Long known for his wrestling skills, featherweight contender Chad Mendes made it two in a row with his fists in UFC on FX 6 prelim action at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Gold Coast, Australia, knocking out late replacement Yaotzin Meza in the first round.
An overhand right did the trick, ending the bout 1:55 into the opening stanza. The win followed Mendes’ 31 second knockout of Cody McKenzie in July.
“I’m going after that belt,” said Mendes, now 2-0 since a January loss to featherweight champ Jose Aldo. “I’m working my way, taking it a fight at a time, and I’m coming after it.”
Hanford, California’s Mendes improves to 13-1. Arizona’s Meza, who took the fight on a week’s notice, replacing the injured Hacran Dias, falls to 18-8 in his UFC debut.
Watch Mendes' post-fight interview
POKRAJAC vs. BELTRAN
Joey Beltran picked up his first light heavyweight win in the UFC, impressively outpointing Croatia’s Igor Pokrajac over three rounds.
The shutout read 30-27 for Beltran, now 15-8; Pokrajac falls to 25-10.
An exchange of punches at the opening bell led to Beltran pushing Pokrajac to the fence, where he stayed busy with his right hand, some foot stomps, and the occasional knee. With two minutes gone, Beltran let Pokrajac loose and fired off punches with both hands before locking Pokrajac up again, and he did the same thing a minute later, mixing things up nicely. But when Beltran seemed to be close to closing the show late in the round with a series of body shots, Pokrajac took everything and then reversed position at close range, landing with a few good punches just before the bell.
The slugging continued in round two, but nothing of significance landed in the opening stages of the round, and Pokrajac was the one taking control of the action at close range until Beltran reversed position with a little over three minutes remaining. An inadvertent low blow by Beltran brought a brief halt to the action, and once things resumed, he went back on the attack with some flurries followed by a tie-up at the fence, where the fight remained for the rest of the round.
With his disciplined attack paying dividends, Beltran kept controlling Pokrajac at close range while absorbing any incoming long-distance fire well enough to bull the Croatian back to the fence, where he mauled him with point-scoring blows while exhausting him at the same time.
Watch Beltran's post-fight interview
PIERCE vs. BACZYNSKI
Following his knockout of Aaron Simpson in October, Mike Pierce went back to his wrestling game against Simpson’s teammate Seth Baczynski, snapping the Arizonan’s six fight winning streak with a three round unanimous decision victory.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice.
Pierce got the takedown early, but Baczynski stayed busy and found a way to get to his feet. After a stalemate against the fence, the two separated, but Pierce would catch a kick and return the fight to the mat, where he kept it for the rest of the round.
There was little change to things in round two, as Pierce took control as soon as he was able to get a hold of his opponent. When free and standing, Baczynski did score with a couple knees, but Pierce walked through any incoming fire and brought the bout back to where he wanted it. With a little over a minute left, Pierce rocked Baczynski briefly with some inside punches, but the Arizonan bounced back well, staying busy on the ground as the round concluded.
Down two rounds on the cards, Baczynski turned up the heat in round three, throwing a variety of hard strikes and bruising and bloodying Pierce up under the right eye. With a little over two minutes left, Pierce was able to turn the tide with a takedown, and though he bought himself some time on the canvas, a standup by referee Marc Goddard gave Baczynski one last chance to pull off the comeback. Not surprisingly, Pierce responded with a takedown, taking it to the final bell and wrapping up his third straight win.
With the win, Pierce improves to 16-5; Baczynski falls to 17-7.
Watch Pierce's post-fight interview
ALLOWAY vs. RODRIGUEZ
An almost bizarre ending to the welterweight bout between Smashes teammates Benny Alloway and Manuel Rodriguez turned into a spectacular one, as Alloway ended matters with a knockout with three seconds remaining in the opening round.
Rodriguez (10-4) charged in for a takedown as soon as the opening bell sounded, and he got it, pushing Alloway to the fence. The Gold Coast product got back to his feet without taking any damage, but Alloway put him back down almost immediately, this time improving his position and taking his opponent’s back. With 1:20 left, Alloway (13-4) found an exit door and returned to his feet, and the two proceeded to trade punches.
A low kick late saw Rodriguez hit the deck, and referee Steve Perceval, thinking it was a legal shot, called the fight, only to make the right call moments later and give Rodriguez time to recover from the foul. It turned out to only delay the inevitable though, as a right front kick to the jaw once action resumed sent the Cronulla resident to the canvas. The finishing ground strikes brought Perceval in for real, as he stopped the contest at 4:57 of round one.
Watch Alloway's post-fight interview
WILKINSON vs. LOUGHNANE
Mike Wilkinson was forced off TUF: The Smashes due to injury, but he rebounded well in his first UFC bout, outpointing Team UK castmate Brendan Loughnane in a hard-fought lightweight three rounder.
The unanimous decision read 29-28 across the board for Wilkinson, who improved to 8-0; Loughnane falls to 5-2.
Loughnane did good work with his kicks to the legs and body in the opening two minutes of the bout, keeping his foe at bay until getting taken down and pushed to the fence. The two proceeded to trade strikes on the mat, with Wilkinson holding the edge. With 1:20 left, Loughnane worked his way back upright, and after separating he nailed Wilkinson with a hard right hand and then dodged a second, then a third, takedown.
Wilkinson came out with a sense of urgency in round two, swinging for the fences in between takedown attempts. A subsequent clinch against the fence left the Mancunian with a cut over his right eye though, and Loughnane got back to his long-range sharpshooting. Wilkinson kept the pressure on, cutting his opponent under the left eye, but Loughnane landed the harder shots of the two down the stretch.
The bloody battle turned into a war of attrition in the final round, with each fighter getting in their share of shots, but it was Loughnane apparently pulling ahead with 1:25 left thanks to a right hand that put Wilkinson on the canvas. Wilkinson got right back into the fray, and the two traded haymakers as the seconds ticked away, capping off an entertaining scrap.
Watch Wilkinson's post-fight interview
DONOVAN vs. PENNER
Short notice was no problem for Denver’s Cody Donovan, as the UFC debutant made the most of the opportunity to step in for the injured Eddie Mendez, stopping Nick Penner in the first round of their light heavyweight opener.
Penner had a good start thanks to two knockdowns, the first courtesy of a right hand, the second with a flush left uppercut, but after Donovan weathered the storm, he began to assert himself in the grappling game, and then finished things off with a left hook that dropped Manitoba’s Penner to the mat. A follow up barrage of strikes prompted Marc Goddard to intervene and stop the fight at 4:35 of the first frame.
With the win, Donovan improves to 8-2; Penner falls to 12-3.
Watch Donovan's post-fight interview