On April 13, the Octagon returns to Atlanta for the fourth time with a UFC 236 card that features a championship doubleheader and a stacked slate of intriguing bouts. That’s no surprise, as the promotion has always brought the big guns to the Georgia capital.
This week, we take a look back at the UFC’s previous trips to Atlanta, concluding with 2016’s UFC 201 event.
UFC 201: Lawler vs Woodley
July 30, 2015
Tyron Woodley KO1 Robbie Lawler
Karolina Kowalkiewicz WSD3 Rose Namajunas
Jake Ellenberger TKO1 Matt Brown
Erik Perez WUD3 Francisco Rivera
Ryan Benoit WSD3 Fredy Serrano
Nikita Krylov KO2 Ed Herman
Jorge Masvidal WUD3 Ross Pearson
Anthony Hamilton KO1 Damian Grabowski
Wilson Reis Wsub1 Hector Sandoval
Michael Graves DRAW3 Bojan Velickovic
Damien Brown KO1 Cesar Arzamendia
Tyron Woodley waited a year and a half for his shot at the UFC welterweight title, and at Philips Arena in Atlanta, he made that wait worth it, knocking out Robbie Lawler in the first round to become the UFC’s new 170-pound champion and the ninth man to hold the division’s undisputed belt.
“I was in the back and I was relaxed,” Woodley, who scored the fastest finish in UFC welterweight championship history, said. “I’ve been extremely relaxed. I was nervous and I wasn’t nervous. I know what Robbie brought to the table, he’s a tough competitor. This is not the first fight I would pick. He’s a friend of mine, I admire his career, hats off to Robbie, but I’ve been envisioning this belt being around my waist my entire life. Ever since I stepped into the Octagon, I’ve had this mission.”
After a tentative opening from both fighters, Woodley shot in with a right hand and looked for a takedown, but it was stuffed by Lawler. A tie-up against the fence was broken by referee Dan Miragliotta and the two resumed their standup battle, but only momentarily, as a flush right hand from Woodley dropped Lawler hard to the mat. More unanswered rights followed, with Miragliotta stopping the fight at 2:12 of the first round.
“We knew Robbie would be well prepared for a takedown, that he would be hitting me with knees and uppercuts and being aggressive to defend it,” Woodley said. “So I used a little speed and a blitz to cover the gap, and when I saw the opening, I went for the right hand. Something kept telling me that right hand was going to be open and I went for it.”
“It is what it is,” Lawler said of the finish. “He feinted me and my hand went down, he threw a punch over the top and caught me.”
With the win, the 34-year-old Woodley, whose last bout was a January 2015 win over Kelvin Gastelum, improves to 16-3; Lawler, also 34, falls to 27-11 with 1 NC. He was making the third defense of the welterweight title he won from Johny Hendricks in December of 2014.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz did her part to set up an All-Poland showdown with Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC women’s strawweight title by scoring a three-round split decision win over Rose Namajunas in the UFC 201 co-main event at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
“I know her, I respect her very much, she’s the best in the world,” Kowalkiewicz said of Jedrzejczyk. “I want to fight with the best, and I will beat the best.”
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for the No. 5-ranked Kowalkiewicz, now 10-0; the No. 3-ranked Namajunas falls to 6-3.
Namajunas was impressive in the opening round, using slick in and out movement to set up her punches and kicks. At close range, Kowalkiewicz had some success, but Namajunas clinched the round with a late takedown to go with her effective striking.
Kowalkiewicz got close quickly to start round two, allowing her to land several hard knees and elbows. As the two scrapped in the clinch, Namajunas began to find some room to score, but the Lodz native was still more effective against the fence. Eventually, after eating a hard elbow, Namajunas broke free and scored with a 1-2 and a front kick, but a subsequent takedown attempt was tossed to the side, and in the closing stages of the bout, it was Kowalkiewicz landing the most effective blows, especially to the body.
Continuing to press in round three, Kowalkiewicz began to pull away thanks to her inside striking game, and even when the bout went to the mat, her defense kept her out of trouble as Namajunas looked for submissions.
Entering Saturday’s bout against Matt Brown, veteran welterweight Jake Ellenberger had his back against the wall after losses in five of his last six bouts. But “The Juggernaut” responded with perhaps the biggest win of his career, as he stopped Brown in the first round.
Ellenberger stunned the crowd and Brown as the bout opened, dropping “The Immortal” with the first right hand he threw. Brown weathered Ellenberger’s follow-up onslaught and got back to his feet. It looked like Brown was coming on after he shook off the effects of the initial blow, but a left kick to the liver dropped the Ohio native to the deck, with an unanswered series of blows forcing referee Marc Goddard to step in at 1:46 of the first round.
With the win, Ellenberger moves to 31-11; Brown falls to 22-15.
Bantamweight prospect Erik Perez fought a disciplined fight for the most part against Francisco Rivera, but he also threw in a bit of recklessness at times to keep the fans happy en route to his three-round unanimous decision victory.
Scores were 30-26 twice and 29-28.
After a slow start, Perez got into a rhythm and was clearly the more effective fighter by the end of the first round. But Rivera’s left hooks were landing regularly, forcing Perez to give him plenty of respect.
Perez was even more impressive in the second, with two takedowns and a spinning elbow that bloodied the Californian punctuating a winning round.
Rivera came out swinging to start the final round, and Perez eagerly went along with his opponent’s strategy, the two cracking each other with haymakers until going to the canvas. On the mat, Perez took control with his ground-and-pound attack, and Rivera was only able to get upright again with 30 seconds left. By then, it was too late to turn things around.
With the win, Perez moves to 16-6; Rivera falls to 11-7 with 1 NC.
Flyweight prospect Ryan Benoit took the main card opener on 10 days’ notice after an injury to Ray Borg, and he made the most of the opportunity, handing Colombian Olympian Fredy Serrano his first pro loss via split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Benoit, now 9-4; Serrano falls to 3-1.
Serrano was looking for the finish with every punch and kick he threw as the fight opened, and even his slam of Benoit in the second minute had the same intention. But after they rose, Serrano got rocked by Benoit, forcing him to seek – and get - a second slam. After standing, Benoit drilled Serrano again, but the Colombian shook it off and got back to his all or nothing attack, getting caught once more before the end of the round.
Another slam by “El Profe” punctuated the early going of round two, but he wasn’t able to keep Benoit grounded. While standing, Benoit picked his shots well as Serrano continued to throw haymakers. With a little over a minute left, Serrano put Benoit on the deck, and he kept him there until the closing seconds of the frame.
The two traded takedowns to begin the final round, but neither did much with them. Down the stretch, Benoit was clearly winded, but he still landed the more accurate blows, a fact reflected on the final scorecards.
Nikita Krylov’s fifth consecutive win may have been his most impressive to date, as the No. 11-ranked light heavyweight from Ukraine scored a walk-off second-round knockout of veteran Ed Herman in UFC 201 preliminary action at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
True to form, Krylov started fast, with his kicks and long punches keeping Herman at bay. “Short Fuse” had some positive moments in the clinch and on the mat, but by the end of the first round, the frustration and effects of Krylov’s blows were evident on his face, with a left kick to the head kust past the midway point of the frame being particularly damaging.
In the second, Herman appeared to be getting into a rhythm when he responded to a spinning backfist with some hard counters, but then Krylov unleashed a left kick to the head that sent Herman down and out at the :40 mark of round two.
With the win, Donetsk’s Krylov improves to 21-4; Portland’s Herman falls to 24-12 with 1 NC.
Veteran Jorge Masvidal spoiled Ross Pearson’s welterweight debut, winning a three-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Masvidal, now 30-11; Pearson, who fought earlier this month against Will Brooks, falls to 21-12 with 1 NC.
For two fighters used to being in close fights, it was no surprise that the first round between Pearson and Masvidal was a competitive one, with Pearson employing a busy striking attack and Masvidal scoring with some flush counters as well as some hard knees to the body in the clinch.
A short left hook opened things up for Masvidal in the second minute of round two, as he dropped the Brit and nearly finished him. Pearson survived the ensuing onslaught, but Masvidal was now in control as he looked to pick his shots and get his foe out of there. Pearson recovered well, scoring a takedown with a little over a minute remaining, but Masvidal got up immediately, resumed control and maintained it throughout the third round, capping off a big victory.
Anthony Hamilton had no intention of sticking around for too long in his heavyweight bout with Damian Grabowski, and he got his wish, halting his foe via first-round knockout.
Hamilton blitzed Grabowoski at the opening of the bout and never let up. After winning the exchanges at close range and hurting the Poland native, a series of uppercuts against the fence ended the bout emphatically, with referee George Allen stepping in at the 14-second mark.
Albuquerque’s Hamilton moves to 15-5 with the win; Opole’s Grabowski falls to 20-4. Hamilton’s win is the second fastest in UFC heavyweight history.
Originally scheduled to face Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight title Saturday night, No. 7-ranked Wilson Reis adjusted to the opponent switch and put in a professional and impressive effort against newcomer Hector Sandoval, ending the bout via first-round submission.
Sandoval looked sharp offensively and defensively as the bout opened, not intimidated by the moment, but in the second minute, Reis showed his veteran experience in emphatic fashion, taking Sandoval down and flattening him out as he took his back. The rear naked choke that followed forced Sandoval to tap out at the 1:49 mark put Reis in the record books, as he scored the fastest submission in UFC flyweight history.
With the win, Sao Paulo’s Reis moves to 21-6; Sacramento’s Sandoval falls to 12-3.
In a closely-contested clash of welterweight prospects, Michael Graves and Bojan Velickovic fought to a three-round draw in a UFC 201 preliminary bout at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Scores in Saturday’s bout were 28-28 twice and 30-27.
There was little compelling action in the opening round, neither fighter able to break into the lead. Graves did get the fight to the mat to start round two, and he took Velikovic’s back. With plenty of time to work, Graves sunk his hooks in, but Velickovic’s defense was solid, and as the round approached its midway point, he got loose. Graves adjusted well, and while he again took the back, he was unable to do anything with it before the end of the frame.
Velickovic got his own takedown to kick off the final round, but a subsequent scramble saw Graves change things up and take the Serbia native’s back again. Velickovic was able to shake him loose and rise to his feet. The fight remained there until the final horn, with neither able to surge ahead.
Australian lightweight Damien Brown picked up his first UFC win in the opener, knocking out Paraguay’s Cesar Arzamendia in the first round.
The first two minutes of the fight were wild, Arzamendia getting dropped by a right hand and Brown nearly getting caught in a heel hook. After the two rose, the action appeared to settle into a more sedate pace, but then Brown rocked Arzamendia with another right, dropped him with a second, and that was it, with the follow-up strikes just window dressing until referee Marc Goddard stepped in at the 2:27 mark.
With the win, Brisbane’s Brown moves to 16-9; Asuncion’s Arzamendia falls to 7-4.
WATCH UFC 201 on UFC FIGHT PASS