LONDON, ENGLAND – UFC on FUEL TV 7’s main card at Wembley Arena wrapped with a stunning fourth-round submission victory for UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao against Michael McDonald, setting the Brazilian up for a unification bout against divisional champion Dominick Cruz upon the champion’s return from a series of injuries. In the co-main event, Cub Swanson moved another step closer to featherweight title contention with a close unanimous decision win over Dustin Poirier.
RENAN BARAO VS. MICHAEL MCDONALD
Interim UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao scored an impressive fourth-round submission victory over challenger Michael McDonald. After 3:57 minutes of the fourth frame, the American had to tap out to an arm triangle, giving the champion his fifth win in a row in the UFC and his seventh under the Zuffa banner.
The first round saw the challenger go neck-and-neck with the champion. For every punch that Barao threw, McDonald threw one of his own. Barao quickly got the first takedown of the fight but couldn’t stay in side control for more than a few seconds. McDonald showed good wrist control in full guard and prevented the champion from doing damage. Back to a vertical base, McDonald missed with a number of punches before Barao hit a counter left and followed it up with a leg kick. After stuffing another takedown, McDonald went on the offensive and threw a wild series of rights and lefts, one of which buckled Barao’s knee.
The champion immediately went for a takedown to regain his composure and got McDonald’s back standing. He hit two knees to the chin and managed to get a takedown into side control. McDonald hip-escaped into his guard and tied Barao up through the end of the round.
Barao missed a spinning heel kick to the head at the beginning of the second round, then shot in and swung McDonald to the ground. When they got back to their feet, McDonald complained about having been poked in the eye during an exchange. After the restart, the challenger landed a hard right which sent Barao into backpedalling mode. After regaining his composure, the champion landed an incredibly loud leg kick and a kick to the head that would have made middleweight champion Anderson Silva proud. When going to the well for a second time, Barao missed his kick and ate a counter right by McDonald. Barao missed another wheel kick as the round ended.
The champion opened round three with two lefts that connected and led to a slugfest between Barao and McDonald. As he seemed to be coming up with the short end of the stick, Barao pressed his challenger against the cage and tried to take him down. As he attempted to pass guard into full mount, McDonald threw him off and stood back up. McDonald and Barao then traded hard rights, which led to a spinning kick by the champion to McDonald’s solar plexus, which seemed to knock the win out of him for a split second.
McDonald stuffed another takedown, but Barao hit a running knee and went headhunting with his fists. The American retaliated with a combination and saw Barao’s saving takedown coming from a mile away. After struggling for a while, the champion got the takedown, threw a hook in and turned McDonald over to his back and into an arm triangle. He fought valiantly, but as the hold was tight, he had no other choice but to tap after about 25 seconds in the hold.
Renan Barao’s record climbs to 32-1 with one no contest, while Michael McDonald dropped to 15-2.
Watch Barao's post-fight interview here
CUB SWANSON VS. DUSTIN POIRIER
In the co-main event of the evening, Cub Swanson was victorious over a man with almost unlimited potential, Dustin Poirier. After three rounds of quality striking and grappling exchanges, Swanson was awarded the unanimous decision with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores.
The early portion of round one was a battle of leg kicks, with both men scoring equally. Poirier blocked a hard shot by Swanson and tried a takedown. Swanson defended well and peppered his opponent with punches in retaliation. Swanson and Poirier exchanged more leg kicks, leading to Swanson throwing a head kick that missed and following up with a haymaker under which Poirier ducked before trying for a takedown. After some grappling against the cage, Swanson landed a punch to the midsection and a right that momentarily staggered Poirier. He threw a mistimed kick which Poirier caught and used to take Swanson down. Poirier repeatedly punched his opponent’s side but ultimately stood back up, still holding Swanson’s leg. As soon as they were back in a standing position, Swanson jumped and hit a flying knee while Poirier was still holding on.
Swanson opened the second frame with an uppercut, which Poirier answered with a hook combination, a body kick and another hard right. Swanson went back to his flying knee but it didn’t land properly. They kept trading kicks until Poirier ducked under and got a takedown. However, in landing, it was Swanson who ended up in an advantageous position – an omoplata shoulder lock. Poirier struggled free, after which they exchanged body kicks. Poirier tried another takedown which Swanson had no trouble preventing. He hit Poirier with several elbows during the struggle. After separating, Poirier hit a combination to end the round.
