When Mike Rodriguez takes flight, violence follows.
The Lauzon MMA representative knocked out Jamelle Jones with a crushing flying knee in the first round of their light heavyweight showcase on the fifth installment of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series at the UFC Training Center in Las Vegas. One of two competitors to be awarded Ultimate Fighting Championship contracts, Rodriguez (9-2) finished it 2:15 into Round 1.
Jones (7-5) had no answer for the four-inch height and six-inch reach disparities with which he was presented. Rodriguez denied his bid for a takedown and kept him at bay with oblique kicks and leg kicks. It all set the stage for the finish. Rodriguez caught “The Ultimate Fighter 23” alum ducking on a takedown, left his feet and connected with the flying knee. An unconscious Jones hit the deck, where he was met with a few unfettered punches for good measure.
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Meanwhile, former Tachi Palace Fights champion Alex Perez squeezed Kevin Gray unconscious with an anaconda choke in the first round of their flyweight feature. Gray (9-4) lost consciousness 2:54 into Round 1, his two-fight winning streak at an end.
Perez (18-4) got busy with punches and knees while incorporating leg kicks at opportune times. He staggered Gray with a short right hand, sprawled out of a desperate takedown attempt and rolled into the anaconda choke. Soon after, the Premier Combat Center standout went limp.
Based out of the Team Oyama camp, Perez now finds himself on a five-fight winning streak. Like Rodriguez, he, too, was signed by the UFC.
In an entertaining featherweight tilt, Team Tiger Schulmann prospect Julio Arce rebounded from a difficult start to put away Peter Petties with punches in the second round. The 26-year-old Petties (5-3) succumbed to blows 2:39 into Round 2.
Arce (13-2) struggled to overcome a speed deficit for much of the first round but found a home for his left hand late and carried the momentum into the second round. There, his boxing skills took over. Arce had the Lloyd Irvin protégé rattled with crackling lefts on multiple occasions, reset and went for the kill. Petties ultimately collapsed under a steady barrage, returned to his feet and wilted to unanswered shots along the fence.
A former Ring of Combat champion, Arce has rattled off four straight wins.
Elsewhere, King of the Cage veteran Ricky Simon eked out a split decision over Syndicate MMA’s Donavon Frelow in a three-round bantamweight affair. Scores were not announced.
Repeated takedowns paved the way for Simon (10-1). He suffered a cut near his left eye and had his head snapped back by a few Frelow uppercuts, but the 24-year-old Gracie Barra Portland export was otherwise in comfortable control. Simon mixed in enough power punches on the feet to give his counterpart pause, struck for one last takedown in the third round and advanced to the back to ice his third win in a row.
Frelow (6-3) has lost three of his last four bouts.
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Finally, Ring of Combat champion Shelton Graves disposed of Everett Sims with knees to the body in the third round of their heavyweight pairing. Graves (7-3) brought it to a close 2:20 into Round 3, as he recorded his fifth consecutive victory.
Sims (4-1) could not stay on his feet. The 27-year-old American Top Team rep conceded takedowns in all three rounds and looked like a fish out of water at times, with Graves battering him with a steady stream of punches from guard, half guard and top ride positions. Midway through the third round, he postured up, unleashed a series of knees to the body and forced referee Mark Smith to step in on Sims’ behalf.