Igor Pokrajac (24-8) spent most his career as a training partner to Mirko Cro Cop. On Saturday night, it would have been easy to mistake the Croatian legend for the one in the cage. Pokrajac blasted through Krzysztof Soszynski (26-12-1) in just 35 seconds at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, capping a violent UFC 140 Ion TV undercard in spectacular fashion.
Soszynski managed to land the first shot, finding his mark with a heavy right hand in the bout's opening seconds, but it would be his last. Pokrajac immediately responded with a flush counter left hook, straight right combination that stumbled the Polish-Canadian.
Pokrajac took pursuit, throwing heavy leather as Soszynski backpedalled across the cage. Finally a lunging bomb planted "The Polish Experiment" on the canvas, where Pokrajac mercilessly unloaded punches until his opponent was separated from consciousness.
"I just waited for his left hand so I could make a move, do my combos, and finish the fight," Pokrajac said to MMA Fighting. "I didn't know I was going to finish it in (35) seconds, but you know, it happened."
Pokrajac is now 3-1 over his last four contests, with each win coming inside the first round. Soszynski, meanwhile, falls to 2-2 with both losses arriving by knockout.
Philippou Obliterates Hamman
If Constantinos Philippou (9-2, 1 NC) was at all unsure of his UFC status, those fears were deftly put to rest on Saturday night. "Costa" stormed through Jared Hamman (13-4) in his most impressive performance to date, earning the TKO victory at 3:11 of round one.
Philippou struck hard and early, sending his mustachioed opponent scurrying with a thunderous one-two combination in the opening minute. Another right hand followed and Hamman tumbled to the mat.
Philippou quickly jumped onto a side choke attempt before following his corner's advice to take the fight back to the feet. With Hamman on wobbly legs, a final furious overhead right was all it took to end the night. The win was Philippou's second straight inside the Octagon.
"It was about time," Philippou emotionally declared. "This is it. This is who I am. I belong here. This is the best day of my life."
Hallman Runs Through Makdessi
After shorts-gate and a botched weight cut at Friday's weigh-ins, no fighter needed a dominating performance as much as Dennis Hallman (51-14-2). And that's exactly what he delivered. The 36-year-old steamrolled John Makdessi en route to a first-round submission victory, earning the third win of his last four UFC appearances.
Hallman imposed his will from the opening bell, forcing Makdessi against the cage before ripping him to the ground and taking his back. "Superman" continued to push a furious pace as he softened his opponent with blows to the face and transitioned into mount. One more flurry of punches was all it took for Makdessi to wilt and surrender not only the fight-ending rear-naked choke, but also his once-undefeated MMA record.
"I didn't want to stand up with that kid," Hallman explained. "I've seen his fights. (He has) unbelievable stand-up. I didn't want to get caught up in that. Luckily, my game plan worked."
Jabouin Edges Watson In Split Decision
As Yves Jabouin can attest to, a close win is still a win. Somehow the 32-year-old survived two harrowing submission attempts to emerge with a razor-thin split decision victory over Walel Watson, his second straight in the UFC. Two judges scored the contest 29-28 and 30-27 for Jabouin, while a third sided with Watson, 29-28.
The bout was as back-and-forth as one would expect from a split decision, as both fighters traded spinning back fists and flashy kicks for much of the 15 minutes. The situation turned dire for Jabouin when Watson sunk in a tight guillotine choke near the end of the second frame, however the Canadian managed to survive to the bell. History quickly repeated itself in the form of a third round d'arce choke, but Jabouin again remained calm and worked his way to safety.
"They were tight, but the will was there," Jabouin said of the submissions afterward. "The will, the heart is bigger than everything else."
UFC 140 Ion TV undercard results:
Igor Pokrajac def. Krzysztof Soszynski via KO (punches) at 0:35 of round 1
Constantinos Philippou def. Jared Hamman via TKO (strikes) at 3:11 of round 1
Dennis Hallman def. John Makdessi via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:58 of round 1
Yves Jabouin def. Walel Watson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)