Video: Whittaker beats Till as curtain falls on UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi

 Abu Dhabi, UFC Fight Island

Abu Dhabi - In a tight contest, the UFC middleweight No.1 won a 48-47 unanimous decision over No.6 ranked Till.



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 6:39 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 9:07 PM

‘Reaper’ Robert Whittaker pipped ‘Gorilla’ Darren Till in the main event of the UFC Fight Night on Sunday as curtain fell over the month-long sporting extravaganza held in Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island.
In a tight contest, the UFC middleweight No.1 won a 48-47 unanimous decision over No.6 ranked Till.

While it was advantage Till in the opening round, Whittaker took off in the second one with a series of elbows and punches. From then onwards, both were cautious and waited for the other to make mistakes. Till showed flashes of brilliance but was never consistent. Meanwhile, Whittaker had variety to approach with charges from various angles. It was a technical fight where skill sets and temperament were tested to the core.
Whittaker admitted that the mind games were quite taxing.
“The fight was so stressful. This was the most technical fight of my life. It was dynamic. Things went his way and my way,” Whittaker said after the fight.
“He (Till) knew my strength, he stuck to a solid game plan and didn’t rush. I went in there with all my tool set,” the 29-year-old said.
Whittaker was staging a comeback after knockout loss to current champion Israel Adesanya in UFC 243 last October. Now, the victory propels him one step closer to retaining his title.

Rua denies Nogueira final hurrah
In the co-main event, 44-year-old Antonio Nogueira 'Lil Nog' failed in his final mission to end his career with an elusive win over Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua. It was the third meeting between the duo, with Rua winning via unanimous decisions twice in 2005 and 2015. But this one was pretty close and fiercely fought. It started with stand and deliver punches, takedowns followed, and after blow-for-blow exchanges, Rua took the honours on a split decision (29-28, 28-29 and 29-28).
 
"I am very happy. I won thrice against the legend. I am the happiest in the world. Every fight with him is a war," Rua said.
Nogueira, the veteran, reiterated that this was his last outing.
"I tried my best. I had a good defence. It was a close fight. I am grateful to fight Shogun. I think at 44 years old, this will be my last fight. Now it's the time for the new generation to come," Nogueira added.

Werdum dominates Gustafsson
Former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum controlled the proceedings from the bell to beat Alexander Gustafsson through arm bar submission. There was no respite for Gustafsson, who was returning from retirement, as 42-year-old Werdum locked him up from all angles for his 11th first-round finish.
 
"I am happy. This was a very important fight for me. I was waiting for a long time. I am almost crying now," said Werdum after ending his two-loss streak.

Esparza sees off valiant Rodriguez
Former strawweight champion Carla Esparza used her experience to see off a valiant fight from rising star Marina Rodriguez. Esparza started on the back foot as Rodriguez landed heavy punches and elbows. But Esparza was able to control the final rounds to win via split decision (28-29, 29-28 and 30-27).
 
"Her elbows are pretty deadly. She split me open. She has some power for sure. I need some more impressive wins. I am getting a step closer," Esparza said on her victory and title hopes. 

Craig makes Antigulov tap out
Paul Craig wrapped his legs around Gadzhimurad Antigulov to implement the triangle choke submission in the light heavyweight division. Craig now has nine first-round finishes from 13-1 win-loss MMA record.
 
"My coach had told me that he (Antigulov) rushes forward and looks for a leg. He took me down. I allowed him as I saw his face sink deeper. I took a few shots. It was well worth the reward to secure the triangle," Craig noted after 2 minutes and six seconds encounter.

Oliveira batters Sobotta
Alex 'Cowboy' Oliveira beat Peter Sobotta in three rounds of the welterweight fight. Oliveira unleashed flurry of punches to take control of Sobotta and the bout. Oliveira won via 30-27 unanimous decision to take his record to 22 wins and 8 losses.
 

Chimaev hammers McKee
Khamzat Chimaev recorded the fastest turnaround victories (10 days) with a first-round knockout over Rhys McKee in the welterweight clash. While making his debut on July 16, Chimaev had demolished veteran John Phillips. Chimaev now remains undefeated inside the steel cage with 8-0 MMA record.
 

"This guy wasn't my level. I can fight after one hour. I can smash everybody. I can fight the entire division. Give me champions 84kg, 77kg, I can smash both in the same day," said Chimaev, who is already compared to iconic Khabib Nurmagomedov.

PRELIMINARY CARDS
Eight undercard fights provided early fireworks of the Fight Night. Francisco Trinaldo showed his class while Tom Aspinall stunned on the UFC debut. There were three knockouts and a submission thriller.

Trinaldo pulls off terrific win
Veteran Francisco Trinaldo knocked out vibrant Jai Herbert in the lightweight division fight. It was a valiant attempt by Herbert but Trinaldo was able to dig deep and use his octagon experience to stay in the match and wait for an opportunity to strike in the third round.
 
"It's easy to hit but harder to stay in a fight and come back. I will continue to train hard. I will move up to 170. This is a message to everyone in the 170-weight division. I am coming," the 41-year-old said.

Ronson puts on strong show
Jesse Ronson 'Body Snatcher' successfully deployed a rear-naked choke submission move on 'Lokomotivo' Nicolas Dalby to celebrate his return to the UFC in style. Ronson took just 2 minutes, 48 seconds to pick his ninth first-round finish in MMA.
 
"I fought tooth and nail to get back here. I started slow, felt him, and I got my timing right," Ronson said after the welterweight division bout.

Aspinall shines on debut
Tom Aspinall took just 45 seconds to knock out Jake Collier in his heavyweight division debut. Aspinall landed a knee and followed with right-left punches to floor Collier in the first round.
 
"I measured him for the big shots. He is a good opponent and very experienced. So I am very glad to have a win over him," Aspinall said.

Evloev continues to impress
Movsar Evloev escaped an early submission attempt to prevail over Mike Grundy in the featherweight division. In a closely fought fight, Evloev did enough to extend his unbeaten record to 13-0 via unanimous verdict (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28).
 

Boser demolishes Pessoa
Tanner 'Bulldozer' Boser knocked out Raphael Pessoa in the heavyweight bout. Boser made the most of an opportunity in the second round to floor Pessoa and pound punches to finish the job.
"I worked leg kicks to slow him down. I set him up and landed big shots later. I felt my knuckle dig right into his eyes," Boser said after his second knockout inside 30 days.

Kianzad punishes Correia
Pannie Kianzad made her mark with a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28) win over an experienced Bethe Correia. Over three rounds, Kianzad landed more than 100 strikes to nail Correia in the women's bantamweight action.

Emeev defeats Stolze
Ramazan Emeev from Dagestan won via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28) over German fighter Niklas Stolze in the welterweight division. In a gritty encounter, Emeev had the upper hand in all the three rounds.

Wood takes down Castaneda
Englishman Nathaniel Wood returned to winning ways by thumping American John Castaneda in the bantamweight division bout. With a strong technical performance, Wood bagged a 30-27 unanimous decision.


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