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The longer the fight went, the more Dustin Poirier was able to assert himself.
The American Top Team product weathered a strong start from Dan Hooker to capture a unanimous decision triumph in the UFC on ESPN 12 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Two judges scored the lightweight bout 48-47, while a third saw it 48-46 — all in favor of Poirier (26-6, 18-5, 1 NC UFC).
Hooker (20-9, 10-5 UFC) set the tone in the first two rounds, as he battered his opponent with left hooks, low kicks and uppercuts to the body. The combatants traded willingly, particularly in close quarters, but it was the Kiwi who rocked his foe with a knee and a barrage of punches near the fence at the end of the second frame. Poirier was able to survive until the final horn.
“I came in here and pulled another one out,” Poirier said. “I had a few more rounds left in me. The only time I was hurt in the fight is when Dan got me against the fence and slid a knee up there.”
Poirier’s accurate headhunting gradually took its toll, however, and Hooker’s output began to slow as the fight went into the championship frames. By the end of the contest, “The Hangman” resorted to repeatedly shooting for takedowns to sway the fight in his favor. Poirier responded by either defending, threatening with submissions or scrambling back to his feet to deliver more punishment. Hooker’s chin somehow endured numerous powerful blows, but he didn’t have enough in the tank for one final push.
“A fight isn’t a fight until there’s something to overcome, and we fought tonight,” said Poirier, who rebounded from a submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a title bout at UFC 242 last September.
Perry Controls Gall, Earns Decision Victory
On this night, Mike Perry didn’t need a full complement of cornermen.
With only his girlfriend at cageside, Perry utilized an all-around effort to capture a unanimous decision against Mickey Gall in Saturday’s welterweight co-main event. All three judges submitted 29-28 tallies in favor of Perry, who halted a two-bout losing streak.
“It’s all up to me. Everytime we get in there,” Perry said. “I put the training camp together. It was necessary. I did what I needed to do to get the win.”
Perry secured top position in each frame, punishing Gall with punches and elbows from above. The Floridian began to find a rhythm with his standup over the second half of the bout as well. He dropped Gall with a big overhand right late in Round 2 and continued to walk his opponent down while landing heavy shots for the majority of Round 3. Gall had some success with straight punches and body kicks in the opening five minutes but wore down as the fight progressed.
“I trained for this like a professional. I made weight like a professional,” Perry said. “I’m gonna go find a training camp. I’m gonna go find some teammates. I prefer a friendship basis over someone who thinks they can tell me how to win where I haven’t seen them win.”
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Greene Scores Unlikely Submission Victory
Maurice Greene appeared to be on the verge of defeat against Gian Villante when he elicited a tapout from a most unlikely position. Moments after absorbing a vicious barrage of ground-and-pound, Greene applied an arm-triangle choke from his back to earn a submission victory 3:44 into Round 3 of their heavyweight clash.
Villante (17-12, 7-9 UFC) nearly made his heavyweight debut in the UFC a memorable one. He countered a Greene (9-4, 4-2 UFC) superman punch with a short left hook in the final frame and pounced, unloading with punches and elbows from above in pursuit of a stoppage. Greene survived the onslaught and then applied just enough squeeze from his back to get the submission from a fast-fading Villante.
“My job was kind of on the line tonight. I want to move my family and I need to win to move my family…It’s an amazing feeling to get back in the win column,” Greene said. “It feels like a weight’s lifted off my shoulders.”
Allen Outlasts Daukaus in Competitive Battle
Brendan Allen got all he could handle from Kyle Daukaus, but the Dana White’s Contender Series alum ultimately prevailed to earn a competitive unanimous decision at middleweight. All three judges scored the fight in favor of Allen: 29-28, 29-27 and 30-27. Allen (15-3, 3-0 UFC) has won his last seven professional bouts.
Allen appeared to be on the verge of a quick finish when he crumpled Daukaus (9-1, 0-1 UFC) with a knee to the face early in Round 1. “All In” quickly assumed dominant position and unloaded with heavy ground-and-pound and later opened a significant gash over his opponent’s right eye with an elbow.
Daukaus remained game for the duration, however, battling Allen for position in scrambles and tagging him with straight punches in the second stanza. Allen, meanwhile, continued to drop heavy elbows when he was on top, and he floored a retreating Daukaus with a left just as the Round 2 horn sounded.
The final frame was Daukaus’ best, but it wasn’t enough. He closed Allen’s eye with an elbow of his own and spent most of the period attached to his foe’s back before Allen escaped for one final flurry of ground-and-pound in the waning seconds.
Sato Overwhelms Short-Notice Foe Witt
Pancrase veteran Takashi Sato needed less than a minute to score a technical knockout over Jason Witt in a featured welterweight tilt. A barrage of unanswered ground-and-pound ended the bout just 48 seconds after it began.
Witt, who stepped in for Ramiz Brahimaj on just two days’ notice, never found his footing. Sato (15-3, 2-1 UFC) dropped his adversary with a one-two combination during an initial exchange, and Witt (17-6, 0-1 UFC) quickly shot for a single-leg takedown out of desperation. The well-traveled “Vanilla Gorilla” maintained his senses until Sato was able to free his leg and unload with a series of punches to the side of the head to force the stoppage.
Erosa Rallies, Submits Woodson
Julian Erosa made the most of his third UFC opportunity, rallying for a late submission victory over the heavily-favored Sean Woodson in a 150-pound catchweight affair. The end came 2:44 into Round 3, when Erosa locked in a tight brabo choke.
Woodson (7-1, 1-1 UFC) began the contest keeping Erosa (23-8, 2-4 UFC) at the end of his rangy striking, but “Juicy J” began to turn the tide in Round 2 by pressuring and landing knees and body shots in close quarters. Woodson regained momentum by dropping an onrushing Erosa with a straight left early in the third frame, but “The Ultimate Fighter 22” veteran was back up and in his adversary’s face in short order.
Shortly thereafter, Erosa secured the brabo choke, dragged Woodson to the mat and elicited the tapout to halt a three-bout skid.
“Once it got locked up, I knew it was over,” Erosa said.
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