- UFC London
Etim and Sass shocked in London
England's Terry Etim saw his plans to climb the lightweight ladder derailed on Saturday as Renee Forte claimed a shock unanimous 29-28 29-28 30-27 decision during the UFC London prelims.
Etim, one of the UK's most naturally gifted talents, was making his return after over a year out and ring rust clearly told.
The Brit arguably won a cautious first round, but then Forte closed the distance and landed a series of telling hooks that floored Etim in the second. Follow-up shots on the mat left Etim barely able to return to his stool at the bell, and Forte capitalised to control the final round on the mat.
It was also a disappointing night for Etim's Team Kaobon colleague Paul Sass, who dropped a 30-27 30-27 29-28 unanimous decision to Danny Castillo. Sass had been looking to bounce back from defeat to Matt Wiman in the lightweight division, but he looked unwell and faded as the fight continued.
Sass raced from his stool to nearly land a flying triangle, and he threatened with heel hooks and kneebars in a tight first round. However, Castillo is an experienced campaigner and assumed top position throughout the next two, damaging the Brit's left eye with elbows to take the win.
At middleweight, Tom Watson survived a first-round onslaught to stop Stanislav Nedkov for a huge TKO at 4.22 of round two. In an early contender for Fight of the Night, Watson clung on - possibly for his UFC career - when Nedkov ambushed him for the final two minutes of round one.
However, prior to that moment, Watson had drilled his rival with knees and elbows from the Thai clinch, and he resumed that work in the second stanza. Nedkov gassed badly and was dropped by a knee to the body, before Watson prompted an explosion from the crowd by following up for the finish.
"All I do is come here to put on exciting fights. I think I got knocked out three times tonight!" Watson said. "You see the size of the man. There's an epidemic, it's called TRT, I want to call out anybody using TRT. All I've got is heart."
It was a good night too for Andy Ogle, who fought through a first-round choke attempt to beat Josh Grispi 29-28 29-28 30-27. In a fight that will be quickly forgotten, Ogle controlled his man on the ground for much of the fight and landed a greater volume of strikes for a much-needed victory.
Vaughan Lee got back to winning ways in the bantamweight division, edging Motonobu Tezuka for a unanimous 30-27 decision. Tezuka never came to fight, pressing his man against the fence for large periods, but Lee landed a series of telling knees and maintained a high work rate for a deserved victory.
And in the opening fight of the night, Phil Harris earned his first UFC win, beating Ulysses Gomez via unanimous decision. Two grapplers by trade, they opted for a boxing match for the majority of the bout, with Harris getting a 30-27 30-27 29-28 nod from the judges.