Junior dos Santos stepped into the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 142 on Saturday in Adelaide, Australia, and headlined an Ultimate Fighting Championship event for the 10th time in his 10-year run with the organization. Even though dos Santos has already achieved the highest of highs in the sport, “Cigano” still felt as if he had something to prove against up-and-comer Tai Tuivasa. In vintage fashion, dos Santos turned back the clock for a violent stoppage win in the second round. It was the 15th finish of the Brazilian’s career and gave him back-to-back victories for the first time since 2012.
Tuivasa came forward like a bat out of hell and looked to get directly in dos Santos’ hip pocket, where he could wade in with heavy punches in an effort to secure a quick stoppage. Dos Santos’ veteran savvy allowed him to stay composed, as he circled on the outside and looked to set up a counterstrike to put away the Australian. The closing sequence came in Round 2, where Tuivasa lurched forward with a wild overhand right, only to be met with a picture-perfect left hook and short right that sent him crashing to the canvas. From there, dos Santos quickly passed to full mount and delivered a barrage of punches for which Tuivasa had no answer.
Afterward, dos Santos was elated and almost childlike with his enthusiasm. He complemented Tuivasa’s toughness before noting he was “not that tough” and reminding his fellow heavyweights that he was capable of knocking out anyone in the division, a wide grin and a chorus of chuckles following his statements.
Pride Never Die
Mauricio Rua proved he still has something left in the tank, as he took out Top 15-ranked Tyson Pedro in with third-round punches for the 21st knockout victory of his career. The win came after a battle of attrition over two and a half rounds that saw both men on the receiving end of vicious punching power. After a firefight of a first round that resulted in Rua being rocked by an inadvertent head butt and a barrage of punches from Pedro, the tide began to turn in Round 2. There, Rua began to take over the pace and action of the contest.
Over the final two rounds, Rua began to control the pace and pressure while connecting more consistently with his strikes. For much of the middle stanza, Rua set the tone with his grappling, as he managed to keep Pedro’s back on the canvas for the majority of the period. Round 3 marked the end for Pedro, who had visible trouble staying upright on his lead leg and fell to the canvas. Smelling blood in the water, “Shogun” pounced and teed off on his injured opponent for the stoppage.
The win in the co-main event provided a measure of relief for Rua, who does not appear to have plans to retire anytime soon. He plans to return to the gym in hopes of giving fans more exciting fights in the future.
End of the Road
UFC Fight Night 142 served as a notable milepost for Mark Hunt. Having fulfilled the last fight on his UFC contract, the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner is not expected to return to a promotion with which he has been at odds. Hunt hoped to hit free agency on the upswing and stepped into the Octagon opposite American Kickboxing Academy product Justin Willis. It resulted in a lackluster decision loss for “The Super Samoan,” who did not seem all that invested from the start.
The fight played out entirely on the feet, with Hunt marching forward in search of another memorable walk-off knockout. Willis made excellent use of footwork and distance control, as he kept the Pride Fighting Championships veteran at bay and landed precise counterstrikes across three rounds. The win improved Willis to 4-0 in the UFC and led him to call for a Top-5 opponent.
Afterward, Willis offered the stage to Hunt. The 44-year-old offered thanks to his fans and proclaimed they would likely see him elsewhere moving forward.
Anthony Rocco Martin defeated Jake Matthews via technical submission in the third round of their welterweight battle, rendering the Australian unconscious with an anaconda choke after two and a half back-and-forth rounds in which both men enjoyed success. It was Martin’s third straight win … Sodiq Yusuff made a successful UFC debut, finishing Suman Mokhtarian with first-round punches. Yusuff connected on an early combination of punches that had Mokhtarian backing up against the cage with his hands high. While not out of the fight, Mokhtarian was in trouble and made no effort to improve position, prompting the referee to stop the fight, much to the Australian’s dismay … Jim Crute kept his perfect professional record intact, as he put away Paul Craig with a kimura late in the third round. Crute advanced to top position and landed heavy ground-and-pound to set up the fight-ending sequence.