Underdogs got their moments to shine on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2 in Indianapolis, with TUF’s poster-boy last-pick Kelvin Gastelum scoring a fast finish and lesser-known Rafael dos Anjos upsetting Donald Cerrone.
Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Before their co-main matchup, Donald Cerrone said he didn’t know much about his opponent, Rafael dos Anjos.” In response, the tenth-ranked lightweight put on a stellar, high-energy show, outboxing the exciting lightweight, controlling the fight and letting everyone – including Cerrone – know plenty about who he is and what kind of fighter he is.
From the get-go, Dos Anjos bounced on his feet while Cerrone stayed more in place, preferring to look for the clinch to unleash knees and uppercuts – which he did most successfully in the first. Standing southpaw, dos Anjos tried to use the body kick that Pettis scored with, but Cerrone wasn’t buying. Still, dos Anjos’ combinations were short and fast, and a hard right dropped Cerrone. Cowboy stood but dos Anjos got it back to the mat, where he found himself nearly triangled. He tried to get Cerrone’s back but wound up in guard instead, again being manipulated into a triangle by Cerrone’s unbelievably agile legs. He stayed safe and drew blood before rounds’ end with solid elbows from inside guard.
Dos Anjos continued pouring it on in round two, coming forward with body blows and combos as Cerrone used kicks to keep distance. Finally fed up with the Brazilian’s onslaught, Cerrone got a takedown midway through the second and tried to escape his flexible foe’s half-guard. They met in the middle by standing back up, where Cerrone ate several straights before being taken down himself. Dos Anjos was unable to make much progress from guard, but easily shook off the armbar attempt that ended the round.
In short succession, dos Anjos threw a fake switch-kick followed by a real left, a left-right, a kick to the body and another straight, signaling to the still-stymied Cerrone that he wasn’t letting up in the third. And then he worked for the takedown. Cerrone’s kicks took dos Anjos off-balance a few times and though the crowd loved them, they weren’t damaging.
“Since I moved to California I’ve worked so hard to become a better fighter," explained dos Anjos. "I had a perfect training camp for this fight and it showed out there." The 28-year-old black belt moves to 20-6 with the defining win (all
three judges had it 29-28), notching victories in nine of his last 11. Cerrone, who was ranked 6th in the division going in, sees his slide to 20-6 (1NC).
Check out dos Anjos' Post-Fight Interview
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Brian Melancon
TUF 17 underdog-cum-winner Kelvin Gastelum did more than prove he could hang in the UFC; he proved he could finish, tapping out Brian Melancon (7-3) in a speedy welterweight thriller.
Two two stocky fighters – 5’8 and 5-9” with nearly identical reaches -- stood like mirror images with Yuma, Arizona’s Gastelum in southpaw. Twice Melancon landed right hands, and both times Gastelum answered with takedowns. The two then closed thing ups and exchanged wildly, until a Gastelum left hooks dropped Melancon hard. Gastelum pounced, sunk in the rear-naked, and drew the tap at 2:26.
Gastelum, who dropped to welterweight for the first time for this bout, remains undefeated at 8-0. “I feel great and I’m very happy," he said afterward. "I wanted to show a bit of everything and I think I did that."
Check out Gastelum's Post-Fight Interview
Court McGee vs. Robert Whittaker
Former middleweight Court McGee made it 2-0 at welterweight, edging out fellow TUF winner Robert Whittaker of the Smashes edition in a gritty split decision win.
McGee opened aggressively, showing off the combinations to the body and head that he introduced in his welterweight debut against Josh Neer in February. Whittaker seemed hypnotized, but was fast enough on his feet to avoid most danger. His best weapon throughout was his left straight, though it likely wasn’t enough to override McGee’s three takedown attempts, one convincing.
McGee dropped Whittaker once in the second with shots, took him down once and continued his relentless peppering of the Australian with body shots. Whittaker seemed willing to wait for McGee to get close enough to retaliate with elbows, which land often but did draw blood. Both men seemed to do best in the phone booth, getting so into things in the second that referee Herb Dean had to physically separate them.
