The UFC 204 prelim card had a little bit of something for every tastes this morning. A welterweight warfare where both men, following hospital visits, will emerge with reputations enhanced; statement Brazilian first round submission; a couple of fan-silencing upsets; and a glorious Octagon debut. Missed any of the action? Here’s part one of FO’s running report from the Manchester Arena…
Brad Picket vs. Iuri Alcantara
Alcantara made a huge statement against the popular British veteran. After rocking Pickett on the feet with a high kick and a spinning left elbow, he followed the Brit to the ground, climbed into top control and opted to finish the fight with a submission, despite the fact he was royally placed to land strikes.
Initially going for the armbar, Alcantara seamlessly transitioned to a triangle with Pickett flailing and ended the fight inside the first two minutes. It was a beautiful finish from the Brazilian who had lost two of this last three and needed a big performance to stay relevant at 135lb.
For Pickett, 38, who had been insisting all week that retirement was not an option, watching the tape back will be painful. He looked much smaller than the Brazilian and just never got going in this one, suffering his fourth loss in his last five fights.
Iuri Alcantara said: “I feel pure happiness. That was my plan – to finish the fight quickly and it all worked out. I’d like to fight again at the end of this year. I will do whatever the UFC tells me to do. I want to go back into the top 15 rankings so I’m expecting to face someone from the top ten or top fifteen next.”
Brad Pickett said: “I think the late night maybe affected me a little bit. He started out how I expected him to. He was quite aggressive and he came forward. I need to watch the fight back. I knew he was going to be a fast starter, but I wanted to try and weather the storm but I wasn’t able to. I’m just absolutely gutted.”
Davey Grant vs. Damian Stasiak
‘Dangerous’ Davey looked to be in the driving seat after a dominating second round swung the momentum of this fight, featuring too assured grapplers, in his favour. But with the clock ticking down in the third round, and grant in Stasiak’s guard looking to land ground ‘n’ pound, his arm got tied up and all the rolling and wriggling in the world wasn’t going to force the Pole to release his Lotto ticket victory.
After cancelling one another out in the opener, with well matched ground skills, Grant took over in the second. His standup was sharper, brighter and more assured as he pushed Stasiak from fence to fence with overhand rights and choppy elbows inside.
More of the same came at the start of the third. But Stasiak was always going to pose a threat from his back. He almost pulled guard in the run up to the finish. Grant swept Stasiak to his back and looked in complete control, dipping into the guard to land strikes. But Grant’s arms got caught up, and ultimately Stasiak chewed him out to take his UFC run to 2-1.
Damian Stasiak said: “I am very happy, what can I say? Manchester is an amazing city so it was great to get to fight here and to win in front of the spectators here. I’m looking forward to coming back and fighting again in the UFC. It isn’t important who I fight. I will fight whoever I am given. I’d like to be back in March/April time.”
Davey Grant said: “I felt comfortable. He was good on the floor but I felt like I was winning the stand up all day long. But when I got on top, I thought I was two rounds up so I would gain a bit of time in top position but then I got caught. I think my arm might possibly be broken. I felt it cracking when I was in the arm bar but I just didn’t want to tap, it meant too much. I’ll be straight back in the gym as soon as my arm is fixed.”
Leon Edwards vs. Albert Tumenov
Edwards claimed the biggest win of his UFC tenure with a patient and precise third round rear naked choke submission over hard-hitting, top 15 ranked Russian Tumenov. After winning the opening round with his grappling skills, Edwards was on the back foot throughout the second as Tumenov’s boxing took over. But he kept his cool and took his chance when it mattered.
Edwards had to survive a looping left hook in the second round before he was then buzzed with a four-punch combo. That levelled the judges scores for sure. And it was Tumenov he took the momentum into the final round.
Yet just when the fight looked to be slipping away, Edwards finally scored the takedown he’d been patiently searching for and took hold of Tumenov’s back. Seconds later, the rear naked was in deep and the Russian was tapping his way out of welterweight division’s top 15.
Leon Edwards said: “It was a tough fight. Albert is one of the best strikers in the division but I went out there knowing that I could beat him wherever the fight went. He got the better of me in the second round but I stayed composed, stayed confident and got the finish. I’ll fight them all – I’ll fight whoever they give me so it doesn’t matter who’s next. The support tonight means a lot. I remember being a kid and coming to the UFC in London and watching it, and saying ‘one day I’ll be in the UFC fighting in England’ and now here I am. I came through and got the victory here tonight so that means a lot”.
Albert Tumenov said: “I tried to keep it standing but today was just his day, what more can I say? I just want to get back to fighting at my level. I want to get back there right away.”
