Ronny Markes withstood a hard punch from Aaron Simpson in the first round and fought hard enough in the second and third to win a close split decision at Wednesday night's UFC on FUEL event. The victory improves Markes' record to 13-1, and shows that he's a promising young fighter in the middleweight division.
But it wasn't easy.
Markes tagged Simpson with several hard punches in the first 30 seconds of the first round, but Simpson maintained his composure and clinched with Markes against the cage. After the referee separated them, it was Simpson who took control by landing a huge uppercut that knocked Markes down. Simpson then pounced and tried to finish Markes with ground and pound, but Markes stayed active from his back and survived. Simpson won the first round, but Markes did a nice job of staying alive when it looked like Simpson was ready to finish him.
The second round was slower, with a lot of clinch work and fighting for position. Simpson is a strong wrestler, but Markes more than held his own in that department, taking Simpson down and getting on top of him late in the round.
The third round featured more clinch work, and the crowd started to boo, wanting more hard-hitting action like the first round delivered. As Markes controlled him against the cage, Simpson asked the referee to separate them, and the referee obliged. That gave Simpson his last, best chance, and he came out swinging, but Markes soon grabbed hold of him again, and the round ended without a lot of action.
The judges scored it 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 for Markes. The fans booed, but it wasn't a bad decision: After Simpson's early flurry, he didn't do much of anything in the second and third rounds, and Markes did just enough to win.