On a Wednesday night in Georgia, it was a Cuban Olympian, former Strikeforce champion, former Division II wrestler and American Top Team black belt who ended up taking home bonus pay at UFC Fight Night 35.
In the main event, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, 29, made quick work for the Cypriot Costas Philippou, 34. Rockhold opened with steady and consistent pressure, but nothing overly aggressive or out of position. As he began to find his range, he opened up on Philippou scoring with not one, but two body kicks that connected to the Long Island resident's liver and sent him crumpling in grimacing pain to the mat. Rockhold followed with an extra body kick, but it was over at that point. Rockhold claimed $50,000 for his win - as did each post-fight bonus winner - and his record moves to 11-2. The end was recorded at 2:31 of round 1. Philippou slumps to 12-4 with 1 no-contest.
Claiming Fight of the Night honors were a pair of middleweights in Yoel Romero, 36, and Derek Brunson, 30. The pair fought a wild bout as Brunson controlled the first two rounds not merely with his striking, but wrestling as well despite the Cuban's credentials. Still, Romero rallied late, cracking Brunson with a number of hard hooks and uppercuts in the third round. He eventually dropped the American and with a series of punishing elbows, stopped Brunson with just minutes to go in the fight. The end came at 3:23 of round 3. Romero moves to 7-1 in MMA while Brunson slides 11-3.
Last, but not least, American Top Team's Cole Miller, 29, earned Submission of the Night honors by submitting Sam Sicilia, 27, at in the second round of the main card opening bout. Miller was strong early and defined the bout by connecting with hard right hands down the middle. By the second round, Sicilia had no answer, eventually crumbling after Miller connected over and over. As he tried to recover position, Miller took Sicilia's back where he quickly ended the bout via rear naked choke. The end came officially at 1:54 of round 2. Miller jumps to 21-8 while Sicilia drops to 12-4.
FON: Romero-Brunson; KON: Rockhold; SON: Miller.. all won 50K