Jamie Varner made up for lost time.
In his first UFC appearance since November 2007, the former WEC lightweight champion sprang a stunning upset on the previously unbeaten Edson Barboza and stopped the highly touted Brazilian on first-round punches at UFC 146 “Dos Santos vs. Mir” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Varner (17-7, 2-1 UFC) sealed the deal 3:23 into round one.
A late replacement for the injured Evan Dunham, Varner ate some horrific leg kicks but punched his way into the clinch and rattled Barboza (10-1, 4-1 UFC) with his heavy hands. With the lightweight prospect in retreat, Varner bashed him with a straight right hand, trailed his fallen opponent to the mat and finished it with punches and hammerfists.
“I have to thank the UFC for bringing me back,” Varner said. “Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you can really appreciate some of the places that you have been. Barboza was tough, man. He’s scary good. I didn’t care if I won or lost; I just wanted to put on a good performance. I wanted to fight for the fans.”
Elkins Outlasts Brandao, Earns Decision
Darren Elkins won for the third time in as many appearances, as he captured a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner Diego Brandao in a preliminary featherweight tilt. All three cageside judges scored it for Elkins (14-2, 4-1 UFC) by matching 29-28 counts.
Brandao (14-8, 1-1 UFC) roared out of the gates, blasting the Duneland Vale Tudo representative on the feet and on the ground. Elkins weathered the storm, kept his composure and forced the Brazilian into a second round. Once there, it became clear Brandao was a spent force. Elkins struck for multiple takedowns over the final 10 minutes, mounted his foe twice and smashed away with punches from the top.
“He comes out hard. He comes out swinging. He fights with a lot of emotion,” Elkins said. “I had to survive the first three minutes, find a rhythm and go from there. It turned out that way. He had a good first round, and then I started to take the momentum and build on it.”
Dollaway Downs ‘Mayhem’ on Cards
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 finalist C.B. Dollaway struck for repeated takedowns and worked over a listless Jason “Mayhem” Miller with ground-and-pound en route to a unanimous decision victory in a preliminary middleweight bout. All three cageside judges scored it for Dollaway (12-4, 6-4 UFC): 29-28, 30-26 and 29-28.
Miller (23-9, 0-3 UFC) staggered Dollaway with winging punches in each of the first two rounds but inexplicably followed the Power MMA Team member into the clinch. From there, Dollaway landed takedowns, recovered from the blows and went to work with his punches from top position.
“The game plan was to stand and trade with him and get the takedowns when I could, but he hurt me in the second round pretty good,” Dollaway said. “I did what I had to do coming off my hip surgery. I had a torn labrum in my hip that had to be reconstructed. [Miller] is not an easy fight to come back on.”
Hardy Halts Skid, Wipes Out Ludwig
Hardy (24-10, 5-4 UFC) floored Ludwig with a lead left hook, followed him to the mat and polished off the veteran striker with a series of vicious elbow strikes. The win was the 30-year-old Englishman’s first since November 2009.
“It’s really good to be back,” Hardy said. “There’s only one thing about that fight that is kind of bittersweet for me. Duane has been kind of a hero to me. I’ve always respected him and been a big fan of his all the way through his career, from the very start. Seeing him hit the canvas was good for me, but it was bad as well, because I really do love him so much. He’s a great fighter, and he deserves your respect.
“It felt good,” he added. “You know when you’ve landed a good shot. You can feel it when it connects.”
Sass Triangle-Armbar Finishes Volkmann
Undefeated British prospect Paul Sass submitted Jacob Volkmann with a first-round triangle-armbar in a preliminary lightweight match. Volkmann (14-3, 5-3 UFC) tapped out 1:54 into round one.
Sass (13-0, 3-0 UFC) pulled guard following a brief exchange on the feet and lured the Minnesotan into his lethal guard. Volkmann seemed content to engage the Englishman on the ground, and Sass made him pay a steep price. He deftly secured his patented triangle and attacked Volkmann’s vulnerable arm for the finish. Sass has now submitted 12 of his 13 opponents, 11 of them inside one round.
Teixeira Overwhelms, Submits Kingsbury
Former Shooto champion Glover Teixeira was spectacular in his promotional debut, as he submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 alum Kyle Kingsbury with a first-round arm-triangle choke. Kingsbury (11-4, 4-3 UFC) succumbed to the hold 1:53 into round one.
Teixeira (18-2, 1-0 UFC), who has won his last 16 fights, wasted no time in getting to work. He put heavy power punches on Kingsbury, wobbled him with a searing uppercut and followed the American Kickboxing Academy representative to the mat. Teixeira ultimately moved to mount, battered Kingsbury from the top and locked in the choke for the finish.
Veteran Brown Outpoints Pineda
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and heart-sapping clinch work carried former WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown to a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Daniel Pineda in an undercard bout at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Brown (26-8, 2-3 UFC) by identical 29-28 counts.
Brown worked effectively from top position in all three rounds and folded his adversary with a brutal knee strike to the body in the third round. Perhaps sensing his seven-fight winning streak slipping away, Pineda (17-8, 2-1 UFC) made a strong push late in the final stanza. There, he moved to Brown’s back from full guard, attacked with punches and fished for the rear-naked choke. His efforts were unsuccessful, and Brown took the win on points.