LAS VEGAS, January 1 – Jeremy Stephens spoiled the lightweight debut of Marcus Davis Saturday, scoring a chilling third round knockout of the former welterweight contender in UFC 125 preliminary action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Davis vs. Stephens
After a slow start, Stephens rushed Davis in order to get him to the mat. It was Davis who scored the takedown though, putting Stephens on his back with a little more than two minutes gone. Stephens turned the tables on the mat, and the two battled to their feet. There, Davis wobbled Stephens with a left hand, but he was unable to follow up before the bell sounded. See post-fight interview
Stephens came out fast for round two, looking for some payback. Davis’ movement was solid, but Stephens was still able to get a few licks in. The southpaw Davis countered well, looking relaxed while fighting from long-range. Midway through the round, Stephens drove Davis to the fence, but again it was “The Irish Hand Grenade” with the takedown. Stephens had the presence of mind to lock up Davis arm, and he worked a kimura on the Maine veteran, who played it cool until he was able to get lose with under a minute left. From there, the two traded ground strikes, with no significant damage being done.
With five minutes left, Stephens roared out of his corner looking to empty his tank, yet again, Davis was cool under fire as he ducked under Stephens’ haymakers. He couldn’t hold Stephens off forever though, and a short right hand on the button sent Davis down hard. A final shot from Stephens brought in referee Kim Winslow to halt the bout at the 2:33 mark.
With the win, Stephens ups his record to 19-6; Davis falls to 22-9. At the time of the stoppage, the bout was dead even 19-19 on two scorecards, with the third giving Davis a 20-18 edge.
Grispi vs. Poirier
If not for an injury to UFC featherweight boss Jose Aldo, Josh Grispi could have been fighting for a world title tonight. Instead, he ran into a buzzsaw named Dustin Poirier, who delivered a championship level performance in winning a shutout three round decision. See post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Poirier.
Poirier came out banging, scoring with thudding kicks. Grispi was cool under fire, even trying to pull guard for a moment when the Louisiana native bulled him to the fence. As the round progressed, Poirier continued to nail Grispi with lefts and rights, mixing in the occasional kick as well. Grispi, his face reddened, came up short on a takedown attempt and even got knocked down by a kick to the body. Poirier moved in and landed a couple of ground strikes, but then backed up, not wishing to get caught in a grappling battle. Grispi rose and ate another series of punches but eventually the fight got to the mat. There, Grispi worked for his foe’s arm and almost got it, but Poirier fought loose and walked back to his corner with a slight smile after a big first round.
Grispi came out fast in his first visit to the second round since 2007, but Poirier didn’t lose any steam on his attack as he drilled his foe again with hard shots. Grispi got the fight back to the mat, but was unable to break “The Diamond” before the two got back to their feet. After going to the mat once again, Poirier worked his ground strikes effectively, but almost got caught in a triangle choke by Grispi, who lost his grip on the hold after a slam to the mat. Following that lost opportunity, Grispi got to his feet, only to take another assault of strikes before the bell.
Poirier refused to take his foot off the gas in round three, yet while he kept piling up the points, Grispi wouldn’t wave the white flag, and as the bout got into its closing stages, he got a much needed takedown. With a minute left, Grispi got into side control briefly, trying to pull off a miracle comeback, but Poirier’s defense remained solid, and he was able to make it to the final bell unscathed and with a major win under his belt.
With the win, Poirier improves to 9-1; Grispi falls to 14-2. It was his first loss since 2006.
