The UFC returned to the Scotiabank Centre and it hosted a pleasant night of fights. The sophomore appearance in Halifax was a bit more lively than the first go around even with no notable Canadian stars on the card. A quick in guard armbar opened up the card. The rest of the prelims brought some close fights between Randa Markos and Carla Esparza and Aiemann Zahabi and Reginaldo Vieira, a stunning wheel kick knockout at the heel of “Marreta” Santos and a fun scrap between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Nordine Taleb.
Two and a half years ago, Rory MacDonald earned his number one welterweight contender status by knocking out Tarec Saffiedine. Tonight’s headliner may have also produced the next challenger for the heavyweight title and redemption for a former champion.
DERRICK LEWIS SHUTS TRAVIS BROWNE’S LIGHTS OUT
Travis Browne looked back in vintage form in the first round against Derrick Lewis. Kicks and knees were abundant and managed to hurt Lewis to the body on multiple occasions but “The Black Beast” persevered and went Hammertown in the second. Lewis went into brawling mode and managed to land some big shots, hurt “Hapa” and never let up. A glancing right hand to the forehead sent Browne stumbling and Lewis went for the kill.
Fighters are told to fight until the official steps in. Lewis did his job, but Mario Yamasaki did not. Almost as soon as Browne hit the deck, he was covering up and not trying to fight back or improve position. Lewis landed hard right hand after hard right hand until he rendered Browne completely unconscious right in front of Yamasaki. Unfortunate as the non-stoppage may have been, the result was still impressive.
Lewis now sits on top of a six fight win streak and is most likely going to face Francis Ngannou for a number one contender’s match if he’s not already considered the top contender. Travis Browne is now on a three fight losing streak, albeit to cream of the crop heavyweights. Conventional wisdom would say that he should stick around for at least one more fight given the depth of heavyweight but one can never be too sure with the new owners.
JOHNY HENDRICKS GETS PAST HECTOR LOMBARD
Hector Lombard may not be sure whether he is “Lightning” or “Showeather” but after tonight his UFC career remains in question. Johny Hendricks had a tough time going in the first half of the fight but he managed to adjust in the latter half. Lombard kept ducking his head to avoid Hendricks’ punches and in doing so “Bigg Rigg” stopped throwing his low kicks and began throwing knees up the middle to catch the Olympian on his way down.
Judging was shaky on Sunday night and this was one of many instances where an inexplicable 30-27 scorecard appeared. The former welterweight champion still looked hittable but didn’t look at all compromised in the cardio department. Hendricks’ future is anyone’s guess right now. he is not an appropriate sized middleweight but last year’s 0-3 run at welterweight didn’t leave fans with any desire to see him continue competing at 170 pounds.
A win is a win and Hendricks should cherish it right now but deep consideration should be taken regarding his career moving forward. As for Lombard, he has not had a win since dominating Jake Shields back at UFC 171 in 2014. At almost 40 years old and a lifetime of competition under his belt, it might be wise to step away.
GAVIN TUCKER PUTS ON A STRIKING CLINIC AGAINST SAM SICILIA
Gavin Tucker did not seem intimidated by his Octagon debut in the slightest. The southpaw landed hard kicks and lightning fast combinations on Sam Sicilia and the UFC veteran had virtually no answer. Outmatched and outclassed, Sicilia stayed in wonderment as Tucker smiled, shuffle-stepped and countered his way to a clear unanimous decision.
The TUF alum did manage to land his trademark right haymaker on Tucker once in the final round but the Canadian kept his composure, kept up the pace and pinpoint strikes and even managed to snag a cleverly timed takedown to secure the round. The Canadian prospect advances his undefeated record to 10-0 and Sicilia is now on a three fight losing streak.
ELIAS THEODOROU OUTPOINTS CEZAR FERREIRA
Cezar Ferreira and Elias Theodorou landed a few clean shots in the opening round of their fight but it was mostly a feeling out process. Having minimal success with the striking in the first, “Mutante” switched course and began grappling “The Spartan” in the second. A crucial takedown off a caught Theodorou kick gave the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and near rear naked choke but the Canadian managed to get back up with a few seconds left in the fight.
A 30-27 scorecard immediately stuck out as Joe Martinez announced the winner. Theodorou did wobble Ferreira on occasion and was definitely the more active fighter throughout the fight but a clean sweep seems questionable. The TUF Nations winner is now 13-1 with a 5-1 UFC record. The loss to Theodorou marks the first defeat for the inaugural TUF Brazil winner since Ferreira’s return to middleweight last year.
SARA MCMANN ROLLS THROUGH GINA MAZANY
Sara McMann wasted no time in grabbing a hold of Gina Mazany. The Olympian clasped her hands around the newcomer’s waist and the end was inevitable from there. A brief struggle against the fence led to McMann mounting Mazany and got a tight arm triangle in under 90 seconds.
Mazany loses her UFC debut along with 20 percent of her purse for coming in overweight while McMann is riding a three fight win streak with two consecutive arm triangle submissions. McMann is now the only other bantamweight to hold a meaningful win streak aside from number one contender Valentina Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington. This will surely propel her up the rankings and a fight between the Olympic silver medalist and “Rocky” makes all the sense in the world right now.
PAUL FELDER DISPATCHES OF ALESSANDRO RICCI IN THE FIRST
Alessandro Ricci came to meet Paul Felder’s kickboxing with boxing but Felder stuck true to his roots. “The Irish Dragon’s” defense and timing were much crisper than in previous outings and his solid Muay Thai base was what got him the finish. A close quarter “flower in the hair” style elbow stunned Ricci and made him crumble against the fence.
Ricci will have a busted nose to look forward to and his 0-2 opening UFC record doesn’t spell great prospects for his future in the organization. Meanwhile Felder rebounded from his loss to Francisco Trinaldo and is now 3-1 in his last four.
HEAVYWEIGHT: Derrick Lewis defeats Travis Browne via KO (punches) at 3:12 of round two
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Johny Hendrick defeats Hector Lombard via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
FEATHERWEIGHT: Gavin Tucker defeats Sam Sicilia via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Elias Theodorou defeats Cezar Ferreira via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
BANTAMWEIGHT: Sara McMann defeats Gazany via submission (arm triangle) at 1:14 of round one.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Alessandro Ricci vs. Paul Felder defeats Alessandro Ricci via TKO (elbow and punches) at 4:44 of round one
WELTERWEIGHT: Santiago Ponzinibbio defeats Nordine Taleb by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
STRAWWEIGHT: Randa Markos defeats Carla Esparza via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
BANTAMWEIGHT: Aiemann Zahabi defeats Reginaldo Vieira via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Jack Marshmann Thiago Santos defeats Jack Marshman via TKO (wheel kick and punches) at 2:21 of round two.
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Gerald Meerschaert defeats Ryan Janes via submission (armbar) at 1:34 of round one.