TYRON WOODLEY is still the UFC welterweight champion after he ended Darren Till’s title aspirations, and unbeaten record, by submitting the Liverpool man in the second round of their clash at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Till entered the fight as the betting favourite and was surrounded by plenty of hype, however Woodley had other ideas, crowning his return from injury in perfect style and proving to all the doubters that he is still the top dog in the 170lb division.
After a cautious first round in which Woodley was the only one to muster anything of note, “The Chosen One” exploded into life immediately in the second, dropping the advancing Till with a big right hand, almost ending the action there.
But Till had other ideas desperately defending himself, as Woodley landed some lethal elbows, opening up a cut on Till. Woodley remained patient, as Till scrambled away in survival mode, before launching one final striking volley and finally, sinking in a tight D’Arce Choke, which Till couldn’t escape from, tapping out quickly after.
It was a huge win for Woodley, who has become almost a forgotten man in the division which he holds the gold, as brash challengers like Till have emerged during his injury hiatus. This will serve as a reminder to the rest that Woodley has plenty left in the tank.
As for Till, he has had well documented issues with the 170lb weight limit and although there were no issues this week, his immediate future will probably be up at middleweight. The Liverpool man, gracious in defeat, will come again, but as he admitted himself, he was beaten by the better man.
After the cancellation of the scheduled UFC women’s flyweight title, due to the now former champion Nicco Montano’s health concerns in the week, strawweight’s Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalciewicz were promoted to the co-main event slot, with Andrade coming away with the win in stunning fashion.
The Brazilian flew out of the gate, pouncing on Kowalciewicz, who had no answer for the pressure and power of Andrade. It was all over in less than two minutes, as Andrade ironed out her Polish foe with a single right hand to end matters and potentially earn a title shot in the very near future.
Zabit Magomedsharipov has been billed as a future star in the UFC and he lived up to all expectations, submitting Brandon Davis with a superb kneebar. Zabit took down Davis on a couple of occasions in the second, before taking his short notice opponent’s back as he turned.
It appeared as if the Dagestan featherweight had his sights set on a rear-naked choke, however he transitioned to the leg and gave Davis no choice but to tap out. Zabit wasted no time in calling out Chad Mendes in his post-fight interview, which will certainly create plenty of interest.
Jimmie Rivera bounced back from defeat in June with a unanimous decision win over John Dodson in a dull bantamweight affair. Rivera pressed forward and landed more blows, as Dodson occasionally flickered briefly into action. It was scored 30-27 twice and 29-28. Rivera’s next opponent could well be Aljamain Sterling, who submitted Cody Stamann earlier on in the evening.
Sterling was highly impressive in an entertaining matchup with Stamann, who was undone midway through the second round by a stunning kneebar finish, as Sterling locked in the hold as he was doing his best impression of a rucksack on Stamann’s back. It was Sterling’s first finish of any sort since his win over Johnny Eduardo in 2015.
In the welterweight division, Abdul Razak Alhassan and Geoff Neal both recorded brutal knockout wins over Niko Price and Frank Camacho respectively. Alhassan needed just 43 seconds to take his first round knockout streak to 10, whilst Neal had to wait till the second round, but it was well worth the wait, as he flattened the normally durable Camacho with an incredible head kick to announce himself to the UFC fanbase. Perhaps a meeting between the pair could be next?
Tatiana Suarez remained undefeated, dominating former strawweight champion Carla Esparza in their clash, eventually stopping her in the third and final round with less than 30 seconds on the clock. Esparza had no answer for Suarez, who rag dolled her on the ground and confirm her status as a future champion.
Darren Stewart picked up a second successive win in the middleweight division, as he stopped Charles Byrd in the second round. Byrd looked to be in control, before an elbow from Stewart quickly turned the tide and Stewart took advantage of the momentum switch, stopping Byrd in front of his home crowd.
On the Fight Pass portion of the card, Jim Miller and Diego Sanchez rolled back the years with big wins. Miller, in his 30th fight in the UFC, submitted Alex White in 90 seconds with a rear-naked choke in their lightweight battle.
As for Sanchez, he mauled Craig White for 15 minutes to earn a unanimous decision in their welterweight scrap. White had planted a kiss on Sanchez the day before at the weigh-in, which proved to be a mistake, as a fired up Sanchez planted him on his back for what was a miserable three rounds for “The Thundercat”.
An early contender for “Fight of the Night” was served up by ranked bantamweight’s Irene Aldana and Lucie Pudilova in one of the more memorable women’s fights of recent times. Aldana picked up a split decision win, 29-28 twice and 28-29 the other way, despite breaking her hand in the first round.
Also winning by split decision was late notice replacement, Jarred Brooks who stepped in at flyweight to take on Roberto Sanchez. Brooks did enough, with two judges agreeing to score it 29-28, whilst the third gave it by the same score in favour of Sanchez.