UFC Fight Night 35 featured a fair smattering of UFC debuts, fighters trying out new weight classes, Strikeforce veterans still getting their feet wet in the Octagon, and a hearty pack of TUFers. Here’s how it went down …
* Beneil Dariush got things going in Atlanta with a great start to his UFC career. The Iranian landed a knockdown of Charlie Brenneman and quickly took "The Spaniard’s" back before earning a tapout via rear-naked choke at just 1:45 of the first round. It goes in the books as the fourth fastest submission by a debuting lightweight. The record for fastest lightweight submission in a debut still belongs to Charles Oliveira’s 41-second sub of Darren Elkins at UFC on Versus 2. Other recent quick tapouts in lightweight debuts include James Vick’s 58-second finish of Ramsey Nijem at UFC Fight Night 26, ranking second in the category.
* Louis Smolka and Alptekin Ozkilic fought to a three-round decision, which is fairly common, but a key number on Ozkilic’s side made the decision of him losing a rare one. Ozkilic landed nine takedowns in 15 minutes yet lost a unanimous decision, becoming just the third fighter in UFC history to land nine or more takedowns in a fight and lose the judges’ decision. The other cases: Rodney Wallace, with eleven takedowns, losing his UFC 111 bout to Jared Hamman, and Karo Parisyan, with nine takedowns, losing the decision to Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 6. In all three cases, the losing fighter was out-landed by 26 or more significant strikes, a fairly advantageous margin in a three-round fight.
* Speaking of takedowns, Ramsey Nijem continues to excel as one of the lightweight division’s promising young wrestlers. Nijem landed five takedowns of Justin Edwards to help guide him to victory. Nijem lands an average of 5.40 takedowns per 15 minutes of fighting, the third highest rate in UFC history (min. 5 fights). Nijem has been an accurate takedown artist, connecting on 56.8 percent of his attempts, the fourth highest accuracy rate in lightweight history (min. five fights and 20 attempts). Nijem has taken down all six of his UFC lightweight opponents at least once.
* Cole Miller was his vintage self, hurting Sam Sicilia with distance punches before pouncing on his opponent and finishing with the rear-naked choke. It was Miller’s seventh UFC submission win, tying Joe Lauzon. The only UFC fighters with more submissions: Royce Gracie (11) and Frank Mir, Nate Diaz, and Kenny Florian (8). Miller as committed to 23 submission attempts in his UFC career, a number tied with Nate Diaz, Hermes Franca, and Georges St-Pierre for fifth most in UFC history. Joe Stevenson has the fourth most submission attempts with 24.
* Yoel Romero has found nothing but destructive success in his young UFC career. He’s finished all three of his opponents in brutal fashion and, on Wednesday night, became just the second fighter to earn a KO/TKO victory stemming from elbows to the body (Brown over Mein, UFC on Fox 7). Cheick Kongo finished Paul Buentello at UFC on Versus 1 via submission to elbows to the body, so let’s throw that one in, too. It was Romero’s second consecutive third-round knockout, becoming the first UFC fighter to earn two-straight third-round KO/TKO victories.
* TJ Dillashaw made quite a statement in his dominant victory over Mike Easton. Dillashaw tallied 117 significant strikes, tying Dominick Cruz’s WEC 53 output for fourth-most ever landed by a bantamweight in a single UFC/WEC fight. Dillashaw’s strike differential for the bout was +71 (117 to 46), the seventh largest in a 135-pound bout. Dillashaw also has the sixth largest strike differential in a bantamweight fight, going +74 against Walel Watson at UFC on FUEL TV 1. Your typical bantamweight connects with 36.45 percent of their significant attempts, but Dillashaw landed at a cool 50 percent Wednesday night. By the numbers, Dillashaw lands at a higher rate than anyone in UFC/WEC bantamweight history, landing 4.84 significant strikes per minute, the highest rate at 135 pounds (minimum five fights).
* In our main event, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold made short work of Costas Philippou, landing a shattering body kick that rendered Philippou unable to continue at just 2:31 of the first round. All of nine of Rockhold’s career finishes have occurred in the opening frame. It’s just the eight knockout in UFC history stemming from a body kick, joining finishes by Rich Franklin, Bobby Green, DaMarques Johnson, David Loiseau, Anthony Pettis, Alistair Overeem, and Dennis Siver.