Down Under Dominance - Aussies Rule in NZ
Read on for UFN Auckland prelim results...
The UFC’s youngest fighter, 19-year-old Australian Jake Matthews, made an impressive UFC debut Saturday, submitting fellow newcomer Dashon Johnson in the third round of a UFC Fight Night prelim bout at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
The win upped the record of Matthews, a Team Australia member on TUF Nations, to 8-0; Johnson falls to 9-1.
Matthews made sure to take the striking of Johnson – an experienced pro boxer – out of the equation immediately, pinning the Californian to the fence. Johnson pulled guard in an attempt to sink in a guillotine, but Matthews escaped and fired off a series of hard ground strikes as he settled into the top position. Then the elbows started flying, opening a cut on Johnson’s forehead and putting a cap on a dominant first round.
Johnson went swinging for the fences in round two, but Matthews avoided trouble and again locked up the American. Things got worse for Johnson from there, as he was docked a point by referee Peter Hickmont after he threw a series of illegal 12-6 elbows to the back of the head. After the deduction, Matthews closed the distance quickly and pinned his opponent to the fence. Johnson impressively avoided a takedown from this position for much of the round, but by the end of the frame, he got grounded by the Victoria product.
Finally getting some punches off, Johnson wasn’t able to keep the momentum going for long, as Matthews took him down and again rained down strikes. As the round approached the midway point, Matthews had his opponent’s back, but Johnson reversed position. Unfortunately, he reversed his way right into a triangle choke that produced a tap out at 3:16 of the final round.
GRUJIC vs. INDICH
In a meeting of Team Australia members from the TUF Nations series, Vik Grujic picked up his first UFC win, halting Chris Indich in the first round.
Grujic drew first blood – literally – in the second minute, with a short left opening a cut over Indich’s right eye. But Indich got even moments later by cutting “The Spartan” over the left eye. From there, it continued to be a back and forth battle, as the two traded takedowns and scrapped on the inside. In the final minute, Grujic took Indich’s back on the ground and tried for a rear naked choke, but Indich defended well. What he wasn’t able to elude was Grujic’s power when the two stood, and after a furious exchange, Grujic landed with a left hook and straight right that dropped his opponent. Referee Peter Hickmont intervened at the 4:55 mark, giving the 37-year-old Grujic a huge victory.
With the win, Melbourne’s Grujic improves to 7-4; Perth’s Indich falls to 5-3.
VACULIK vs. SANGCHA-AN
TUF Smashes alum Richie Vaculik picked up his first Octagon victory in flyweight action, outpointing previously unbeaten newcomer Roldan Sangcha-an via unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Vaculik, now 10-3; Sangcha-an falls to 4-1.
The flyweights got involved in some wild ground scrambles in the opening stages of the bout, trading positions until Vaculik began to take control from the top spot. Out of nowhere, Sangcha-an swept the Aussie and almost got him in trouble, but it was Vaculik’s veteran experience serving him well as he reversed position and took his opponent’s back, sinking in a tight rear naked choke. The Baguio City product didn’t give in though, and he escaped just before the bell.
Sangcha-an came out fast for round two in an attempt to get back on the board, but Vaculik took a hard kick to the head well and got the bout to the mat again. After a stalemate on the ground, referee John Sharp restarted the action with two minutes left, but after taking another kick to the dome, Vaculik locked Sangcha-an up against the fence. This time, the Philippines native got free quickly and was able to fire off his kicks, keeping the Sydney product at bay until a late takedown by Vaculik.
In the third, Sangcha-an was able to keep the fight standing, and while he was busy with his attacks, Vaculik was far from outmatched, as he scored with several flush counterpunches to the face throughout the final five minutes.
MAGNY vs. DE LIMA
Surging welterweight Neil Magny made it three straight wins in impressive style, rebounding from a rough opening round to dominate the second frame and stop newcomer Rodrigo de Lima.
After a couple wild scrambles to start the bout, de Lima (8-2-1) took Magny’s back and put him on the mat, eventually taking the full mount position. While there, the Macapa Amapa native went to work, firing off strikes as Magny tried to improve his position. With a minute left, the Coloradan escaped the mount briefly, only to end up in it again. De Lima locked in a choke, but Magny slammed his foe and bought some time before the bell intervened.
Magny (11-4) was able to keep it standing in the second, and his straight punches were giving de Lima a lot of trouble as he drilled the Brazilian with jabs and 1-2s. Near the midway point of the round, a right hand stopped de Lima in his tracks, and another big right dropped him hard near the fence, with referee John Sharp stepping in the stop the fight at 2:32 of the round.
VILLANTE vs. O’CONNELL
The Americans got the night off to a good start in Auckland, as light heavyweights Gian Villante and Sean O’Connell scrapped for 15 minutes, with New York’s Villante emerging victorious by way of a close split decision over Utah’s O’Connell.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29.
Both fighters got after it from the opening horn, with O’Connell slightly busier, but Villante landing the heavier and more accurate blows. Villante’s kicks were especially effective, but O’Connell took the bombs well, and he continued to press forward, doing good work when pinning Villante to the fence.
Quality work continued to be put in by the light heavyweight bangers in round two, O’Connell taking an early edge thanks to a left hand that briefly put Villante on the deck a minute and a half in. And whenever O’Connell was able to close the distance, he controlled the inside action with his strikes and his strength-sapping pressure. It was Villante finishing strong with some hard body shots that did O’Connell’s cardio no favors.
An inadvertent low blow by O’Connell brought a brief stop to the action early in the final stanza, giving both fighters another chance to catch their breath. Villante came out the fresher of the two, briefly rocking his opponent on a couple occasions as he countered O’Connell’s wilder rushes and found a way to be effective on the inside as well.
With the win, Villante improves to 12-5; O’Connell falls to 15-6.
HOOKER vs. ENTWISTLE
Auckland’s own Daniel Hooker got the crowd up and roaring in his bout against Ian Entwistle, surviving some significant submission attempts before halting the England native in the first round of the clash between featherweight newcomers.
The 5-foot-5 Entwistle did a good job of closing the distance on his much taller foe as the bout opened, and as soon as he got the bout to the mat, he went for one of his trademark leg locks. Hooker fired off elbows and punches in an effort to get loose, and it became a battle of wills on the mat. Hooker won the first skirmish, getting himself free of the heel hook as he cut Entwistle on the forehead. Moments later, the hometown hero won the war, as the elbows continued and Entwistle had no answer for them, prompting referee Steve Perceval to halt the bout at the 3:34 mark.
With the win, Hooker improves to 12-4; Entwistle falls to 8-2.