Lukasz Sajewski vs. Marc Diakiese
Switch hitting lightweight Diakiese announced his arrival in the Octagon with a brilliant TKO victory over Sajewski, who after stepping in at late notice ultimately proved to have just one good round in him. The Brit’s finish at the send of the second was both calculated and creative – and was the first big win to celebrate for the UK fans.
Pole Sajewski had the right idea. When your are brought in with just a couple of weeks notice to face a hitly-tipped knockout striker in his home country, you take that guy down and hold him there! Problem was, Diakiese proved himself a patient man and when opportunity arose, he didn’t hesitate.
Between successive nut largely uneffective periods in side control on the ground, Sajewski was picked up in the air and slammed back down on his head in the opening round. He then ate a flying knee early in the second as his legs began to tire. Unable to get close enough to force a takedown in this round, Diakiese took over, dominating with smart, patient kickboxing.
He eventually bagged the finish with 20 seconds remaining in the second round. With Perry pinned up against the fence in front of his own corner, the debutant from Doncaster went through his full arsenal, digging in knees, left and right hooks, uppercuts and chilling straight shots. Eventually it all just became too much for Sajeqski, who slumped to the canvas as referee Leon Roberts stepped in.
Marc Diakiese said: “This is the best feeling in the world. I’ve worked so hard for this moment and now it’s here and I’m starting to enjoy it. I’ve got great fans behind me; the support is amazing. I’m going to work to bring the belt to the UK for the fans. In the UFC you’ve got to entertain. UK fans like to see great fights and that’s what I’m looking to give them. Whatever UFC gives me next, I’m here. I’m looking to take on anybody and clean up the division.”
Lukasz Sajewski said: “The problem is, I just had eight days notice so the only thing I had time to do was cut weight and so I wasn’t fully prepared. I just felt exhausted and that was the problem. I want to get back in there, keep busy and fight as often as I can but with proper preparation next time. If I can do that, then I’m pretty sure I can be back in the UFC.”
Danny Roberts vs. Mike Perry
Perry’s electric start in MMA showed little sign of abating with a sensational closing seconds KO of Roberts in a fight that did nothing bit enhance both welterweight careers. Going toe-to-toe for three solid rounds, Perry, who moved his pro slate to nine straight knockouts, unloaded bombs with his fists while Roberts drilled in leg kicks and high kicks plus delivering long left hands of his own.
The first round was swung in Perry’s favour after he ended the five minutes on top, raining in ground ‘n’ pound after stuffing a takedown attempt from the Blackzilians-based Brit. Roberts looked exhausted returning to his stool, but came out revitalized in the second to dominate with his own hands and for the first time push Perry backwards.
With the round seemingly in the bag, Perry landed two rights and soon found himself back on top looking for a finish only for the hooter to sound once more to save Roberts from being stopped by looming referee Marc Goddard.
Roared on by the home crowd, Roberts gallantly dug deep and came out swinging again in the third, but Perry always seemed the more composed and while he ate more leather and kicks for more than four minutes, he finally found the shot to end it all with the final seconds running down – denying Roberts the chance of taking it to the judges. Although cards would later show Perry was two rounds up on two cards already.
The finish, like the previous 14 minutes, was absolutely brutal. A huge knee and then perfect right hand with less than 20 seconds left in the fight landed clean and Roberts’ granite chin finally cracked. By the time now 9-0 Perry landed on top with some vicious ground ‘n’ pound the fight was over. But what a fight.
Both fighters were taken to hospital straight after the contest as a precaution.
Leonardo Santos vs. Adriano Martins
The Brazilian lightweight veterans got the event underway shortly after midnight with three rounds of running and chasing two of the three scoring judges decided went in Santos’ favour.
On the back foot throughout and ending the fight bleeding over the left eye, TUF Brazil 2 winner Santos, from Nova Uniao, scored a huge right high kick made way through the second but not a lot more.
Southpaw Martins scored more regularly with leg kicks and was the one applying the pressure from the first bell to the last. He also landed a big right hook in the final minute of the fight that opened up Santos’ eye.
The judges eventually scored the fight 29-28 twice and the same score once the other way, which brought on more boos from the near capacity Manchester crowd. But after three rounds to forget, nobody was left calling for a rematch.
Leonardo Santos said: “I feel great. This was my second fight in England so this is a good place for me to fight I think! I’m so happy. Everything I did in my camp, I did tonight so I’m very happy. In my mind, I won the first two rounds. The third round was a bit tight but I definitely felt that I won the fight.”
Adriano Martins said: “That’s the judges’ decision. I don’t agree with them, though. Of course, I feel like I could have done better, like I am capable of doing better but that’s all part of the game.”