Swanson was the better man in San Antonio. | Ed Mulholland/Zuffa
Swanson cleared what appears to be the final obstacle standing
between him and a crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship
Swanson pushed his streak of consecutive victories to six with a
unanimous decision over Alliance MMA’s Jeremy
Stephens in the
UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Stephens” headliner on Saturday at
the AT&T Center in San Antonio. All three judges ruled in favor
of Swanson (21-5, 6-1 UFC), striking 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47
scorecards for the Jackson-Wink MMA export.
Stephens (23-10, 10-9 UFC) was game but outmatched in suffering his
first defeat at 145 pounds. Swanson utilized a multi-pronged
standup attack and twice doubled over the California-based Iowan
with body kicks, first in the third round and again in the fifth.
On both occasions, he unleashed right hands to the head in an
effort to secure a stoppage, and on both occasions, Stephens stood
Down on the scorecards, the underdog made his final pitch for an
upset late in the fifth round. There, he tagged Swanson with
multiple clubbing right hands but failed to author the finish he
Gastelum Surges Past Musoke
In the welterweight co-main event, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17
Gastelum kept his perfect professional record intact with a
unanimous decision over Nicholas
Musoke. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Gastelum (9-0, 4-0
Gastelum overcame a slow start in which he succumbed to a takedown
and had his taken by the Swede in the first round. The 22-year-old
Arizonan found another gear in the second, as he overwhelmed Musoke
with stinging multi-punch bursts that drove him into a defensive
shell. Gastelum picked up where he left off in round three, where
he menaced “Nico” with punching combinations, all while mixing in
kicks to the head and body.
The defeat halted a modest three-fight winning streak for Musoke
(12-3, 2-1 UFC).
Blackzilians’ Ferreira Downs Craig
“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1 winner Cezar
Ferreira leaned on timely takedowns and damaging
counterstriking in capturing a unanimous decision from former
Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Andrew
Craig in a middleweight showcase. All three cageside judges
scored it for Ferreira (8-3, 4-1 UFC).
A longtime Vitor
Belfort protégé, Ferreira did his best work in rounds one and
three. In the first, he drove the game Craig to the canvas behind a
straight left hand and later threatened with a guillotine choke; in
the third, he opened a gnarly diagonal cut on the Texan’s forehead
with an exquisite standing elbow. In between, the two middleweights
circled and traded.
Behind on the scorecards and leaking blood, Craig (9-3, 3-3 UFC)
did not quit. He nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback in the
final minute, as he staggered Ferreira with a head kick and
followed up with a volley of punches. However, time ran out on the
Team Tooke representative.
Lamas Outduels Nova Uniao’s Dias
Lamas won for the eighth time in 10 appearances, as he took a
unanimous decision from Nova Uniao’s Hacran Dias
in a featherweight showcase. Lamas (14-3, 5-1 UFC) swept the
scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks.
Dias (21-3-1, 1-2 UFC) had his moments and was particularly
effective in the first round, where he blasted the onetime title
challenger with brutal kicks to the lead leg. However, Lamas was
persistent with his clinches and attempted takedowns. While he was
rarely successful in getting the Brazilian to the ground, his
efforts kept Dias bottled up against the cage and allowed the
Chicagoan to pile up points in close quarters. Lamas transitioned
to Dias’ back in the third round and tried a standing rear-naked
choke, only to be shrugged off.
Hester Streak Reaches Seven
Heavy power punches and kicks spurred “The Ultimate Fighter” Season
17 graduate Clint
Hester to a split verdict over Team Nogueira’s Antonio
Braga Neto in a featured battle at 185 pounds. All three judges
scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Hester (11-3, 4-0
Neto (9-2, 1-1 UFC), a two-time Mundials gold medalist, controlled
the first round with his grappling, as he struck for multiple
takedowns, softened his foe with ground-and-pound and ultimately
achieved full mount. However, the Brazilian slowed visibly in round
two, allowing Hester to gain a foothold in the match. The
Atlanta-based middleweight tore into Neto with kicks and punches to
the head before countering a takedown into top position. Neto
immediately reversed and again moved to mount, but his inability to
finish proved costly.
Hester enjoyed further success in the third round, unleashing
powerful punches to the head and body before surviving another Neto
mount. He has rattled off seven straight wins.
Once-Beaten Ellenberger Denies Moontasri
Former Victory Fighting Championship titleholder Joe
Ellenberger made a successful Octagon debut, as he picked up a
split decision over James
Moontasri in a lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges
scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Ellenberger (15-1, 1-0
Moontasri (7-2, 0-1 UFC) had his 29-year-old counterpart reeling in
round one, where he tagged him with a ringing right uppercut and
smashed him with ground-and-pound. Ellenberger weathered the
onslaught and pushed the fight to a second round. From there, he
turned the corner, utilizing takedowns and relentless topside
grappling in a remarkable show of determination.
Round three saw both lightweights yield to fatigue. Ellenberger was
the more active fighter down the stretch, leaning heavily on
takedowns and clinches. Clearly exhausted, he collapsed to his back
late in the round. Moontasri did not capitalize.
Undefeated Ferreira Sinks Smith
Onetime Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Carlos
Diego Ferreira submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16
Smith with a first-round rear-naked choke in an undercard
pairing at 155 pounds. Smith (3-4, 1-3 UFC) raised the white flag
48 seconds into round one.
The unbeaten Ferreira (10-0, 1-0 UFC) welcomed a close-quarters
battle. He lured Smith into the clinch, struck for a trip takedown
and forced the American to surrender his back with punches. The
no-hooks choke came next, followed by the tapout. Smith, 26, has
lost three fights in a row, all of them finishes.
Gibson Scores Controversial Stoppage
Tachi Palace Fights veteran Cody Gibson
Bedford with a looping right hand less than a minute into the
first round of their preliminary bantamweight tilt. Referee Kerry
Hatley called a controversial halt to the match 38 seconds into
round one, despite spirited protests from Bedford.
(+ Enlarge) Photo: Ed Mulholland/Zuffa/Getty
Bedford reacted harshly to the stoppage.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 graduate was the aggressor from
the start, as he doubled over Gibson (12-4, 1-1 UFC) with a left
hook to the body and followed up with a knee to the head. The
Californian answered, driving Bedford backward and landing a
clubbing right hand that sent him crashing awkwardly to the
Hatley made his decision while Gibson was preparing to swarm on
Bedford (19-11-1, 2-2 UFC), who was dazed but appeared conscious,
lucid and able to defend himself.
Guimaraes Outduels MMA Lab’s Enz
Leg kicks, takedowns and a series of overhand rights carried former
Jungle Fight champion Marcelo
Guimaraes to a split decision over MMA Lab export Andy Enz in a
preliminary middleweight affair. Two of the three cageside judges
sided with Guimaraes (9-1-1, 2-1 UFC) by identical 29-28 marks; a
third cast a dissenting 30-27 nod in favor of Enz.
Guimaraes did his best work in the second and third rounds, where
he attacked the Alaskan with timely right hands and chopped down
his base with repeated kicks to the legs. Enz (7-2, 0-2 UFC)
enjoyed some success, particularly in round one, but lacked the
necessary aggression to keep the Brazilian at bay.
The 31-year-old Guimaraes has recorded eight wins in his past nine
Borg Choke Finishes Howell
Promising flyweight prospect Ray Borg
Howell unconscious with a first-round rear-naked choke in an
undercard clash at 125 pounds. Howell (13-7, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to
the choke 2:17 into round one, his six-fight winning streak
Borg (7-1, 1-1 UFC) stuck the Bellator MMA and King of the Cage
alum with a right hand before executing a single-leg takedown. The
20-year-old then transitioned from a front headlock position to
Howell’s back, sinking the choke in one, smooth motion. Howell
briefly freed himself, but Borg refused to be denied. He cinched
the choke again with his back to the cage and finished it.
Oleinik Neck Crank Submits Hamilton
Oleinik submitted onetime Maximum Fighting Championship
Hamilton with a first-round neck crank in a preliminary
heavyweight scrap. Hamilton (12-3, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:18
into round one.
Oleinik (49-9-1, 1-0 UFC) stunned the Jackson-Wink MMA export with
a pair of right hands before securing a double-leg takedown. Once
on the ground, the 37-year-old Russian moved immediately to a
seated side mount position and locked in the neck crank for the
finish. Oleinik has won his last 10 bouts, nine of them by