It took six-plus years for Tamdan McCrory to make his return to the UFC. It also turned out to be well worth the wait.
The fighter known as the "Barn Cat" engaged in an exciting middleweight battle with Florida's Josh Samman on the FS1 prelim card at UFC on FOX 17 Saturday in Orlando. The bout was close over the first half, but McCrory pulled away over the second half before getting the submission via triangle choke at 4:10 of the final round.
A back-and-forth opening round was the closest of the fight, as the two primarily engaged in a compelling ground battle of back and forth switches, positional reversals, submission attempts, and counters, with a liberal dose of ground strikes sprinkled in for good measure.
It was more of the same in the second, but by the round's midpoint, it became clear the fight was swinging in McCrory's favor. He outgrappled the tiring Samman and laid in some nasty ground-and-pound.
McCrory appeared well on his way to a 10-8 round in the third before he finally got the tough Samman to tap to the triangle.
"Yeah I was looking for a razor on the other side and I cut an angle to where I wanted to be favorable," said McCrory. "And I heard him gurgling so I went with it and I got the tap."
McCrory (14-3) was 21 when he made his UFC debut with a win over Pete Spratt in 2007. He was 3-3 in the UFC before walking away from the sport for five years after a UFC 101 loss to John Howard. He returned last year and went 2-0 in Bellator before signing with the UFC.
Samman (12-3) had a four-fight win streak snapped.