This is the UFC Fight Night 39 live blog for John Howard vs. Ryan LaFlare, a welterweight bout at Friday's UFC event at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Howard, who has won both his fights in his UFC return, will face Nelson, who has won three straight UFC fights, on the main card.
Check out the UFC Fight Night 39 live blog below.
Round 1: John Howard and the southpaw Ryan LaFlare. Howard has turned his career around and is looking to make it three in a row in UFC. LaFlare won all three of his bouts in 2013. Leon Roberts the ref. Howard right to center, and LaFlare circles. Body kick to Howard from LaFlare, and now a single-leg takedown by LaFlare right off the bat. This isn't where Howard wants to be, on his back. But this is what we've seen a lot of from LaFlare. LaFlare passes guard and is now in side control. Howard very calm right now, and he rolls...nearly gets up, but LaFlare recovers jumps back on. Now he's trying to wrap up a D'Arce choke. Howard able to fend it off, and momentarily stands up -- and now he does scramble back up. And now Howard gets LaFlare down for a split second, but the New York fighter bounces back up. Elbow from LaFlare on the fence lands flush. Now back to center, and LaFlare grabs Howard's waist and rolls him back to cage. Nice throw there from LaFlare, but and Howard hits canvas. But he gets right back up. Now Howard plows LaFlare into the fence, and they mix there for a second before peeling out to center. Jab from LaFlare strafes Howard, and now a knee to the head with a follow-up right. Howard didn't see the second coming. Still, Howard stalks forward with ten seconds left. He lands a body kick, and eats a body shot as he tries to tie LaFlare up at the end. MMA Fighting scores R1 for LaFlare, 10-9.
Round 2: LaFlare a little swelling over his left eye from that punch on fence from Howard. Back at it. Howard back to center, and he drops LaFlare momentarily with a wicked combination. The left hook was flush, but LaFlare is back up. Howard lifts LaFlare and puts him on his back. Doomsday coming alive here. Right now he is in half guard, and is looking to pass, but LaFlare is keeping him close. LaFlare thrusts hips and bucks Howard off and scores a reversal; now LaFlare in side control. Nice change, and boom, Howard creates scramble and momentarily reverses again before both men bounce to their feet. Now LaFlare wraps up Howard, but Howard has the double underhooks and is looking for a throw on the fence. Whoa. Howard takes a big shot to the groin, a vicious knee, and he's down. The referee looking after him and giving him time to recover. Wincing from Howard. That was a bad shot. He's barely able to get up right now. Doctor now out talking to Howard, who is slumped on fence in obvious pain. Howard has a minute to go, and he's up on his feet. Howard sits back down, but then as his window begins to close, he stands up and says he's good to go. They touch them up and we're back at it. LaFlare immediately trips Howard down to the ground and advances into side control. That was easy. Howard rolls, gets to his knees and now he's back up. LaFlare moves in and punishes Howard on the fence. Nice flush right hand sort of staggered Howard. Now Howard comes back and advances on LaFlare on fence, got the whizzer. They roll along, now LaFlare with underhooks and strikes Howard with a couple of inside knees. More knees in the clinch. Uppercut from Howard lands clean, and now a left hook! LaFlare has to peel out of there to avoid further damage, but those ones hurt as the round ends. MMA Fighting scores R2 for Howard, 10-9 (19-19 overall)
Round 3: Howard's corner advising him to avoid body-locking, but to instead unload on LaFlare when he has his back on fence. We'll see if he listens. Round three. They touch them up. Straight kick from LaFlare, but now Howard lands a kick that backs LaFlare up. Only for a second, as LaFlare shoots in for takedown and gets it. He is slamming home his right hand on Howard's temple, as Howard scoots towards fence. Howard comes back up, and lands a beautiful hook as they stand. LaFlare eats them and starts kicking. He hits a great leg kick that made Howard swivel. Takedown from LaFlare and it becomes a scramble, and Howard on top -- only for a second, as LaFlare reverses and now he's in Howard's butterfly guard trying to advance. Howard with good momentous thrust to get out, but LaFlare back on him, driving shoulders into Howards neck. Now LaFlare, ever busy, does get side control, and Howard creates a scramble. They go somersaulting, and they end up with LaFlare on Howard's back. Again, Howard rolls as LaFlare goes for back mount. He's sneaking baby uppercuts into Howard's head, and now Howard rolling for a leg lock! He has LaFlare in a precarious position here, but LaFlare is poised and rolls out of it. Now LaFlare back on Howard, wailing away on Howard with shots, as they stand on their knees. That's how it'll end. Howard with the cleaner shots, but LaFlare controlled the ground. Howard gets up and is still wincing from the groin shot, throws his cup. MMA Fighting scores R3 for LaFlare 10-9, (29-28 for LaFlare overall).
UFC Fight Night 39 officials results: Ryan LaFlare def. John Howard via unanimous decision.