A missed head kick could have spelled doom for Swanson in the third round, however, he got back up right away. A quick grappling sequence against the cage was followed by both fighters swinging wildly, going for broke. Poirier landed a knee to Swanson’s chin and a right. Swanson countered with an uppercut. Poirier tried another knee and got taken down for his efforts. A few elbows on the ground later, Swanson took Poirier’s back. Despite having had both hooks in for a period of time and even advancing to full mount, Swanson was unable to capitalize on the situation, and Poirier got back up. He took Poirier back down and went to the back mount again, unable to score one more time. Poirier stood back up, Swanson threw an up kick and the final moment of the fight was Poirier jumping into Poirier’s guard with a superman punch.
The win advances Cub Swanson’s record to 19-5, while Dustin Poirier’s falls to 13-3.
Hear from Cub Swanson after the win here
JIMI MANUWA VS CYRILLE DIABATE
Jimi Manuwa opened up the first frame with leg kicks, which caused the French veteran, Cyrille Diabate, to clinch up against the cage. After the first of the Snake’s knees from the clinch landed, Manuwa figured out his timing, caught a knee and slammed the Frenchman to the ground. Diabate brought Manuwa into half guard quickly. Manuwa scored with an elbow on the ground and a knee to Diabate’s chin while getting back into a vertical base. Manuwa controlled the rest of the round with elbows and knees from the clinch, leg kicks and hooks. In the final moments of the round, Manuwa caught one more Diabate knee and took him down again, apparently landing on the Snake’s leg and tearing his calf muscle.
Diabate was no longer able to properly put weight on the affected leg and forfeited the fight between rounds as a consequence.
The TKO win brings Jimi Manuwa’s pro MMA record up to 13-0, while the Snake falls to 20-9-3.
Watch highlights from the fight here
GUNNAR NELSON VS. JORGE SANTIAGO
The pride of Iceland, Gunnar Nelson, remained undefeated in MMA competition with a unanimous decision win over Brazilian veteran Jorge Santiago. After three hard-fought rounds, the judges awarded the win to Nelson with a 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 edge.
In the first round, Santiago kept swinging for the fences, throwing wild haymakers, hoping they would connect, while Nelson went for quality over quantity, landing a few kicks and jabs. He ducked underneath one of Santiago’s power blows and took down the heavy-handed Brazilian. Santiago got right back up and threw a haymaker that missed. It was obvious both fighters respected their opponent’s striking, as the remainder of the round was dominated by defensive footwork and grappling against the cage.
The beginning of round two saw more grappling against the cage, with the fighters jockeying for position. Nelson hit a knee, then a right-left-right combination. He pulled his legs out from under Santiago, thus securing a takedown. From half guard, Nelson postured up and scored with ground and pound. Santiago stayed active throughout, though, and hit Nelson with punches of his own and an up kick as Nelson had gone back to his feet. The Iceland native threw Santiago’s legs to the side, landed a diving punch and ended up in side control, then full mount. The wily Brazilian veteran locked his hands to prevent further damage. Nelson broke the grip and worked over his opponent with elbows and punches until the buzzer sounded.
The final frame saw Nelson open up with a side push kick, which Santiago answered with several wild hooks, the final of which landed flush on Nelson’s jaw. He responded with leg kicks and a head kick that Santiago was able to deflect. Nelson landed a right hand which momentarily got the Brazilian to back up. They clinched against the cage, opening up an opportunity for Santiago to score with knees from the clinch to Nelson’s ribs. Santiago disengaged and went back to swinging wildly. Nelson connected with a left but walked into a hard right hand just seconds later. Santiago followed up with a series of wild haymakers, of which most didn’t find their target. Nelson connected with a good right hand during the Brazilian’s flurry, grabbed him around the neck and landed a knee and an uppercut. After blocking a Nelson takedown attempt, the fighters exchanged lefts. Iceland’s own got the better of that exchange and unleashed a right-left combo of his own. Jorge Santiago went for broke with ten seconds remaining on the clock and managed to hit Nelson one more time flush on the jaw at the buzzer.
