croatian with a first-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary bantamweight scrap. Pejic (10-2, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:16 into round one, losing for the first time in 10 appearances.
Stasiak (9-3, 1-1 UFC) struck for a pair of takedowns, greeting his counterpart with rudest of welcomes. He advanced to full mount, climbed to the back and threaded his hooks before sinking the choke. Pejic fought to free himself and forced the Pole to readjust his grip, though he ultimately had no choice but to tap.
The 26-year-old Stasiak has won six of his last seven fights.
Martins Edges Slumping Whiteford
Chute Boxe export Lucas Martins snapped a two-fight losing streak, as he escaped with a split decision against Robert Whiteford in a three-round undercard pairing at 145 pounds. Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 for Martins, 29-28 for Whiteford. Sherdog saw it 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 for Martins.
Neither man did much to set himself apart in the 15-minute engagement. Martins (16-3, 4-3 UFC) staggered Whiteford with a straight right hand late in the first round, bottled up the American Top Team-trained Scotsman along the fence, utilized accurate punches and mixed in occasional kicks to the legs and body. Whiteford (12-4, 2-3 UFC) was ineffective with his takedowns and struggled to generate meaningful output, often circling on the perimeter with his hands cocked but not firing.
The 32-year-old Whiteford has lost back-to-back bouts for the first time in his career.
Cannonier KOs Newcomer Asker
Jared Cannonier knocked out Cyril Asker with a sweeping left hook and follow-up ground-and-pound in the first round of their preliminary heavyweight affair. Asker (7-2, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:44 into round one, his five-fight winning streak at an end.
Cannonier (8-1, 1-1 UFC) sprawled out of an early takedown and kept the Frenchman upright. The left hook floored Asker at the base of the cage and left him vulnerable to follow-up blows. Cannonier gave referee Grant Waterman a chance to step in before pouncing with hammerfists, punches and a violent volley of elbows that left Asker bloodied and unconscious.
The 32-year-old Cannonier now has six first-round finishes to his credit.
Velickovic Downs Prospect Di Chirico
Onetime Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Bojan Velickovic captured a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Italian prospect Alessio Di Chirico in a three-round undercard battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Velickovic (14-3, 1-0 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. Sherdog saw it 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Di Chirico.
Stinging inside leg kicks and a steady diet of straight left hands upstairs buoyed Velickovic. Di Chirico (9-1, 0-1 UFC) impressed in his promotional debut, as he countered effectively and punched in combination, firing in two- and three-punch bursts. In a match marked by repeated momentum shifts, Velickovic benefitted from a near-finish late in the second round, where he swept the Italian and cranked a kimura. Only the bell prevented the tapout.
Round three was closely contested. Di Chirico upped his activity level and made his move late in the frame, as he executed a well-timed takedown and cracked the Serbian with a standing-to-ground right hand. His efforts went for naught on the scorecards, as Velickovic walked away with a fifth straight victory.