Saturday brunch for UFC fans was chokes, upsets, and a mouthpiece flying across the ring, and in the end, it was the bad way to start the weekend.
ESPN2 hosted six fights that kicked off the UFC’s first event in Prague in the Czech Republic and while few of them were stimulating on paper, the event kicked with some fun fights, and the finishes began to mount as the show continued.
The featured prelim saw AKA’s Dwight Grant knock out Italy’s Carlo Pedersoli with just one second left in the first round to notch his first UFC win. The Italian seemed to be winning what was a competitive round when he looked to close things out with a left high kick, but Grant (9-2, 1-1 UFC) caught with a deadly overhand right that dropped him and sent his mouthpiece across the cage. Grant followed with a series of unanswered uppercuts and referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight with just one second left in the round. While the timing seemed suspect, it was a good stoppage as Pedersoli (11-3, 1-2 UFC) was out and actually defending himself from Goddard as the fight was stopped.
Also notching his first UFC win is former Cage Warriors 145 pound champion Chris Fishgold, who submitted Sweden’s Daniel Teymur with a rear naked choke in the second round. Fishgold (18-2, 1-1 UFC) has significant size and power advantage coming into this fight and he used all of it, consistently forcing Teymur to grapple and push him away. Teymur lost a point for a fence grab early in the first and that set the tone for a difficult round. Teymur (6-3,0-3 UFC) showed a ton of grit, surviving a fully stretched out armbar to the end the first, but Fishgold’s grappling was too good and he managed to lock in the choke and Teymur tapped at 1:10 of Round 2.
In the only female fight of the prelims, flyweights Gillian Robertson and Veronica Macedo displayed some excellent grappling, with each showing fun transitions and going for submissions. Macedo, a Tae Kwan Do black belt, showed a clear advantage on the feet, but Robertson responded by repeatedly looking to take Macedo down and look for submissions. Macedo’s defense won out through the first round, but Robertson (6-3, 3-1 UFC) again found herself in mount in the second. Macedo (5-3-1, 0-3 UFC) looked to explode out but gave her back and you don’t do around Robertson, who took the back and quickly locked in the rear naked choke and forced Macedo to submit at 3:27 of Round 2.
Denmark based Bosnian Damir Hadzovic had the most dominant performance of the undercard, needing only two minutes to stop Marco Polo Reyes in a lightweight clash. The Bosnian was landing sharp shots early when he decided to close the distance and scored a big takedown. He was soon in the mount and landing shots and Reyes had no answer and Leon Roberts stopped in at 2:03 of the first round.
In a pretty huge upset, Ismail Naurdiev, a twenty-two year old debutante known as the “Austraian Wonderboy” ended Michel Prazeres’s eight fight winning streak, beating the Brazilian grappling ace by unanimous decision. They had a super active first round and halfway through, Naurdiev rocked Prazeres with a combination that forced the Brazilian to shoot. While Parzeres landed takedowns in each of the three rounds, Naurdiev made him work for all three and stuffed several shots. He also scrambled well and even had a RNC at one point in the first round, but the Brazilian survived.
Both men were spent after the first round, but Austrian saved his energy to land big strikes, including some hard head kicks and flying knees. By the third, Prazeres was completely spent and Naurdiev was able to get on top and land some serious GNP, which was nothing short of shocking. The Austrian came into the fight as +350 underdog and few fighters have debuted in the UFC against fighters on such a winning streak. This guy is one to keep an eye on.
In another upset, Diego Ferreira ended the six fight winning streak of Dagestan’s Rustan Khabilov, controlling a fun fight throughout and winning by unanimous decision. In a matchup between a third degree BJJ black belt and a world combat sambo champion, BJJ won this time as Ferreira came forward with no fear and landed the better punches, and whenever Khabilov did take him down, he was never able to hold him down. Rustan was landing a solid left jab in the second round, but Ferreira never stopped coming forward and that carried him onto the decision. It was the fourth straight win for the Brazilian training in Texas.