3rd Star – Nikita Krylov
Nicknamed Al Capone—after the famous American gangster who led the way against prohibition—Nikita Kyrlov came into his 2nd UFC fight, after a disappointing UFC debut resulting in a loss to Soa Palelei, as the biggest underdog on the card (+355) against the much bigger Will Harris. The main concern coming into this was the lack of weight on the Ukrainian heavyweight, weighing in at 218lbs on Friday night, which began suggestions of him dropping down to a more natural weight class of 205lbs. But he was able to match the aggressiveness early on against his much bigger opponent, and was able to secure his 1st UFC win in stellar fashion, landing a head kick that stunned Harris before following up with punches to finish the fight at just 25 seconds. This 1st round victory continued his streak of winning all his fights in the 1st round which is now at 16 finishes.
2nd Star – Josh Thomson
Regardless of the result (a close split decision loss), ‘The Punk” fought a full 4 rounds with a broken hand against one of the best lightweights in the world in Benson Henderson, showcasing heart and a no-quit attitude, deserves to be named a star. With the slight majority of fans feeling that Josh Thomson had done enough to edge out the victory, he had to switch up his gameplan completely after breaking his right hand in the 1st round. Early on Thomson found success taking Henderson down from the clinch, but as the fight went on the takedowns became few and far between, in part due to his hand. In the end, he fell one judges scorecard short of earning a shot at the UFC lightweight title, but not for lack of determination or will power.
1st Star – Alex Caceres
Despite winning his last four fights in the UFC—with one being overturned to a no-contest due to a failed drug test—Bruce Leeroy was not getting the respect from the critics or the odds makers, being a near 2-to-1 underdog against the 20 year old “Phenom”, Sergio Pettis. Caceres had quickly turned the tide in the 2nd, after a 1st round in which he decisively lost in the standup, landing a counter left hand that dropped Sergio evening up the fight at one round a piece. But what happened in the final minute of the 3rd round came as the biggest surprise of the entire card, Sergio had shot for a takedown, but Caceres able to scramble and take the back. And with Sergio’s neck exposed for a brief moment, Caceres was able to wrap his arms around the neck and secure a rear naked choke, getting the tap with just 21 seconds left in the fight. Winning his 5th straight and handing the younger Pettis brother his first career loss in 11 fights. The night got even better for Caceres, as he was awarded BOTH the fight of the night and the submission of the night bonuses, $50,000 each for a total of $100,000.