LAS VEGAS – In a meeting of recent winners of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Robert Whittaker had the Kryptonite to Colton Smith’s smothering style.
Expertly countering Smith’s charges, Whittaker bloodied and stopped him early in the third round.
The welterweight bout was part of today’s UFC 160 event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on FX following additional prelims on Facebook and prior to a main card on pay-per-view.
With his right fist cocked by his chin, Whittaker, who won “The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs. U.K.,” knew exactly what the wanted to do from the outset: stop the takedown. And stop it he did for much of the first round, sneaking in quick punches as “TUF 16? winner Smith closed the distance.
Whittaker was so focused on avoiding the takedown, he several times neglected to defend himself, and Smith capitalized with a few well-timed punches. A right hand dropped Whittaker, setting up a near-submission at the end of the first frame.
Smith immediately fought for the takedown early in the second and paid for it when Whittaker landed a left hand that wobbled him. He repaid the favor on several occasions, however, when Whittaker again left himself exposed to lead right hands. But despite a near-completed takedown midway through the frame, Whittaker continued to have success counter-striking. By the end of the frame, Smith’s face showed the bloody results of Whittaker’s punches.
Whittaker’s strategy won him the fight early in the third as Smith charged and caught a left hook to the jaw that prompted referee Chris Tognoni to intervene at the 0:41 mark of the third.
“I was hitting him a lot, so I’m thankful they stopped it when they did,” Whittaker said. “The referee is there to prevent injuries, and that’s exactly what he did. He clipped me good and shocked me a little, but I got my defenses up. I considered it good shot and I just tried to give him 10 back for every one that he gave me.”
“Robert Whittaker and I were throwing down in there for the fans,” Smith said. “I’ve been called a boring fighter in the past, and I really wanted to go in there and throw this time. We both knocked each other down. I was coherent when he dropped me and I could’ve gone five more rounds if needed. I’d love to have that third round back, but you don’t get second chances in the octagon. Even though I disagree with the referee’s decision, I respect how difficult their job is and I understand why they make the choices they make.”
Whittaker (11-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) begins his post-reality show career on a high note while Smith (3-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) suffers the second loss of his short pro career.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 160 results include:
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John Morgan and Matt Erickson contributed to this report on-site in Las Vegas.