Beautiful and accurate punching combinations to the head and body carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 alum Nam Phan to a split decision over American Top Team’s Cole Miller at UFC on Fox 4 “Shogun vs. Vera” on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them in favor of Phan (18-10, 2-3 UFC).
Phan landed one searing left hook after another, some of them to the head, others to the body, during the entertaining 15-minute affair at 145 pounds. Miller answered with stiff left jabs, right crosses and front kicks, as the two spent a majority of the fight jockeying real estate. Phan was most effective when he pinned his foe’s back to the cage and unleashed in close quarters. Miller did his best work in the center of the Octagon, where he could control the distance with superior height and reach.
In the end, Phan landed at a higher rate and with greater impact. He wobbled Miller with a left hook in the third round and continued to attack the body with power and precision. Miller came on strong in the latter stages of the fight, but his efforts were not enough to avoid his third defeat in four appearances.
Davis Eye Poke Results in No Decision
An unintentional eye poke from Phil Davis resulted in a no decision in his preliminary light heavyweight bout with unbeaten newcomer Wagner Prado. The match -- the first for Davis (9-1, 5-1 UFC) since his loss to Rashad Evans in January -- did not get out of the first round, leaving Prado (8-0, 0-0 UFC) visibly distraught.
Yahya Choke Finishes Grispi
Three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Rani Yahya submitted the reeling Josh Grisp with a north-south choke in an undercard battle at 145 pounds. Grispi (14-4, 0-3 UFC) tapped out 3:15 into round one.
Yahya (17-7, 2-1 UFC) struck for a takedown inside the first minute, methodically transitioned to side control and deftly set up the choke. Helpless to prevent the hold, Grispi was left with no choice but surrender. Still only 23, the once promising prospect has lost three fights in a row.
“Our team is called Constrictor Team because of those kinds of chokes,” said Yahya, who has secured 15 of his 17 career victories by submission. “We train those a lot -- every day.”
De Fries Choke Submits Thompson
Alliance MMA representative Philip De Fries submitted Oli Thompson with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary heavyweight tilt. Thompson (9-4, 0-2 UFC) conceded defeat 4:16 into round two.
The two stalemated in the clinch for much of the first five minutes. In the second round, De Fries (9-1, 2-1 UFC) floored his foe with a straight right hand and later drove him to the ground with a takedown. From there, he moved to Thompson’s back, sank his hooks and finished it with the choke.
Gamburyan Outpoints Fellow Judoka Omigawa
Takedowns and high-impact strikes, several of them kicks, carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 finalist Manny Gamburyan to a unanimous decision over Michihiro Omigawa in a preliminary featherweight matchup. All three cageside judges scored it for Gamburyan (12-7, 3-5 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Faced with relentless aggression, Omigawa (13-12-1, 1-6 UFC) never found a rhythm offensively. Gamburyan wobbled the judo black belt with a head kick early in the final frame and sealed it with three third-round takedowns. With that, the 30-year-old Armenian put the brakes on a three-fight losing streak.
Newcomer Moraga Stops Gomez
John Moraga dazzled in his promotional debut, as he stopped former two-division Tachi Palace Fights champion Ulysses Gomez on first-round strikes in an undercard duel at 125 pounds. Moraga (11-1, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 3:46 into round one.
The wrestler shuttered Gomez’s submission game, forcing him into exchanges in the standup and the clinch. Moraga pinned the Californian on the cage and unleashed a pair of standing elbows that marked the beginning of the end for Gomez (9-3, 0-1 UFC). He finished it with a right uppercut and a left hook, as he posted his fifth consecutive victory.
“I’m here to make the UFC happy,” Moraga said. “I’m here to do my best and hopefully set the tone for the rest of the night.”