Through his stand up skill, athleticism, and raw potential Clint Hester, cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 17, has slowly clawed his way up the middleweight ranks to put together a streak of 4 wins. Since losing the show in the opening round, Hester has won 4 straight fights in the UFC, with 2 of them coming by TKO.
At UFC Fight Night 44, he was put against his stiffest test in Brazilian Antonio Braga Neto. Coming into the fight, his grappling ability was thought to be his downfall in this fight. On paper, Clint is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, while Neto is not only a black belt, but an accomplished black belt practitioner. Once the fight hit the ground, it was thought that the fight would be over quickly. Hester’s stand up ability and professional boxing experience was going to be the key to his victory.
The story of the fight was exactly how it seemed to be. Neto pushed the pace and shot for a takedown at any opportunity while Hester kept his hands low, his legs wide and swung as hard as he could every chance he could get. After seemingly winning the first round by out striking Neto, the black belt eventually got the takedown in the second round and spent the majority of the round on top of Hester. Though Hester gave up huge positional advantages, he did the most important thing, and didn't get submitted. Hester kept moving, didn’t get complacent, and never gave up from his back. Though he obviously lost the second round, he came out in the third like a man possessed.
This third round was the story of the fight, Neto landed some takedowns, but was forced to stall and try to hold Hester on the mat, while Hester got up every time he got taken down. Hester threw everything he had in his punches and kicks in the final round and finished the round chasing an obviously tired Neto around the cage, wailing away with body kicks and massive uppercuts. The fight was close, but it was Hester’s ability to shut down Neto’s offense on the ground that won him the fight. Simply put, Hester did more more standing to Neto than Neto did to Hester on the ground.
With this win, Hester has earned himself a shot at the next level of middleweight. Not a top ranked guy, per say, but a fighter who might allow Hester to advance in his career. Another fighter who has several fights in the UFC and, if victorious, would propel Hester into the next tier of competitors.
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