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Anthony Pettis knows how to leave jaws ajar.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight titleholder moved up to 170 pounds and knocked out Stephen Thompson late in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 148 headliner on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Thompson (14-4-1, 9-4-1 UFC) bit the dust 4:55 into Round 2, as the South Carolina-based karateka was finished for the first time in his 19-fight career.
Initially, Pettis (22-8, 9-7 UFC) found the going rough. Thompson kept him at bay with check hooks, jabs and kicks that ran the spectrum from traditional to exotic, all while alternating between orthodox and southpaw stances. He also bloodied Pettis’ nose with straight punches down the middle and appeared to be on his way to coasting to a safe decision.
In the closing seconds of Round 2, Pettis backed up to the cage and sprang forward with a Superman punch that found its intended target and flipped Thompson’s switch. “Wonderboy” crashed to the canvas in an unconscious heap and was met with two additional right hands before referee Herb Dean could arrive on the scene.
Blaydes Squashes Overmatched Willis
Elevation Fight Team’s Curtis Blaydes plowed through Justin Willis on his way to a woefully lopsided unanimous decision in the three-round heavyweight co-main event. Blaydes (11-2, 6-2 UFC) carried the cards with 30-27, 30-26 and 30-25 scores from the judges, as he posted his fifth win in six outings.
Willis (8-2, 4-1 UFC) was out of his depth. Blaydes executed repeated ragdoll takedowns, climbed to dominant positions and punished the American Kickboxing Academy product with ground-and-pound and stifling pressure. He dazed Willis with a straight right in the second round but seemed content to pursue an approach in which he could torture the man who calls himself “Big Pretty.” More takedowns, more ground-and-pound and more topside domination followed.
The loss closed the book on Willis’ eight-fight winning streak.
Makdessi Snaps Pinedo Streak
Roufusport representative John Makdessi pecked and picked his way to a unanimous decision over Jesus Pinedo in a forgettable three-round lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Makdessi (17-6, 10-6 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Neither man did much to endear himself to the audience, their efforts -- or lack thereof -- drawing repeated boos from the crowd. Makdessi worked behind a steady diet of leg kicks and kept the 22-year-old Peruvian off-balance with occasional counters and side kicks to the body. Pinedo (16-5-1, 1-1 UFC) wobbled the Canadian with a head kick late in the second round but produced little else in terms of meaningful offense.
The defeat halted Pinedo’s seven-fight winning streak.
‘Formiga’ Torpedoes Unbeaten FigueiredoOpportunistic takedowns and superior positional grappling carried former Shooto Americas champion Jussier da Silva to a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Deiveson Figueiredo in a three-round flyweight feature. Da Silva (23-5, 9-4 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
Outside of an elbow strike from the bottom that opened a cut near da Silva’s hairline, Figueiredo (15-1, 4-1 UFC) had little to offer the American Top Team standout. “Formiga” struck for takedowns in all three rounds and twice achieved full mount, frustrating Figueiredo with an admirable adherence to strategy across their 15-minute encounter.
Da Silva now finds himself on a four-fight tear and remains in the conversation as a possible No. 1 contender in a dying division.
Pena Rebounds, Outstrikes Peterson
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 27 semifinalist Luis Pena bounced back from his first professional defeat with a unanimous decision over Steven Peterson in a featured featherweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Pena (6-1, 2-1 UFC).
Peterson (17-8, 1-2 UFC) enjoyed some success with clinches and takedowns but was otherwise ineffective. Pena battered the Fortis MMA rep with everything from uppercuts with both hands and standing elbows to flying knees and forearm shivers. Peterson did his best work in the second round, where he managed to climb to the American Kickboxing Academy prospect’s back on two different occasions. However, nothing of consequence materialized, and Pena resumed his assault in one-sided standup exchanges.
The 28-year-old Peterson has alternated wins and losses in each of his last seven appearances.
Undefeated Barber Stops Aldrich
Factory X prospect Maycee Barber kept her perfect professional record intact, as she disposed of J.J. Aldrich with punches in the second round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Aldrich (7-3, 3-2 UFC) bowed out 3:01 into Round 2, her three-fight winning streak at an end.
Barber (7-0, 2-0 UFC) navigated some considerable difficulty to remain undefeated. Aldrich sat her down with a clean straight left inside the first 30 seconds of the first round and spent the rest of the frame picking her apart from the outside, as she countered effectively and piled up points with multi-punch combinations. Barber turned the tables in the middle stanza, where she buckled Aldrich with an overhand left, swarmed with punches, reset after breaking free from the clinch and sealed the deal with another burst of punches along the fence.
Barber has finished her last five opponents.
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