The Ultimate Fighting Championship's return to London after more than years away got off to a flier tonight at the 02 Arena, with a 15,000-strong crowd treated to five preliminary bouts with a healthy dose of home grown heroes.
Before Jimi Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson hit the octagon there is plenty of time to check out how the likes of Luke Barnett, Danny 'Cheesecake Assassin' Mitchell fared in the build-up, with five fight round-ups to check out with early contention for big-money performance bonuses.
Phil Harris vs. Louis Gaudinot
Louis Gaudinot wasted little time in pulling off a contender for a big-fight performance bonus, quickly applying a slick choke that left Portsmouth native Harris with no choice but to tap just 1.13 into the first round.
The moniker 'Goodnight' proved particularly appropriate for the Green-haired flyweight, who produced a perfect example of the Guillotine choke for a frenzied early London crowd to enjoy begrudgingly.
Danny Mitchell vs. Igor Araujo
Doncaster's self-proclaimed Cheesecake Assassin had a packed London crowd creaming "Cheesesacke' en-masse in the opening round, but was unable to exert his authority on Araujo early on in a chess match on the ground.
Araujo maintained top position but didn't land anything damaging in the first round, while Mitchell kept the crowd onside with a leg lock and late trip before the bell went for the end of the first stanza.
Mitchell was unable to exert his will in the second round either, with Agaujo maintaining top position and overall control despite failing to land anything of damage or note.
Round three was far more entertaining as Araujo quickly secured a triangle choke, but Mitchell survived and hung on for a strange finish to the fight which saw both men throw wild punches on the ground that Donkey Kong would be proud to call his own.
The judges were eventually called to provide a result and unanimously picked Araujo, who moves to 2-0 in the UFC with a noteworthy victory.
Brad Scott vs. Claudio Silva
Scott pressed the action early on in a even match-up and landed a crisp uppercut, but a swift reply from Silva saw the Brit scooped to the ground.
The 'Bear' was back on his feet before long in a back-and-forth first round, which London-based Brazilian Silva definitely edged.
Round two was a very different story, as Silva visibly tired and allowed Scott to land consistently while keeping the fight standing, despite being clearly gouged in the eye on at least two occasions.
Scott had the chance to move in for the kill with his foe clearly struggling, but hesitated and at the moment conceded any chance of a stoppage win.
That oversight allowed Silva to regroup and edge a scrappy third round despite considerable damage to his face.
All three judges saw that late rally as sufficient to win the fight, handing the Brazilian victory on his UFC debut 29-28 respectively.
Luke Barnett vs. Mats Nilsson
Unbeaten Cambridge middleweight Luke Barnett looked to have his hands full in the first round with Swedish grappling stand-out Mats Nilsson, but after taking time to find his range uncorked a huge shin kick that spelled the end of the fight in the very first round.
Barnett unleashed a barrage of strikes to the body and eventually Nilsson wilted, allowing 'Big Slo's professional record to become an impressive 8-0, putting on a performance to match that should serve as a warning to the middleweight division.
Cyrille Diabate vs. Ilir Latifi
Any clash between two fighters dubbed the 'Snake' and the 'Sledgehammer' should never be a dull affair, something Ilir Latifi was counting on in a second chance to make a first impression inside the Octagon.
The short, stocky, Swedish light-heavyweight quickly made a sizeable reach advantage a non-issue, taking Diabate down and producing a ruthless submission.
Latifi's second UFC appearance ended in style, forcing Diabate to tap with a front choke backed up my brute force built from a small but shredded base that sent a strong Scandinavian travelling contingent wild.
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