Rick Story Upends Gunnar Nelson, Earns Split Decision at UFC Fight Night in Stockholm

By Brian Knapp Oct 4, 2014
No one in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division can afford to sleep on Rick Story.

Story utilized volume punching, leg kicks and superb defensive wrestling in seizing a split decision over Gunnar Nelson in the UFC Fight Night “Nelson vs. Story” headliner on Saturday at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. Two of the three judges sided with Story by 49-46 and 50-44 counts; a third cast a puzzling 48-47 nod in Nelson’s favor.

Having thrown out his anchor at the MMA Lab, Story (18-8, 11-6 UFC) frustrated the Icelandic star with his output and tireless work rate. For every punch Nelson delivered, Story offered two, three and sometimes four in return. More importantly, Story diversified his attack, mixing in leg kicks and investing in punishing punches to the body. The 30-year-old Washington native floored Nelson with a left hook on the chin in the fourth round and backed it up with standing-to-ground punches. When it became clear a finish was not going to materialize, Story invited the SBG Ireland representative to stand and picked up where he left off.

A Renzo Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Nelson (13-1-1, 4-1 UFC) failed to pull the fight to the ground for any significant period of time. Trapped on the feet, he was often reduced to throwing one right hand at a time, and though he caused significant damage to Story’s right eye, he fought a losing battle with the numbers game.

Holloway Blasts Past Corassani

Max Holloway wiped out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 semifinalist Akira Corassani with a wicked right hand and follow-up ground punches in the first round of their featherweight co-main event. A replacement for the injured Chan Sung Jung, Holloway (11-3, 7-3 UFC) closed the deal 3:11 into round one.

Corassani (12-5, 3-2 UFC) had some early success with crisp punching combinations, but he could not hold back the talented 22-year-old Hawaiian. Holloway floored the Swede with a right hand and followed it with a string of knees and punches. He then separated from a desperate Corassani clinch, dropped him with another accurate straight right and blasted away with punches, as his fallen foe lay in an near-unconscious state at the base of the cage.

An emerging threat at 145 pounds, Holloway has finished each of his last four opponents.

Blachowicz Body Kick Shuts Down Latifi

Former KSW champion Jan Blachowicz short-circuited Ilir Latifi with a nasty body kick and follow-up ground strikes in the first round of their featured light heavyweight matchup. Latifi (9-4, 2-2 UFC) met his end 1:58 into round one.

Blachowicz (18-3, 1-0 UFC) was surprisingly calm and clinical in his Octagon debut. The 31-year-old Pole chipped away with leg kicks and stayed out of range of the Swedish “Sledgehammer.” A thudding kick to the liver had Latifi seeking escape routes. He found none. Seeing his opponent in distress, Blachowicz bullied Latifi to the mat, forced him into a defensive shell on all-fours and put him away with a volley of unanswered lefts.

Blachowicz has rattled off six consecutive victories.

Underdog Wilkinson KOs Backstrom

“The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” graduate Mike Wilkinson knocked out Niklas Backstrom with an overhand right in the first round of their featherweight showcase. Wilkinson (9-1, 2-1 UFC) closed the curtain 79 seconds into round one, stunning the partisan crowd.

Backstrom (8-1, 1-1 UFC) backed up the Englishman with a front kick and clinch knees, trailing him as he retreated towards the cage. Another front kick followed and landed, but Wilkinson uncorked an overhand right in response and sent the Swede crashing to the canvas in a supine position, his head bouncing violently off the mat. A subsequent burst of punches put the finishing touches on the unconscious Backstrom.

Cedenblad Hands Askham First Defeat

Magnus Cedenblad spoiled the organizational debut of British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion Scott Askham, as he earned a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Brit in an undercard pairing at 185 pounds. Cedenblad (13-4, 3-1 UFC) secured 29-28 scores from all three judges, as he won for the 10th time in 11 fights.

Askham’s best chance at victory came and went in the second round, where he leveled the Swede with a back-leg front kick and then flurried with knees and punches. Cedenblad weathered the attack, sapping the Englishman’s momentum. For much of the match, he kept Askham (12-1, 0-1 UFC) bottled up with clinches and takedowns. Cedenblad took the fight to the ground in all three rounds, piling up points with short punches, hammerfists and occasional elbows.