Baroni vs. Tavares
The Ultimate Fighter season 11’s Brad Tavares continued to impress in middleweight action, as he stopped veteran Phil Baroni in the first round. See post-fight interview
Baroni came out with a more measured attack, and Tavares made him pay with some hard leg kicks, but the New Yorker scored with a short left hook that hurt the Hawaiian. Tavares tried to bounce back with a takedown attempt, but Baroni answered by sprawling and firing away with punches as he pushed his opponent to the fence. Tavares worked his way back up and out of trouble, and his movement kept Baroni from getting into a rhythm on the feet. With two minutes left, Tavares had Baroni pinned to the fence, but a subsequent takedown attempt came up empty. Tavares remained in control though, with only an inadvertent low knee breaking the two up. After the re-start, Tavares rocked Baroni with a left kick to the head, and while the New Yorker smiled, he was hurt, and Tavares was not about to let him off the hook, as he fired away with punches until referee Josh Rosenthal halted the bout at 4:20 of the first round.
With the win, Tavares upped his record to 6-1; Baroni falls to 13-13.
Brown vs. Nunes
Brazil’s Diego Nunes scored the biggest win of his pro career, defeating former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown via split decision in an exciting three rounder. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Nunes, who ups his record to 16-1; Brown falls to 24-7.
Brown’s gameplan was simple – walk through Nunes’ incoming fire and get him to the mat. After eating a few kicks, Brown closed the distance and – with the aid of a series of hard knees to the legs – slammed his foe to the canvas. Nunes got back to his feet, but Brown’s strikes had almost immediately shut his foe’s left eye, and he staggered back to the fence. Nunes shook the cobwebs loose and began landing hard kicks to Brown’s legs and torso, but the former featherweight champ continued to march forward. It was Nunes who finished strong though, with a series of knees to the head.
After a visit from the Octagonside physician to check out his eye, Nunes was cleared to continue and he came out gunning with kicks. Brown sought an opportunity to put the Brazilian on his back, but Nunes avoided the takedown attempts and peppered his foe with a varied array of strikes, bouncing back to win the round.
Nunes again started fast in round three, but just when he was getting into a striking rhythm, Brown bulled him into the fence and began working on the inside. The two took turns in control before separating, but Brown drove his foe right back to the fence moments later. Nunes broke loose without taking any significant damage, and the next time Brown rushed him, Nunes landed some hard knees from the clinch. Undeterred, Brown got his long sought after takedown, but Nunes defended it well and finished the fight with another series of strikes.
Roberts vs. Soto
Daniel “Ninja” Roberts continued his rise up the welterweight ranks, smoothly submitting fellow prospect Greg Soto in the first round. See post-fight interview
Soto opened up the scoring by cracking Roberts with a right hand, and he followed up with a takedown and guillotine choke attempt. Roberts battled his way loose, and despite catching a couple knees on the way out, he got back to his feet. Moments later, Roberts got Soto to the mat and went to work. Soto didn’t stay idle on the bottom, as he landed with a hard left elbow, but it was Roberts who was biding his time and waiting for an opening, which came as he locked Soto’s arm in a kimura and ended matters via tap out at the 3:45 mark.
With the win, Roberts improves to 12-2; Soto falls to 8-2.
Volkmann vs. McKee
It was a typical Antonio McKee fight, as the veteran standout went the distance for the 22nd time in his career, but this time, he wasn’t able to pull off the victory, as he dropped an uneventful three round split decision to Jacob Volkmann in the lightweight opener. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Volkmann, who improves to 12-2; McKee, who was making his Octagon debut, falls to 25-4-2.
The first round played out as expected, as a war of attrition broke out. McKee was able to land a few good strikes early on, and Volkmann countered with the lone takedown of the frame, but was unable to do anything with it once on the mat.
Volkmann’s wrestling began to play dividends in round two, as he fought off a takedown attempt, scrambled into position and took McKee’s back, where he sunk in a rear naked choke. McKee fought off the finishing hold, but eventually Volkmann locked it back on. McKee fired off strikes, trying to loosen his foe’s grip, and just before the bell he broke free, drawing an appreciative roar from the crowd.
After his rough second round, McKee finished the bout strong, potshotting Volkmann with strikes before a late takedown. But it was too little too late on two of the three scorecards, giving “Christmas” his third UFC win.