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Augusto Sakai should now have the attention of the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division.
The once-beaten Sakai extended his winning streak to five fights and did so in spectacular fashion, as he cut down former M-1 Global champion Marcin Tybura with first-round punches in the featured UFC Fight Night 158 prelim on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. Tybura (17-6, 4-5 UFC) bowed out 59 seconds into Round 1.
Sakai (14-1-1, 3-0 UFC) needed no time to warm up. The 28-year-old Bellator MMA veteran dazed Tybura with a clubbing right hook, pressed him against the fence and let go with uppercuts and hooks until the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Pole collapsed.
Tybura, 33, has lost four of his last five bouts.
Debuting Johns Edges Smith
Fortis MMA prospect Miles Johnson made a successful promotional debut, as the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate eked out a split decision over former Battlefield Fight League champion Cole Smith in a three-round bantamweight scrap. All three judges struck 29-28 scorecards: Michael Bell and Dave Hagen for Johns, Derek Cleary for Smith.
Outgunned on the feet, Smith (7-1, 1-1 UFC) attempted to swarm and smother the onetime Legacy Fighting Alliance titleholder with clinches and takedowns. He climbed to the back on multiple occasions but never managed to seal the deal. Johns (10-0, 1-0 UFC) escaped a disadvantageous position late in the second round, settled in full guard and cut loose with ground-and-pound, effectively turning the tide in his favor. The 25-year-old wobbled Smith with a right hand in Round 3, sat him down with a jab and kept the weary Canadian at bay.
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Unbeaten Azure Outpoints Katona
Fight Ready’s Hunter Azure kept his perfect professional record intact, as he captured a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter 27” winner Brad Katona in a three-round battle at 135 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Azure (8-0, 1-0 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28.
Katona (8-2, 2-2 UFC) pursued repeated clinches and takedown attempts, some of them successful, some of them not. Azure remained patient and picked his spots from distance, utilizing a sneaky jab and basic combinations to bloody the SBG Ireland’s nose and give him pause. Katona delivered a trip takedown late in the third round, advanced to the back and chased a rear-naked choke, but his bid for a finish went unrewarded.
Skelly Decisions Griffin, Halts Skid
Oft-injured Hard Knocks 365 standout Chas Skelly closed the book on a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over former King of the Cage champion Jordan Griffin in a three-round featherweight encounter. Skelly (18-4, 7-4 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 29-28 marks from the judges.
Griffin (17-7, 0-2 UFC) had his moments but too often wandered into the Texan’s comfort zone. Skelly outscrambled the Roufusport in a majority of their grappling exchanges -- his efforts included a front flip with Griffin attached to his back late in the second round -- fought through visible fatigue and answered his opponent at every turn. He executed a takedown early in Round 3, shed an attempted guillotine, scrambled to Griffin’s back and threatened with a rear-naked choke before holding off a late rally from the Dana White’s Contender Series alum.
The win was Skelly’s first since Feb. 4, 2017.
Resurgent Smolka Stops MacDonald
Team Oyama export Louis Smolka put away Ryan MacDonald with punches in the first round of their bantamweight pairing. MacDonald (10-2, 0-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:43 into Round 1 and has suffered back-to-back defeats since starting his professional career a perfect 10-0.
Smolka (16-6, 7-6 UFC) zeroed in on the Nebraskan’s body with both hands, slowly chipping away at his counterpart’s resolve. MacDonald eventually lowered his hands and exposed his head, at which point the Hawaiian uncorked a left hook to kick off the finishing sequence. Smolka pursued him with punches and knees before one last overhand right drew it to a close.
Still just 28 years old, Smolka has rattled off five wins across his last six outings.
Hubbard Downs Prepolec, Evens UFC Record
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Austin Hubbard overcame a slow start, made the necessary adjustments and laid claim to a unanimous decision over Kyle Prepolec in a three-round confrontation at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Hubbard (11-3, 1-1 UFC).
Prepolec (12-7, 0-2 UFC) twice staggered the Elevation Fight Team rep with punches inside the first five minutes, but his inability to fully exploit his striking advantages proved costly. Hubbard struck for takedowns in the second and third rounds, advanced to half guard and bled time off the clock with positional control and ground-and-pound.
Hubbard, 27, has won four of his last five fights.