@Thunder92Baeza makes a STATEMENT early RD2!
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Miguel Baeza went toe-to-toe with one of the sport’s most notorious action fighters, and he ended up with a highlight-reel performance for his efforts.
After a rocky first five minutes, Baeza knocked out Matt Brown 18 seconds into the second round of their UFC on ESPN 8welterweight clash at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night. “Caramel Thunder” forced Brown to press forward by landing a low calf kick and moments later, sent his veteran foe to the canvas with a powerful counter left hook. Referee Jason Herzog dove in to save Brown before Baeza could land any follow-up strikes on the canvas.
Baeza (9-0, 2-0 UFC) nearly didn’t have an opportunity to earn the signature win of his MMA career to date. Brown (22-17, 15-11 UFC) had the Contender Series alum reeling in Round 1 when he pressured with a combination against the fence, dislodging his foe’s mouthpiece in the process.
“You come in here with a game plan,” Baeza said. “I saw his face and I’m like, ‘Let’s fight.’ He caught me, and I was just trying to get my bearings back. I was able to recover.”
Once he did recover, Baeza offered a preview for the finishing sequence when he dropped Brown with a one-two combination late in Round 1. However, Baeza was unable to put “The Ultimate Fighter 7” alum away from top position. Brown, who was considering retirement in 2017, sees a modest two-bout winning streak come to an end.
Holland Makes Short Work of Hernandez
Kevin Holland authored his most impressive performance in the Octagon to date, as he quickly overwhelmed Anthony Hernandez in a middleweight encounter. The Fort Worth, Texas, native closed the show 39 seconds in, earning his ninth professional victory inside of a round.
Holland (17-5, 4-2 UFC) laid the foundation for the finish when he rocked Hernandez (7-2, 1 NC, 1-2 UFC) with an elbow over the top, forcing his fellow Contender Series alum to seek reprieve in the clinch. Holland kept his foot on the gas pedal, and a knee to the midsection sent Hernandez to the canvas, where “Trailblazer” polished off his victory with a burst of follow-up punches on his turtled adversary.
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Chikadze Too Much for Rivera
Giga Chikadze cruised to a unanimous verdict over Irwin Rivera in a featherweight showdown. The Kings MMA product earned scorecards of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 from the cageside judges in winning his fifth consecutive professional outing. Rivera, the Titan Fighting Championships bantamweight king, replaced Mike Davis on one day’s notice.
Rivera (9-4, 0-1 UFC) came out of the gates firing, attacking with wild combinations while mixing in the occasional superman punch for good measure. Chikadze (10-2, 3-0 UFC) was able to avoid most of his foe’s offerings during the initial onslaught, and gradually the fight turned into something of a showcase for the 31-year-old Georgian. Chikadze picked his spots, tagging Rivera with a straight punches, knees and a toolbox of kicks as the fight progressed.
Chikadze’s best moment came early in Round 3, when he briefly buckled his foe with a counter knee. Rivera quickly returned to his feet and kept attacking, but he wasn’t able to seriously threaten Chikadze down the stretch.
Landwehr Outpoints, Bloodies Elkins
Former M-1 Global champion Nate Landwehr earned his first promotional triumph, edging Darren Elkins in a hard-fought unanimous decision at featherweight. One judge saw it 29-28, while two others submitted 30-27 scorecards — all in favor of “The Train.” Elkins has lost four straight Octagon appearances.
Unfazed by the large disparity in UFC experience, Landwehr shook off a slow start to find his rhythm late in Round 1. The Clarksville, Tennessee, native countered effectively, managed to thwart the majority of his opponent’s takedowns and closed the show with an effective punching combination to leave a lasting impression in the minds’ of the judges. Elkins’ (24-9, 14-8 UFC) face was a crimson mask by Round 3, the product of an incidental clash of heads in the first period and a beautiful standing right elbow by Landwehr (14-3, 1-1 UFC) in the second frame.
Casey Armbars Borella
Cortney Casey was successful in her first flyweight foray, as she tapped out Mara Romero Borella with an armbar in the opening stanza of their preliminary encounter. After a streak of six consecutive decisions in the Octagon, Casey (9-7, 5-6 UFC) forced her foe to submit with an audible yelp at the 3:36 mark of the period. Borella (12-8, 2-4 UFC) has lost three straight within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
The combatants exchanged briefly on the feet before Borella forced her way into the clinch. Shortly thereafter, the Italian fighter landed a takedown, but she would pay for her aggression from top position. Casey was active from her back, and after Borella dove back into her guard, she was able to frame the armbar, soften her foe with hammerfists and torque the elbow to elicit the tapout.
“I’ll probably stay here [at flyweight] for a bit,” Casey said. “I’ll talk to the matchmakers and see what happens. Short-notice fights are a lot easier at 125 than they are at 115.”
Nascimento Wins Octagon Debut, Submits Mayes
Promotional newcomer Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira had a successful Octagon debut, submitting Don'Tale Mayes in a battle of Dana White’s Contender Series alums at heavyweight. The end came 2:05 into Round 2, when the 27-year-old American Top Team representative secured a rear-naked choke. Nascimento (8-0, 1-0 UFC) has finished all of his professional triumphs inside of two rounds.
Although the Brazilian had his moments on the feet — including a nice head kick early in the second stanza — his most obvious advantage against Mayes (7-4, 0-2 UFC) was on the canvas. Nascimento landed takedowns from the clinch in both frames and on the second occasion, was able to swiftly take his opponent’s back before locking in the fight-ending maneuver.
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