It was an exciting preliminary portion for the UFC Fight Night 43 card, which marked the first time the UFC hosted an event in New Zealand. The main feature of the prelims was a battle between unbeaten lightweights Dashon Johnson and Jake Matthews.
The fight was largely contested in the clinch and on the ground, with the 19 year-old Matthews getting the better of Johnson. Johnson had a point deduction in the second, and the size disadvantage was apparent throughout the fight. Simply overwhelming from Matthews, who got the triangle choke in the third round to force the tap. Johnson was handed the first loss of his pro career, while Matthews improves to 6-0.
Also on the card, Australian flyweight Richie Vaculik won his first UFC fight after an unsuccessful debut, following a stint on TUF Smashes. Using superior wrestling and avoiding the dangerous stand-up of Roldan Sangcha-an, Vaculik earned a unanimous verdict in front of fans that turned against him, preferring the exciting stand-up of Roldan to the gruelling wrestling of Vaculik. Sangcha-an impressed with a multitude of flashy kicks, but didn’t do enough to get a victory in his Octagon debut.
Vik Grujic bounced back from a poor performance in his official UFC debut, defeating fellow Team Australia castmate Chris Indich in the dying seconds of the first round. After getting his first takedown of the fight, Grujic turned it up a gear. Indich working his way back up, landed some heavy shots to drop his opponent, before finishing the fight with some big ground and pound. Indich is now 0-2 in the UFC after his stint on TUF Nations, and is unlikely to get another shot in the Octagon for now.
Neil Magny continued his surprising improvement since a 0-2 start to his UFC career, with three wins in a row over tough competition. This time, Magny was matched up with former Jungle Fights champion Rodrigo de Lima, and was put in some precarious positions by the Brazilian. After a dominant round one from de Lima which included a full mount and rear naked choke attempt, Magny bounced back with a big combination in the second which cause de Lima to drop, landing a couple of shots on the ground to end the contest.
In the featherweight division, two UFC debutants squared off with Daniel Hooker getting a TKO finish in the first. Ian Entwistle, a British leg lock specialist, went for his patented heel hook but was unable to put Hooker into any real danger and – in the process – left himself vulnerable to strikes. Hooker took advantage of this with huge punches and elbows to get the finish, earning a big win in front of his home crowd.
Gian Villante and Sean O’Connell opened the card in the light heavyweight division, with Villante earning a split decision in a closely contested bout. O’Connell pushed forward throughout the bout, but Villante had the power advantage and was able to get the better of the exchanges on the feet. It was a close bout, and the decision could have gone either way.
Here are the results for the card thus far. The full play-by-play coverage can be checked out on Cage Pages here.
Jake Matthews def. Dashon Johnson via submission (triangle choke) at 3:16 in third round.
Richie Vaculik def. Roldan Sangcha-an via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2).
Vik Grujic def. Chris Indich via TKO (punches) at 4:55 in third round.
Neil Magny def. Rodrigo de Lima via TKO (punches) at 2:32 in second round.
Dan Hooker def. Ian Entwistle via TKO (elbows) at 3:34 in first round.
Gian Villante def. Sean O’Connell via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).