Devonte Smith is a knockout artist riding a five fight win streak. He takes on the more experienced Dong Hyun Ma, who has won three straight in the UFC in his own right.
Round 1. The fighters are tentative in the early going, feeling each other out before opening up. Smith throws a few hard kicks while Ma doesn’t throw a lot of anything. Smith hurts Ma with a two-punch combination. Ma goes down and Smith pours on additional punches until the fight is stopped.
It’s another Oceania vs. the world bout as New Zealand athlete Shane Young takes on American Austin Arnett. Arnett has struggled in the UFC and is the sizable betting underdog against Young, who stopped Rolando Dy in his last bout.
Round 1. Young is throwing much more in the early going, mainly straight punches to the head. Arnett is largely defending well but Young will get through regularly given how much he is throwing. Arnett for his part is countering as Young comes in. Young begins to slow down a little bit as the round progresses. Young lands a big combination late in the round. 10-9 Young.
Round 2. Young continues to press forward with Arnett countering, just like in the first. In contrast to some of the previous fights with kick happy fighters, Young and Arnett are very content to box. Young really opens up in the final minute with some clean punches. Young looks for a takedown late but Arnett defends well. Arnett connects with some hard punches late. 10-9 Young.
Kai Kara-France is a New Zealand fighter who won his UFC debut. He takes on Raulian Paiva, who has accumulated an impressive 18-1 record moving up the ranks.
Round 1. Kara-France connects with a big right hand early. He lands another shortly thereafter. Paiva looks for a takedown but doesn’t get it. Paiva has more success later in the round, landing a couple of combinations. Paiva looks for a takedown but again doesn’t come close. 10-9 Paiva.
Round 2. Kara-France goes for a takedown but Paiva blocks it and takes top position. Paiva quickly moves into side control. Kara-France powers out and returns to his feet. Paiva blocks another takedown and lands some punches from the top. Kara-France lands an upkick and gets back up to his feet. Kara-France lands a few quality punches there. Kara-France continues to have success in the standup but Paiva grabs a tight guillotine right as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Paiva.
Teruto Ishihara is a charismatic Japanese competitor who has dropped four of his last five and needs a win for the sake of his UFC career. Kyung Ho Kang had a three-fight UFC win streak snapped by a loss last time out and he’ll be looking to put his submission skills to use.
Round 1. Ishihara lands a solid straight punch early on Kang. Kang moves in aggressively and gets dropped by another punch. Kang recovers and lands a nice knee and a hook. Ishihara drops to a knee from a Kang knee and Kang pours on the offense. Ishihara fires back and it’s an all-out brawl. Kang gets a takedown with two minutes left in the round and looks to set up a rear naked choke but he can’t get his own legs in position at first. Kang then secures the legs, traps Ishihara’s arm, and locks in the choke. Ishihara doesn’t tap and instead goes unconscious.
Callan Potter is an Australian veteran who earned his opportunity at the big time by winning 9 of his last 10 on smaller shows. Jalin Turner is a decade younger than Potter and all his professional wins have come in the first round.
Round 1. Potter immediately goes for a takedown but Turner takes top position. Potter attacks the leg and Turner elects to return to the feet. Turner hurts Potter with a series of punches. Potter goes down and out in a hurry.
Wuliji Buren is part of the UFC’s initiative to build interest in the sport of MMA in mainland China. He is looking for his first UFC victory after dropping his first two fights. Jonathan Martinez dropped his first UFC bout as well and now travels halfway around the world from America to compete in Australia.
Round 1. The fighters come out trading low kicks. They both start going higher with their kicks and then Buren moves in and secures a takedown. Buren looks for a guillotine choke but he loses position in the process and ends up on the bottom. Martinez moves into side control and Buren looks to stand up. Buren gets up and then takes Martinez down, landing a series of punches in the process. 10-9 Martinez.
Round 2. The standup early in the second is kick heavy, just like in the first. Buren shoots for a takedown two minutes in and gets it. Buren looks to set up a rear naked choke but Martinez slips out and stands up. Martinez immediately looks to get Buren down and controls the back with one hook preventing Buren from standing up. 10-9 Martinez.
When Kelvin Gastelum won the UFC’s reality television series competition, “The Ultimate Fighter,” nearly six years ago as a 21-year-old, he made some sizable assumptions.
“Stack up a couple wins, beat a few contenders, get my title shot and this is a fairytale book ending,” Gastelum recalls.
Reflecting on that mindset now as he nears Saturday night’s UFC 234 pay-per-view main event versus middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in Melbourne, Australia, Huntington Beach-trained Gastelum concedes, “I was immature, young and dumb … it doesn’t quite work out that way.”
If Anderson Silva’s legacy as arguably the most superb technician of mixed martial arts in history has taught anything, it’s to never assume the outcome of his fights.
Chael Sonnen believed he'd ended Silva’s extended UFC middleweight title reign until Silva contorted him in the final seconds and forced him to submit. Who could ever forget that Silva kick to Vitor Belfort’s face? Even in those stunning title losses to Chris Weidman, Silva kept everyone guessing.
So now that he heads to Melbourne, Australia, for Saturday night’s UFC 234 co-main event against New Zealand’s unbeaten elite prospect Israel Adesanya (15-0), the assumption is that Silva (34-8) is being sent there to pass his torch.