UFC Fight Night 53 is underway in Stockholm, Sweden, and the main card will feature Swedish fighters like Niklas Backstrom and Ilir Latifi. In the headliner, Rick Story will throw hands with rising welterweight Gunnar Nelson.
Here is what’s going down in the main card action (prelim fight summaries can be found here).
Mike Wilkinson vs. Niklas Backstrom
Round 1: Both men throw kicks early on; Wilkinson attempts takedown but Backstrom stuffs it. Backstrom lands a thumping leg kick and follows up with a knee to the head. The Swedish featherweight throws a front kick but Wilkinson blasts Backstrom with a right hook that instantly KOs him. Crazy. Emphatic victory for the British fighter.
Wow. Backstrom just walked up to Dan Hardy, as he’s interviewing Wilkinson, and said something like “that’s f–ked up.” How about that folks?
Mike Wilkinson def. Niklas Backstrom via KO (punch) R1, 1:19
Jan Blachowicz vs. Ilir Latifi
Round 1: Blachowicz throws a couple of kicks Latifi’s way to start fight. Latifi is moving forward but not throwing much until he lands a left hand. Blachowicz lands a hard kick to Latifi’s body and he’s hurt bad. Real bad. The Polish light-heavyweight follows up with a series of punches and the fight is called. Sensational Octagon debut for Blachowicz.
Jan Blachowicz def. Ilir Latifi via TKO (body kick and punches) R1, 1:58
Akira Corassani vs. Max Holloway
Round 1: Corassani and Holloway are both light on their feet to start the fight. Corassani lands the first hard shot by planting a left hook. Corassani wings an overhand right but it doesn’t land flush. Holloway is keeping busy with his right cross and lands at least one of them hard. Holloway follows up with cracking shot that drops Corassani briefly. Another right hand crumples Corassani to the mat and Holloway lands several more shots before the ref jumps in (perhaps a tad too late). Big win for the Hawaiian.
Max Holloway def. Akira Corassani via TKO (punches) R1, 3:11
Rick Story vs. Gunnar Nelson
Round 1: Story comes out aggressively as per usual. Nelson throws a hard body kick Story’s way. Nelson misses a straight right and the two clinch up. Nelson takes Story to the mat with a nicely timed inside trip, but the latter gets back to his feet. They clinch up again and exchange shots to the body. Story lands a couple of kicks to the body. Nelson launches a head kick but Story blocks it. Round ends after both men exchange strikes.
Round 2: Story throws a couple of leg kicks to start the round. Nelson counters with a body kick that Story nearly blocks. Nelson spills to the mat shortly after but gets back up. Story is tossing hard left hands Nelson’s way but a cut has emerged over the American’s right eye. Story lands a couple more punches but Nelson counters with a overhand right. Nelson lands another right straight. The Icelandic welterweight counters a Story leg kick with a hard left hand. Story finds a home for his left hook a couple more times before round ends.
Round 3: Nelson shoots a double leg to begin the round but Story quickly pops back up. Nelson follows up with a right hand and a knee, but Story counters with a body punch. The two throw hards shots at each other in the center of the Octagon. Nelson launches a head kick but it’s blocked, and Story counters with some grinding shots to the body. Story is firing off more strikes than Nelson.
Round 4: Once again, Story starts round by throwing leg kicks. Nelson loads up on right straight but is tagged by a Story left hand. The latter pours on punches from above as Nelson attempts to cover up. Story lets the welterweight back up. Nelson takes Story to the mat, but once again, the experienced wrestler gets back to his feet. Nelson telegraphs a takedown and Story defends. Both men are tired but continue to throw strikes. Story lands a few more hard punches as the round comes to an end.
Round 5: Story continues to pursue Nelson and throw shots, as the Latter attempts to counter. Story’s right eye is bloodied and swollen but his output is more than Nelson’s. Story takes a hard right from Nelson. Story pounds Nelson to the body with two right hands. Nelson looks frustrated but continues to fire back at the veteran. Story lands another stinging left to Nelson’s chin before fight comes to an end.
Rick Story def. Gunnar Nelson via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 50-44)