- UFC Fight Night 35
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Luke Rockhold scored his first win in the UFC. Now he wants to avenge his first UFC loss.
Rockhold (11-2) scored a first-round knockout over Costas Philippou on Wednesday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. The finish came via a left kick to the body, which rendered Philippou helpless at the 2:31 mark.
Immediately after the result was read, Rockhold called for a rematch with No. 1 contender Vitor Belfort, the man who knocked him out in his UFC debut in May.
"I want my rematch with Vitor, and I would like it here in the states," Rockhold said. "I will go through anybody I have to to get that - especially Michael Bisping. That would be nice."
A former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Rockhold entered the fight as a 4-to-1 favorite thanks in no small part to his grappling advantages over Philippou.
Rockhold showed little interest in taking Philippou down, however. He stunned him early with a counter right hand to the chin, and then went to work on his right side with kicks.
Philippou (12-4), who never had been knocked out, attempted to stand his ground. He responded to Rockhold's kicks with several aggressive flurries, one of which produced a smile on the face of his opponent.
The kicks continued to add up as the round progressed, and Philippou ate the final one with his back to the fence, straight to the midsection. Referee Herb Dean recognised the liver shot immediately and stepped in as Philippou fell to the ground.
It marks the third career knockout win for Rockhold. The 29-year-old also has six submissions.
Rockhold lost to Belfort at a UFC on FX event in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, via spinning heel kick in the first round. Belfort (24-10) is expected to face Chris Weidman for the UFC 185-pound title later this year in Las Vegas. Bisping (24-5) is expected to return to action this spring from an eye injury.
Elsewhere, Brad Tavares' seventh UFC win looked a lot like the previous six - systematic, clean and fundamentally sound. Tavares (12-1) extended his win streak to five in the middleweight division, outpointing the dangerous Lorenz Larkin (14-2) by unanimous scores of 29-28. Six of his seven wins in the Octagon have come via decision.
"I wasn't surprised I was an underdog coming into this fight, but it made me think, 'Man, I'm the best bet on this card,'" Tavares said. "Lorenz is an awesome fighter, and I had a lot of fun in the Octagon tonight. I think with this win I can consider myself a top 10 guy in my division."
T.J. Dillashaw turned in one of the most impressive performances of his career, earning a one-sided unanimous decision over Mike Easton. Coming off a narrow split-decision loss in his last fight, Dillashaw (9-2) left no doubt in this bantamweight contest as he dominated Easton in all areas for 15 minutes. All three judges scored it a shutout 30-27 win.
"It felt great to get that win and show off all the muay thai skills my coach Duane Ludwig has taught me," Dillashaw said. "I would have liked to get the finish but I was dominating from start to finish, so I was never worried. Easton is a tough guy, he ate a lot of my punches."
Yoel Romero kept his hype train alive with a thrilling third-round comeback over fellow middleweight Derek Brunson. Romero (7-1), who has gained traction as a middleweight contender following two knockouts in 2013, dropped Brunson (11-3) in the third before finishing him with elbows on the ground.
A back-and-forth flyweight contest between John Moraga and Dustin Ortiz ended in Moraga's favour via split decision. Moraga (14-2), who was submitted by UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in July, squeaked out a 29-28 win on two of the judges' scorecards, with the third having it 29-28 for Ortiz (12-3).
Featherweight Cole Miller made easy work of Sam Sicilia, finishing the fight via rear-naked choke at 1:54 of the second round.
This article originally appeared on ESPN.com