andhagen extends his MMA record to 12-2 win-loss and put himself in title contention.
Bantamweight No. 4 ranked Cory Sandhagen landed a spinning heel kick to knock out No. 1 Marlon Moraes in the main event of the UFC Fight Night series held in Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island.
In the opening round, Moraes and Sandhagen exchanged hard body and leg kicks, and were equally matched. In the second round, Sandhagen, the favourite, showed more intent. After 1 minute and 3 seconds, he pulled out a spinning kick to throw Moraes on the mat and end the five-round headline event in the second one. With his fifth career knockout, Sandhagen extended his MMA record to 12-2 win-loss and put himself in title contention.
Talking about the knockout kick, Sandhagen said: “That’s all the hard work I put in during the quarantine. When you can’t go to the gym and all that you can hit is the bob. I added that into my game during the weird timing. I was always working and hard work pays off.”
Joaquin Buckley delivers stunning KO
Apart from the six main card fights, there were seven preliminary bouts, with a standout performance from Joaquin Buckley. In the second round of the middleweight category bout, Buckley hit a vicious spinning kick to freeze Impa Kasanganay and earn himself the ‘Performance of the Night’ award.
“It was just open. I saw that he still had my legs, I was still able to balance with him grabbing my foot. So, I just spun and kicked. I aimed and I fired and it got the result we needed. I know I landed flush, I didn’t know if I knocked him out though until he locked up and I said it was game over. I train it all the time, the only thing that was different was him holding my leg, but I practice it all the time,” Buckley said.
Edson Barboza floors Makwan Amirkhani
Featherweight No. 14 Edson Barboza defeated Makwan Amirkhani to extend his MMA record to 21-9 win-loss record. From the start, Barboza was the aggressor of the two fighters. In the second round, Barboza dropped Amirkhani with powerful punches and later attempted an anaconda choke. The deciding round was closely fought but Barboza had done enough to get a unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 and 29-28).
“I am very happy to get my W (win) back to the house,” Barboza said. “I am here to be the champ. Please, give me a top 5 or 6, I am ready to go.”
Marcin Tybura thumps Ben Rothwell
Marcin Tybura prevailed over an experienced Ben Rothwell in the heavyweight division fight that went the distance. Rothwell started well in the opening round but Tybura countered and returned strongly in the next two to secure a unanimous decision result (29-27). Tybura extended his three-fight winning streak with a 20-6 win-loss MMA record.
“I tried to avoid his punches. He is a heavy striker. I wasn’t able to avoid everything,” Tybura said. “I love Fight Island and as long as the UFC is staying here, I will be glad to be back.”
Du Plessis impresses on UFC debut
Dricus du Plessis, making his UFC debut with a decorated 14-2 MMA record, knocked down Markus Perez in the first round of the middleweight category bout. After exchange of body and leg kicks, du Plessis floored Perez with a left hook and pounded punches to secure his sixth career victory by knockout.
“This is the happiest moment I have even been in my whole life. I never had any experience like this,” du Plessis said.
Tom Aspinall thrashes Alan Baudot
Tom Aspinall finished the heavyweight division bout against Alan Baudot in just 1 minute and 35 seconds of the opening round. Aspinall took down Baudot and landed punches as the referee called off the fight. With a technical knockout result, Aspinall extended his winning streak to five.
“I made a few mistakes and wasn’t happy with that, but a win is a win,” he said. “I feel I have lots to learn and got another 10 years in the game at least.”
llia Topuria dominates Youssef Zalal
llia Topuria made a statement on UFC debut with a unanimous decision (29-28) victory over Youssef Zalal in the featherweight division. Topuria dominated across three rounds with many submission attempts. He clinched an intriguing contest to continue his 9-0 unbeaten run in the MMA circle. “I had very close submission. He was a very tough guy not to tap out,” Topuria said. “I am ready to fight again in November.”
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