It took 10 minutes for Holly Holm and Bethe Correia to finally engage, but when Holm did, “The Preacher’s Daughter” was vicious.
Holm and Correia headlined UFC’s return to Singapore on Saturday, and the first round of the bantamweight fight had nothing much to note from either fighter. After the referee warned both fighters for action in the second, Correia landed a good spinning back fist and took Holm’s back close to the cage before the round was over.
Before the third round started, Correia’s cornermen told her “don't respect this chick,” and the Brazilian listened to it. Correia laughed after landing two punches, and decided to showboat. Seconds after calling the former UFC champion to engage, Correia ate a vicious left kick to the head and went down immediately, and the referee stopped the out after Holm landed one final punch.
"You know, this fight I know that she could make look messy and I know I heard a lot of boos from the first round but what I wanted to do was make it look as clean as I could," Holm said after the win. "She can make a messy fight. That was the goal, that was the plan, bait her into something and make a clean shot.
"Thank God my coaches and – oh gosh – there’s so many people that have supported me through the three losses: my team that flies halfway across the world for me and my coaches at home. We’re missing a coach here tonight. Oh my gosh. I send all my love my family, my husband, everybody that’s been supporting me through all this time and I just feel like I want to do it for them. This fight was for them.
"My brothers actually, we always say, ‘shin on the face, shin on face.’ So this is for you brothers. I’m gonna enjoy this night right now and enjoy this victory. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been able to do a backflip in here and I was glad to do it in Singapore. What a beautiful place. I feel at home even though I’m on the other side of the world. It’s been a great place to have a fight. I just feel so blessed."
Marcin Tybura met former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in the co-main event, and everything indicated that it would be a quick bout right away.
“Pitbull" threw kicks early, but Tybura caught one of his attacks and took the fight to the ground. Arlovski tried to create escape to get back up, but gave Tybura an opening to get to the mount position. Arlovski somehow survive eating dozens of hammerfists for three minutes, getting back up and hurting Tybura in the final seconds.
Tybura was clearly tired after that, and Arlovski kept the fight close to the cage to score points and recover after the beating he took in the previous round. The former champion wasn’t able to keep the rhythm in the last five minutes, with Tybura getting control of the fight and handing “Pitbull" his fifth straight defeat with the unanimous decision (29-28, 28-27, 29-27).
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos scored an important win in his welterweight debut. Taking on former Strikeforce titleholder Tarec Saffiedine, the jiu-jitsu black belt only had one opportunity to work on the ground, attempting a couple of kimuras, but both fighters went for it in the striking area.
Both fighters slowed down after the first round, but Saffiedine, the more technical in fighter the stand-up area, wasn’t able to stop the pressure from the Brazilian, who pushed forward the entire time, landing good punches and got the nod from the judges after 15 minutes (30-7, 30-7, 29-28), giving Saffiedine his third decision loss in a row.
Also in the welterweight division, Colby Covington scored one of the biggest wins of his career against Dong Hyun Kim. After a slow-paced start, Covington rocked Kim with a left hand in the second round and went on to take the South-Korean fighter down and work on top. Covington continued to impose his game plan in the third, winning via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27).
"I’m the uncrowned king of this division,” Covington said after the win. "This is my division. Dana (White), I’m a size 32 waist. Get that belt ready for me."
"I want bigger names, man,” he added. "I want my title shot. Flesh blood, baby. I’m coming for it all. I’m the best in this division."
In the preliminary portion of the card, Jon Tuck made quick work of Japanese legend Takanori Gomi. In the headlining attraction of the prelims, Tuck hurt “The Fireball Kid” with a kick and went on to take his back and finish with a rear-naked choke in 72 seconds.
Walt Harris impressed in his heavyweight clash with Cyril Askren, getting the TKO victory in under two minutes. Harris dropped the French heavyweight with punches and finished him with a vicious ground and pound, landing hard elbows until the referee stopped the action.
Alex Caceres and Russel Doane also got TKO victories in the prelims, but in different ways. “Bruce Leeroy” was dominant in the first rounds against Rolando Dy, but the victory came when the doctor stepped in and called the fight due to Dy’s eye issues. Doane stopped Kwan Ho Kwak with 51 seconds left in the opening round, landing a right high kick and following with punches.
The upset in the preliminary portion of the card came with Ulka Sasaki, who submitted Justin Scoggins in the second round with a rear-naked-choke. Naomi Inoue and Lucie Pudilova scored unanimous decision victories over Carls John de Tomas and Ji Yeon Kim, respectively.