By Thomas Gerbasi
NEWARK, March 27 – When Rory Markham tipped the scales at 177 pounds Friday for his WELTERWEIGHT bout with Nate Diaz, who was making his debut in the division, it was assumed that the former lightweight was going to have some difficulty dealing with the strength and power of the veteran knockout artist. But it was Diaz laying the hurt down on Markham Saturday at the Prudential Center as he scored a first round TKO win. Watch post-fight interview
Diaz vs. Markham
Markham drew first blood with a kick to the head, but Diaz, who weighed in at 171 pounds Friday, took the shot well and fired back as he looked to use his strikes to set up a takedown. As the round progressed though, Diaz got more comfortable striking with Markham and he began landing with big shots, eventually dropping Markham. Midway through the round, Diaz got Markham’s back and began firing off shots. With no response coming from the Chicago native, referee Keith Peterson halted the bout at the 2:47 mark.
With the win, Diaz upped his record to 12-5; Markham fell to 16-6.
Almeida vs. Brown
Ricardo Almeida’s welterweight debut was a successful one, as the former middleweight contender thrilled the fans in his adopted home of New Jersey with a second round submission of Matt Brown. Watch post-fight interview
Almeida quickly closed the distance quickly, pinning Brown to the fence in search of a takedown, which he got nearly a minute in. Brown did his best to get free, but the Hamilton resident was relentless in pressuring the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ alum. Once back to the feet, Brown was still unable to break loose, but when the action stalled, referee Dan Miragliotta re-started the bout. Almeida again got close to Brown and pinned him to the fence, but he was unable to do anything with the Ohio native, drawing boos from the crowd.
The bout was again contested at close range in round two, with two quick takedowns by Almeida opening things up. But another stall against the fence brought a restart. This time, Almeida started throwing more punches, with a shot to the head dropping and bloodying Brown around the left eye. Moments later, Almeida worked into position and finished things off with a rear naked choke that produced a tap at 3:30 of the second frame.
With the win, Almeida improves to 12-3; Brown falls to 13-8.
Palhares vs. Drwal
Brazilian middleweight Rousimar Palhares scored a huge win in his preliminary bout, impressively submitting Tomasz Drwal with a heel hook in less than a minute. Watch post-fight interview
After the two circled each other looking for an opening, Palhares found it when Drwal missed a right kick and fell to the canvas. Palhares, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, jumped right in for the finish and got it, locking in a heel hook that produced a tap out at 45 seconds of the opening round.
With the win, Palhares upped his record to 20-2; Drwal falls to 17-3.
Wallace vs. Hamman
Light heavyweight prospect Jared Hamman earned his first UFC victory, scoring a unanimous decision over Rodney Wallace in an entertaining three rounder. Watch post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Hamman, who improves to 12-2; Wallace falls to 9-2
The pace was fast from the start, with Wallace quickly closing the gap and putting Hamman on his back. Hamman scrambled to his feet and fired off knees to escape, and though he got his wish, Wallace made him pay for it with wild hooks before sending his taller foe back to the canvas. After another scramble, Hamman scored a quick takedown of his own before getting back to the feet. Then it was Hamman’s turn to land his strikes, as he nailed Wallace with a kick to the head, but the South Carolina fighter got right back into things with a takedown. When the two stood, it was clear that the frantic action had taken its toll, and the bell offered a welcome 60 second break.
Wallace got the fight to the mat early in round two, but Hamman didn’t stay there long, as he got to his feet and then scored with a throw to the mat. He briefly got into the mount position, but Wallace reversed position and got into his foe’s guard. After what looked to be a stalemate in the third minute, Wallace tried for a submission, but Hamman broke free and landed with ground strikes that drew a roar from the crowd.
A Wallace takedown opened up the final stanza, but Hamman quickly found his way into the top position and scored points with his ground strikes. With 3:30 left, Wallace made it to his feet and was able to rock Hamman repeatedly before taking the Californian to the mat. Hamman worked back into Wallace’s guard, but after a brief stall, referee Kevin Mulhall restarted the action, with a replay of the previous sequence bringing the fight to the mat. This time, Hamman was able to score more consistently, only deterred by a late and brief submission attempt by Wallace.
Riddle vs. Soto
In the opener, welterweight up and comer Matthew Riddle got the victory over Point Pleasant, New Jersey’s Greg Soto via third round disqualification. Watch post-fight interview
Encouraged by the home state crowd, Soto was the aggressor as the bout began, scoring with leg kicks that set up a couple takedown attempts. By the second half of the round, the two began battling it out on the inside, with Riddle getting the best of the action thanks to some hard knees to the body and legs before finishing up the round with a takedown.
Riddle took Soto to the mat early in round two and he successfully kept Soto at bay with a consistent barrage of ground strikes. With a little over a minute left, Soto made it back to his feet, but Riddle kept the pressure on, letting up only when Soto landed a quick strike to the head that got the crowd back into the fight just before the bell.
Soto came out swinging in the third, trying to turn things around, but Riddle assumed control whenever the two locked up, and he took his foe back to the mat. In an ensuing scramble, Soto landed an illegal upkick to the head of Riddle, sending the former Ultimate Fighter cast member back to the canvas and bringing a halt to the action. After deliberating with the Octagonside physician, referee Keith Peterson deemed Riddle unable to continue, awarding him the win via disqualification at 1:30 of the round.
At the time of the stoppage, Riddle led 20-18 on two scorecards and was even 19-19 on the third.
With the win, Riddle improves to 4-1; Soto falls to 7-1.