Today in MMA history: Conor McGregor knocks out Jose Aldo, going from jester to king in 13 seconds

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Months of buildup. Dozens of interviews. Thousands of miles traveled and multiple countries visited on a press tour that seemed to go on forever. Then 13 seconds in the cage.

That was how the saga of Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo finally ended on Dec. 12, 2015. You couldn’t have missed the months of pre-fight hype if you tried. But the fight itself came and went in less time than it would take you to run to the kitchen and get a fresh beer out of the fridge.

Just like that, one era ended and another began. The jester had become king, and the king had become the past. After that, the featherweight division – and arguably the UFC itself – would never be quite the same.

Somehow, this all started with Dennis Siver. In January 2015, McGregor traveled to Boston to meet the stoically inoffensive German featherweight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 59.

Did this seem like it was even intended to be a serious challenge to the streaking McGregor, who’d stormed into the UFC two years prior and reeled off four straight wins while his fame snowballed into an unstoppable force? Not really.

What it seemed like was a setup. Especially after the Irishman had proven his drawing power in a win over Diego Brandao at a UFC Fight Pass-only event from Dublin, the UFC clearly wanted to be all the way in the McGregor business. So it booked him opposite Siver, a good-but-not-great featherweight who seemed to be slowing down in his mid-30s.

“This fight in Boston,” UFC President Dana White said a couple weeks prior, “if (McGregor) wins, he’s going to fight for the title.”

Of course he won. That was the whole point. But a second-round TKO of Siver didn’t make quite enough noise to please McGregor, so after the fight he leapt over the octagon fence and made a beeline for UFC featherweight champion Aldo, who was sitting at cageside.

The confrontation was brief, but tense. With beefy security types quickly intervening between the two men, McGregor leaned toward Aldo’s face with the wide-eyed stare of a madman. Aldo couldn’t stop grinning. The whole thing was just so funny, he explained later.

“He is a fool, and just kept opening his mouth,” Aldo said. “It just made me laugh.”

This would become Aldo’s standard response to McGregor’s many provocations.

At the event, he showed off a poster depicting McGregor as a court jester. “Go Joker, Go…” it read. “Make me laugh.”

Jose Aldo

After four years as the only featherweight champion the UFC had ever known, it hardly even needed to be said that, at least for the purposes of this metaphor, Aldo was the king.

The fight was set for UFC 189 in July. To promote what it expected to be a blockbuster affair, the UFC took both fighters on a two-week media tour that traveled from Brazil to the U.S. to Ireland, all so fans could work themselves into a frenzy as the two men jawed at one another from opposite sides of a dais.

Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor

Aldo may have started out trying to dismiss McGregor’s antics as harmlessly idiotic, but by the end, he was nearly boiling over. In Dublin, McGregor reached over the podium and seized Aldo’s UFC title belt, holding it over his head as the Irish fans cheered and Dana White tried to restrain the enraged Aldo.

With that image alone, the media tour seemed to have served its purpose.

White later claimed the UFC had spent more money promoting that fight than any other in UFC history. That made it sting all the more when, a few weeks before UFC 189, Aldo withdrew with a rib injury.

The UFC president didn’t take the news well. He accused Aldo and his camp of overplaying the injury, making a bruised rib sound like a broken one. He appeared on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” alongside McGregor to criticize Aldo’s record of pulling out of title fights. Instead, White said, former title challenger Chad Mendes would step in on short notice to fight McGregor for the interim featherweight title.

As for Aldo?

“If a man is scared for his life, we cannot force him to step in and face me,” McGregor said on ESPN. “I feel he is afraid. The doctors have cleared him to fight. It’s a (rib) bruise, but he has still pulled out.”

Even with the late change of opponents, UFC 189 was an unqualified success. The UFC pulled out all the stops with its production, both on pay-per-view and in the arena, with Sinead O’Connor singing McGregor’s entrance music live inside MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Conor Mcgregor and Chad Mendes at UFC 189. (USA TODAY Sports)

And, after a shaky first round in which he was easily taken down by Mendes and bloodied on the mat, McGregor rebounded to knock out an exhausted Mendes in the final seconds of Round 2.

Now the Irishman was the interim champ, and to the tune of more than 800,000 pay-per-view buys, according to reports. The live-gate figures also broke a U.S. record for MMA, according to UFC officials, with just north of $7 million flowing in through ticket sales.

