Ricardo Lamas announced his arrival as a key player at 145 pounds with a victory over the world-ranked Hatsu Hioki.
Lamas (12-2, 3-0 UFC) delivered the strikes of significance -- including a series of kicks to the upper and lower lead leg -- and threatened Hioki with one guillotine choke after another from his back, as he captured a unanimous decision from the former Sengoku champion at UFC on FX 4 “Maynard vs. Guida” on Friday at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. All three judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Lamas.
“I’ve been fighting for Zuffa for three years now, and not too many people know me,” Lamas said. “Hopefully they will now. I just want to fight anybody who will get me closer to that title.”
Hioki (26-5-2, 2-1 UFC) did his best work in the first round, when he attacked the Chicagoan with an omaplata and later scored with one of his patented trip takedowns from the clinch. From there, he became less and less of a factor in the bout. Lamas tagged the Japanese star with his hands -- the left hook was his most effective weapon -- and answered his takedowns with tight guillotines. Hioki freed himself from the chokes but crashed and burned on the scorecards.
“That guy has got gills somewhere, because I don’t know where he was breathing from,” Lamas said. “He held his breath for like two minutes.”
Nijem Dismisses Prospect Keith
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem stopped the previously unbeaten C.J. Keith on first-round strikes from the mount in a preliminary lightweight affair. Nijem (6-2, 2-1 UFC) sealed the deal 2:29 into round one.
Spawned by the Pro Buhawe camp, Keith (8-1, 0-1 UFC) stuffed an early takedown, took top position and moved to full mount a little more than a minute into the fight. Nijem escaped to his feet, struck for a takedown and transitioned to mount. From there, he secured his position with a series of elbows and punches, forcing Keith to turn away from contact and bringing referee Yves Lavigne into play.
“He stopped my wrestling for a little bit, but I knew that if I was persistent that I would end up on top,” Nijem said. “He put me on my back and mounted me. I haven’t been put in a bad position in a long time, but as soon as I get the mount, I know I’ll finish the fight.”
Story Decisions Newcomer Jardine
Rick Story took the first step towards reclaiming his place of prominence in the welterweight division, as he threw the brakes on a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Octagon newcomer Brock Jardine in an undercard bout at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Story (14-5, 7-3 UFC) by identical 30-27 counts.
Story struck for takedowns in all three rounds and worked effectively on the ground, with punches, knees and a few submission attempts. On the feet, he stuck Jardine (9-2, 0-2 UFC) with left hands and counter rights, forcing him to wing heavy punches in response. Most of them caught only air, as Story notched his first win in more than a year.
“I’m always driving to get the finish,” Story said. “I didn’t get it, but he’s a tough wrestler. Coming out with a victory is the most I could ask for.”
Siler Guillotine Submits Gambino
John Hackleman protégé Steven Siler submitted previously unbeaten promotional newcomer Joey Gambino with a first-round guillotine choke in an undercard duel at 145 pounds. Gambino (9-1, 0-1 UFC) asked out of the fight 2:47 into round one.
Siler (21-9, 3-0 UFC) stuffed an early takedown and connected with a beautiful knee off the break. The blow, perfectly timed and exquisitely delivered, resulted in a vertical laceration on Gambino’s forehead. The Tristar Gym prospect buckled Siler with a right hand in close quarters but failed to keep “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum at bay. Siler struck for a takedown, ultimately mounted the New York native and trapped him with the guillotine on a transition. Gambino had no choice but to surrender.
“I figured I rocked him,” Siler said. “He was going to be a little loopy, and that was my chance to lock it in. It was a little slippery from all the blood, so I wasn’t sure I should go for it, but, luckily, it worked.”
Camozzi Cuts, Denies Catone
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 alum Chris Camozzi won for the seventh time in nine fights, as he put away New Jersey native Nick Catone on a third-round cut in a preliminary middleweight tilt. The end came 1:51 into round three.
Catone (9-3, 3-3 UFC) came out of the gates quickly, as he attacked his foe with stiff right hands and well-timed takedowns. However, Camozzi’s length and standup skill took hold as the fight deepened. In the third round, he rattled Catone with a left hand, followed it with a right and then unleashed a violent knee strike that resulted in a wicked diagonal gash above the 30-year-old’s left eye brow. Catone bled profusely.
Moments later, referee Dan Miragliotta halted the match to allow the cageside physician to examine the gash. Catone was deemed unfit to continue.
Brown Overwhelms, Stops Ramos
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 alum Matt Brown overcame a tepid start to stop Shooto import Luis Ramos on second-round strikes in an undercard bout at 170 pounds. Ramos (19-8, 0-2 UFC) met his end 4:20 into round two.
Brown (15-11, 8-5 UFC) turned the tide with a series of pinpoint knee strikes from the clinch that left his Brazilian foe bloodied and wobbled. After one of those aforementioned knees found its mark, he backed up a fading Ramos with a right hand, pinned him along the fence and sealed the deal with a series of savage right uppercuts. To his credit, Ramos never went down, but he was clearly on the way out when the referee stepped in.
“I’ve dropped bigger, stronger people with less,” Brown said. “I wish I could have finished him a little sooner than I did, but that’s how it goes.”
Miller Guillotine Submits Funch
A visibly weary Dan Miller submitted Ricardo Funch with a third-round guillotine choke in a preliminary welterweight duel. Funch (8-4, 0-4 UFC) tapped out 3:12 into round three.
Miller, a former International Fight League champion at 185 pounds, did not find the going easy in his welterweight debut, as the cut to 170 appeared to exact a heavy toll on him. Funch countered him with punches, grinded on him in the clinch and delivered a takedown in the second-round. Miller answered in the third, where he floored the Team Link representative with a counter right hand, softened him with ground-and-pound and later set up the finishing choke from the clinch.
The victory halted a two-fight losing streak for the 30-year-old Miller (14-6, 6-5 UFC), who had not competed in nearly a year.
ATT’s Stone Outpoints Pague
American Top Team’s Ken Stone recorded his second win in as many appearances, as he captured a split decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum Dustin Pague in an undercard matchup at 135 pounds. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them in favor of Stone (11-3, 2-1 UFC).
Stone delivered punches at a higher rate, performed admirably in the clinch and sprang a pivotal third-round reversal in response to a successful takedown from his opponent. The 29-year-old kept Pague (11-6, 1-2 UFC) pinned to the canvas for more than two minutes in the final stanza, spoiling his chances at a second UFC victory in a two-week span. Pague replaced the injured Francisco Rivera on short notice.