5. Louis Smolka vs. Richie Vaculik (UFC Fight Night 55)
This fight took place on the prelims of the Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping card in Sydney, Australia. Vaculik was the hometown fighter and was taking on Smolka who had just come off the first loss of his professional career. The fight appeared to be going in Vaculik’s favor after the first two rounds and he appeared to be a step faster than Smolka in both striking and grappling. Smolka’s nose appeared to have been broken and his corner implored him after the second round that he needed a finish or a dominant third round. Smolka opened the third round pushing forward and looking to be the quicker striker. Twelve seconds into the round, Smolka caught Vaculik coming towards him with a stepping side kick square on the jaw. Vaculik collapsed to the canvas and Smolka pounced, smothering Vaculik with punches. The referee would wave off the fight at 0.18 of the third round in favor of Smolka via TKO.
4. Tamdan McCrory vs. Josh Samman (UFC on Fox 17)
Josh Samman would be the fighter to welcome McCrory back to cage following six years away from the Octagon. McCrory was coming off of two first round finishes in Bellator and Samman was coming off a brutal head kick KO of Eddie Gordon. Both fighters looked to work their clinch game in the first round with Samman controlling on the ground. McCrory remained active off of his back, looking for sweeps and not allowing Samman to impose much of his striking or submission game. Samman would open the second round clinching with McCrory again and gained another takedown. McCrory again attacked off of his back and managed to roll on Samman, gaining back control quickly. Samman would escape the back control but McCrory stayed on top and pressed Samman back against the fence. McCrory would remain in top control until the end of the second round. In the third round, Samman would clinch again but be taken down. After McCrory gained top control, Samman escaped and entered top control but McCrory managed to sneak his long legs up and lock in a tight triangle choke. After a barrage of elbows from McCrory, Samman tapped after finding no escape. Tamdan McCrory would earn his first UFC victory since 2009.
3. John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague (UFC 166)
Dodson was coming off of his close decision loss to champion Demetrious Johnson while Montague was making his UFC debut. Both fighters were viewed as top ten fighters in the flyweight division and looking to make their case to be in the title picture. Dodson would begin by using his speed to try and land one big punch and Montague using his jab and kicks to fight at distance. The fight would remain fairly even until the halfway point of round one when Dodson caught Montague with a huge left hand that dropped him. Dodson would slam a stunned Montague and threw a barrage of punches against the fence, looking for the finish. Montague would grab a last ditch single leg and managed to survive. Montague would continue to fight but Dodson began landing more and more until dropping him again in the last minute. Montague was out cold this time and the referee waved the fight off at 4:13 of the first round.
2. John Lineker vs. Michael McDonald (UFC Fight Night 91)
This fight would become the main event of the UFC’s first event in South Dakota after Michael Chiesa dropped out of his headlining fight with Tony Ferguson. Both Lineker and McDonald were ranking in the top 8 of the bantamweight division and were looking to move into the title picture. Lineker’s gameplan was obvious, load up on punches and look to bomb on the inside. McDonald came out looking to fight at range with kicks. McDonald used his footwork to move stick and move while Lineker began punching to the body. Two minutes in, Lineker dropped McDonald with a big right hand against the fence. Lineker attacked with follow up punches and dropped McDonald again when he tried to escape. McDonald managed to stand and escape with Lineker walking him down and giving him no space. McDonald would make the mistake of trying to brawl with Lineker against the fence and Lineker would drop him cold for the last time. Referee Herb Dean waved off the fight at 2:43 of the first round with Lineker as the victor.
1. Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia (UFC 102)
All the way back in 2009, also in Portland, Nate Marquardt took on Demian Maia to see who would move closer to a shot at the middleweight title. Maia was undefeated at the time and was viewed as one of the best submission artists in the world. Marquardt was a well-traveled veteran who had already fought for the title and wanted another shot. It was believed that Maia would look to take the fight to the ground ASAP for his best chance at winning and Marquardt would looking to keep the fight standing. When the fight began, Maia threw a leg kick and then a high kick. He would then throw a body kick and leave his hands low. When he did so, Marquardt threw one punch over the top and caught Maia flush on the chin. Maia dropped and Marquardt would hold back on follow up shots, deciding not to attempt further damage. The referee waved the fight only 21 seconds into round one in favor of Nate Marquardt.
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(Matthew Peterson is an MMATorch contributor who has been a fan of MMA since he first watched UFC 100. He currently resides with his wife in St. Cloud, Minn. He believes that Chris Lytle was God’s gift to fight fans and Cowboy Cerrone comes in at a close second. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattpete1088.)