FORMER UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman snapped a three fight losing streak and got back to winning ways with a victory over Kelvin Gastelum, submitting him in the third round, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, New York.
It was Weidman’s first win since 2015, when he was defended his title against Vitor Belfort and a welcome return in front of his home crowd, who have seen him lose twice since MMA was legalised in the state of New York.
Weidman controlled the majority of the match, outwrestling Gastelum, who served the American with a reminder of his substantial power at the end of the first, as Weidman was dropped by a nasty left hand and was saved by the bell.
However, Weidman was patient and looked dangerous every time it went to the mat. Gastelum defended admirably, but it all became too much in the third, as Weidman got himself in position to sink in the arm-triangle choke and wasn’t to be denied a third time in front of his adoring fans. Final time of the stoppage was 3:46 into the third round.
In the chief support, Darren Elkins came out on top in the battle of the ranked featherweight’s over Dennis Bermudez, winning his fifth fight in a row, by way of a split decision, 29-28 twice in his favour, whilst the other 29-28 was given to “The Menace”.
Elkins earned himself a whole new legion of fans with his stunning comeback win over Mirsad Bektic in March, but it was a battle of attrition this time out with Bermudez, as the two went back-and-forth in a closely matched encounter.
Elkins secured a takedown in the first and controlled the action to take the first, whilst the second was the closest of the bunch and could have gone either way. Bermudez put his foot on the gas in the third, rocking Elkins with strikes, but the Indiana man did enough to get to the end and secure another win.
Light heavyweight’s Patrick Cummins and Gian Villante combined for a gruelling match, which left Cummins sporting a crimson mask and coming away with a well earned, split decision victory. Two judges scored it 29-28 in his favour, whilst the other gave it by the same score to Villante.
Cummins was cut open early, thanks to an accidental headbutt, but was in charge of the action, using his wrestling ability and outdoing Villante in the striking department. It was a deserved victory for Cummins in the end.
The final fight on the main card saw Jimmie Rivera secure the 20th straight win of his MMA career over Brazilian Thomas Almeida, whose usual fireworks were dampened by a superb performance by Rivera, who methodically broke down Almeida on his way to a unanimous points victory, 29-28, 30-26 and 30-27 on the cards.
Rivera dropped Almeida twice in the first with solid shots, but Almeida’s flurry of kicks and sharp strikes got him back into it in the second, although Rivera had his own success in the round. Rivera took Almeida to the floor in the third and ground out the win, to announce himself as a genuine title contender in the bantamweight division.
On the preliminary card, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos and former Bellator champion Lyman Good combined for a highly enjoyable clash at welterweight, which saw them earn Fight of the Night honours and Dos Santos come out on top by split decision, 30-27 twice and 29-28 in favour of Good.
Eryk Anders came in as a late replacement to face off with former ranked middleweight Rafael Natal and made a huge impression by stopping the Brazilian in the first round with some devastating punches of what was an unforgettable UFC debut. The official time was 2:54.
Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira and Ryan LaFlare looked to be very evenly matched in their welterweight match-up, before Oliveira unleashed an uppercut from the depths that flattened LaFlare, who had won the first and handed “Cowboy” his second victory since a no-contest last December. 1:50 was the official time and Oliveira was handed a Performance of the Night bonus.
Chase Sherman, the social-media favourite, showed off his talents inside the Octagon and added to his growing reputation, with a measured performance which led to his defeat of Damian Grabowski in the heavyweight division. Sherman was dominant, winning 30-27 twice and 30-26 on the cards.
Jeremy Kennedy was also in dominant form, drowning Kyle Bochniak on the mat on his way to a unanimous points decision at featherweight. Two judges scored it correctly at 30-27, whilst the third must have felt sympathy to Bochniak, as he scored it 29-28 in favour of the unbeaten Canadian.
Bantamweight Marlon Vera continued his good form, beautifully transitioning into a nasty armbar, which spelled the end for Brian Kelleher in the first round. The tap-out occurred at 2:18 of the first, whilst Junior Albini earned a Performance of the Night bonus, stopping ranked heavyweight Tim Johnson in the first with a flurry of heavy strikes.
Shane Burgos remained undefeated and demonstrated his huge potential as a future contender at featherweight with a unanimous, 30-26 twice and 29-28, points decision over a game, but ultimately outmatched Godofredo Pepey, whilst Chris Wade picked up the second win of his career over Frankie Perez, by unanimous decision, 29-28 twice and 30-27.