Chiesa beats Iaquinta to win TUF lightweight bout
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Michael Chiesa capped off the promise he made to his father in dramatic fashion Friday night.
The 24-year-old Chiesa (8-0) choked out "The Ultimate Fighter Live" teammate Al Iaquinta (5-2-1) in the first round to win their lightweight tourney bout.
"There was no way I was gonna lose this fight," said an emotional Chiesa, whose father Mark, 53, passed away two months ago after a long battle with leukemia.
"This is exactly what I wanted. There was no way I was gonna sell myself short. I overcame a lot of things."
With the win, Chiesa received a guaranteed six-figure contract with the UFC, as well as brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle and a apparel contract.
"I want to thank all the fans. This is truly a blessing that you supported me this whole time."
Welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, who after dominating Martin Kampmann for most of their main event, seemed poise to jump in line of top contenders.
But a right hook from the Danish striker and three brutal knees later, the Ellenberger was done.
"I need to get punched a little bit to wake up," joked Kampmann (19-5 MMA, 10-4 UFC), who has won three in a row and 11 of his last 15 bouts.
A groggy Ellenberger (27-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) couldn't explain what happened after he bloodied Kampmann in the second round with a swarm of punches.
"I knew it was a tough fight coming in," said Ellenberger, who had won six straight. "He caught me he and he had better night. What can I do?"
The victory likely sets up a showdown with fellow top welterweight Johny Hendricks, depending on current champ Georges St-Pierre's return from his ACL rehab and what interim champ Carlos Condit decides to do.
Kampmann welcomes a bout with Hendricks.
"I think me and him would make a heavy scrap," he said.
The youngest fighter in the UFC, 20-year-old Max Holloway defeated Pat Schilling via unanimous decision (30-27 on all three judges' cards) in each fighter's UFC debut, while Charles Oliveira defeated TUF season No. 12 winner Jonathan Brookins with a second-round guillotine choke.
Justin Lawrence provided the knockout of the night when he connected with a high leg kick in the first 20 seconds of the third round, instantaneously knocking out John Cofer.
"This is just the beginning. KO of the year?" Lawrence asked.
"Well, I'm happy with the KO but I'm not satisfied. I won't be satisfied until I crack the top five. Then I'll be happy."
Myles Jury submitted Chris Saunders and Daron Cruickshank scored a unanimous decision win over Chris Tickle to round out preliminary action.
Jeremy Larsen and Sam Sicilia scored back-to-back TKO stoppages, with Sicilia — Chiesa's training partner from back in Spokane — providing a colorful quip to Anik inside the cage.
"You guys messed up putting the two best-looking dudes against one another," Sicilia said, after knocking out Marcello in the second round.
"This is a big, big win, but also a bittersweet one. We have really become good friends and he really looked out for me during the show."
The night started controversially as referee Kim Winslow stopped the first fight when John Albert put his arm down on the mat to try and escape the tight armbar that Erik Perez held.
Both fighters were surprised at the stoppage at 4:18 in the first round, which was officially recorded as a verbal submission.
"No, I never submitted," Albert said in protest. "I was trying to get out, I started to yell, and then the referee stopped it."