But the fight with Mendes left some doubts. Yes, McGregor had finally defeated a strong wrestler, but one who took the fight on short notice. Plus, his takedown defense was clearly lacking. After being given such a well-manicured path to the title, was McGregor really ready for a focused and prepared champion like Aldo?

We finally got the chance to find out that December. Atop a star-studded fight card that featured Chris Weidman defending his middleweight title against Luke Rockhold (while Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza battled beneath them to see who had next), Aldo-McGregor was the unquestioned headliner.

Before the event, White predicted another record-breaker, saying that UFC 194 was on track to be “the biggest thing we’ve ever done.” Sure enough, live gate figures topped $10 million, according to UFC officials, breaking the U.S. record set by McGregor’s previous fight.

At the weigh-ins, a grinning Aldo and a skeletal McGregor had to be separated by White. The arena practically shook with the raucous cheers of the Irish fans, and all with still a day to go before the fight itself.

Asked for prediction before the fight, McGregor explained that he saw himself slipping Aldo’s right hand and coming back with his own powerful left.

“I see him KO’d inside one (round),” McGregor said.

More than 16,000 fans packed MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that night. More than a million more watched on pay-per-view.

McGregor entered first, grinning his madman’s grin as he draped himself the Irish flag. A tense and serious Aldo followed a few moments later. The longtime champion looked especially nervous as he waited in his corner, head down, swaying from side to side.

Only referee John McCarthy, standing quietly with his arms crossed, seemed capable of underplaying the magnitude of the moment. When McCarthy gave the pre-fight instructions and offered the fighters the chance to tough gloves, neither man moved.

“Conor looks extremely loose,” UFC commentator Joe Rogan said, as McGregor crouched in his corner, mouthing words that were immediately lost in the din of the crowd. “And Aldo looks like he’s feeling the pressure of this moment.”

At the signal to fight, McGregor bounded out to the center of the cage, his lead right hand extended as Aldo stalked forward. McGregor fired a straight left, and Aldo replied with a counter left hook that came up short. McGregor stabbed a kick at Aldo’s thigh, forcing him back, but only for a moment.

Then it was if Aldo had had enough. He came forward pumping his left, missing with his right and landing his left – just as he walked directly into McGregor’s stiff left hand.

The instant the punch landed, it was as if Aldo’s feet stopped working, while his forward momentum carried his upper body on ahead. He crashed to the mat, rolling onto his side as McGregor stood over him and pounded at his unguarded head with two straight left-hand hammerfists.

Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo

By the time McCarthy shoved him off to stop it, only 13 seconds had gone by.

“Unbelievable,” Rogan said. “The first punch he threw. Slept him.”

As Aldo was being helped to his feet, McGregor celebrated atop the cage before jumping down and jogging around the perimeter, once again draped in his flag.

“The first man to beat Aldo in over a decade,” UFC commentator Mike Goldberg said. “The fastest title fight finish ever, bettering Ronda Rousey’s 14-second armbar.”

Aldo could only stalk the cage, covering his face with a towel as he shook his head. When he came to the center of the cage for the official announcement, he traded a few words with McGregor before standing with his hands on his hips, staring at the mat while blood leaked from a cut on the bridge of his nose.

“He’s powerful, and he’s fast,” McGregor said of Aldo in the post-fight interview. “But precision beats power, and timing beats speed. And that’s what you saw there.”

By the time the post-fight press conference rolled around, McGregor was already talking about his next goal – the UFC lightweight title. His coaches later admitted that the cut to featherweight was a brutal one for him, and one they might prefer him never to make again. But in the immediate aftermath, McGregor was adamant about becoming – and staying – a two-division champion.

“I’ll tell you one thing that won’t be happening,” McGregor said. “If I got up to that lightweight division, there is no way in hell that I am vacating my belt. That is not happening. There will be a belt on one shoulder and a belt on the other shoulder.”

And there was, at least for a time. By then, no one was laughing at the joker anymore.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

“Today in MMA History” is an MMAjunkie series created in association with MMA History Today, the social media outlet dedicated to reliving “a daily journey through our sport’s history.”

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Source: MMA Junkie

McGregor vs. Pacquiao is a terrible idea. Wouldn't it be nice if that alone were enough to stop it?

