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Dan Hooker put some major miles on the odometer. Such was the price of a back-and-forth war of attrition with Paul Felder.
The City Kickboxing stalwart continued his ascent through the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division, as he eked out a split decision over Felder in the UFC Fight Night 168 headliner on Saturday at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. All three judges struck 48-47 scorecards, two of them doing so in Hooker’s favor.
Hooker (20-8, 10-4 UFC) stayed at range and built an early lead with a series of kicks to the lower leg, a penetrating jab and stellar lateral movement. Despite sustaining significant damage to his right eye, Felder (17-5, 9-5 UFC) was merciless with his pressure and methodically chipped away at his counterpart’s defenses. He did his best work in Round 4, where he upped the aggression, staggered Hooker with a straight right and fired away with inside leg kicks and jabs. Felder wobbled “The Hangman” again in the fifth round but surrendered a takedown in the final minute—a development that perhaps sealed the victory for Hooker.
Crute Kimura Submits Oleksiejczuk
Former Hex Fight Series champion Jim Crute submitted Michal Oleksiejczuk with a kimura in the first round of their light heavyweight co-main event. Oleksiejczuk (14-4, 2-2 UFC) conceded defeat 3:29 into Round 1, as he suffered his second defeat in as many appearances.
On the heels of his Sept. 14 submission loss to Misha Cirkunov, Crute (11-1, 3-1 UFC) was relentless with his takedowns. He grounded Oleksiejczuk more than half a dozen times and methodically broke down the Polish knockout artist. After securing his final takedown, Crute moved to full mount and transitioned to side control before isolating an arm and hooking the kimura to force the tapout.
Crute has netted two of his three UFC victories via kimura-induced submission.
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Yan Routs Spiraling Kowalkiewicz
China Top Team export Xiaonan Yan had no trouble stepping over Karolina Kowalkiewicz, as she cruised to a unanimous decision over the former KSW champion in a featured women’s strawweight pairing. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-26 for Yan (12-1, 5-0 UFC), who has posted five consecutive victories.
Kowalkiewicz (12-6, 5-6 UFC) was woefully overmatched. Yan assaulted her with volume punching, leaving her with damage to both eyes. In between her efficient standup bursts, she mixed in several takedowns, consolidated them with ground-and-pound and flexed her superiority in all phases. Kowalkiewicz threatened with a heel hook at one point, but any thought of a miracle comeback was soon dimmed. Yan had her reeling with a body kick in the third round and later snapped back her head with a side kick to the face.
Winless since April 2018, Kowalkiewicz has lost four fights in a row.
Rogerio de Lima Pounds Reckless Sosoli
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 semifinalist Marcos Rogerio de Lima dispatched former Diamondback Fighting Championship titleholder Ben Sosoli with punches in the first round of their heavyweight feature. Sosoli (7-3, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 88 seconds into Round 1.
Rogerio de Lima (17-6-1, 6-4 UFC) met the Aussie’s overzealousness with crushing power and clinical precision. The 34-year-old cut loose with both hands, connected with a partially blocked head kick and dropped Sosoli with a right hook. The “Combat Wombat” went down on all fours and was met with a standing-to-ground left that prompted the stoppage.
It was the 13th first-round finish of Rogerio de Lima’s career.
Surging Riddell Edges Mustafaev
Crisp punching combinations and sharp leg kicks lifted City Kickboxing standout Brad Riddell to a split decision over Magomed Mustafaev in a three-round lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Riddell (8-1, 2-0 UFC).
Mustafaev (14-3, 3-2 UFC) enjoyed success in the grappling exchanges and cut the Aussie near the hairline with a spinning backfist turned elbow strike in the third round. However, the moments in significance belonged largely to Riddell. The 28-year-old kickboxer floored Mustafaev with a straight right roughly a minute into the fight and buckled him again with a right hook in the third. Perhaps most importantly, Riddell assumed top position in the waning moments of the match and played to the crowd while peppering the Russian with short punches and fishing for a kimura.
Riddell now finds himself on a five-fight winning streak.
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