It wasn't a fight that grabbed a lot of headlines before the event, but it ended up being a talking point after the fact as UFC veteran Dennis Siver, 35, and Charles Rosa, 28, put on a highly-competitive, back-and-forth fight on the preliminary card for UFC Fight Night 53 on Saturday evening in Stockholm, Sweden.
The entire event aired on UFC Fight Pass.
Siver ended up defeating Rosa, winning a unanimous decision, but that doesn't accurately reflect how the fight looked. While Siver used superior takedowns and top control to win rounds, Rosa made matters competitive throughout. The UFC newcomer, who took the bout on five days-notice, was able to recover position, reverse Siver numerous times, pass guard and threaten with his own submissions. He was also able to stop submission attempts from Siver.
The veteran's experience showed in the end and Rosa was nearly finished with a spinning back kick in the third round - one that later turned into an armbar attempt from the German - but showed tremendous poise and ability in his first Octagon outing.
For their efforts, they claimed Fight of the Night. Each was awarded $50,000. Siver's record climbs to 22-9 with 1 no-contest while Rosa gets the first blemish on his professional record and goes to 9-1.
The main card of UFC Fight Night 53 saw a number of knockouts, two of them being so scintillating that the fighters who executed them claimed Performance of the Night bonuses: Mike Wilkinson and Max Holloway.
Wilkinson, 27, was matched up with hometown favorite Niklas Backstrom, 25, who was also the odds-on betting favorite. Early on, Backstrom was landing front kicks to the face and strikes from the clinch, but after scoring with a second kick to the face, ate a winging right hand from Wilkinson that shut the Swede's lights off immediately. Wilkinson followed with a series of unanswered punches, but they were all unnecessary.
The end came officially at 1:19 of the first round. Wilkinson improves to 9-1 while Backstrom drops his undefeated status and falls to 8-1.
Last, but certainly not least, American Max Holloway, 22, started slow against Akira Corassani, 32, but managed to turn the tables after a few minutes, stopping the Swede also just minutes into the first round.
Corassani appeared to be finding a home early for his right hand, but with overhand punches and at the end of combinations. But as time expired, Holloway gauged his distancing better and dropped Corassani with a right straight of his own. Corassani did the right thing by trying to clinch, but Holloway poured it on and after another punch sent Corassani crashing to the mat, the fight was effectively over save for a few perfunctory punches the referee allowed before halting the contest.
The bout was stopped at 3:11 of the first round. Holloway's record jumps to 11-3 while Corassani drops to 12-5 with 1 no-contest.