Andre Soukhamthath stepped over the fallen Kody Nordby on his way to the throne. There could be no clearer evidence of his handiwork.
Soukhamthath knocked out Nordby with a perfectly timed flying knee to capture the vacant Classic Entertainment and Sports bantamweight championship in the CES MMA 33 headliner on Friday at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The dramatic but decisive conclusion came 1:35 into round five.
Nordby fought through fatigue and adversity to see a fifth round, but it was of little consolation. Soukhamthath (10-3) spent the better part of 20 minutes sprawling out of takedowns and battering the Ronin MMA rep with elbows and punches. Nordby (6-4) had a brief glimmer of hope in round four, where he advanced to the back and fished for rear-naked chokes. His success was short-lived.
Roughly 90 seconds into the fifth round, Soukhamthath countered another takedown attempt with a flying knee on the button and sent the semi-conscious 23-year-old crashing to the canvas. Referee Kevin MacDonald waved it off immediately.
In the middleweight co-main event, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 semifinalist Chuck O’Neil snapped a two-fight losing streak with a three-round unanimous decision over Dennis Olson. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for O’Neil (16-8), who rebounded from back-to-back defeats to Daniel Vizcaya and Dominique Steele.
Takedowns and an active top game spurred O’Neil. The 30-year-old did his best work in the second round, where he twice achieved full mount and battered Olson with elbow-laden ground-and-pound. With two rounds in the bank, O’Neil played it safe across the final five minutes. Olson (14-11) executed a pair of takedowns, but the finish he needed was nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, Bellator MMA veteran Matt Bessette submitted Taurean Bogguess with a first-round rear-naked choke in their featured confrontation at a 150-pound catchweight. Bogguess (14-11) conceded defeat 2:41 into round one, as he lost for the second time in as many appearances.
Bessette (17-7) yielded a takedown, lured Bogguess into his guard and framed the triangle choke. After a few adjustments, he found the desired grip and coaxed the tapout.
The 31-year-old Bessette has won four of his last five bouts.
In other action, Juliano Coutinho (7-2) eked out a split decision -- 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 -- over Chaz Morgan (9-2) in their three-round heavyweight affair; Greg Rebello (20-6) wiped out Keith Bell (6-7-1) with punches 4:50 into the first round of their heavyweight tilt; Nate Andrews (8-1) dispatched Julian Lane (9-6-1) with a straight left and two right uppercuts 3:58 into round two of their lightweight confrontation; Joe Pingitore (6-2-1) put away Taylor Trahan (5-6) with punches 1:55 into the third round of their pairing at 145 pounds; Gary Balletto Jr. (1-1) tapped Cruz Johnson (0-1) with a heel hook 2:37 into round one of their welterweight encounter; Matt Tullos (1-0) submitted Shah Bachok (0-1) with a rear-naked choke 3:46 into the first round of their battle at 145 pounds; and Noel Arcibal (2-1) took a unanimous decision from Shane Decristoforo (1-2) in a three-round flyweight clash, drawing 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 marks from the judges.