15/04/2024

Rafael Fiziev celebrates a third round knockout of Brad Riddell. Image: ESPN MMA/Twitter

Australian Jimmy Crute and Kiwi Brad Riddell were both knocked out on UFC's opening day of December action in Las Vegas

On the first weekend of December, the UFC opened with a bang at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. UFC President Dana White was a notable absentee as he battled a bout of COVID and Australian Jake Matthews had his fight postponed at the last minute.

Bendigo boy Jimmy Crute fought Jamahal Hill before New Zealander and City Kickboxing star Brad Riddell shared the octagon with Rafael Fiziev. Jose Aldo was impressive in the main event against Rob Font, but the action didn’t stop there. Read what happened in some of the biggest fights of the night below.

Jimmy Crute vs Jamahal Hill

Round 1

The first round began with Jimmy Crute landing multiple kicks before Jamahal Hill lands a hard right hook that almost floors Crute. Hill then lands a huge right hook that knocks Crute out just 48 seconds in.

Post-fight

Speaking after the fight, Hill spoke about Crute’s toughness.

“I know Jimmy is tough, he is unbelievably talented”, Hill said after the fight.

“Everybody just doubted me, I don’t know why.

“It feels really good to get back and get this win.”

Hill then called out Paulo Costa when asked who he would like to face in his next fight.

“I wanna be back in (the octagon) very soon, as soon as possible.”

Hill now moves to a UFC record of three wins, one loss, and one no-contest. Crute will return home to Bendigo after suffering his second consecutive loss. The Australian, with three remaining fights on his UFC contract, will look to return to the octagon in 2022.

Brad Riddell vs Rafael Fiziev

Round 1

The round begins tentatively, with both Brad Riddell and Rafael Fiziev feeling each other out early. Both fighters attempt multiple head kicks in the first half of the round, with none connecting. Riddell and Fiziev begin landing heavy body kicks as the round progresses. The right hand of Riddell starts connecting with Fiziev, with the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan native countering most attacks with punches of his own. Riddell finishes the round well with a strong combination. Close round.

Round 2

The second round begins with some early striking from both fighters and a clear shift in energy from the start of the fight. Fiziev continues to counter Riddell’s jabs and throws some nice body punches. Riddell moves forward with a strong right jab that lands on Fiziev’s face. Both fighters land simultaneous left hooks. Fiziev attempts a flying knee that just misses. Riddell’s face is now covered in blood due to a nasty gash above his eyebrow. Another close round, Fiziev might have just clinched it.

Round 3

The third round begins in a flurry with both fighters throwing their hands again. Riddell performs a take-down and attempts to climb on Fiziev’s back, but is unsuccessful as both fighters return to their feet. Riddell attempts a second take-down but is thwarted. Both fighters continue to show their explosive power throughout the round with some impressive combinations. Fiziev finishes the fight with an incredible spinning wheel-kick that lands on the side of Riddell’s head and knocks the Kiwi out.

Post fight

Speaking of his opponent, Fiziev spoke of their friendship over the years.

“I love him. He’s a very good guy, very nice person. And I learned from him. I hope he comes back”, he said.

“I waited for this moment for three rounds. I know when he goes this way, he drops his head down and forgets about spinning drop kicks.

“Give me three months and I’m ready to fight again.”

Fiziev then joked that he would like to fight actor Vince Vaughn in his next bout, who was in the small crowd at the UFC Apex.

Other notable fights

Jake Matthews vs Jeremiah Wells

Australian Jake Matthews’ welterweight fight against Jeremiah Wells was called off earlier this morning due to COVID-19 protocols. It is hoped that this fight will be able to take place before the end of 2021, with neither of the fighters testing positive to COVID-19, rather a team member of Wells.

Rob Font vs Jose Aldo (main event)

Rob Font started the first round as the stronger of the two fighters before Jose Aldo hit him with a one-two punch at the end of the round with just seconds to go and nearly finishes the fight, but time runs out. The fighters continue to exchange blows in the second round but Aldo looked the stronger fighter as it came to a close. Aldo controlled the majority of the third round after keeping Font on the ground following a take-down, but Font finished stronger by landing a number of strikes after being able to stand up. Aldo began the fourth round with a number of knees on Font before again taking him to the ground and maintaining control for most of the round. The final round started much more evenly, with Font able to land a number of blows including some impressive elbows. But it was Aldo who managed to wobble Font and again take him to the ground. Aldo won the fight with a unanimous decision.

Jose Aldo lands a right hook on Rob Font. Photo: UFC/Twitter

Clay Guida vs Leonardo Santos

Santos dominated the first half of Round 1, destroying Guida with a series of punches, leading the significant strikes by 46-0 and leaving Guida with head and body damage. Santos significantly tired in the back half of Round 1, and Guida was able to perform a take-down. Santos remained exhausted at the start of Round 2 and Guida was again able to take him down before taking his back and submitting the Brazilian with a rear-naked choke, days shy of his 40th birthday.

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Brendan Allen vs Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis secured a TKO finish with a lively win over Brendan Allen, making it his sixth win from six fights in 2021. Allen almost finished the fight at the end of the first round with a heel hook attempt after both fighters exchanged blows. But it was the 34-year-old American who landed an impressive combo, culminating in a right hook in the second round which wobbled Allen. Moments later, referee Herb Dean called an end to the fight moments later after a series of knees from Curtis.

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