Derek Brunson needs to pick a fight with someone other than Ronaldo Souza.
“Jacare” on Saturday kept himself near the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division in their rematch, as he brought down Brunson with a head kick and follow-up punches in the UFC on Fox 27 headliner at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. On the receiving end of a 41-second knockout from Souza in 2012, Brunson (18-6, 9-4 UFC) this time bowed out 3:50 into the first round.
Souza (25-5, 8-2 UFC) steered clear of the North Carolinian’s crushing left hand, probed for weaknesses and went to work. He slammed his right shin into the side of Brunson’s head, the impact sending the three-time NCAA All-American wrestler hurdling backward. Souza then marched toward him, unloaded with an uppercut and prompted the stoppage with a quick burst of left hooks.
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Fili Slips Past Bermudez
Team Alpha Male’s Andre Fili leaned on a stout jab and surprising takedowns, as he escaped with a contentious split decision over Dennis Bermudez in the three-round featherweight co-main event. Judges Pedro Claudio and Derek Cleary scored it 29-28 for Fili, while Steve Elliott saw it 30-27 for Bermudez.
Fili (18-5, 6-4 UFC) hid his intentions with stance switches, countered effectively in spurts and delivered multiple takedowns in the first and second rounds. Even so, Bermudez landed the cleaner, more damaging strikes. “The Ultimate Fighter 14” finalist chopped away at Fili’s lower leg with kicks, doubled and tripled up on his jab and scored well in the clinch. Bermudez (16-8, 9-6 UFC) fought with a sense of urgency down the stretch, continuing to assault the Californian’s lower extremities while pairing powerful right hooks with his jab. He deposited Fili on the mat with a takedown of his own in the waning moments, but it was not enough to sway the judges.
Bermudez, 31, has lost three fights in a row, equaling the worst stretch of his career.
Unbeaten Gillespie Smashes Rinaldi
Four-time NCAA All-American Gregor Gillespie kept his perfect professional record intact, as he put away Jordan Rinaldi with punches in the first round of their lightweight feature. Rinaldi (13-6, 1-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:46 into Round 1.
Gillespie (11-0, 4-0 UFC) was systematic in his approach. He secured a single-leg takedown, passed to side control and climbed to full mount midway through the first round. Rinaldi’s situation went from bad to worse to untenable. Gillespie floated between half guard, side control and full mount before advancing to the back and flattening out the Resurrection Fighting Alliance veteran. A volley of unanswered punches came next and did not stop until referee Donnie Jessup decided he had seen enough.
The 31-year-old Gillespie has finished his last three opponents, two of them inside one round.
Dober Rises Above Camacho
Elevation Fight Team export Drew Dober won for the fifth time in five appearances, as he claimed a unanimous decision over Frank Camacho in a three-round welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Dober (19-8, 5-4 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Camacho (21-6, 1-2 UFC) struck for a pair of trip takedowns in the first round and held his own in the standup exchanges with the polished muay Thai practitioner, dropping him with a right hand in the closing seconds. However, the former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion appeared to gas in the second; and Dober capitalized. He swarmed on Camacho with both hands and integrated kicks to the legs, body and head whenever possible.
Neither man seemed willing to give ground in Round 3, where Camacho drew blood with chopping right hands, executed another trip takedown and sent a series of knees crashing into his counterpart’s body. Dober kept swinging and lit into the Guam native with violent left hooks and straights, doing enough to warrant favor on the scorecards.
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