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Let’s start with something we all (hopefully) agree on: A boxing match between Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao is a terrible idea.

It’s a bad idea not just because it’s bad, but also because it’s dumb and hackneyed, stripped of all novelty, like a ripoff of a parody.

Remember earlier this year when Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps “raced” a computer-generated shark on the Discovery channel? Booking McGregor vs. Pacquiao now would be like trying to run that one back, except this time with a CGI dolphin.

But here’s the problem with the current age of combat sports: As dumb and awful as a fight like that would be right now, how certain can you be that it won’t actually happen?

Personally, I’m hovering at right around 80 percent sure. I’m encouraged by recent developments, such as UFC President Dana White threatening a lawsuit over the reported negotiations between Team McGregor and Team Pacquiao, but I still can’t get all the way to 100 percent positive, or even comfortably into the 90s.

A lot of that is due to what you might call plausibility creep. The last several years have seen a shift in our perception of what’s possible in combat sports. McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather? That didn’t seem realistic until suddenly there it was. A pro wrestler jumping straight into the UFC with zero relevant experience to recommend him for the job? It was laughable until it was real.

It’s not just the UFC, either. Everything about Bellator’s stubbornly popular seniors tour feels like a bad joke that was repeated once too often, until it was finally conjured into being by the dulling force of repetition.

All this has consequences. Professional fighting is an imitative business. The best indicator of what will work is what already has worked in the recent past. This is true for both promoters and fighters.

Witness the shift in UFC fighter attitudes caused by the success of McGregor. Before he came along, the typical goal was to become a champion, then defend the belt again and again. Now it’s to win the belt and immediately go hunting for a huge payday in another division.

For promoters, it’s a constant battle for our attention. If it’s only the outlandish possibilities that get us talking, then those must be the ones worth considering.

And since we accept and even expect that promoters will have no guiding principles that extend beyond the race for the next one-off cash grab, they’re free to live down to our standards. The only excuse they need in order to sell us a certain fight is the possibility that we’ll buy it.

Which brings us back to McGregor-Pacquiao, the combat sports version of the lazy action-movie sequel.

There’s nothing to recommend this fight. We’ve already seen McGregor as a boxer, so that curiosity is satisfied. The longer he stays away from the UFC, the more it seems like he’s holding the lightweight title hostage, and at a time when the division itself is as interesting as ever.

Even the bulb of Pacquiao’s celebrity doesn’t shine as brightly as it used to, making him seem like the copycat kid who shows up at school in whatever he saw the cool kids wearing yesterday.

Still, you can’t say that nobody would watch this fight, which means you can’t say that the powers that be wouldn’t consider making it. Even with all the obstacles, ranging from personal to professional, we’ve reached a point where you can’t just write it off as impossible.

In a bizarre way, the fact that it seems so farfetched now actually makes it slightly more likely, since at least it would qualify as a surprise.

That’s a strange place for the sport to be, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen the end of it yet. It seems more like we’re still searching out the new boundaries, waiting to see how far those borders can be pushed until something – whether it’s anger, revulsion, or just indifference – finally pushes back.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Trading Shots: Dana White isn't mad at Georges St-Pierre, but what about fans?

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Did Georges St-Pierre do a disservice to fans, fellow fighters, or the UFC when he relinquished his middleweight title without a fight? Would the answer change if a less popular fighter pulled the same maneuver? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss in this week’s Trading Shots.

* * * *

Fowlkes: Georges St-Pierre is no longer the UFC middleweight champion after a little more than a month with the belt, Danny. And UFC President Dana White? He’s not mad at all. No way. In fact, he knew this would happen.

So when he said just a couple weeks ago that he’d be “super pissed” if it happened? Nah, he didn’t mean it.

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I have a couple questions here. For one, if this was indeed the outcome White expected, that GSP would not even attempt to defend the middleweight title upon winning it, does he deserve some criticism for making the fight in the first place, since this very foreseeable outcome has now disrupted the lineage of the 185-pound championship?

But more importantly, what should fans make of GSP now? He’s got an out in the form of his ulcerative colitis diagnosis, but even before that he didn’t seem thrilled about defending this belt. And if he wanted to wait, get healthy, and then defend, you know the UFC would let him.

Sure seems like he picked the easiest path he could find (which is not to say it was an easy fight) to a second UFC title and a big payday, and then he bolted once he got what he wanted.

