Costa continues destruction of middleweights with finish over Hall

COSTA vs HALL

Brazilian power hitter Paulo Costa kept his unbeaten record intact in UFC 226 prelim action at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, knocking out Uriah Hall in the second round of their middleweight matchup.

Hall’s jab was on target in the early going, bloodying the mouth of Costa, but “The Eraser” kept moving forward, jarring his opponent with a right hand over the top with a little less than three minutes left. After a brief break in the action when Hall was hit low by Costa, “Prime Time” fired away and got the crowd into it, but when Costa caught Hall against the fence, it was a ferocious assault by the Brazilian, who landed with several thudding blows. Another low shot halted the action a second time, Costa drawing a stern warning from referee Mark Smith before the round ended.

Costa kept the pressure on in round two, Hall responding with a quick takedown a minute in. The Brazilian jumped right back up but suffered a flash knockdown almost immediately. Again, Costa rose and he recovered quickly, ripping to the body with both hands, delivering a right hand to the body that crumbled Hall and sent him to the canvas. With Hall face down on the mat, Smith stepped in to halt the bout at 2:38 of the second stanza.

The No. 10-ranked Costa moves to 12-0 with the win. The No. 9-ranked Hall falls to 14-9.


ASSUNCAO vs FONT

Perennial bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao continued to roll, winning his fourth straight bout with a clear-cut three-round unanimous decision over Rob Font.

Scores were 30-27 across the board for the No. 3-ranked Assuncao, now 27-5. The No. 11-ranked Font falls to 15-4.

A close first round waged entirely on the feet was likely edged by Assuncao with a minute left when he scored a flash knockdown of Font with a quick 1-2.

Assuncao took control of the bout early in round two with a takedown that caught Font by surprise, and he kept the New Englander grounded until midway through the frame. Once standing, Font stalked in an effort to get those points back, but he was unable to put together a consistent offensive attack, and his inability to get close to Assuncao continued in the third, as the Brazilian vet controlled the standup and then closed the bout with another takedown to seal his victory on the scorecards.


KLOSE vs VANNATA

Drakkar Klose bounced back from the lone loss of his pro career, winning a shutout three-round unanimous decision over fellow lightweight prospect Lando Vannata.

All three judges saw it 30-27.

Klose had a good opening round, pressuring Vannata with his grappling while countering the flashy strikes of the Albuquerque product with a steady stream of low kicks.

Vannata came out fast for round two, and he got off some slick combinations, but Klose wasn’t rattled, cutting his opponent with an elbow while continuing to counter the spinning attacks coming at him.

The third was another round in the bank for the Michigan native, who kept battering Vannata’s calf with kicks while never allowing “Groovy Lando” to get into a rhythm.

With the win, Klose moves to 9-1-1. Vannata falls to 9-3-1.


MILLENDER vs GRIFFIN

Welterweight prospect Curtis Millender continued to impress against fellow Californian Max Griffin, bouncing back from a slow start in the opening round to take rounds two and three and a unanimous decision victory.

Griffin (14-5) put the pressure on immediately, but Millender handled it well with thudding knees. Two minutes in, Griffin scored with a takedown, mixing things up effectively, and he kept his foe grounded for the rest of the round.

Millender (16-3) and Griffin traded hard shots in the second, and with Griffin unable to get his opponent back to the mat, Millender was able to hold the standup edge before he scored with his own takedown just before the horn.

Millender finished strong in the third, staggering Griffin briefly on a few occasions en route to the win via scores of 29-28 across the board.


HOOKER vs BURNS

Dan Hooker made a cast-iron case for a place among the lightweight elite, as he stopped Gilbert Burns in the first round to go four for four with four finishes since moving to 155 pounds from the featherweight division.

Burns came out blasting with his strikes, mixing up kicks and punches and jarring Hooker with a right hand. The New Zealander rebounded quickly, though, and in the second minute, a short right hand dropped Burns, forcing the Brazilian to look for a takedown, but the two rose quickly. Moments later, Hooker struck again, this time with a left hook that put Burns down again. This time, two follow-up shots ended the bout, with referee Mark Smith stepping in to wave it off at 2:28 of round one.

Auckland’s Hooker moves to 18-7 with the win. Niteroi’s Burns falls to 13-3.


WHITMIRE vs MOYLE

Ultimate Fighter alums Emily Whitmire and Jamie Moyle got the night started in the flyweight division, with Whitmire taking a close, but unanimous, decision win.

Whitmire was patient and effective with her striking in the first round, using her range to keep Moyle from getting close enough for a takedown. Moyle found her range a bit in the second stanza, but in the third, Whitmire broke the fight open with a ground attack that earned her the nod on the scorecards by three identical scores of 29-28.

With the win, Whitmire moves to 3-2. Moyle falls to 4-3.

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