Frankie Edgar defeats Cub Swanson via unanimous decision in Atlantic City

MMA


Former UFC champion Frankie Edgar picked up a key decision win over Cub Swanson, just seven weeks after suffering the first knockout loss of his career.

Edgar (23-6-1) outclassed Swanson (25-9) on the feet en route to unanimous 30-27 judges’ scorecards. The 145-pound bout co-headlined UFC Fight Night at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, in Edgar’s home state of New Jersey.

It was not the prettiest fight of Edgar’s career, as the action occasionally stalled throughout. It was still one of his most impressive wins, however, considering the circumstances. In addition to a knockout loss to Brian Ortega in March, Edgar was also dealing with the recent loss of his father and grandfather.

“I just lost [my father], my grandfather — this was a tough go,” Edgar said. “Thank God, I’ve got my family. My kids are here. This is the first fight they’ve seen.

“I see everybody putting stuff up, only 13 percent or 15 percent come back [to win after a knockout] — I don’t believe in any of that. I’m not going anywhere.”

Whether it was simply an off-night or a bad stylistic matchup, Swanson, 34, looked hesitant in the three-round loss. According to Fightmetric, he was only outstruck in the bout 50 to 60, but most of his attempts were the jab or other long-range strikes with little power behind them.

This fight was a rematch of a bout between the two in 2014. Although the result was similar — Edgar won the first meeting by fifth-round submission — the rematch played out very differently. Edgar dominated Swanson with takedowns in 2014. This time, he outworked him on the feet.

Edgar, of Toms River, New Jersey, has won seven of his past nine bouts. He was scheduled to challenge Max Holloway for the featherweight championship in March, but Holloway withdrew with an ankle injury and was replaced by Ortega.

Holloway and Ortega are now scheduled to meet at UFC 226 on July 7 in Las Vegas. Edgar, 36, has called for the winner.

Willis hangs on for win against Sherman

Heavyweight Justin Willis (7-1) held off a late rally by Chase Sherman (11-5) in the final round to earn a unanimous decision and improve to 3-0 in the Octagon.

Willis, of San Jose, California, was on the verge of a knockout win on several occasions in the first round. He wobbled Sherman with a counter left hand early in the fight, and then dropped him moments later with the same punch.

Sherman, 28, showed off an incredible chin and a lot of heart, however, eventually working back to his feet and slowing Willis down along the fence. He fell victim to the counter left again in the second round, before rallying in the final frame.

A tired Willis found himself on the end of a string of short elbow strikes by Sherman, but it was not enough to turn the scorecards. A former collegiate football player, Willis has now defeated Sherman, Allen Crowder and James Mulheron in his UFC career.

Branch stuns KO artist Santos with overhand right

Middleweight David Branch (22-4) stunned hard-hitting Brazilian Thiago Santos (17-6) with an overhand right, leading to a knockout finish at 2:30 of the opening round.

A New York native, Branch popped Santos with the right hand as he walked him back into the cage. The former WSOF champion dropped several hammerfists to put a stamp on the finish, before referee Gary Copeland managed to intervene.

It’s just the sixth knockout finish of Branch’s career, and his first since 2014. Santos, 34, came into the bout with 12 career knockouts. This is his third loss by KO.

“We worked that overhand coming over the top and rolling underneath,” Branch said. “He was really hard to get to. We had to be tricky and loop those punches. I think he was expecting them to come down the middle.”

Branch improves to 2-1 since re-signing with the UFC last year. He dropped a high-profile TKO loss to Luke Rockhold his last time out, in September.

Sterling cruises to decision, calls for Cruz

Bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling (15-3) handed Brett Johns (15-1) his first professional loss, in the form of a dominant unanimous decision. All three judges had it a sweep for Sterling, 30-27.

Sterling, of Cortland, New York, was never close to a finish, but he dominated Johns in grappling exchanges en route to an obvious win on the scorecards. According to Fightmetric, Sterling racked up more than six minutes of control time on Johns, and outstruck him 111 to 57 overall.

Johns’ boxing combinations had some success in spurts, but the outcome of the bout was never really in doubt. It’s a big turnaround win for Sterling, who suffered a highlight-reel knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in his prior appearance in December.

The 28-year-old called out former champion Dominick Cruz immediately after the bout.

“There’s a time when your idols become your rivals. Dominick Cruz, let’s do this!” Sterling said.

Hooker impresses, knocks out ‘legend’ Miller

New Zealand lightweight Dan Hooker (16-7) became just the second man to knock out Jim Miller (28-12) in an MMA fight, as he rocked the 34-year-old veteran with a knee just three minutes into the opening round.

Hooker, 28, dropped Miller with a knee to the chin, and followed up with a right hand after Miller fell to the canvas. Hooker showed a great deal of respect for Miller in the aftermath, opting to calmly stand in the neutral corner as opposed to celebrating.

“All respect to Jim Miller. He’s a legend of the sport, and it was an honor to fight him inside the Octagon,” Hooker said. “Jim Miller is a legend. That’s it.”

Miller, who fights out of Sparta, New Jersey, has now lost four in a row. Prior to this skid, which dates back to February 2017, he had never lost more than two bouts consecutively.

Despite his obvious respect for Miller, Hooker looked confident and aggressive in the early going. He utilized his four-inch height advantage well, applying the jab regularly. Hooker has now won three in a row and six overall in the UFC. In his postfight interview, he called for a bout against Paul Felder, who was actually holding the mic as a commentator for the UFC.



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