It was another spirited effort for Manny Gamburyan inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship's octagon, but unfortunately for the Glendale-trained mixed-martial-arts fighter, it was another hard-fought decision loss.
On Friday afternoon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Gamburyan came up on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against Diego Nunes in a three-round featherweight bout that led off UFC 141.
"It's a great challenge to fight against big, tough guys like Manny," said Nunes, through a translator, in a postfight interview in the octagon.
Nunes claimed victory by 29-28 scores from all three judges. The News-Press, along with MMA websites mmajunkie.com and sherdog.com all scored it the same, with Nunes using an array of kicks to dictate the pace and take the first and third rounds, while Gamburyan won the second behind a staggering overhand right that was the fight's most telling blow.
The bout, which saw Nunes improve to 17-2 and Gamburyan fall to 11-7, came to be after a fair amount of ill will was aired out by the two combatants after the Brazilian fighter had autographed his signature across Gamburyan's face on a fight poster during a public appearance. Nunes, however, said before and reiterated after the fight that it was not intentional and he meant no disrespect. Nonetheless, both fighters touched gloves before every round and embraced after the fight and during Nunes' interview.
"[I have] a lot of respect for Manny," Nunes said. "Thank you for putting up such a great fight."
The 145-pound fight opened with Gamburyan, who lost his third consecutive fight, taking the center of the octagon and pressuring the action. Nunes used an array of kicks, including devastating leg kicks to Gamburyan's lead left leg, to score points, while Gamburyan had three of his four takedown attempts defended. Gamburyan's successful takedown saw Nunes quickly pop up and at the round's conclusion, Gamburyan's outer left thigh was badly colored as a result of the kicks.
Early in the second stanza, though, Gamburyan came over the top with a right hand that stunned Nunes and appeared to be the cause of a small cut over the latter's left eye. Gamburyan immediately went for a takedown, but Nunes stopped it. During a subsequent scramble, however, Gamburyan took his opponent's back. Later on, Gamburyan also landed a solid knee to Nunes' face from the clinch and notched another takedown that led to some effective ground-and-pound punches and a clear cut 10-9 round.
Gamburyan landed another solid right early in the third, but Nunes, who switched to a southpaw stance, was far more active, pouring on the kicks, going low to the legs, landing solidly to the body and also getting off a good number of head kicks. Gamburyan landed two takedowns in multiple attempts, but Nunes quickly got back up on both occasions. Gamburyan, who was cornered by Glendale Fighting Club's Edmond Tarverdyan and George Bastrmajyan, was also hit by two low blows on kicks in the round, with the second leading to a brief stoppage.
As the fight ended, Gamburyan's ribs were also visibly colored by damage.
"Tell you what, he's tough as nails," said UFC color commentator Joe Rogan during the broadcast, which saw the preliminary bout streamed live on Facebook.