The win pushes Nelson’s fight record to 11-0-1, while Santiago’s defeat drags his record down a notch to 25-11.
Watch highlights from the bout here
JAMES TE HUNA VS RYAN JIMMO
The light heavyweight bout between Australian James Te Huna and Canadian Ryan Jimmo turned into a true rollercoaster affair. After three hard-fought rounds, Te Huna walked away with a 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27 decision.
Te Huna bulled Jimmo into the cage at the beginning of the first round. Upon a separation by referee Leon Roberts, Jimmo nailed his opponent with a picture perfect head kick which sent Te Huna to the mat. Sensing the end, Jimmo unleashed fury on the downed Australian, hitting him with elbows, punches and hammerfists from the top position. Te Huna never stopped trying to improve his position, though, tied up Jimmo and eventually got back up to his feet. Te Huna pulled a guillotine right away, although his opponent had no trouble escaping the potentially dangerous position. When Te Huna went for an armbar, the Canadian pulled his limb out of harm’s way right away. Jimmo ended up in side mount, from where he hit Te Huna with several elbows and punches from the top. The Australian stayed in the game, however, and responded with some elbows of his own to the head.
After Jimmo opened the second frame with a left straight and a kick to the body, Te Huna went back to his strategy of taking him down. While Jimmo initially succeeded in blocking the takedown, Te Huna scored big with a slam mere moments later. The Australian moved into side mount and hit Jimmo with elbows, then improved momentarily to full mount. Jimmo hip-escaped to get back into safer waters but had no answer for Te Huna’s elbows and punches until the round ended.
Jimmo shut down Te Huna’s offense for the first portion of round number three by grappling with him against the cage. Te Huna landed a big right, then took Jimmo down from a body lock. The Australian showed he was very comfortable attacking with elbows and punches from half guard for the final minutes of the fight.
The win improves James Te Huna’s MMA record to 18-5, while Jimmo’s falls to 17-2.
Watch Te Huna's post-fight interview here
CHE MILLS VS. MATTHEW RIDDLE
When the dust settled between British up-and-comer Che Mills and former TUF cast member Matthew Riddle, it was the brash American who got away with a split decision victory. The judges scored the fight 30-27 Riddle, 29-28 Riddle and 29-28 Mills.
It was clear immediately that Riddle had no intentions of standing with Mills. As soon as he was able to, he grabbed Mills’ right leg and attempted to take him down. Mills responded with a jumping knee to Riddle’s face but soon found himself on the ground. The Brit got back up, hit a left, got taken down again, struggled back to his feet and traded punches with Riddle. Riddle clasped his hands around Mills’ body and took him back down to the mat, where he scored with an elbow from the top as the round ended.
Riddle stayed true to his strategy in round number two, using a left and a kick to the body to set up a shot for Mills’ leg. The Brit had other plans, though, and landed a perfect enzuigiri kick to Riddle’s head as both warriors went crashing to the mat. Riddle ended up on top and moved to north-south position, then into side control. He hit several knees to Mills’ ribcage but initially failed to pass guard. As the seconds ticked away, Riddle finally advanced into full mount. Mills rolled to improve his position and ended up with Riddle pressed against the cage, in back mount with a figure-four body scissor around Mills’ body. When this position proved not to be advantageous, Riddle moved to full mount and attempted an arm triangle which Mills defended until the end of the round.
Both fighters came out swinging in the third round. After Mills landed a kick to one of Riddle’s legs, the American grabbed Mills’ left leg and pushed him into the cage again. Riddle attempted a takedown which the Brit stuffed. Mills attempted a judo hip toss but Riddle held on and they landed on the mat in a neutral position. Riddle lifted Mills up and turned him on his back, ending up in full guard. Mills stayed busy with elbows from the ground and Riddle responded in kind. Riddle passed into half guard and isolated Mills’ left arm, planting the first seed for an arm triangle. Mills realized what was happening, locked his hands and reversed Riddle onto the ground. The Brit stood up and hit Riddle several times from top position. After a referee stand-up, Riddle went straight back to Mills’ leg, attempting a final takedown as the round and fight ended.
Riddle’s win improves his record to 7-3 with one no contest, while Mills drops to 15-6 with one no contest.
Watch Riddle's post-fight interview here