If this were almost anyone else who skipped the line, nabbed a belt, and then fled like a thief in the night before the actual contenders could get a crack, seems like MMA fans would be all over them. Why isn’t that happening here? And should it?

Downes: The holidays must have you frazzled, Ben. You’re all over the place today. Let’s try to unpack all these questions one at a time.

As usual, you make an assertion with little evidence. Who says GSP played anyone (other than fans)? I believe White when he says that he saw this coming. As for why he said he’d be “super pissed” in the lead up to the fight, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but promoters lie.

By saying that he’d put the pressure on GSP to defend the middleweight title if he beat Michael Bisping, he avoided a PR problem that would hurt his pay-per-view buys. Even though most of us were skeptical that GSP would defend the belt, there was still the possibility. If White admitted he thought this was going to happen in the build up, it would have overshadowed the entire fight.

As far as the “lineage of the 185-pound championship” is concerned, I think a lot of this relates to our discussion last week. Sanctity might be too strong of a word, but UFC titles don’t have the same weight they once did. They’re thrown around haphazardly like the term “for a limited time only.”

Even the idea of a two-division champion seems blasé now. GSP may not have had his titles in as close succession as Conor McGregor, but his win was still a major accomplishment, even though fans and media welcomed this feat with indifference. Part of that has to do with the disrespect people have for Bisping, but the response was still tepid.

Having said that, I do think fans should be mad at the UFC and GSP. They were sold a bunch of wolf tickets. GSP had no intention of defending the middleweight title, and the UFC knew it. They colluded together to sell PPVs. Even though this is a regular occurrence in the combat-sports world, we should still be outraged when it happens.

What about you? I know you always have room in your heart to hate on the UFC brass, but can you find some room for some GSP anger? A conspiracy to defraud requires two parties. Do you find GSP guilty, or is he too “classy” to be mad at?

Fowlkes: So your theory is that White and GSP had this planned all along, but lied to us about in order to sell PPVs, and now that the money’s all in the bank, the final phase of the plan is to admit that it was all a ruse? Brilliant. Right up there with the villain explaining his whole evil scheme before leaving the hero alone to die in a cave that’s slowly filling up with water.

Here’s the rare instance in which I almost believe White. You know, to an extent. Like, when he says he put Robert Whittaker in GSP’s contract because he knew St-Pierre wouldn’t want to defend the belt after winning it? That I believe. When he says he knew it would go down this way from the very start and now he doesn’t even mind? That I don’t.

If he’d known all that, there would have been no point in trying to pressure GSP with the threat of his rage just a couple weeks ago. And if the plan is to promote him in another one-off money fight whenever he’s healthy enough, it would be pointless to de-promote him now by making him sound like a hit-and-run mercenary who’s scared of the actual middleweights.

What I think is the UFC really wanted GSP to defend this belt but feared he wouldn’t, which is why it tried, in whatever ways available, to ensure that he would. But even if White suspected that St-Pierre might find a way out of it, he didn’t much care because he was too focused on the short-term gain to think about the longterm repercussions. And honestly, that’s been the UFC in a nutshell for the last several years.

As for GSP, the goodwill he’s built up with fans is one reason they’re not coming down hard on him. The colitis excuse is another, since who’s going to tell a fighter that he’s obligated to risk his health any more than he already has for the sake of our entertainment?

There’s also the fact that his win is still so fresh. Contrary to your claims about it being “tepid,” GSP’s win over Bisping might have cemented him as the consensus GOAT of his era, especially when you factor in Anderson Silva’s second doping fail and Fedor Emelianenko’s continued descent into cautionary tale.

St-Pierre came back after four years and choked out the champion in a weight class above his. Now he’s acting like he wants to ride off into the sunset, which is something we can never seem to convince our heroes to do in this sport, so who’s going to demand that he stay and get beat up some more?

Plus, promoters have been getting over on fighters since the dawn of combat sports. There’s something satisfying about seeing it go the other way. And if the UFC doesn’t care about guarding the legitimacy of its titles, why should the fighters feel obligated to do it?

I mean, sure, now Whittaker will never get the chance to truly unify that title. But why is that GSP’s problem? Seems to me he learned the lessons of this business well, and then put them to work for his own interests. Maybe because it’s so uncommon to see a fighter pull that off, I just can’t get mad at him for it.

