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The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Tuesday brought in more reinforcements through Dana White’s Contender Series, as flyweight Jimmy Flick, light heavyweight William Knight and bantamweight Ronnie Lawrence joined the roster on the strength of impressive Week 5 performances at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Flick submitted Nate Smith with an arm-triangle choke in the third round of their flyweight encounter. Smith (6-1) conceded defeat 3:15 into Round 3, the Elevation Fight Team prospect beaten for the first time as a professional.
Flick (15-5) was masterful on the ground. The Oklahoma-based Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt settled in top position in all three rounds and made passes at a variety of submissions throughout the first 10-plus minutes: a straight armbar, a brabo choke, a triangle choke, an armbar, an omoplata and multiple guillotines. Flick found the right combination in the third, where the Legacy Fighting Alliance champion secured a takedown, climbed to full mount and cinched the arm-triangle for the finish.
The 29-year-old Flick has delivered 13 of his 15 career wins by submission, seven of them via arm-triangle choke.
Relentless Lawrence Subdues Johnson
Repeated takedowns, stifling positional control and occasional spinning attacks on the feet carried American Top Team’s Lawrence to a unanimous decision over Jose Johnson in a three-round bantamweight showcase. Lawrence (6-1) swept the scorecards with matching 30-27 marks from the judges.
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Non-existent takedown defense cost Johnson (11-6). The Warrior Xtreme Cagefighting champion cut Lawrence below the right eye with a standing elbow strike but too often found himself pinned to the cage or the mat. Frustration built. Lawrence continued to execute takedowns, kept his foot on the gas and chewed up time in top position.
The defeat stopped Johnson’s run of consecutive victories at five.
Knight Rallies, Stops Brundage
Knight put away the previously unbeaten Factory X prospect Cody Brundage with elbows and punches in the first round of their light heavyweight encounter. Knight (8-1) brought it to a close 2:23 into Round 1, as he improved to 2-0 on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Brundage (5-1) executed a takedown, shifted to the back and flattened out the CES MMA veteran, nearly forcing a stoppage with a burst of unanswered punches. Knight withstood the onslaught, escaped to his feet and cut off the next attempted takedown with multiple elbows to the side of the head. Brundage collapsed and absorbed several punches before referee Herb Dean elected to intervene.
Knight, 32, has recorded back-to-back wins since suffering a technical knockout loss to Tafon Nchukwi under the Cage Fury Fighting Championships banner in November.
Baghdasaryan Outlasts Game Buzukja
Glendale Fighting Club export Melsik Baghdasaryan utilized slaps with his right hand, slashing straight lefts, standing elbows and clinch knees in capturing a unanimous decision over Ring of Combat champion Dennis Buzukja in a three-round featherweight confrontation. All three cageside judges scored it for Baghdasaryan (5-1): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Buzukja (4-2) was in survival mode for much of the first round, under heavy fire from the finish-minded Armenian. The Serra-Longo Fight Team standout bounced back in the second, where he tore into a visibly fatigued Baghdasaryan with leg kicks and executed a takedown. Baghdasaryan mustered the means necessary to piece together a strong Round 3, as he focused his efforts on the body with kicks and punches, tightened up his takedown defense and freed himself from a precarious armbar during one of their few exchanges on the ground.
Baghdasaryan has won five fights in a row.
Streaking Lutz Handles Gibson
Shogun Fights champion Tucker Lutz distributed effective strikes to the head, body and legs, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Chase Gibson in a three-round lightweight pairing. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Lutz (10-1), who has rattled off 10 consecutive victories.
Gibson (9-5) connected with a few right hands across the first 10 minutes and advanced to the back to threaten with a rear-naked choke in the closing seconds of Round 3, but the Combate Americas alum was otherwise outgunned. Pace was a major factor in the outcome. Lutz peppered him with hooks and uppercuts to the head, mixed in some body shots and attacked the lead leg with kicks, doing more than enough damage to warrant the decision.
The loss halted Gibson’s two-fight winning streak.