The former King of the Cage champion blasted through Tristar Gym standout Alex Garcia with third-round punches at UFC Fight Night “Cerrone vs. Oliveira” on Sunday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Strickland (17-1, 4-1 UFC) drew the curtain 4:25 into round three.
Garcia (13-3, 3-2 UFC) landed takedowns in the second and third rounds but failed to consolidate with them with damage. On the feet, the Montreal-based Dominican struggled with output and could not establish any kind of meaningful rhythm. In the third round, Strickland leaned on stabbing straight punches, rang the Firas Zahabi’s bell with a jab and set him on rubbery legs. The clearly compromised Garcia fought to keep his head above water but ate a crushing straight right that ended his night.
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Bamgbose Handles Sarafian in 60 Seconds
Former Ring of Combat champion Oluwale Bamgbose wiped out “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” graduate Daniel Sarafian with a first-round head kick and follow-up punches in their undercard pairing at 185 pounds. Sarafian (9-6, 2-4 UFC) met his end 60 seconds into round one.
A replacement for the injured Sam Alvey, Bamgbose (6-1, 1-1 UFC) made the most of his opportunity. The 28-year-old sent a left high kick crashing into Sarafian’s raised forearms, trailed the stunned Brazilian to the mat and bounced his head off the canvas with a pair of right hands, the first of them a concussive uppercut that seemed to briefly separate a seated Sarafian from his senses.
Sarafian, 33, has lost four of his past six bouts.
Coy Downs Prospect Webb
American Top Team rep Nathan Coy rebounded from back-to-back losses, as he captured a unanimous verdict from onetime Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Jonavin Webb in a three-round undercard tilt at 170 pounds. Coy (15-6, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28 marks across the board.
Webb (8-2, 0-2 UFC) controlled the first round with his standup and movement, but his success proved fleeting. Coy eluded an attempted armbar, secured a takedown and achieved full mount in the second and picked up where he left off in the third. He pressured the 26-year-old prospect, scrambled out of danger and ultimately moved to the top ride position, where he neutralized Webb and bled the remaining time off the clock.
The victory was Coy’s first since he bested Paul Bradley under the Bellator MMA banner nearly two years ago.
Returning Evans-Smith Stuns Reneau
Ashlee Evans-Smith made a triumphant return from a lengthy layoff, as she eked out a contentious split decision over Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Tachi Palace Fights alum Marion Reneau in a preliminary women’s bantamweight affair. Scores were 30-27 and 29-27 for Evans-Smith, 29-28 for Reneau.
The scorecards were puzzling considering the fact that Reneau (6-3, 2-2 UFC) had the Californian reeling with an early punching burst and had her ensnared in a tight guillotine choke when the horn sounded to end the first round. From there, a back-and-forth kickboxing match unfolded. Evans-Smith (4-1, 1-1 UFC) invested in heavily in body kicks while her counterpart remained content to strike from the outside. Neither woman created much separation over the final 10 minutes.
Murphy Delivers Late Stoppage
Former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Lauren Murphy took care of Kelly Faszholz with third-round ground-and-pound in a women’s undercard battle at 135 pounds. A replacement for the injured Sarah Moras, Faszholz (3-1, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:55 into round three.
Murphy (9-2, 1-2 UFC) overcame a slow start -- Faszholz ripped into her with stinging straight punches in the first round -- to brutalize the David Terrell protégé in the clinch and on the ground. Faszholz was bleeding heavily from the nose by the start of round two, and her situation deteriorated from there. Murphy executed a takedown inside the first 30 seconds of the third round, cut loose with elbow-laden ground-and-pound and eventually climbed to full mount. Referee Bill Bookwalter gave the defenseless Faszholz every opportunity to see the final horn before intervening on her behalf.
The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for the 32-year-old Murphy.
Abdurakhimov Turns Away Hamilton
Combination punching, crisp counters and superiority in the clinch carried Shamil Abdurakhimov to a unanimous decision over former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Anthony Hamilton in a preliminary heavyweight clash. All three cageside judges sided with Abdurakhimov (16-3, 1-1 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Hamilton (14-5, 2-3 UFC) pursued the clinch throughout but often led with his head. When he did manage to successfully close the distance, Abdurakhimov met him with punishing counterpunches, brutal collar-tie uppercuts and knees to the body; he made Hamilton pay on his entries and exits, trapping the Jackson-Wink MMA rep on the feet. The only legitimate adversity Abdurakhimov faced came in the form of a small cut on his forehead that resulted from an inadvertent clash of heads in the third round.
The 34-year-old Abdurakhimov has won four of his past five bouts.