But the main card competitors were up to the task, picking up where their contemporaries left off to keep things moving at a lively clip inside the Octagon and thrilling everyone in attendance and watching at home.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX vs. TYSON PEDRO
There was no feeling out period between the light heavyweight combatants as Saint Preux and Pedro started things by trading headkicks, kicking off a wild contest that ended in less than three minutes.
ANYTIME. ANYWHERE.@003_OSP gets the finish at #UFCSingapore. pic.twitter.com/NIDHv7fHRS
— UFC (@ufc) June 23, 2018
Pressing forward behind his hands, Pedro cracked Saint Preux with another headkick, following it up with a big right hand along the cage that put the perennial contender on the canvas. As Saint Preux looked to stand, Pedro tried to clamp onto a guillotine choke, but “OSP” popped his head out, but couldn’t escape the grasp of the up-and-coming Australian.
Clinched along the cage, Pedro continued hunting for the takedown, but was they stumbled to the ground, it was Saint Preux that landed on top and from there, the veteran went to work. With Pedro looking to re-guard and tie up Saint Preux, the University of Tennesse alum began hunting for an arm, eventually connecting his hands on a figure-four grip and forcing Pedro to tap to a nasty straight armbar.
After landing on the opposite side of the submission finish last time out, this was a tremendous bounce-back performance for the 35-year-old, who has shared the cage with just about everyone in the Top 15 at 205-pounds over the course of his career. While Pedro once again showed flashes of potential, Saint Preux’s experience and underrated ground game proved to much and should put the veteran right back into the mix on the fringes of contention in the light heavyweight division.
JESSICA-ROSE CLARK vs. JESSICA EYE
After having early success in the newly introduced flyweight division, Clark and Eye collided in a clash of battle-tested veterans looking to take the next step towards challenging for UFC gold.
Everyone expected this to be a close contest and that proved true, as the Jessicas went back-and-forth in a pair of tight frames to begin the fight, each having some success on the feet. The third round proved to be the deciding frame, as Eye turned an opportunity clinch midway through the final five minutes into a successful takedown after getting the better of the exchanges early in the round, finishing in top position and earning a unanimous decision victory.
Action is heating up in round three.
How are you scoring it? #UFCSingapore pic.twitter.com/1BLGaidy2b
— UFC (@ufc) June 23, 2018
Following the verdict, the fiery Strong Style Fight Team member made a plea to fans and UFC matchmakers to not judge her by her bantamweight struggles. With consecutive victories since returning to flyweight and now 11-1 overall in the 125-pound ranks, it’s hard to argue with Eye’s assertion.
This is the best she’s looked in the UFC and even greater opportunities should await the Cleveland native in the second half of 2018.
LI JINGLIANG vs. DAICHI ABE
“This one is kind of like Jenga,” offered Saturday’s announcer John Gooden. “One false move and someone is going to tumble.”
It was an apt comparison and appeared destined to come true, but instead, the main card opener turned into one of those games where no one is quite sure how the tower of wooden blocks did not fall over.
Li and Abe showed more patience out of the chute in the main card opener, but once they started throwing, both had moments where they connected with heavy shots that forced the recipient to reset and gather himself. After a close first round, Li started to pull away in the second and as each power shot found a home, Abe looked less sure on his feet.
Late in the frame, a thudding right had Abe teetering and Li pressing forward, hunting for the finish. Abe survived the frame and stayed upright despite eating several more leg kicks and clean power shots from Li, prompting Gooden and Dan Hardy to wonder how he was still standing.
After having his four-fight winning streak snapped last time out, “The Leech” delivered an impressive performance to get back into the win column and complete a perfect night in the cage for the Chinese contingent competing in Singapore.
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