Yoel Romero put the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division on high alert.
The 2000 Olympic silver medalist disposed of Lyoto Machida with third-round elbow strikes from the half guard in the UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Romero” headliner on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Machida (22-7, 14-7 UFC) met his end 98 seconds into round three, as he encountered a special brand of savagery.
Romero (10-1, 6-0 UFC) spent much of his time pursuing the Brazilian while he circled on the perimeter. Machida picked his spots but could only avoid the Cuban wrestler’s destructive talents for so long. Early in the third round, Romero executed a knee-tap takedown, climbed to half guard and uncorked his ground-and-pound. His shots grew in ferocity before the “Soldier of God” smashed Machida with a series of short elbows to the face that brought it to a close.
The 37-year-old Machida has lost three of his last four fights.
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Resurgent Larkin Wrecks Ponzinibbio
Millennia MMA rep Lorenz Larkin put away Santiago Ponzinibbio with second-round punches in their welterweight co-main event. Ponzinibbio (19-3, 2-2 UFC) succumbed to the blows 3:07 into round two, as he lost for just the second time in his past 11 outings.
Combinations flowed from Larkin (16-4, 3-4 UFC) from the start, the Californian pairing multi-punch blitzes with stinging leg kicks. Ponzinibbio never stopped moving forward, even with his mobility compromised. The 28-year-old Argentine marched himself right into danger. Larkin cut down the American Top Team standout with a left hook-right cross-left hook combination in the second round and swarmed with vicious ground-and-pound. He continued his assault while Ponzinibbio tried valiantly to return to his feet, one final left hook to the face forcing referee Herb Dean to intervene.
Carlos Jr. Choke Submits Gordon
“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 3 winner Antonio Carlos Jr. submitted Serra-Longo Fight Team’s Eddie Gordon with a third-round rear-naked choke in a one-sided main-card middleweight battle. Gordon (7-4, 1-3 UFC) conceded defeat 4:37 into round three, having been thoroughly dominated to that point.
Carlos Jr. (5-1, 2-1 UFC) was superior in every phase. The 25-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt chipped away at Gordon with takedowns, ground-and-pound and a draining clinch, setting the stage for the late finish. In the third round, Carlos Jr. struck for a takedown, advanced to the back and consolidated his position with a body triangle. After an extended struggle and various attempts, he cinched the palm-to-palm choke for the tapout.
Gordon, 31, has lost three fights in a row.
Santos Head Kick Fells Bosse
“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 2 quarterfinalist Thiago Santos knocked out Steve Bosse with a violent left head kick in the first round of their featured middleweight clash. Santos (11-3, 3-2 UFC) closed the curtain 29 seconds into round one.
Bosse (10-2, 0-1 UFC) paid a severe price for his lack of defensive wherewithal. Less than half a minute into the match, Santos fired a kick to the body that drew the Canadian’s hands out of position. The head kick came next, the sickening thud of shin meeting skull echoing through the arena. The 33-year-old Bosse dropped to the canvas stiff and unconscious, his run of eight straight wins at an end.
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Dias Edges Replacement Makashvili
Nova Uniao export Hacran Dias notched his 11th win in his last 13 appearances, as he eked out a split decision over former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Levan Makashvili in a three-round featherweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Dias (23-3-1, 3-2 UFC).
The two featherweights crowded one another in the clinch and spent little time engaging on the feet, much to the chagrin of those in attendance. Dias executed takedowns at opportune times and threatened the Georgian with various submissions -- a kimura, a belly-down armbar and a triangle choke from the bottom were all on the menu -- in a back-and-forth second round. The Brazilian seemed to lose his nerve over the final five minutes, however, as Makashvili pinned him along the fence before scoring a takedown in the last 20 seconds. Those efforts went for naught.
The defeat halts a two-fight winning streak for Makashvili (7-2, 1-1 UFC), who replaced the injured Chas Skelly on short notice.