Musoke Grinds Out Decision

Allstars Training Center standout Nicholas Musoke won for the fourth time in five outings, as he took a unanimous decision from Alexander Yakovlev in an undercard duel at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges arrived at the same ruling, scoring it 30-27 for Musoke (13-3, 3-1 UFC).

Musoke often backed up a stiff jab with a sneaky right hand, but he spent much of the three-round fight sucking the Russian into clinches and pushing him against the fence. All of Yakovlev’s takedown attempts failed, and though he enjoyed some success on the feet -- his straight left was particularly effective -- he spent too much time defending against the Swede in close quarters.

Yakovlev (21-6-1, 0-2 UFC) has dropped back-to-back bouts for the first time in his career.

Siver Outduels Promising Rosa

Dennis Siver picked up his first win in almost two years, as he captured a unanimous verdict from promising American Top Team prospect Charles Rosa in a preliminary featherweight scrap. Siver (22-9, 11-6 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-27 marks.

A late replacement for Taylor Lapilus, Rosa (9-1, 0-1 UFC) had his moments on the feet and on the ground. However, his inexperienced showed in spots. Siver avoided his submission attempts and won a majority of the grappling exchanges against the Ricardo Liborio-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt. The Russian-born German kickboxer had Rosa reeling in the closing stages of round three, as he executed a patented spinning back kick to the body, cracked the 27-year-old with a knee and swarmed with ground-and-pound. Rosa recovered and countered to top position late, only to find himself defending against an armbar.

The victory was Siver’s first since December 2012.

Pendred Wins Sixth Straight

SBG Ireland’s Cathal Pendred recorded his sixth consecutive victory, as he eked out a split decision over Gasan Umalatov in a competitive but rather nondescript undercard tilt at 170 pounds. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Pendred (15-2-1, 2-0 UFC), who has not lost in nearly four years.

Pendred was the pacesetter, as he leaned on leaping and lunging punches, clinches and sporadic leg kicks. Umalatov (15-4-1, 1-2 UFC) delivered the most decisive blow of the 15-minute match, as he floored the Irishman with a counter right hook in the second round and briefly pounced with follow-up ground-and-pound. The Russian’s inability to finish proved costly, as Pendred returned to his feet and remained the busier fighter through the latter stages of the fight.

Jotko Dominates Reeling Troeng

Stifling takedown defense and a savage clinch game carried Krzysztof Jotko to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Tor Troeng in an undercard battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Jotko (15-1, 2-1 UFC): 30-27, 30-26 and 30-27.

Jotko was the superior fighter in all three rounds, but he did his best work in the second. There, he brutalized his Swedish counterpart in close quarters, firing knees to the body and standing elbows to the head. Jotko nearly finished it when he sprawled out of a desperate takedown attempt and battered a turtled Troeng with knees to the body and punches to the head. Troeng stood and survived, only to absorb further punishment. Jotko punctuated his victory with a third-round takedown and some effective ground-and-pound.

Troeng, 31, has lost three fights in a row.

Taisumov Halts Bandel Streak

Mairbek Taisumov dispatched Polish submission specialist Marcin Bandel with a crushing right and follow-up punches in a preliminary lightweight affair. Taisumov (22-5, 2-1 UFC) finished it 61 seconds into round one, as he won for the fifth time in six appearances.

Bandel (13-3, 0-1 UFC) never drew the Tiger Muay Thai export into the ground fight he desired. Taisumov fired a clean, straight right hand through the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt’s defenses, sending him to the canvas in a dazed state. A brutal standing-to-ground right and two other follow-up blows sealed it.

The defeat snapped Bandel’s 12-fight winning streak.

Prospect Tukhugov Schools Chavez

Tiger Muay Thai prospect Zubaira Tukhugov dispatched Ernest Chavez with first-round punches in their undercard clash at 145 pounds. Chavez (7-2, 1-2 UFC) succumbed to the blows 4:21 into round one.

Speed and sharp, well-rounded standup skills buoyed Tukhogov (17-3, 2-0 UFC). The 23-year-old Chechen punched beautifully in combination and landed a pair of spinning backfists, mixing in occasional kicks to the body and legs. An overhand right nearly sat down Chavez, who was bleeding from the right brow following an earlier encounter with a left hook. Tukhugov swarmed, chasing the Californian around the cage with lefts and rights until referee Bobby Rehmen called a halt to the abuse.

Tukhugov has won eight consecutive fights.


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