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Sean Strickland’s bite was every bit as bad as his bark.
The Syndicate MMA rep set up shop as a serious contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division, as he laid claim to a clear-cut unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter 17” finalist Uriah Hall in the UFC on ESPN 28 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three judges sided with Strickland (24-3, 11-3 UFC): 50-44, 50-45 and 49-46.
Hall (17-10, 9-9 UFC) was never much of a factor. Strickland wrecked the former Ring of Combat champion with a consistent and damaging jab across all five rounds. He mixed in clean one-twos and occasional kicks, overwhelming the typically flashy Hall with basic but effective offensive techniques. Strickland was at peak strength in the third round, where he followed an overhand right into a takedown, applied his ground-and-pound and eventually advanced to the back to fish for a potential choke. Hall kept his head above water but retreated to his corner in a visibly dejected state, looking very much like a beaten man. Strickland steered clear of any potential danger over the final two rounds and reached the finish line in his most important performance to date.
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Buys Buries de Paula in 60 Seconds
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Cheyanne Buys disposed of Gloria de Paula with a head kick and follow-up punches in the first round of their women’s strawweight co-main event. De Paula (5-4, 0-2 UFC) met her end 60 seconds into Round 1.
Buys (6-2, 1-1 UFC) stormed out of the gate with multi-punch volleys and completed a takedown before the two women even broke a sweat. She spent little time in guard, returned to a standing position and delivered a perfectly timed kick to the face when the Brazilian attempted to follow suit. De Paula fell backward, stood and collapsed again, allowing “The Warrior Princess” to climb to full mount and cut loose with punches until referee Mark Smith had seen enough.
The 26-year-old Buys has won five of her past six bouts.
Replacement Gooden Zaps Stolze
X3 Sports product Jared Gooden made the most of his opportunity as a short-notice substation for Mounir Lazzez, as he took care of Niklas Stolze with punches in the first round of their featured welterweight pairing. Stolze (12-5, 0-2 UFC) bit the dust 68 seconds into Round 1.
Gooden (18-6, 1-2 UFC) got the German’s attention with a left hook, struck for a takedown and reset himself on the feet. A counter right hand sent Stolze crashing to the canvas in a compromised state and in no condition to intelligently defend himself. Gooden nevertheless jumped in with follow-up punches to make sure the job was done.
The win was Gooden’s first inside the Octagon and closed the book on his two-fight losing streak.
Baghdasaryan Kick Fells Anglin
Melsik Baghdasaryan cut down fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Collin Anglin with a head kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their featherweight showcase. Anglin (8-2, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 1:50 into Round 2, his seven-fight winning streak having run its course.
Baghdasaryan (6-1, 1-0 UFC) set the tone from the start with laser-guided left hands and unbridled aggression. He pinned Anglin to the fence with punches late in the first round and uncorked a series of standing hammerfists, and while he failed to prompt a stoppage, it felt like it was only a matter of time. Early in the second, Baghdasaryan slammed his shin into the Scorpion Fighting System rep’s skull, trailed him to the mat and sealed the deal with subsequent punches.
The 29-year-old Baghdasaryan has rattled off six straight victories, five of them finishes.
Witt Upsets Barberena in Barnburner
Glory MMA export Jason Witt recorded his sixth win in eight appearances, as he took a majority decision from Bryan Barberena in a three-round welterweight feature. Two of the three cageside judges struck 29-27 and 29-27 scorecards for Witt, while a third scored it a 28-28 draw.
Witt (19-7, 2-2 UFC) spent the first two rounds building what appeared to be a commanding lead, as he interrupted his counterpart’s advances with timely takedowns, knocked him down with a counter right hand and threatened him with a guillotine choke. Barberena (15-8, 6-6 UFC) threw caution to the wind in the third round, his kamikaze-style offense nearly resulting in a remarkable comeback. He had Witt teetering on the brink more than once with power punches, fought through takedowns and made one final push in the waning seconds. There, Barberena sent the 34-year-old Kansas City native’s mouthpiece flying and followed up with punches when he bent down in a fog to retrieve it. Ultimately, his efforts fell short.
Barberena has lost three of his last four fights.
Continue Reading » UFC on ESPN 28 Prelims: Chris Gruetzemacher Outlasts Rafa Garcia in Lightweight Slugfest
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