“The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner cut down Brunson with a first-round head kick and follow-up punches, as he continued his climb on the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight ladder in the UFC Fight Night 101 “Whittaker vs. Brunson” headliner on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia (online betting). Whittaker (17-4, 8-2 UFC) drew the curtain 4:07 into Round 1.
Brunson (16-4, 7-2 UFC) charged out of the gate like a madman, leading with his chin while winging power punches. He was effective early, but his lack of control proved costly. Whittaker waited for his opening and did not miss it, as he uncorked a left hook that set the Strikeforce veteran on rubbery legs. Rapid-fire uppercuts followed before Whittaker reset himself and fired a kick upstairs that marked the beginning of the end. He drove Brunson to the canvas and showed no mercy, prompting referee Herb Dean to act with a continues barrage of punches.
Whittaker, 25, has rattled off six straight wins.
Holbrook Upsets Hometown Favorite Matthews
Andrew Holbrook sprang the upset in the three-round lightweight co-main event, as he captured a three-round split decision from “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” graduate Jake Matthews. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Anthony Dimitriou and Evan Field for Holbrook, Charlie Keech for Matthews.
Neither man showed any desire to cede ground to the other. Matthews leaned on stinging right hands, leg kicks and takedowns but struggled to keep momentum; and an apparent foot injury suffered in the first round did little to aid his cause. Holbrook (12-1, 2-1 UFC) was relentless on the mat, where he transitioned from one submission attempt to another. He advanced to Matthews’ back in the first round, answered two takedowns with aggression off his back in the second and threatened the Australian prospect throughout the third.
Matthews (10-3, 4-3 UFC) has lost consecutive fights for the first time as a professional.
Dominant Akhmedov Vanquishes Noke
Takedowns and skin-splitting ground-and-pound carried…