Matavao lay on the canvas for an extended period after the finish, which came at the 2:01 mark of the second round at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. There was stiff competition for impressive performances at the event on Tuesday, with four of five fights ending before the final bell.
“I just turned pro last year, but I’ve been doing this for a minute,” Nchukwi said after his win and before UFC President White awarded tickets to the UFC. “If you see how I put in work, I’m planning to do the same after I get that contract.”
Check out Nchukwi’s finish and White’s reaction.
Cameron Church was willing to take a whole lot of punishment to brawl with Sherrard Blackledge. But his deficiencies in wrestling cost him a decision.
In the first fight of the night to go the distance, Blackledge’s takedowns neutralized Church and won points with judges, who gave him two 30-27 scores and one 29-28 tally for the unanimous decision.
It didn’t look like scores would be needed after five minutes. The two frequently slugged it out on the feet, trading punches and kicks at a breakneck pace. There was a discernable advantage in power to Church. But every time he got close to hurting Blackledge, he hit the mat.
A groin kick seemed to motivate revenge for Church in the second. He walked through a head kick and spinning back elbow before delivering his own foul. After announcing his recovery with a “f*ck it,” Blackledge reasserted himself on the canvas and escaped a few armbars to close strong.
Both fighters were visibly winded in the third. Blackledge, though, had the gas to take the fight to the mat, and Church was unable to get up. Closing out the fight with effective ground and pound, Blackledge sealed his win.
Phillip Hawes makes good on octagon dreams in third try
It took middleweight Phillip Hawes several tries, but he came through in his Contender Series follow-up.
Hawes chopped at Khadzhimurat Bestaev’s foundation with a series of bruising calf kicks, then went upstairs with an overhand right to knock his opponent to the canvas. A series of hammerfists forced referee Chris Tognoni to intervene just 78 seconds into the opening round.
Hawes, who shared the alma mater and gym of now-former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, fully earned his shot at a UFC contract. He was outpointed on The Ultimate Fighter 23 by season winner Andrew Sanchez, and in his first appearance on DWCS, he was laid out by a head kick from current UFC standout Julian Marquez.
This time around, Hawes showed he belonged in the octagon. But in his post-fight interview, he said he is only getting started. And with four wins on his recent resume, he gets a good push toward the UFC.
You didn’t need to read lips to decipher UFC President Dana White’s reaction.
Slick grappling puts Drako Rodriguez on the octagon fast track
Quick thinking on the mat netted Drako Rodriguez a first-round submission over Mana Martinez.
Rodriguez countered an oma plata from Martinez with a triangle and held on until Martinez lost consciousness, prompting referee intervention at the 2:22 mark of the opening frame. It was the eighth-fastest submission in Contender Series history.
Moments earlier, Martinez had slapped on an armbar to force a scramble from his opponent, who’d caught him with an overhand right and knocked him down after a spirited exchange of low kicks. s As the triangle choke tightend, he also contemplated a slam. But he hesitated, and then slumped backward, sitting on the canvas.
The finish couldn’t have been a better outcome for Rodriguez, who’d received an offer to join the UFC in 2019 only to be denied his release by KOTC. Rodriguez picked up another win in the regional stalwart before punching his ticket to the Contender Series.
Aliaskhab Khizriev quickly taps Henrique Shiguemoto
Showcasing chain-wrestling that would make his native Dagestan proud, Khizriev made short work of Shiguemoto, capitalizing on a slip to get an early takedown and secure a rear-naked choke. With the tap coming just 50 seconds into the first round, commentators said it was the second-fastest submission in Contender Series history.
Full DWCS Season 4, Week 6 results:
Tafon Nchukwi def. Al Matavao via KO (head kick) - Round 2, 2:01
Sherrard Blackledge def. Cameron Church via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Phil Hawes def. Khadzhimurat Bestaev via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 1:18
Drako Rodriguez def. Mana Martinez via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 2:22
Aliaskhab Khizriev def. Henrique Shiguemoto via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 0:50