The roof at Rod Laver Arena nearly blew off today as Robert Whittaker (18-4) and Derek Brunson (16-4) gave the Melbourne crowd plenty to cheer about.
Brunson came out of blocks in usual fashion looking to press forward and take out his opponent. Whittaker looked wobbled on occasion but managed to reset and stand his ground until landing a few significant strikes of his own. The momentum shifted when Whittaker was backing away and caught Brunson coming in with another bombarding assault. Brunson was stunned and Whittaker took full advantage by landing an array of strikes that eventually dropped the American and caused Herb Dean to stop the fight.
It’s safe to say that Whittaker was feeling confident post fight after receiving both Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night honors. Tyson Pedro took home the other bonus for Performance of the Night in his debut.
“I’m stoked to come out with the win, it was pretty important. I train hard, I have the best coaching staff in the world, win or lose, they are always going to be there. We always do the right things, I stick to the plan and we get things done. We are making huge progress and I just put the top 10 middleweight division on show,” Whittaker said.
Jake Matthews (11-3) fought a tough battle against his opponent Andrew Holbrook (12-1) but lost via a split decision from the judges. Matthews came out of the blocks very accurate with his striking but allowed Holbrook to dominate in parts on the ground and in the clinch. In a back and forth bout, Mathews couldn’t seem to land anything significant to secure himself the win.
Tyson Pedro (5-0) wasted no time in his UFC debut with a first round submission of dynamic striker Khalil Rountree (5-2). Rountree came out firing and landed a solid punch that rocked Pedro but he responded quickly with a takedown of his own. The undefeated light heavyweight was patient on the canvas and eventually flattened out his opponent finishing the fight with a rear naked submission choke.
UFC jitters must not travel down under with fellow Australian debutant, Alex Volkanovski (14-1), looking spectacular in his first fight in the big show scoring a TKO victory over Yusuke Kasuya (9-3-2) in the second round. The NSW native was too strong for his opponent dominating on the ground for the majority of the fight. It was the perpetual strikes from the top that eventually led to the referee stopping the fight.
Kyle Noke (22-10-1) was limited offensively in his unanimous decision loss to Omari Akhmedov (17-3). Akhmedov landed some big blows on the feet but ultimately won the fight due to his unrelenting ground work in the first two rounds, not allowing Noke to get up. Noke subsequently retired following his third straight loss.
Main Card Results:
Preliminary Card Results: