Michael Chiesa has been a fan of Carlos Condit for a long time. In fact, there's a picture floating around the internet of a young, beardless Chiesa partying with friends while wearing a Condit T-shirt.
Chiesa has been a Condit fan for so long that he knows all about the Achilles' heel in the former WEC champion's game. Condit's biggest career struggles have been against fighters who could wrestle him to the mat.
Guess what Chiesa's strategy was for their UFC 232 fight on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Chiesa took down Condit at will in the first round, even after nearly being submitted during one scramble on the mat. And in the end, Chiesa turned his welterweight debut into a grappling showcase of his own, countering a Condit front kick early in Round 2 and quickly locking in a Kimura that finished the fight at 56 seconds of the round.
It was the fifth straight loss for the 34-year-old Condit (30-13). Chiesa (15-4) ended a two-fight skid of his own.
Latifi has a leg kick that can be felt in the last row of the arena. Anderson felt it several times, yet he kept coming.
Anderson (12-4) weathered the storm in the first round, then had the pleasure of watching his fading opponent suck wind in the second. He connected with more offense in Round 2, and it looked like his fight.
Latifi (14-6, 1 NC) challenged that assumption early in the third, but his second wind did not last. He ended up taking kicks to the body and punches to the face, lots of them, and was reduced to winging desperate punches that fell short.
Latifi also fell short, as Anderson won his third straight.
Volkanovski stepped up in competition and showed he was ready for the challenge, getting his 16th straight victory by dropping two-time featherweight title challenger Mendes and getting the TKO finish at 4:14 of Round 2.
The Aussie (19-1) was a stalker in a close first round, and when Mendes (18-5) turned the tables early in the second, Volkanovski weathered the storm. He took Mendes to the canvas and tried for a choke, and when that didn't work he finished the job with a relentless standup flurry.
Harris had never before got the nod from the judges in a UFC fight, having scored knockouts in all five of his previous Octagon wins. But he had his hand raised after this heavyweight dance with Arlovski, which ended with one of those odd split decisions in which two scorecards had it 29-28 for one fighter, while the other score was 30-27 for the other guy. What?
The fight itself was odd as well, with two guys too big to miss somehow managing to miss each other with winging rights and lefts for one round, then showing little offense the rest of the way.
Harris (12-7) won his second in a row, and Arlovski (27-18-1), a 39-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion, lost his third in a row and eighth in his past 10.
If Cris Cyborg or Amanda Nunes took a break from early warm-ups to see who might be the next challenger for the women's featherweight title, there wasn't much for the co-main event stars to see. Anderson and Zingano had barely got started in their prelim when a head kick by the Aussie caught Zingano in the right eye or eyelid, prompting her to turn away and slump against the cage. Anderson looked to referee Marc Goddard, and he let the fight continue ... briefly.
After Anderson rushed in with a couple of punches, with Zingano putting up no defense while keeping her eyes closed, Goddard stepped in, declaring it a TKO at 1:01 of Round 1. It was the first UFC win for Anderson (10-3), spoiling the 145-pound debut of the 36-year-old Zingano (10-4).
The move of the fight: "No mas," a message delivered by the cornermen of Silva de Andrade following Round 2 after their fighter had been brutalized by the ground-and-pound of Yan.
The two fighters spent Round 1 showing off how many of each other's kicks and punches they could absorb, each getting in shots that would fell a lesser opponent. Then, in the second round, Yan (11-1) took over the bantamweight prelim, the 25-year-old Russian adding grappling prowess to his sharp boxing and leaving Silva (25-3, 1 NC) a bloody mess. The Brazilian's corner had seen enough.
Hall scored the grappling equivalent of a one-punch knockout, diving in on Penn and locking in a lightning-quick heel hook that elicited a lightning-quick tap ... but not quick enough to keep Penn from having to hobble out of the Octagon on a hurting knee.
The end came at 2:46 of Round 1 as Hall (8-1), a decorated jiu-jitsu black belt who had not fought a UFC fight in over two years, handed Penn (16-13-2) his sixth straight loss. Penn, the 40-year-old MMA legend and former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion, had never been submitted in 30 previous fights dating to 2001.
Something had to give. Ewell came in having won five straight fights, most recently an eye-opening win in September over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao in his UFC debut. And Wood had won six in a row, all finishes.
Make that seven in a row now for the Brit (15-3), as Wood's ramped-up aggressiveness put him in control all the way, until he caught Ewell (14-5) in a rear-naked choke at 4:12 of the third round.
It was looking like quite a sharp UFC debut for Lewis ... until it wasn't. Hall, who came into their middleweight bout having lost four of his past five bouts, looked tentative for two rounds and was repeatedly beaten to the punch ... until he wasn't.
Hall (14-9) connected with a counter uppercut that turned out the lights at 1:32 of Round 3, handing Lewis (6-1) his first career loss.
Millender won his ninth fight in a row (17-3), keeping Bahadurzada out of range for most of the fight on his way to a unanimous-decision victory in their welterweight prelim.
Millender (17-3) wobbled Bahadurzada midway through the final round but couldn't land a finishing blow, as Bahadurzada continued to shake his head derisively, even as his face grew bloodier and his gait became increasingly unsteady. Bahadurzada (24-7-1) threw a lot of big punches but hit nothing but air with a lot of them. His biggest threat came on a couple of takedowns, but he did little damage on the mat.
Nice first UFC win for bantamweight Jackson in the UFC 232 opener. After suffering his only career loss in his debut with the promotion in August, Jackson (7-1) made quick work of Kelleher. He controlled distance and landed the harder shots before flooring Kelleher (19-10) with an elbow and locking in a D'Arce choke at 1:40 of the first round.