Downes: You just performed a lot of rhetorical jiu-jitsu to simply say “fighters don’t owe fans anything.” That’s a perfectly fine position to take. One I even support to a certain extent. At the same time, though, you have to acknowledge a graft when you see one.

You’re making the mistake of viewing MMA as a bilateral relationship – one that simply occurs between fighters and promoters. Promoters exploit fighters, so seeing a fighter “getting over” on a promoter is a welcome change to you.

What you forget is that MMA is what the French-Canadians would call a “ménage à trois.” A “household of three” if you will. And within this household, there are certain agreements that are agreed upon. Thomas Hobbes would refer to it as a social contract. Chief among these agreements is that you don’t defraud fans of their money.

I draw a line between embellishments/exaggerations and straight-up lies. GSP entered into his agreement with the public in bad faith. We all understand why he chose Bisping. We all know why he wants to take some time off (colitis aside). Just because we understand all these things doesn’t mean he should get a pass.

I agree he’s built goodwill up through the years, and that accounts for the lack of outrage. I would also argue that indifference is a major contributor too. Hardcore fans are so inundated with content that it’s difficult for them to focus on any one fighter when there’s an event every week. Casual fans who care about big names like GSP are indifferent to the day-to-day operations of the UFC, so they couldn’t care less about the middleweight title implications.

I guess I’m surprised at how nonchalant you seem to be about the whole ordeal. You’re always looking for something to be outraged by, yet you seem unfazed. Scam is too strong of a term, but can’t you admit that we were sold a bill of goods?

As far as MMA scandals are concerned, GSP getting a title shot and dropping it immediately is a minor one. I mean, it’s not like he’s refusing to defend his belt to go fight Miguel Cotto. At the same time, giving him (and the UFC) a total pass will embolden this type of behavior even more.

The next time St-Pierre makes a promise to fans, we should be more skeptical. We should distrust all future statements a little more than we did a few moths ago. And he just can’t get mad at us for it.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Are we ready to believe in a specialist like Brian Ortega yet?

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There weren’t a whole lot of reasons to think Brian Ortega would beat Cub Swanson. Just one good one, which sometimes is all it takes.

Consider the first round of their main event bout at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 123 event. The first four-and-a-half minutes was about what you’d expect. Swanson, the superior striker and craftier veteran, chipped away at a resilient but somewhat limited Ortega, thumping him to the head and the body and deftly resisting Ortega’s efforts to tussle in close.

Then Swanson (25-8 MMA, 10-4 UFC) made the mistake of letting Ortega (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) get just close to ensnare his head and one of his arms, and suddenly he was struggling to maintain consciousness as he counted down the few remaining seconds in a round he’d otherwise mostly controlled.

Maybe that should have been all the warning he needed. Make one mistake that exposes your neck to Ortega, and all the good work you’ve done up until that point will be nullified.

Only it wasn’t even much of a mistake that did Swanson in. Midway through the second, another round he’d mostly won via a series of striking exchanges, Swanson allowed his head to get just a tad too low.

He didn’t go and do anything dumb. He didn’t stick his neck onto the chopping block the way some fighters do when they allow themselves to get careless in search of a takedown. The worst thing you could say about there was that he allowed his relaxed his state of constant anti-choke vigilance for just a moment. As Ortega looped his arm over Swanson’s head and around his throat, it didn’t even seem like that serious of an attempt.

Then a few seconds later the fight was over.

Let this be a final warning to every featherweight in or around the UFC. This Ortega guy? Chokes are kind of his thing. He can hit triangles and guillotines from all angles, even when you think you’re safe, so best to disregard any assumption of safety and proceed as if you’re always at risk of defeat via a deft attack on your carotid arteries. In other words, heed the wisdom of the Wu-Tang Clan and protect your neck.

But it’s tough being a specialist in MMA these days, even when you’re 13-0 with five straight finishes (not counting that no-contest owing to a positive steroid test) at the tender age of 26. Particularly when you’re thing is the sudden and unexpected application of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, people have a way of dismissing your accomplishments as a one-dimensional trick that will soon reach its limits.

Some of that attitude is the result of experience. The days of submission specialists winning UFC titles seem to be long gone. Former women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey was arguably the last in a long line of fighters with a signature submission move that she pulled off even on opponents who were expecting it, and even she had her shortcomings forcefully exposed eventually.

