Eternal flyweight champion Stephen Erceg had a successful step up to the bantamweight division on Saturday night, defeating Cody Haddon in an entertaining main event clash at Eternal 60.
The card took place HBF Stadium in Perth, Western Australia, with the main card being broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.
Originally scheduled to defend his flyweight title before his opponent pulled out, Wilkes Academy trained Erceg stepped up to bantamweight eager to stay active. Haddon, a former amateur youth Australian boxing champion, was headlining an Eternal card for the second time in his short three-fight career.
Erceg found his shots from the outside and landed a pair of early takedowns only for Haddon to power back to his feet. Erceg continued to control the first round and took the back of his opponent with 90-seconds remaining in the round. While looking to wrap the arm around the neck, Erceg was able to flatten Haddon out and unleashed some ground-and-pound which opened up the neck. Erceg secured it but Haddon fought the hands and managed to survive the round.
Haddon came back in the second round, landing punches and kicks early before tripping Erceg. Haddon followed him to the ground before retreating and getting back to his feet. The two exchanged punches and Haddon successfully reversed a takedown, for a split second, securing full mount before Erceg escaped back to his feet. Haddon started swinging heavily against the cage. As they clinched, Haddon shocked Erceg by putting him on his back. Erceg escaped and the shots continued to come from Haddon, rocking his opponent. Erceg dropped to his knees and dived for the single leg, looking to see out the final 40-seconds of the round. Haddon escaped and immediately came forward with strikes as both exchanged strikes to see out the round.
After frantic first two rounds, both were breathing heavily as the last round began. Erceg landed an all-important takedown and was able to take the back. Haddon shrugged him off and clipped Erceg with a huge right as Erceg came forward with a jumping knee. Erceg landed a beautiful trip straight into side-control but Haddon again proved that he would not be kept down as he escaped to his feet. Erceg put an exclamation mark on the round, securing another trip, this time taking the back and transitioning to full mount. Erceg finished the fight unloading from there.
The crowd was on their feet by the time the final buzzer went. The decision came back 29-28, all three judges awarding it to Stephen ‘Astro Boy’ Erceg.
In the semi-main event, both Justin Van Heerden and Rod Costa were making a quick turn-around having a month ago fought on the Eternal 59 card in Melbourne. Van Heerden was originally scheduled to challenge for the featherweight title against Jack Jenkins however covid restrictions in Jenkins’ home state put an end to that and Costa, well known to do so, stepped up on short notice again.
Costa is well known for his grappling resume and proved on Saturday that his stand-up should be no forgotten. A straight right dropped Van Heerden only 90-seconds into the contest. Costa stayed calm though and didn’t immediately look to capitalise as Van Heerden got back to his feet and recovered. As the round continued, Costa dropped him again but he again stayed calm and composed, confident the winning shot would come. He wouldn’t have to wait long as a left hook connected on the button. This time Costa capitalised with ground-and-pound to secure the referee stoppage, 4:52 into the contest.
Post-fight, Costa joked, “As a high level kickboxer, it’s good to have a grappler and avoid it.”
He ended the in-cage interview by thanking his team Costa Academy and the team at Scrappy MMA before calling for a shot at featherweight titleholder Jack Jenkins.
“I have just one more thing to say. I think me and Jack Jenkins is the fight. That is the fight I want next.”
Also on the main card, Sebastian Szalay secured a slick triangle choke submission over Nick Kriel while Frank Jankowski defeated Jack Hayes via second-round TKO. Rafael Vilches opened up the UFC Fight Pass card with a unanimous decision against Mark Familari.
Full results click HERE