Chivitchian comes up short in debut

LAS VEGAS — With his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut there for the taking, Sako Chivitchian simply couldn't get off first.

At least that was the assessment given by corner man Dave Camarillo after Chivitchian dropped a hard-fought three-round unanimous decision to Kyle Watson at Saturday night's "The Ultimate Fighter" finale at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas.

"I think he didn't open up on the feet like we wanted him to," Camarillo said. "I kept telling him in between rounds to be first. Kyle did a great job of getting off first. I think that dictated the striking and that dictated the fight."

Watson (16-7-1) won, 30-27, on judges Cecil Peoples and Adalaide Byrd's scorecards, while Patricia Morse Jarman had it 29-28. The News-Press scored it 29-28 for Chivitchian with him narrowly taking the first two rounds — Jarman scored the second for the Armenian grappler — largely based on damage done with his striking.

"I thought it was 29-28, but I'm not surprised with the decision," Camarillo said. "I thought Sako lost.

"There's no controversy here."

The loss was the first official defeat for Chivitchian in his mixed-martial-arts career, dropping him to 5-1. Chivitchian went 1-1 during his stint on the 12th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," but those bouts are exhibitions. Watson advanced to the quarterfinals in the show's tournament, going 2-1, as both fighters met their demise against Jonathan Brookins, who defeated Michael Johnson later in the night to become the season 12 "Ultimate Fighter."

Chivitchian, a judo black belt who has often chosen to take fights to the ground early in his career, elected to keep the feet standing and, largely, was able to do that. The fight featured a steady stream of clinching against the fence that went back and forth and a striking battle that featured an array of offense from both fighters.

In the opening round, Chivitchian did get off first with a pair of jabs and a straight right, his jab playing out as his most effective weapon throughout the fight. Quickly though, the fight saw the two clinch and press against the cage. It was much the same for a lot of the fight, with both fighters landing sporadic knees to the body, punches to the head and short elbows to the face while frequently reversing each other against the fence. Chivitchian appeared to land the more damaging punches throughout the round, however, but it was likely decided by two Watson takedowns, though no damage was done as Chivitchian almost immediately popped up on both occasions.

The second round was much the same. Watson continued to open up with kicks to the body and legs, his body kicks proving very effective. The round began with an entertaining back and forth and soon Watson's nose was bloodied. Chivitchian also landed the most telling shot of the round when he clipped Watson's chin with a solid straight right. The round was also halted for a time after Chivitchian took a Watson knee to the groin.

"I think he landed some good shots," Camarillo said. "I think the first two rounds could've gone either way."

While the first two rounds were close, the third was clearly Watson's, proving to be the most emblematic of Camarillo's critique. Watson continually was the busier fighter, throwing the first punch or kick more often than not.

The fight was the fourth preliminary bout of the night, with the main card airing live on Spike TV.

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