Accurate, high-volume punching and a relentless pace carried the unbeaten Hawaiian to a unanimous decision over highly regarded Turkish flyweight Alptekin Ozkilic at UFC Fight Night 35 “Rockhold vs. Philippou” on Wednesday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Wednesday in Duluth, Ga. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Smolka (7-0, 1-0), who entered the cage as roughly a 3-to-1 underdog.
Ozkilic (9-2, 1-1 UFC) was aggressive with his takedowns but failed to effectively corral his 22-year-old counterpart. Smolka swept and escaped with surprising ease, returning to his feet and resuming his attack. By the end of the first round, Ozkilic was a spent force. Smolka gave him no quarry, unleashing punches, kicks and standing elbows, along with a series of knee strikes from the Thai plum. He nearly finished in the closing seconds of round three, where he moved to full mount and let loose with a volley of unanswered blows.
Nijem Halts Two-Fight Skid
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem put a stop to a two-fight losing streak, as he recorded a unanimous decision over Justin Edwards in a preliminary lightweight duel. Nijem (8-4, 4-3 UFC) swept the scorecards by 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks.
After a slow start, Nijem turned the tide in the second round, where he dodged a guillotine choke from the Jorge Gurgel protégé, staggered Edwards with a knee and front kick, struck for a takedown and eventually moved to full mount. Though his attempts at a rear-naked choke proved unsuccessful, the momentum had shifted.
Nijem secured another takedown inside the first minute of round three and opened a cut near Edwards’ left eye with some effective ground-and-pound. Edwards (8-4, 2-4 UFC) made one final pass at the victory, but his calf slicer in the closing seconds did not yield the desired result.
Undefeated Silverio Dominates Vallie-Flagg
Former Jungle Fight champion Elias Silverio kept his perfect professional record intact with a unanimous decision over Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Isaac Vallie-Flagg in a preliminary lightweight affair. All three judges struck the same verdict: 29-27 for the undefeated Silverio (10-0, 2-0 UFC).
Outside of being docked a point for an illegal knee strike in the second round, not much went wrong for Silverio. The 27-year-old Brazilian delivered takedowns in all three rounds, piling up punches and elbows with Vallie-Flagg (14-4-1, 1-1 UFC) pinned beneath him. Silverio twice achieved full mount in round three, where he put the finishing touches on his latest conquest.
The loss halted a 12-fight unbeaten streak for Vallie-Flagg, who had not tasted defeat since July 2007.
Smith Ekes Out Split VerdictEarly takedowns and late leg kicks spurred former Iowa State University wrestler Trevor Smith to a split decision over Brian Houston in an undercard battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Smith (11-4, 1-1 UFC).
Smith did his best work in the first round, where he took down the Riverdale, Ga., native, threatened him with an arm-triangle choke and ultimately secured full mount. Houston (4-2, 0-2 UFC) bounced back in the second, where he opened a cut on Smith’s forehead with a short right hand and sprawled out of his attempted takedowns.
In the third, perhaps overly concerned with his opponent’s takedown game, Houston’s pace slowed to a crawl and his offensive output outside of the jab became almost non-existent. Smith capitalized, picked up his pace and zeroed in on the lead leg with kicks.
The defeat halted a four-fight winning streak for Ozkilic.
‘From Hell’ Pichel Outduels Whiteley
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 semifinalist Vinc Pichel rode takedowns, ground-and-pound and an active top game to a unanimous decision over Garett Whiteley in a preliminary lightweight tilt. All three judges arrived at the same verdict: 30-27 for Pichel (8-1, 1-1 UFC).
Whiteley (7-2, 0-2 UFC) simply could not stay on his feet. Pichel struck for takedowns in all three rounds, grinding on the Chris Lytle protégé with elbows and standing-to-ground punches. He was at his best in round two, where he sent Whiteley’s mouthpiece flying with a beautiful left hook-right cross combination.
Dariush Choke Submits Brenneman
Kings MMA representative Beneil Dariush submitted Charlie Brenneman with a first-round rear-naked choke in an undercard scrap at 155 pounds. Brenneman (19-6, 4-5 UFC) asked out of the match 1:45 into round one, his four-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Dariush (7-0, 1-0 UFC) floored the AMA Fight Club veteran with an overhand left roughly 60 seconds into the match, softened him with punches on the ground and transitioned to his back. Soon after, the rear-naked choke was in place, forcing Brenneman to tapout after a brief struggle.