The Ultimate Fighting Championship presented a strong midweek card with UFC Fight Night 35 which was held on January 15th, 2014. The middleweight division was the focus of the night but many fights were held with lesser known fighters within the UFC's roster. At the end of the night Luke Rockhold found himself enjoying his first win in the Octagon and reminding the world that he is someone to watch at 185.
Luke Rockhold proves his point
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion needed less than one round to stop Costas Philippou with a deadly kick to the liver.
Costas tried to push forward from the start of the fight, but Luke stayed focused with his counter striking. A high kick would cut his opponent and set up the opening that would put the New York native away. The first body kick made Costas stumble into the cage which allowed Rockhold to land a second and crumble Philippou to the ground.
Luke intends to keep the exciting fights coming as he called out both Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping during his post fight speech. This was Rockhold's 11th win and the first time that Costas was stopped by knockout in his career.
Brad Tavares take decision victory in co-main event
Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares met in the co-main event of the evening. This was an important matchup for both middleweights as they find themselves outside the top ten of the weight class, but in great position to make a run in 2014.
Both Larkin and Tavares were active from the very start of the fight. Tavares stayed the more aggressive of the two which was enough to give him the scorecards when the final bell rung. Brad mixed in takedowns with his strikes; even taking his opponents back at one point. The judges would award him with all three scorecards, 30-27.
T.J. Dillashaw walks through Mike Easton
T.J. Dillashaw added his name to the short list of bantamweight contenders with his dominating win over Mike Easton.
Dillashaw looked as close to perfect as possible as he was able to beat Easton to the punch during every exchange. Many expected Easton to be the better wrestler, but he was unable to stop the Team Alpha Male stable member's takedowns while avoiding his textbook striking. Dillashaw controlled the fight in every place to earn a unanimous decision victory.
Yoel Romero pulls out the win
Derek Brunson was five minutes away from the biggest win of his career but that seemed to be too much time for the former Strikeforce competitor as he was stopped by Yoel Romero in the third round of their middleweight tilt.
Brunson was the underdog coming into the fight but his performance early in the fight shocked everyone watching. He would pepper the Olympic silver medalist with shots on the feet while mixing in effective takedowns. Romero would never go away and kept coming forward. His tenacity would pay off in the third round at a point where he would be down on the scorecards.
Romero would land a left hand that wobbled and hurt Brunson, but Derek kept trying to hang on. From that point on he would stalk after Brunson and drop him to the canvas. Multiple shots to Brunson's ribs as he laid motionless forced Blake Grice to call an end to the fight at 3:23 of the third round.
Dustin Ortiz and John Moraga open up with exciting fight
John Moraga and Dustin Ortiz started off the main card and reminded fight fans why the flyweight division may be the most exciting group to watch in the UFC.
Ortiz took control of the first round as he was able to press John against the cage and control him for much of the time. When the opening presented itself he would take the former title challenger to the ground. Dustin would remain in Moraga's open guard for the rest of the round as he landed multiple short shots.
Moraga would step on the gas in round two and kept Dustin on the defensive. Ortiz was still active in the fight but John was scoring more often with his crisp combinations. The two 125-pounders were also very busy on the ground. Moraga would lock in a close rear naked choke but not only did Ortiz refuse to tapout; he found a way to reverse the position and end up in side control over Moraga. They would work their way back to their feet and continue the high energy exchanges to end the round.
Round three was just as close as both fighters had their moments. John would continue to come forward and keep Ortiz on the defense throughout the round. Another ground scramble to end out the round would open up a debate about who one the fight. In the end, two judges would be enough to give Moraga his third win in the Octagon.
The middleweight division has become very interesting during the last few months. UFC Fight Night 35 continued the trend as Luke Rockhold lived up to the hype that followed him from the Strikeforce hexagon.
Luke Rockhold defeated Costas Philippou via TKO in round one.
Brad Tavares defeated Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision.
T.J. Dillashaw defeated Mike Easton via unanimous decision.
Yoel Romero defeated Derek Brunson via TKO in round three.
John Moraga defeated Dustin Ortiz via split decision.
Cole Miller defeated Sam Sicilia via submission in round two.
Ramsey Nijem defeated Justin Edwards via unanimous decision.
Elias Silverio defeated Isaac Vallie-Flagg via unanimous decision.
Trevor Smith defeated Brian Houston via split decision.
Louis Smolka defeated Alptekin Ozkilic via unanimous decision.
Vinc Pichel defeated Garett Whiteley via unanimous decision.
Beneil Dariush defeated Charlie Brenneman via submission in round one.