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Anthony Smith agreed to five rounds on short notice. He needed less than one.
“Lionheart” returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in more than a year and retained his place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight pecking order, as he submitted Devin Clark with a triangle choke in the first round of their makeshift UFC on ESPN 18 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Clark (12-5, 6-5 UFC) tapped 2:34 into Round 1.
A replacement for Shamil Gamzatov, Smith (34-16, 9-6 UFC) wrapped the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion in a body lock, secured a takedown and then drew him to the center of the cage and away from the relative safety of the fence. Clark sprang a reversal after being threatened with a twister but uncovered an opponent who was no less dangerous from his back. Smith cinched the triangle choke from the bottom, repositioned himself for maximum effect and constricted the neck for the tapout.
Smith and Clark were unexpectedly positioned atop the card on Friday when the original Curtis Blaydes-Derrick Lewis main event was scrapped due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Baeza Choke Submits Sato
MMA Masters rep Miguel Baeza kept his perfect professional record intact and did so in style, as he submitted Takashi Sato with an arm-triangle choke in the second round of their welterweight co-main event. Sato (16-4, 2-2 UFC) conceded defeat 4:28 into Round 2.
Baeza (10-0, 3-0 UFC), his star on the rise, handled his business like a seasoned pro. He hacked away at Sato with kicks to the legs, body and head, stayed composed and rang the Sanford MMA product’s bell with a knee strike and a surgical right hand in the first round. Baeza delivered an unexpected takedown late in the second, floated to the back, flattened out Sato and framed the arm-triangle. Once the choke was in place, there was no escape.
The submission was the first of Baeza’s career.
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Porter Outlasts Gassed Parisian
A merciless pace, a stout chin and a willingness to adapt to his surroundings spurred regional mainstay Parker Porter to a unanimous decision over Josh Parisian in a three-round heavyweight war of attrition. All three judges sided with Porter (10-6, 1-1 UFC): 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28.
Parisian (13-4, 0-1 UFC) fought well in spurts but could not match the CES MMA veteran’s output, and by the second round, he was running on fumes. Parker knocked down the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate with a leg kick and managed to bite down briefly on a guillotine choke before the two behemoths returned to their feet. He then executed a takedown, advanced to half guard and made a pass at a keylock, filling the spaces in between with hammerfists and elbows. Parisian survived to see a third round, but his situation did not improve there. Porter assaulted him with crisp one-twos and mixed in a few close-range knees to the body for good measure.
The setback snapped Parisian’s six-fight winning streak.
Algeo Handles Cardio-Challenged Carlyle
Former Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Bill Algeo won for the sixth time in eight outings, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Spike Carlyle in a featured featherweight clash. Algeo (14-5, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks across the board.
Carlyle (9-3, 1-2 UFC) brought five minutes of gas to a 15-minute fight, and it was not enough to get the job done. He made a brief pass at a bulldog choke in the first round, but his aggression failed to yield the desired dividends. Instead, fatigue took hold and allowed Algeo to seize control. He steered clear of Carlyle’s all-or-nothing punches and countered his increasingly desperate takedown attempts with an effective sprawl and knees to the head.
The 27-year-old Carlyle has lost back-to-back bout since he made his promotional debut with a sensational knockout of Aalon Cruz in February.
Viana Overwhelms Tentative Evans-Smith
A surprising takedown, superiority in the scrambles and clean combination punching carried Jungle Fight veteran Norma Dumont Viana to a one-sided unanimous decision over Ashlee Evans-Smith in a three-round women’s bantamweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-26 for Viana (5-1, 1-1 UFC), who rebounded from her Feb. 29 knockout loss to former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Megan Anderson.
Evans-Smith (6-5, 3-5 UFC) looked like a fighter with a body-mind disconnect and struggled to pull the trigger across a majority of the 15-minute battle. Viana, who missed weight for the match by 3.5 pounds, capitalized on her gun-shy opponent’s inaction. The Brazilian countered beautifully with both hands and pushed Evans-Smith backward with speed and power. Viana secured a trip takedown in the first round, achieved full mount in the second and nearly finished it in the third. There, she dropped Evans-Smith to her knees with a right uppercut and swarmed for a potential stoppage along the fence before settling for the decision.
The 33-year-old Evans-Smith has lost four of her last five fights.
Pearce Batters Replacement Kamaka
Fight Ready rep Jonathan Pearce disposed of Kai Kamaka III with sustained ground-and-pound in the second round of their action-packed featherweight feature. A short-notice substitution for Sean Woodson, Kamaka (8-3, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to unanswered punches 4:28 into Round 2 and saw his six-fight winning streak grind to a halt.
After a competitive first five minutes, Pearce (10-4, 1-1 UFC) hit his stride. He executed multiple takedowns, progressed to dominant positions, hunted chokes and scored with punches, elbows and hammerfists. Pearce eventually moved to the back, flattened out the Hawaiian and slammed sweeping punches from both hands into his head until referee Dan Miragliotta had seen enough.
Pearce, 28, has rattled off six wins across his last seven appearances.
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