FORTALEZA, BRAZIL – In an exciting back-and-forth fight contested mostly on the feet, Rodrigo Damm made his home Brazilian fans happy – but maybe not has happy as he was.
Damm picked up a split-decision win over Mizuto Hirota, getting a pair of 29-28 scores before erupting in jubilation over his victory.
The featherweight bout was part of today’s UFC on FUEL TV 10 event at Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. It streamed on Facebook ahead of a main card on FUEL TV.
Hirota looked to strike early, and he and Damm traded heavy hands in the first minute. Hirota looked like he had Damm hurt and backing up, but Damm landed a counter that had Hirota on the canvas for a moment. And that counter-striking would be the hallmark of the fight for Damm. Damm appeared to land more often in the first, but many of the strikes were of the counter variety.
Damm’s striking game opened again with counter-punches in the second, but he landed a good combination 75 seconds in that had Hirota backing up. Damm continued to eat punches, but it was his that appeared to be a little stronger. Hirota started to put together punches in combos with a couple minutes left, trying to turn the tide. With about a minute left, Damm shot for a single-leg takedown that wasn’t there, but at least tried to change things up.
With the fight perhaps hanging in the balance, Damm again went after a single 50 seconds in – but Hirota sprawled his way out of it. Ninety seconds in, Damm landed a good right hand, then tried to follow it with a right-left a moment later. It was Hirota who landed a pair of combinations after that, and Damm again shot to no avail. Damm tried to land a few kicks, and the crowd got behind the Brazilian.
Hirota thought about a takedown, but Damm shrugged it off and landed another leg kick. With a minute left, Damm finally got the takedown he wanted, and followed it up with a suplex. But Hirota quickly was back to his feet to finish the fight. That suplex, though, may have been what put Damm over the top.
“I knew he was a tough guy,” Damm said. “I had seen it in his fight agains Rani Yahya, who is even better than me on the ground and still couldn’t submit him. I knew that he was strong and had good defense, but I stuck to my strategy and it worked. At the end, I got that beautiful takedown and I think that made a difference and brought me the win.”
Damm (11-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) gets back in the win column after a November split-decision loss to Antonio Carvalho. Hirota (14-7-1 MMA, 0-2 UFC) lost for the third straight time after decision setbacks to Pat Healy in Strikeforce and Rani Yahya in his UFC debut in March.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on FUEL TV 10 results include:
For complete coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 10, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Rodrigo Damm)
John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Brazil.