LAS VEGAS (AP) — Dustin Poirier won a thrilling unanimous decision over Dan Hooker on Saturday night, surviving a brutal second round and persevering to finish a well-rounded performance in the main event at the UFC’s corporate gym.
Mike Perry also ended his two-fight skid with a one-sided unanimous decision over Mickey Gall in the penultimate fight of the UFC’s fifth consecutive fan-free event in its hometown.
The main event was a barn-burner from the opening round, with both lightweights trading wicked strikes and displaying minimal regard for defense. The second round was a particular spectacle, with each fighter badly hurting the other while throwing punches and knees at full power.
The fight went to the ground in the fourth round, and Poirier attempted several submissions before Hooker escaped. Poirier appeared to have more energy left for the fifth round, and he won on all three cards: 48-47, 48-47 and 48-46.
“It was a tough one,” Poirier said. “Dan came to fight. He’s a tough guy. He’s on the rise. He really thought he was going to get past me. I trusted in my team, in my skill and my work ethic.”
Poirier (26-6) capped his long rise by beating Max Holloway in April 2019 for the interim lightweight title. He lost the belt to unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov last September, and a leg injury subsequently kept him out of the cage for the longest stretch of his career.
He was back in fine form against Hooker (20-9), the tough kickboxing star from New Zealand who had won seven of his last eight bouts since 2016.
Perry had lost five of his last seven fights, and his wild mixed martial arts career took another swerve in recent months when he split with his wife, separated from his coaches and decided that his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, would be the only person in his corner at this fight.
Gonzalez doesn’t have an extensive combat sports background, and her corner work largely consisted of placing an ice bag on Perry’s neck between rounds and saying: “You’re doing great, baby.” Perry used his superior striking skills and an impressive ground game to earn just his second win since July 2018.
“Every time we get in there, it’s all up to me,” said Perry, who plans to get new coaches before his next bout. “I trained for this. I’m a professional.”
The show was the last of five weekend events at the UFC Apex gym on the promotion’s corporate campus. The UFC has staged eight fan-free events amid the coronavirus pandemic since returning from an eight-week break.
The UFC will take next week off before resuming competition on July 12 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi with UFC 251, a stacked pay-per-view show with three title fights. The promotion will hold four shows over 14 days at the so-called “Fight Island” before returning stateside.
This latest Vegas show was stacked with impressive finishes and unusual results.
Heavyweight Maurice Greene stopped his two-fight skid with an unorthodox submission of Gian Villante, who was on top of Greene and apparently in control when Greene wrapped an arm around his head. Although Greene (9-4) didn’t have a traditional chokehold around Villante’s neck, an exhausted Villante was unable to move and tapped out with 1:16 left in the fight.
Japanese welterweight Takashi Sato produced one of the most impressive stoppages of the night, beating late replacement opponent Jason Witt with a flurry of strikes in just 48 seconds.
Julian Erosa, another late replacement opponent, won his fight on five days’ notice by forcing Sean Woodson to tap out with a choke midway through the third round. Erosa was dropped from the UFC roster last year after three straight losses, but seized his last-minute chance to return.
A string of five consecutive finishes began with the second fight of the night. Kay Hansen, a 20-year-old strawweight making her UFC debut, beat Jinh Yu Frey in the third round with an armbar finish reminiscent of her hero, Ronda Rousey.