If losses get in a fighter's head, few UFC athletes have had as much on their minds in recent months as Carlos Condit. Not only was he heading into Wedensday's UFC Fight Night on the heels of back-to-back defeats for only the second time in his MMA career, he also was slated to face a man who beat him before in Martin Kampmann. And if that wasn't pressure enough, the "Natural Born Killer" had to face the very real possibility that a loss in Indianapolis would send him spiraling out of welterweight title shot territory.
None of that seemed to faze Condit, as he got the best possible measure of revenge. After weathering a bit of an early storm, his superior striking gradually took over, and he was able to stop Kampmann early in the fourth round to earn what had to be one of the most satisfying TKO wins of his life in the cage.
Since Kampmann dominated large portions of the first fight with his wrestling, it was no surprise that he came out with the same tactic in mind for the rematch. The Dane pulled off several successful takedowns in Round 1, but Condit was never in real danger of being pounded out or submitted.
The second round was fought mostly on the feet, and that played right into Condit's hands. He was increasingly able to find Kampmann's face as the minutes went by, and there was a definite sense that the tide had turned.
Kampmann hung in during striking exchanges in Round 3, but Condit was able to wear him out enough to set up a choke that almost finished the fight toward the end of the frame. But it was apparently the end for Kampmann's gas tank, as Condit nailed him with a body kick-head punch combo that hurt him early in Round 4. Punches and knees forced referee Herb Dean to step in, halting the action at the 0:54 mark.
Five other fights were featured in the main card on Fox Sports 1:
Cerrone's list of career losses is like a who's who of elite lightweights, including two to UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson and one each to Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis. Dos Anjos may not belong in that company yet, but he proved he has the potential by taking a fairly clear unanimous decision from the "Cowboy" in the night's co-feature.
With both fighters looking to establish their striking early, it was dos Anjos who did the most damage, rocking Cerrone with a right hook in the first half of Round 1. When the fight went to the ground, Cerrone looked for a triangle while his opponent was content to land elbows from his guard.
Cerrone got a takedown of his own early in the second stanza, but dos Anjos returned the favor and did much more with his opportunity. Once again, Cowboy was left trying to work a submission from bottom position while eating shots in the meantime—not devastating blows by any means, but hard enough to count.
The final round went Cerrone's way, but it was too little too late. He lost 29-28 on all three cards and will have some soul-searching to do after two losses in his last three fights.
Kelvin Gastelum def. Brian Melancon by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:26 of Round 1 – Welterweight
Gastelum may still be learning at age 21, but he already knows enough to be a problem for some of the UFC's lesser welterweights. The well-traveled Melancon found that out the hard way on Wednesday, failing to make it even one round with the former TUF winner.
Though Melancon came out firing, Gastelum was able to wade through his shots for a takedown, followed by knees and elbows when the fighters stood back up. A Gastelum punching combination caught Melancon flush against the cage, and the rear naked choke that followed was mostly a formality.
The win kept Gastelum a perfect 7-0 as a pro fighter and 2-0 in the UFC.
Court McGee SD3 Robert Whittaker – Welterweight
In a classic case of aggressor versus counter-puncher, McGee kept up a furious pace for 15 minutes in a fight contested almost entirely in the stand-up. The cards were all over the place, but the right man ended up winning after McGee just swarmed his foe down the stretch.
Whittaker probably had his best round first, showing good accuracy and variety in his striking. But McGee seemed to hurt him with a big right hand followed by a left hook early in the second, meaning his continuous flow of short elbows and inside punches probably went for naught. The third round seemed to hold the fight in the balance, and it was McGee who was scoring more often all the way until the final horn.
The judges turned in 30-27 cards both ways, with the final judge seeing it 29-28 for McGee. The win was his second in two appearances since moving down from middleweight to welterweight.
Takeya Mizugaki SD3 Erik Perez – Bantamweight
Perez had never gone more than one round in a UFC fight before Wednesday, and he won't look back on his first time fondly. Both men had their moments standing and on the ground, but Mizugaki did just enough more to get two 29-28 scorecards to Perez's one, leaving Indy with a hard-fought split decision victory.
Impressive chins were on display early thanks to hard punches landing in both directions. Perez got the better of it in the opening round, but Mizugaki slowly adjusted, countering more and scoring with clean shots when he did. His takedown defense was also crucial, as Perez was unable to finish off most of his takedown attempts.
The third round saw Mizugaki score a big takedown of his own, and he worked into position for a rear naked choke. Incredibly, Perez fought out of it, but even so it gave Mizugaki the edge he needed to get the nod from the judges.
Brad Tavares UD3 Bubba McDaniel – Middleweight
Sometimes the opening fight on a UFC card gets the excitement level going early. Other times it's just two guys in a cage. This one was the latter, with Tavares winning the first two rounds and holding on while spending a big chunk of the final frame on his back to take a 29-28 decision on all three cards.
As expected, Tavares did everything he could to keep things standing, peppering McDaniel with a variety of kicks. He seemed unwilling to follow McDaniel to the ground even when staggered, and Bubba was able to give a fair account of himself in some of the striking exchanges. The huge underdog even hurt Tavares briefly, but replays showed it was due to an accidental headbutt.
McDaniel was able to secure a solid takedown in the third, but Tavares stayed out of danger and showed excellent defensive composure. It wasn't a thriller, but Tavares will no doubt take the win and move on.
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