Jack Della Maddalena had to overcome some adversity for the first time in his UFC career at UFC Vegas 77.
After four consecutive first-round finishes inside the Octagon, Maddalena was odds on to do it again against Bassil Hafez who took the fight on only five days’ notice.
Instead, Hafez gave Maddalena his toughest fight to date, with Maddalena scraping to victory by a split decision on the judges’ scorecards (29-28, 2928, 28-29).
Maddalena once again showed why is one of the brightest prospects in the sport, landing crisp boxing combinations on Hafez through the second and third rounds that had the American visibly stunned.
Hafez did land shots of his own, however, and with Maddalena attempting guillotine chokes managed to get on top of the Aussie for large portions of round 1 and 2.
Maddalena’s corner was desperate between rounds, telling the Perth native to keep the fight standing where he was having the most success.
Digging deep to get that victory! ????
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) July 16, 2023
“I thought it could go either way,” Della Maddalena said in his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier.
“When I heard it was a split, the judges don’t always make good decisions, so, I thought I had a good shot.”
“I did expect (him to be so tough),” Della Maddalena said.
“The guy with such a big opportunity o come out here and bring the fight. That’s what I wanted. I wanted a three-round fight, so cheers, Bassil.”
The fight was the first time in Maddalena’s UFC career that he did not finish the contest in the first round.
He has now won five straight at welterweight, which is tied for the longest active UFC streak in the weight class.