NEWARK, N.J. – Fans who didn’t show up in time for UFC 159's first fight missed an entertaining scrap as Steven Siler topped Kurt Holobaugh in an early “Fight of the Night” candidate.

The featherweight bout opened the preliminary card of today’s UFC 159 event at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. It streamed on Facebook ahead of additional prelims on FX and the pay-per-view main card.

The two set a torrid pace to open the fight while rifling off stiff low kicks and firing heavy leather up top. As they pushed into a Thai clinch, Siler drilled his opponent with several knees to the gut before wrapping the waist and slamming him to the mat. Holobaugh immediately rolled to escape, but Siler transitioned to the back, where he teed off with heavy punches while looking for an opportunity to sink in a choke.

As Holobaugh tried a rolling escape, Siler latched on to a deep rear-naked-choke attempt. With blood spewing from his mouth, Holobaugh somehow survived what looked to be a certain fight-ending hold and earned himself a second round.

Holobaugh tried to quickly reverse the momentum in the second round as he immediately dove into a guillotine choke. The move didn’t work, but after a few entertaining transitions, Holobaugh worked to top position and unleashed several heavy ground-and-pound blows. It was then Siler’s face that was bloodied as plasma streamed from his nose.

Siler scrambled to his feet with one minute remaining, and the two took turns teeing off before Holobaugh finished with one late takedown and a few odd punches to the leg before the bell sounded.

With the fight seemingly in the balance in the final frame, both fighters moved forward at the bell. Siler eventually moved back into the Thai clinch while working knees inside. Holobaugh worked the body with his hands. As the two continued to trade in the pocket, Holobaugh tried to move inside and look for a hip toss. Unfortunately for him, Siler countered perfectly and again secured the back as they fell to the canvas.

Siler tried again to lock in a choke from the dominant position, but a gutsy Holobaugh survived each attempt. Still, with Siler controlling the grappling in the latter half of the frame, he secured the win in an incredibly exciting fight. All three judges awarded him the contest with 29-28 scores.

After the fight, Siler revealed he found out earlier in the day that he’s now a father-to-be.

“I found out I’m going to be a daddy today, so this is without a doubt the best day of my life,” Siler said.

With the win, Siler (22-10 MMA, 4-1 UFC) improves to an impressive 4-1 in the octagon and rebounds from a November loss to Darren Elkins. Holobaugh (9-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a onetime Strikeforce vet, loses in his UFC debut but likely earned another look from the promotion.

“It was a great back-and-forth fight, and he has won three of his last four, so I know he deserves to be here,” Holobaugh said. “I’m just trying to figure out where I fit in.”

Up-to-the-minute UFC 159 results include:

  • Steven Siler def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

For complete coverage of UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

Matt Erickson and Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on-site in Newark.

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