Ortega might not be quite so limited, but his game is, you might say, very focused on one particular outcome. That makes him a lot of fun to watch. But could it possibly make him great?

It’s hard to be convinced, especially after how we’ve seen this play out in the past. The tendency is to await more evidence, more tests, more ranked opponents.

But then, that’s what Swanson was, a title contender who was more dangerous and accomplished than anyone Ortega had faced before. And just look how that turned out.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 123 results: Gabriel Benitez survives bite – yes, bite! – to dominate Jason Knight

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Gabriel Benitez got his finger bitten and his eye poked by Jason Knight, but he got his revenge in the end.

Benitez (20-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC) battered Knight (20-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) from start to finish in a one-sided affair that ended in a unanimous decision victory for Benitez, who took the victory with scores of 30-26, 30-26, and 29-27.

The featherweight bout was the co-main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Almost immediately it became clear that while Knight had plenty of aggression, it was Benitez who was the sharper fighter. He picked Knight apart on the feet and fended off the his takedowns, even when that meant getting his finger bitten early in the first – a foul that would cost Knight a point on the scorecards.

That bizarre turn of events didn’t seem to affect Benitez in the least, though Knight quickly grew visibly frustrated as Benitez pulled away.

After being kicked in the ribs and counter-punched at will, even spun around and shoved to the mat at points, Knight eventually resorted to wild, angry haymakers, growing less and less technical even as Benitez seemed to only get sharper.

When the bout finally came to end, the outcome was hardly in doubt. All three judges gave the fight to Benitez, with all but one giving him a clean sweep that reflected his overall dominance in the bout.

The victory gets Benitez back in the win column for the first time since his decision loss to Enrique Barzola in May. Knight has now lost two straight for the first time his career.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 123 results: Scott Holtzman dominates Darrell Horcher en route to unanimous decision

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Scott Holtzman had no intention of standing still and letting Darrell Horcher tag him with that big left hand of his.

Instead, Holtzman (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) decided he’d be better off putting Horcher (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a place where his punches couldn’t do much damage, and that turned out to be flat on his back.

The strategy may not have made for a barnburner of a fight, but it did net Holtzman a victory on the scorecards in the form of a unanimous decision, with all three judges giving him a 30-27 sweep after three rounds.

The lightweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

For Holtzman, the key technique in this fight was the inside trip from the clinch, a takedown he executed over and over again to halt Horcher’s momentum and force the action to the ground.

While Horcher remained dangerous as long as the fight was upright and at a comfortable distance, as soon as Holtzman got in close he was a threat to take the fight down and keep it there, racking up rounds on the scorecards.

The one thing working in Horcher’s favor was referee Mike Beltran, who was quick to stand the fight up the instant the pace slowed even a little on the mat. That gave Horcher the chance he struggled to get for himself, and several times he almost made it count, coming with centimeters of landing a big blow on the wary Holtzman.

But Holtzman’s grappling-heavy style proved to be enough in the end, as he committed himself to grinding out a win and was rewarded on the scorecards for his efforts.

Holtzman has now won two straight in the UFC. Horcher has lost two of his last three.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 123 results: Benito Lopez takes decision from Albert Morales in high-flying scrap

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Benito Lopez and Albert Morales took turns dropping each other in the first round, then battered one another all the way to the finish for a thrilling back-and-forth brawl.

But once the judges had their say, it was Lopez (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) who took the unanimous decision, beating Morales (7-3-1 MMA, 1-3-1 UFC) with scores of 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28.

The bantamweight bout opened up the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

This grudge match got off to a swift start, as both men flew at one another in the opening seconds. Morales struck first, dropping Lopez with a stiff left, only to get dropped himself by a flying knee moments later.

But after getting briefly stuck in a mounted guillotine, Morales escaped and controlled Lopez against the fence for the remainder of the first, peppering him with occasional short strikes.

Lopez focused his efforts on battling the body of Morales in the next frame, hammering him with kicks to the ribs and the liver, but somehow without slowing him down. By the third, Morales was still charging forward, looking to hurt Lopez right up until the final horn, and even landing a blistering left to the nose to end the round.

But when the fight went to the scorecards, all three judges had it for Lopez, giving him the win over his rival in an instantly memorable clash of bantamweights.