McGee mixed in leg kicks in the third and the points of contact lessened, but generally round three was the same. A more winded Whittaker was staggered a couple of times in the round but also more relaxed and ready with his defensive striking. The crowd cheered the entire final minute, and more loudly when the decision was read.
Judges’ scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 27-28 for “The Crusher,” who improves to 16-3 overall. Whittaker, just 22, moves to 12-3. “I feel good but I definitely feel like I was just in a fight," said McGee after the war. "My beard looks phenomenal so I can’t complain. It was an honor and a privilege competing against Whittaker."
Check Out McGee's Post-Fight Interview
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Erik Perez
Mexican prospect Erik Perez owns the fastest knockout in bantamweight history, but what happens when he faces someone with a chin as solid as his own fists? WEC veteran Takeya Mizugaki answered that question in a three-round Fight of the Night candidate, ultimately handing the 23-year-old his first UFC loss.
The fight started out in reckless, rock-em sock-em style, with both men throwing nonstop hooks and Perez’ nose bleeding within the first minute. But perhaps surprised by Mizugaki’s chin, his evasive head movement or just the sting of his strikes, Perez went for a takedown roughly 1:40 in. A minute later he got another, and what ensued was largely a battle against the fence for control. Mizgaki got his own takedown late in the round and tried to take Perez’ back as Perez recklessly crawled up to his knees.
Round two brought more rock-em sock-ems that definitely rocked both men, as Perez mixed in kicks that couldn’t quite find a home on the taller Mizugaki. The Japanese fighter scored repeatedly with right counters from Perez’ diverse, if unpolished, attacks, but did slow a bit after eating a huge leaping right hand from “Goyito” and a knee after that. Mizugaki warded off all of Perez’ takedown attempts in the second.
The frenzied exchanges continued in the third, with both men again seeming on the verge of finishing. Perez continued scoring takedowns, but it was Mizugaki who locked in a rear-naked so deep that the crowd yelled when Perez escaped. Mizugaki employed heavy pressure against the fence as the clock wound down, breaking only for one last crowd-pleasing Hail Mary flurry from both.
Judges’ scores were 29-28, twice for Mizugaki (18-7-2) and once for Perez (13-5). “I felt that people were pushing Perez,” said Mizugaki. “I wanted to stop this guy because he had so much momentum coming in. After I survived some of his big shots in the first round I knew I had the advantage.”
Check Out Mizugaki's Post-Fight Interview
Brad Tavares vs. Bubba McDaniel
TUF 11 vet Brad Tavares showed off his kick game over three rounds with TUF 17’s Bubba McDaniel in a three round middleweight battle that opened the main card.
Tavares, who’d previously shown his ability to control a fight with wrestling, this time used kicks to keep things going his way. He started early, throwing low legs, one of them loud enough to cause winces in the crowd. McDaniel looked for openings, but his only offense was to rush in and try to close the distance, then either muscle things to the fence (which worked early on) or throw leather, which Tavares returned in equal. The kinetic force generated by the latter regularly resulted in the fight hitting the mat, where submission expert McDaniel tried in vain to keep things.
Tavares’ kicks continued to work in the second, pushing McDaniel backward, taking the power out of his strikes, reddening his leg and torso and generally keeping him off balance. From the clinch, each man earned one takedown. McDaniel trying to goad Tavares into keeping things on the mat when he wound up on the bottom, but Tavares popped up and continued to damage McDaniel’s legs with kicks from above until the referee backed him up so McDaniel could stand.
McDaniel returned the pressure early in the second, landing two solid right hands in a row, but Tavares closed things up and push them to the fence. Both men got a break when one of Tavares’ searing kicks landed painfully low on McDaniel, and a remotivated McDaniel then punched his way into a takedown. McDaniel tried to get strikes through from Tavares’ guard and half-guard, but the Hawaiian’s ability to pressure was on display even from bottom position.
Judges all gave the bout to Tavares with scores of 29-28; he improves to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in the UFC. “It was a frustrating fight,” he said. “I couldn’t find his chin; I didn’t get to show off my ground game like I wanted to.” McDaniel’s record dips to 21-7.
Check Out Tavares' Post-Fight Interview
Dos Anjos, Gastelum Rise to Occasion: UFN Indy Main Card Results
Read on for results of the UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2 main card...