The fighters on the UFC Fight Night 121 card in Sydney on Saturday night put the judges to work.
All six fights on the main card went the distance, including former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum’s unanimous decision victory over rising contender Marcin Tybura in the main event.
It was the longest event in terms of fight time in UFC history.
Werdum won for the second time in just more than a month. He accepted the fight after a 65-second victory over Walt Harris at UFC 216 in Las Vegas last month.
Werdum hopes his third win in four fights since losing the belt to Stipe Miocic in May 2016 will earn him a championship rematch.
“Congratulations to Marcin Tybura, he’s a great fighter and will have a long career,” the 40-year-old Brazilian said. “I’m a bit older but I want another belt before I go. I’ve got two championships on my wall and I want one more.”
The three fights that preceded the main event all resulted in split decisions.
Las Vegan Jessica-Rose Clark made a successful UFC debut by earning the nod over fellow Australia native Bec Rawlings in the fledgling flyweight division.
“I knew that I would win this fight but it still feels amazing to get my first UFC win,” Clark said. “I can’t wait to get back in the gym and see what’s next. There’s no official flyweight rankings just yet so I’m content with fighting the toughest girls I can get.”
Clark got off to a slow start before using her kicks and ground superiority to win the final two rounds on two of the three scorecards.
Welterweights Belal Muhammad and Jake Matthews also earned split-decision wins.
“This was the biggest win of my UFC career thus far,” Muhammad said after beating Tim Means. “It ended up being more of a brawl when it was supposed to be a wrestling match but I had fun out there. His range is a problem so I had to just bite down and go forward.”
Muhammad called out controversial rising star Colby Covington for his next fight.
Matthews won in his debut at 170 pounds after losing his last two bouts at lightweight as he edged Bojan Velickovic.
“This was a very emotional fight for me,” the 23-year-old Australian said after the victory. “With my last two performances, I was very nervous coming in. I even cried before my walkout. I knew what was at stake here. The plan had been to go out and stand with him. He’s a big welterweight so I knew takedowns would be tough. When I did take him down, I stayed in the position too long and really tired myself out. I knew I had to fight through it though so I stayed active and threw a lot of volume when he was down. It’s a huge weight off my chest to be back in the win column.”
Middleweight Elias Theodorou used a variety of kicks to keep four-time judo Olympian Dan Kelly away from his body as he won all three rounds of a unanimous decision.
Rising Australian star featherweight Alexander Volkanovski won his 13th straight fight and third since signing with the UFC as he dominated late-replacement Shane Young.
“Obviously, I would’ve rather gotten the finish but I’m very happy with the win,” he said. “When someone is making their debut, you want to be a bit more careful and I so I didn’t do anything crazy, just stuck to the gameplan and got a dominant win. The best part was taking in all the cheers from the crowd at the end. At the start of the fight, I try not to pay much attention to it but I could obviously feel the support and it was incredible.”
There were a few finishes on the preliminary card, highlighted by heavyweight Tai Tuivasa’s flying-knee knockout of Rashad Coulter in the first round.
“I have two goals when I fight; to entertain the fans and to finish my opponent and I got to do both of those tonight,” he said. “This debut was a year in the making so I feel great and I’m honored to do it here in Sydney.”
Flyweight Ryan Benoit knocked out Ashkan Mokhtarian with a head kick midway through the third round and Nik Lentz handed former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks his third-consecutive loss when he locked in a guillotine in the second round.
Lightweight Frank Camacho earned the favor of two of the three judges in a back-and-forth thriller against Damien Brown that was named the fight-of-the-night.
Nadia Kassem, Eric Shelton and Adam Wieczorek also earned unanimous decision wins on the card.
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