With the win in his UFC debut, Lopez maintains his perfect record as a professional. Morales has now lost two straight, and three of his last four.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 123 results: Andre Soukhamthath TKOs Luke Sanders in second for first UFC win

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After a slow first round, Andre Soukhamthath exploded early in the second, flooring Luke Sanders with a hard right hand.

With Sanders (11-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) struggling to regain his bearings, Soukhamthath (12-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) pounced with follow-up strikes on the mat, earning the TKO finish at the 1:06 mark of Round 2.

The bantamweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It aired on FS1 following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on FS1.

After a first round that was somewhat short on action, Soukhamthath was in need of something big to announce his presence – especially since he came into this bout winless in two UFC outings.

But after slipping a Sanders left hand, Soukhamthath came roaring back with a hard right to the jaw that flattened Sanders, who seemed to briefly lose consciousness before jolting back into the fight.

Sanders would attempt to roll away from Soukhamthath’s punches and elbows after that, going to his belly to avoid the assault while still appearing to be somewhat in possession of his faculties, but referee Josh Rosenthal decided he’d seen enough.

Just a little over a minute into the second, Rosenthal stepped in to call off the bout, much to the dismay of Sanders, who was on his feet immediately and arguing against the stoppage, but to no avail.

The win is Soukhamthath’s first in the UFC, snapping a two-fight losing streak. Sanders has now lost two straight.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 123 results: Frankie Saenz outworks Merab Dvalishvili for split decision

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Frankie Saenz spent much of his night just trying to stay upright against a takedown-minded Merab Dvalishvili.

But in a battle between one man who saw the clinch as an opportunity to strike and another who looked at it as an invitation to wrestle, Saenz (11-5 MMA, 4-3) did enough damage with his punches and knees to win a narrow split-decision victory over the debuting Dvalishvili (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

The bantamweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It aired on FS1 following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on FS1.

For Saenz, the challenge in this fight was finding and maintaining enough space to strike. That’s because Dvalishvili made it his mission to suffocate Saenz’s offense in close, using one body lock after another to attempt to drag Saenz to the mat and shut down his momentum.

The problem for Dvalishvili is that even when he finished those takedowns, they didn’t lead to much meaningful offense on the mat. And he found himself at a striking range with Saenz, he got battered by short punches and knees to the body in the clinch.

Early on it seemed like those blows might take a toll on Dvalishvili, as could the accidental clash of heads that opened his face up early in the fight.

But the UFC newcomer’s pace hardly waned over the course of three hard rounds, just as Saenz remained ever vigilant against the threat of the takedown while also managing to fire off some strikes in the small space he had to work with.

In the end, Saenz did enough to convince two of the three judges, winning the fight by the slimmest of margins with scores of 28-29, 29-28, and 29-28.

For Saenz, the win snaps a three-fight losing streak in the UFC, giving him his first victory in more than two years. Dvalishvili’s loss ends a six-fight winning streak outside the UFC.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 123 results: Davi Ramos chokes out gritty Chris Gruetzemacher in third

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Davi Ramos did nearly everything he could think of to knock Chris Gruetzemacher out.

When it almost resulted in Ramos (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) wearing himself out instead, he dragged Gruetzemacher (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) to the mat and slapped on the rear-naked choke to force the submission at the 0:50 mark of Round 3.

The lightweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. It streamed on UFC Fight Pass ahead of the rest of the card on FS1.

Ramos got off to a quick start, attacking Gruetzemacher with punches and knees in the early going, then continuing to batter him on the feet throughout the round as Greutzemacher displayed his resilience simply by remaining conscious.

But after another blistering start to the second failed to put Greutzemacher away, Ramos seemed to fade a bit under the force of his own labors. That’s when Greutzemacher turned up his own offense, forcing Ramos to rely more on takedowns to halt his momentum, which only left him even more exhausted by the time he headed for his corner at the end of the round.

After a short rest to collect himself, Ramos came out for the final round thinking takedown first. A slick transition off an unsuccessful double-leg attempt helped Ramos take Greutzemacher’s back, and from there it was a simple trip to the mat, where Ramos immediately latched on the choke and forced the tap.

The victory gives Ramos his first UFC win in two tries after a loss in his debut this past March. Greutzemacher has now lost two straight.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 123 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Fresno.)

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie