Scottish born Australian Casey O’Neill has kick off the UFC on ESPN 25 card with a submission victory over Brazilian Lara Procopio.
O’Neill submitted Procopio by Rear Naked choke at 2:54 of the third round, remaining undefeated with a 7-0 record.
This marks the second win for O’Neill under the UFC banner, having previously won her UFC debut by second-round TKO against Shana Dobson back in February.
O’Neill grappling was on full display throughout the fight against a dangerous Procopio who’s a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The fight was at a high pace from the opening bell, with neither fighter slowing their pressure, exchanging strong shots in the process. Procopio’s game plan was clear, to strike her way into the clinch and then damage the body with knees and look for the takedown. O’Neill seemed more than happy to fight in the clinch with both fighters exchanging knees.
Procopio was able to secure two takedowns late in the first round but both times O’Neill was able to quickly get back to her feet or reverse position.
O’Neill kept up the pressure to start the second round landing multiple significant strikes forcing Procopio to shoot for a takedown. From her back, O’Neill remained active threatening with submissions and landing elbows. Procopio was unable to land any damage, allowing O’Neill to get back to her feet.
Procopio was unable to sustain the same pace from the first round while O’Neill continued to push forward, throwing Procopio to the ground and landing some nasty elbows to the head and body. O’Neill had a dominant second-round able to land Procopio 33-4 in significant strikes.
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In the third round, O’Neill continued her dominance having success wherever the fight went. Ultimately the fight ended up back on the ground where O’Neill locked in a crucifix off her back landing multiple unanswered strikes to the head of Procopio.
Procopio tried to escape the compromising position but in the process gave up her back allowing O’Neill to sink in the body triangle and work to a submission.
In a last-ditch effort Procopio stood up, however this only allowed the Aussie to get her arm further under the neck, forcing her back to the ground where she put the Brazilian to sleep.
Post-fight O’Neill was happy with her work and that she had the opportunity to show off her grappling.
“I had the back crucifix and I really felt like I was going to finish her there but she kept scrambling just enough and I could only get the back of her head, but once she turned around and gave me her back, I am really good from there.
“People that I train with will tell you once I am on your back, you are not getting me off, so I was just stoked to choke out a black belt.”
Fight fans can expect to see O’Neill back in the octagon later this year.
“I’d like to have a couple of months off now to get better, jumping camp to camp and moving countries even it’s hard to build new skills and I want to remain undefeated, I want to beat everybody so take a couple of months and hopefully November, December I’ll fight again,” she said.
At just 23 years of age and one of the youngest fighters on the roster, O’Neill is an exciting prospect in the UFC flyweight division. With her fan-friendly fighting style and ability to finish fights, O’Neill is one for Australian and MMA fans to keep an eye on.