Robert Whittaker edges Darren Till in decision win

After his devastating loss to Israel Adesanya last year – which saw him drop his UFC middleweight championship – Robert Whittaker got back to winning ways against Darren Till on Fight Island.

The Australian took a brief break from the sport after that aforementioned defeat following years of tough fights and that looked to have paid dividends.

There was a bit of rust, though. In the first round, Till caught Whittaker coming in with a beautiful left elbow which landed clean on the jaw. “The Reaper” went down, but did well to shake off the cobwebs and recover while Till continued to throw more punches his way.

But the Liverpudlian failed to capitalise on his early fight momentum as Whittaker grew into the contest.

Whittaker scored a knockdown of his own in the second round with a powerful overhand right. It transpired after the fight that he shredded Till’s knee with a kick in the second round, too.

That would make sense as Whittaker seemed to beat Till to the punch – or kick – for much of the fight’s time remaining as Till appeared to be hesitant to engage.

Though it was closely contested, the Sydney native found success in mixing up his strikes with the threat of the takedown and out-landed his opponent.

While Whittaker appeared to be in control, he had another scare in the final round courtesy of another Till elbow. “The Gorilla” opened up his foe, which almost instantaneously led to the top left side of Whittaker’s head leaking with blood.

“Bobby Knuckles” replied to that with a series of takedown attempts to reassert his control in the fight, though Till – as he did throughout the fight – defended well.

Despite the blood flow late in the fight, all three judges scored the fight 48-47 in favour of the former UFC middleweight champion Whittaker.


Mauricio “Shogun” Rua beats Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for a third time

Over the last 15 years, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira have shared 50 minutes fighting together either in the UFC’s Octagon or in a Pride ring.

Like in the two fights before, it was Shogun who emerged victorious by decision after some hard-fought rounds.

“Little Nog” started the fight positively, hurting Rua with a straight left from his southpaw stance – a technique he’d use and find success with throughout the fight.

But Rua grew into the fight and managed to reassert control of how and where it was fought – largely due to his renowned kicking game, aiming for the legs and body to slow down a 44-year-old Nogueira.

A competitive third and final round was ended with Shogun scoring a takedown and landing ground and pound on his opponent, which could have been the lasting image he needed as two of three judges scored the fight in his favour for a split decision.

It was a close fight and it could be Little Nog’s last.

“I wanted to share this Octagon with Mauricio Rua,” Nogueira said after the fight. “He used to be a Pride world champion, UFC world champion. To me it’s an honor to be here, 44 years old.

“I think this time it’s gonna be my last one, and I’m very grateful to share the ring with the champ Mauricio Rua.”


Fabricio Werdum pours cold water on Alexander Gustafsson’s heavyweight debut with submission win

Fabricio Werdum is regarded as one of the most fearsome submission artists to have ever competed in mixed martial arts for a reason. Unfortunately for Alexander Gustafsson, he found that out the hard way.

Sweden’s Gustafsson started the fight well as he looked to be as quick and fleet-footed on his heavyweight debut as he was down a division.

Perhaps sensing he would fare so well against the younger, faster man on the feet, Werdum diligently sought after a takedown.

“The Mauler” did a great job of sprawling and defending Werdum’s single-leg takedown attempt, dishing out some punches from his position on top.

However, Werdum wasn’t done on that one attempt. He maintained his grip and manage to trip Gustafsson to the floor from behind.

With control of his back, Werdum went from threatening a rear-naked choke to working for an armbar. Unsurprisingly, given his history as a top-tier grappler, Gustafsson was soon forced to tap as Werdum cranked on his arm.

This was a big win for Werdum as it halts what was a worrying two-fight losing run for the former UFC heavyweight champion. As for Gustafsson, let’s hope to see him back in the Octagon some time soon.


UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till full results

Middleweight: Robert Whittaker def. Darren Till by unanimous decision after five rounds
Light Heavyweight: Maurício Rua def. Antônio Rogério Nogueira by split decision after three rounds
Heavyweight: FabrĂ­cio Werdum def. Alexander Gustafsson by submission (armbar) at 2:30 of round one
Women’s Strawweight: Carla Esparza def. Marina Rodriguez by split decision after three rounds
Light Heavyweight: Paul Craig def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov by submission (triangle choke) at 2:06 of round one
Welterweight: Alex Oliveira def. Peter Sobotta by unanimous decision after three rounds
Welterweight: Khamzat Chimaev def. Rhys McKee by TKO (punches) at 3:09 of round one
Catchweight (160 lb): Francisco Trinaldo def. Jai Herbert by TKO (punches) at 1:30 of round three
Welterweight: Jesse Ronson def. Nicolas Dalby by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:48 of round one
Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall def. Jake Collier by TKO (punches) at 0:45 of round one
Featherweight: Movsar Evloev def. Mike Grundy by unanimous decision after three rounds
Heavyweight: Tanner Boser def. Raphael Pessoa by TKO (punches) at 2:36 of round two
Women’s Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad def. Bethe Correia by unanimous decision after three rounds
Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev def. Niklas Stolze by unanimous decision after three rounds
Bantamweight: Nathaniel Wood def. John Castañeda by unanimous decision after three rounds