Robert Watley said it himself: To him, a fighter isn’t a true champion until defending their belt.
After what he did in the lightweight headliner of tonight’s LFA 27, which aired live on AXS TV from Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Okla., Watley can now proudly call himself a champion.
In his first attempt to defend the belt he claimed from Thiago Moises back in June, a strategic Watley (9-1) paid close attention to his corner and left no breathing room for an out-of-options Daryl Wilson (7-2). As Watley’s elbows rained down on Wilson, who’d spent the vast majority of the title bout in the same defensive position, the referee had no choice but to step in at the 4:32 mark of Round 3.
Right off the bat, Watley wasted no time in trying to take Wilson down. And, while the challenger put up a bit of a fight, it worked. Wilson kept Watley in his guard, but the champ kept his posture and managed to get just enough space to land some shots on the challenger’s face. As Wilson attempted some aggression from the bottom, Watley kept the challenger crunched up against the cage – with the occasional elbow thrown in the process.
As the final minute approached, the champ made an attempt to get Wilson’s back, but failed. The scramble ended with the two back on their feet but, by the end of the first frame, Wilson had Watley on the ground again in a sign of what was to come.
Watley came out aggressively in Round 2, setting up a takedown with punches right away. The picture was somewhat familiar: Watley picked his shots from the top, all the while keeping posture, while Wilson used his legs to alleviate the pressure. Halfway through the frame, the two were back on the feet, and Wilson found some momentum as he was the one pressuring the champ against the cage.
Wilson’s offense consisted mostly on knees to the legs and body of Watley, who attempted the reversal. A single leg attempt by Wilson was stuffed by Watley – who once more saw himself on top position, smothering Wilson with hip pressure and short elbows to end the round.
Once more, as the third round began, Wilson was unable to stop Watley’s takedown. Despite Wilson’s active legs, Watley managed to stay on top – from where he launched a lot more elbows than in the previous rounds. Wilson covered up and tried to scramble, but ultimately achieved nothing, while a cool Watley kept on raining down the blows. With little more than 30 seconds left in the round, the referee had seen enough.
Watley, whose sole pro MMA loss came in his debut, is now on a nine-fight streak. The younger Wilson, who a classy Watley said on his post-fight speech would go on to be a champion one day, had a five-fight victorious streak snapped.
‘Superman’ Spann goes full Thor on Dennis
A beef that started outside the LFA cage got one violent ending inside of it, courtesy of Ryan Spann’s massive right hand.
Spann (12-5) and fellow light heavyweight Myron Dennis (15-7) had engaged in a social media back-and-forth since an original booking between them fell through in April. But what had so far been a conversation gave place to a monologue in tonight’s co-headliner, which Spann basically controlled from the start.
A solid initial burst by Dennis was quickly halted by Spann, who took him down. Dennis managed to scramble back up but, after a while against the cage, he was once more tossed to the ground by Spann. Again, Dennis stood up, but Spann wouldn’t relent control, pressing him against the cage and blocking any offense with his hip.
A little past the halfway mark of Round 1, Dennis’ wide smile showed he’d got the fight back where he wanted: on the feet. Unfortunately for him, that backfired in a major way when a massive right hand landed clean on his face. A rocked Dennis stumbled a little, but Spann followed up with shots that prompted the ref to step in.
“I might be ‘Superman,’ but I can drop the hammer like Thor,” Spann told AXS TV’s Phoenix Carnevale afterward.
Spann, who’s now two fights removed from a loss to Karl Roberson, used the conventional “closed mouths don’t get fed” wisdom to ask for a stab at the belt. He also clarified that, social media jabs aside, there’s no disrespect for his opponent.
Alexander Hernandez sets the tone in LFA debut
If it was a statement that Alexander Hernandez (8-1) wanted, the 25-year-old lightweight can consider the job done.
The LFA debutant took no notice of Derrick Adkins (7-2), dominating the fellow lightweight from the initial seconds of the first round up until the 1:53 mark of the third. Adkins was never entirely out but, considering the amount of punishment he’d been taking with very little response, the ref decided he had seen enough.
LFA 27 results include:
- Robert Watley def. Daryl Wilson via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:32 to retain lightweight title
- Ryan Spann def. Myron Dennis TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:08
- Alex Hernandez def. Derrick Adkins via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 1:53
- Kendrick Latchman def. Tyler Shinn via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Ed Cline def. Levi Queen via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 2:11
- Kyle Driscoll def. Ken Coulter via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)