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Leon Edwards has entered a new competitive stratosphere in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
The former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion had a surprisingly easy time with Rafael dos Anjos, as he cruised to a one-sided unanimous decision in the UFC on ESPN 4 headliner on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. All three cageside judges turned in scorecards in Edwards’ favor: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Dos Anjos (29-12, 18-10 UFC) conceded a takedown inside the first minute, remained on his back for a significant chunk of time and appeared to be a step behind the Brit at virtually every turn. Edwards opened a horrendous cut above the Brazilian’s right eye with a beautiful standing elbow strike in the second round and continued to assault him with clean combinations over the course of their 25-minute encounter. Dos Anjos’ moments were few and far between, limited to a few ground exchanges, leg kicks and an occasional left hand over the top.
Edwards (18-3, 10-2 UFC) has rattled off eight wins in a row, clearly establishing himself as a top-tier fighter at 170 pounds.
‘Big Ticket’ Harris Crushes Oleynik
Walt Harris barely broke a sweat, as he took care of M-1 Global, Bellator MMA and KSW veteran Alexey Oleynik with punches in the first round of their co-main event. Oleynik (57-13-1, 6-4 UFC) bowed out just 12 seconds into Round 1 -- it was the third-fastest knockout in the history of the UFC heavyweight division -- and appeared to sustain a potentially significant ankle injury in the process.
Harris (13-7, 6-6 UFC) backed up the submission savant with a right hook upstairs, uncorked a flying knee under his armpit and connected with a straight left. Oleynik, his leg bent beneath him at an awkward angle, hit the deck and was met with a quick volley of follow-up punches that necessitated the stoppage.
The 36-year-old Harris finds himself on a four-fight unbeaten streak during which he has compiled a 3-0 record with one no-contest.
Hardy Routs Adams in 45 Seconds
Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy put away Juan Adams with punches less than a minute into the first round of their heavyweight attraction. Adams (5-2, 1-2 UFC) met his end 45 seconds into Round 1, as referee Dan Miragliotta swooped in to prevent further damage.
Hardy (5-1, 2-1 UFC) countered an attempted takedown with a whizzer, sprawled on the Paradigm Training Center representative and went to work. Adams wound up in a kneeling position while clinging hopelessly to a single-leg. Hardy let fly with 20-plus unanswered right hands to the side of the head until the deed was done.
All five of Hardy’s wins have resulted in first-round finishes, four of them of the sub-minute variety.
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Hooker Flattens Sputtering Vick
City Kickboxing standout Dan Hooker cut down “The Ultimate Fighter 15” semifinalist James Vick with punches in the first round of their featured lightweight pairing. Vick (13-4, 9-4 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:33 into Round 1 of what was his third consecutive setback.
The two men traded punches and leg kicks while circling one another, Vick snapping back the Kiwi’s head at one point with a stiff right hand. Hooker (18-8, 8-4 UFC) was undeterred, moved forward and delivered a devastating left hook that dropped the Lloyd Irvin disciple to a seated position. Vick was in no position to defend himself from the three standing-to-ground punches that followed before referee Kerry Hatley arrived on the scene.
Hooker, 29, has posted five victories across his last six outings.
Hernandez Nets Contentious Decision
Alexander Hernandez registered his ninth win in 10 appearances with a controversial unanimous decision over former Jungle Fight champion Francisco Trinaldo in a three-round lightweight showcase. Hernandez (11-2, 3-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
Trinaldo (23-7, 13-6 UFC) was the aggressor for a majority of the match, countered with left hands and kicked effectively to the body, all while denying the Ohana Academy rep’s bids for takedowns. The Brazilian also landed the most significant strike of the fight, albeit by accident, when he cut Hernandez under the left eye with a spinning kick turned knee strike in the second round. Hernandez lunged in and out with punches on occasion but struggled to pull the trigger, perhaps a residual effect of his Jan. 19 technical knockout loss to Donald Cerrone.
The 40-year-old Trinaldo has lost three of his last five fights.
Arlovski Bludgeons Rothwell Bloody
American Top Team’s Andrei Arlovski breathed some life into his career, as the 40-year-old Belarusian mauled Ben Rothwell with punches on his way to a unanimous decision in their heavyweight rematch. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Arlovski (28-18, 17-12 UFC), who also owns a 2008 victory over the International Fight League veteran.
Rothwell (36-12, 6-6 UFC) spent the majority of the fight absorbing punishment. Arlovski connected with both hands, cut loose with combinations and incorporated uppercuts, spinning backfists and punishing jabs. Rothwell never quit moving forward despite suffering from exhaustion and multiple lacerations to his face. He had Arlovski in trouble midway through the third round, as he found the mark with a thudding left, backed him to the fence and unloaded with punches for a potential Hail Mary stoppage. Fatigue prevented Rothwell from finishing the job, and by the time the fight was done, he looked like a man who had fallen headfirst into a woodchipper.
Winless since January 2016, Rothwell has suffered three straight defeats.
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