Fabrizio Werdum recovered spectacularly from being knocked down twice by Mark Hunt, stunning him in the second round with a vicious flying knee on his way to capturing the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship in Mexico City.
Despite taking the fight at short notice when reigning heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez pulled out through injury, Hunt vowed to knock his higher ranked opponent out.
He came extremely close to fulfilling his promise in the first five minutes. Werdum looked surprisingly uncomfortable with Hunt’s explosive power and pinpoint accuracy. The Brazilian was not helping his own cause however, cutting an almost static figure in front of a fighter famed for his ability to end contests early.
Then it happened. The killer blow from Werdum. As Hunt leaned in to unload another right hand Werdum anticipated it beautifully, launching a flying knee to the head that connected hard. Wasting no time, Werdum jumped on Hunt and after a flurry of hammer fists referee Herb Dean signalled the stoppage.
An impressive TKO, but it wasn’t the method of victory many expected with Werdum having secured nine of his previous 18 wins by submission. Although Mark Hunt protested at the stoppage he can have no complaints. He was not fighting back and looked unsteady when returning to his feet.
Werdum stretched his winning streak to five and will face the watching Velasquez to unify the UFC heavyweight division at some point next year.
In the co-main event Kelvin Gastelum shook up the welterweight division by submitting Jake Ellenberger by rear naked choke. Now unbeaten in 11 fights, this win sees Gastelum enter the top ten, adding stalwart Ellenberger to the list of big names he’s beaten since becoming the youngest ever Ultimate Fighter winner.
Elsewhere in a pivotal featherweight matchup, Ricardo Lamas put his title bid back on track by ending Dennis Bermudez’s seven fight winning run. It’s a division packed full of contenders and upsetting the odds here by submitting the ever improving Bermudez will do Lamas’ prospects no harm.
During the preliminary women’s fight between Jessica Eye and Leslie Smith, the referee was forced to stop the fight midway through the second round due to a shocking injury to Smith. After being hit with a heavy right hand, she suffered a deep cut to her left ear and after further blows by Eye her ear was gruesomely all but detached from the side of her head.
Herb Dean was in an awkward position with Smith pleading to continue, but common sense prevailed and the victory was awarded to Jessica Eye. The win was well deserved despite being stopped early and Eye enhances her reputation by a likely move into the women’s bantamweight top five.