Alistair Overeem scored a second-round TKO victory over Walt Harris to bring an end to the third fight card in eight days from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday.
After a brief feeling-out process Harris jumped on the first opportunity he saw. He floored Overeem with punches and put Overeem on the brink of referee intervention, but The Reem was able to survive long enough to work his way back to the feet.
Overeem would take advantage of a Harris slip to get the fight to the ground and work from top position for the remainder of the first stanza.
It was the Dutch kickboxer who landed a game-changing strike first in the second round. A head kick put Harris on the ground and started the beginning of the end.
Harris was given every chance to recover but couldn't as Overeem flattened out his counterpart and rained down strikes until Dan Miragliotta was forced to call an end to the bout.
The win once again makes Overeem relevant in the heavyweight division. Even 65 fights into his career he continues to find ways to improve, and surviving the early onslaught from Harris proved his chin isn't necessarily shot.
For Harris, this was clearly an emotional fight. It was his first appearance since the death of his stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard.
The finish was the only fight that was over before the final bell. The rest of the main card was marked by competitive decisions in a night of evenly matched fights.
Main Card Results
- Alistair Overeem def. Walt Harris via TKO at 3:00 of Round 2
- Claudia Gadelha def. Angela Hill via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Dan Ige def. Edson Barboza via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Krzysztof Jotko def. Eryk Anders via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
- Song Yadong def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Miguel Baeza def. Matt Brown via KO at 0:18 of Round 2
- Kevin Holland def. Anthony Hernandez via TKO at 0:39 of Round 1
- Giga Chikadze def. Irwin Rivera via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)
- Nate Landwehr def. Darren Elkins via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
- Cortney Casey def. Mara Romero Borella via submission at 3:36 of Round 1
- Rodrigo Nascimento def. Don’Tale Mayes via submission at 2:05 of Round 2
Claudia Gadelha vs. Angela Hill
Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill kept the theme of close decisions in the main card alive with a fascinating three-rounder that saw Gadelha get her had raised via split decision.
Gadelha won the first round with a classic performance. She secured a takedown and looked like the bigger, more powerful fighter for the first five minutes. It looked as though Hill might have been outmatched.
Overkill's response in the second round proved that wasn't the case. She put Gadelha on the mat and made it a decisive round for her.
That left the third and final round as the deciding factor, and both made a strong case. The two both threw heavy leather in the final stanza trying to earn the upper hand and finishing off a fight that saw high volume throughout:
Gadelha picked up the win, but this one proved that Hill can fight with some of the best in the division. She is one of the most active fighters on the roster but hasn't fought anyone of Gadelha's caliber.
She should continue to see ranked opponents after this performance.
Dan Ige vs. Edson Barboza
Edson Barboza was one of the most fearsome strikers in the lightweight division so his decision to go down to featherweight was one of the most intriguing stories of the night. As it turns out, Barboza looks good at 145 pounds but Dan Ige looks even better.
Barboza put Ige down in the first round showing off the power that made him dangerous at 155 pounds:
However, Ige came back to control much of the second frame. The round was put in doubt when Barboza put him down again and finished with some ground and pound but it could have gone either way. And it did, as one judge sided with the Brazilian and two sided with Ige.
The longtime featherweight Ige shook off the rough ending to the second round to rally and win the third, ending the round on top of Barboza and working some ground-and-pound.
The future is now uncertain for Barboza who is now 1-5 in his last six fights. He was dangerous at the lighter weight but whether he's willing to work his way up the ranks after a loss is an interesting question.
Ige continues to be underlooked with his six-fight win streak. He should be in for a big name bout in the division soon.
Eryk Anders vs. Krzysztof Jotko
No matter what Eryk Anders threw at Krzysztof Jotko, he had an answer on his way to a unanimous-decision victory in a middleweight bout.
Anders' game plan was certainly focused on aggression, but it was often to his detriment in this fight. He chased Jotko around the Octagon and worked him in the clinch against the fence at times, but it was Jotko's crisp counter-striking that ruled the day.
While he only got the clean sweep on one scorecard, he won two out of three rounds on the other and extended his win streak to three. This was his first fight in 2020, so it was important for him to get off to a good start.
As for Anders, this was a disappointing outing. As a former starter at linebacker for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Anders entered the sport with a ton of potential, but he hasn't always been able to convert his athleticism into efficient fighting.
He's bounced around between the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions but has yet to break through in either.
Song Yadong vs. Marlon Vera
The main card kicked off with a barnburner in the featherweight division as Song Yadong picked up a narrow decision over Marlon "Chito" Vera.
The fight was constant action as they engaged in exchanges in close quarters. Yadong, who was fighting at 145 pounds for the first time in three years, didn't seem to keep enough power to make a difference.
Vera was also fighting up a division from his normal weight class and more than held his own. Many had the Ecuadorian winning the fight 29-28, but none of those people were the official judges, as he dropped the narrow decision.
This was the kind of performance that will see both of their stocks rise. Given the circumstances of the bout and the move up in weight, neither was in his normal fighting shape, and yet they both put on a show.
Yadong remains unbeaten in six UFC fights. His last fight was a majority draw against Cody Stamann in which he was penalized a point for an illegal knee. The 22-year-old's future continues to look bright in the UFC.