On Saturday, April 18, the UFC hosted UFC on Fox 15: Machida vs. Rockhold from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
In the night’s main event, former light heavyweight champion and recent middleweight title challenger Lyoto Machida clashed with former Strikeforce middleweight kingpin Luke Rockhold. The Brazilian Machida bounced back from a hard-fought decision loss to current champion Chris Weidman by dismantling C.B. Dollaway in just 62 seconds in December. Rockhold, meanwhile, entered the Octagon riding a three-fight winning streak. The 30-year-old had scored three straight finishes, including a submission win over Michael Bisping in the UFC Fight Night 55 main event in November.
The co-main event featured an unexpected rematch as another former Strikeforce middleweight title holder, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, once again faced off with Chris Camozzi. The pair met previously in May of 2013, with the Brazilian Souza scoring a first-round submission. Souza had not tasted defeat since and was expected to face Yoel Romero, but a last-minute injury to the Cuban opened the door for Camozzi. The 28-year-old suffered three additional defeats after the Souza fight and was released from the promotion. However, after two straight, first-round stoppages on the regional circuit, Camozzi stepped in on a week’s notice looking for revenge.
The 11-fight event kicked off Saturday with three preliminary card bouts streaming on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30 p.m. ET. Four additional prelims followed on Fox at 6 p.m. ET, with the four-fight main card airing live at 8 p.m. ET, also on Fox.
Luke Rockhold put on a clinic, battering former champion Lyoto Machida and submitting him in round two. The pair traded punches in the opening minute, but Rockhold clipped Machida and looked for a guillotine choke. Machida escaped, but Rockhold proved his grappling prowess, frequently passing guard and peppering Machida with strikes. Rockhold looked for rear-naked choke late in the round, but Machida survived. Machida was wobbly to open round two and Rockhold again took him to the ground. He took the back of Machida and locked on the fight-finishing choke.
Brazilian Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza continued his dominance inside the Octagon, submitting Chris Camozzi for a second time. Camozzi scored with leg kicks early, but Souza secured a double-leg takedown. Camozzi tried to tie him up from the bottom, but the BJJ world champion passed to side control. Camozzi tried to escape out the back, but Souza latched onto his arm. Souza patiently extended the arm and Camozzi verbally submitted midway through the round.
Featherweight Max Holloway proved he’s ready to contend, submitting Cub Swanson via third-round guillotine choke. The Hawaiian Holloway used his reach well from the opening bell, keeping Swanson at range and scoring with combinations. The left eye of Swanson began to swell very early in the fight. Holloway’s footwork and angles kept Swanson guessing throughout the second stanza as well. In the final round, Holloway poured it on, hurting Swanson multiple times. He rocked Swanson and then attacked with an arm-triangle, but let it go. Late in the round, a knee to Swanson’s body dropped him. Holloway pounced, slapping on a mounted guillotine choke and Swanson tapped.
Kicking off the main card, 21-year-old Paige VanZant put on a show, battering Felice Herrig. VanZant was aggressive early and it nearly cost her as Herrig took her back and looked a for a choke and an armbar. However, VanZant escaped and scored with punches and elbows from the top. The middle frame saw VanZant get the fight to the ground and deliver more punishment from the top. Herrig looked to attack from her back, but VanZant won all the scrambles. In the final round, VanZant completely dominated. She dropped punch after punch, cruising to the win on the scorecards.
Lightweight Beneil Dariush used his superior ground game to dominate veteran Jim Miller and claim a unanimous decision win. The first round saw both fighters show off their skills. Miller attacked with a kimura and then transitioned to a triangle choke, but Dariush escaped both and maintained top position. In the second round, Dariush took Miller to the mat, moved to mount and then took Miller’s back. It was more of the same in round three, as Dariush tried to finish Miller, but had to settle for the decision win.
Ovince Saint Preux continued his march up the 205-pound ranks, stopping Patrick Cummins in the first round. OSP came out firing, but Cummins countered with multiple takedowns. They were short-lived, however, as OSP scrambled back to his feet. Late in the round, Cummins barreled forward recklessly, allowing OSP to deliver a left uppercut that hurt Cummins badly. He followed Cummins to the mat and rained punches to score the finish.
Light heavyweight Gian Villante used an onslaught of leg kicks early, and a pair of powerful right hands late to stop TUF winner Corey Anderson. Villante battered the lead leg of Anderson through the first two rounds as Anderson refused to check the kicks. However, Anderson did land with his hands. Villante’s pace slowed in the final round and the fight appeared to be slipping away, but he delivered an overhand right that rocked Anderson. He followed with another right hand that forced the referee to intervene.
Aljamain Sterling kept his record unblemished with a third-round submission of veteran Takeya Mizugaki. The first round was spent in the clinch as Sterling worked hard for a takedown, which he got late in the stanza. In round two, Sterling’s takedowns came with more ease and he was able to take Mizugaki’s back. Sterling showcased his grappling prowess in the last round, again scoring a takedown and taking the back of Mizugaki. As Mizugaki tried to spin into guard, Sterling locked on an arm-triangle from the bottom to end the fight.
Welterweight Tim Means continued his winning ways, submitting George Sullivan in the third round. Means used a variety of attacks in the opening round, landing big elbows on Sullivan. In round two, Means poured it on, dropping Sullivan on two separate occasions. He couldn’t find the finish with strikes, so in round three, he took Sullivan to the ground and locked on an arm-triangle that coerced the tap.
Brazilian Diego Brandao earned a first-round TKO win after the doctors at cageside stopped his bout with Jimy Hettes. The fight was a back-and-forth affair as both fighters looked to establish their ground dominance. Brandao connected with an elbow to the left ear of Hettes that caused his cauliflower ear to explode. When the round ended, the doctors waved off the bout.
In a sluggish middleweight battle, Chris Dempsey eked out a split decision win over TUF 19 winner Eddie Gordon. Gordon was effective on the feet in the first frame, but his pace slowed drastically as the fight wore on. Dempsey stuck with his wrestling and was able to bring the fight to the mat repeatedly in the final two rounds. His efforts were rewarded on the scorecards.