gap and muscles Escudero into the fence, where the lightweights trade knees up the middle. Escudero reverses the position while Danzig keeps a Thai plum. Danzig gets the outside position again, eats a short elbow and takes Escudero down. They land awkwardly and Escudero goes for a heel hook. It’s deep, but Danzig twists free and tries to spin to take Escudero’s back, going for a rear-naked choke in one motion. Escudero denies it and scrambles back to his feet, where he lands an outside leg kick, a front kick, a left hook. Danzig walks Escudero into the cage and sticks him with some stiff left straights. Escudero is ducking his head as he throws left hooks, allowing Danzig to walk into the pocket and secure a waist lock. Danzig takes his back standing and tries a suplex, but Escudero keeps his balance. Danzig puts Escudero’s back on the fence and throws knees and uppercuts from the clinch. Escudero goes low for a single-leg with 40 seconds left, can’t get it and instead digs an underhook to put Danzig on the fence. Escudero changes levels for a double-leg, giving it up just before the horn.
Escudero lands some solid counters as he waits for Danzig to come inside, but once Danzig gets there, he locks Escudero up and lands more knees in the clinch as he works on the fence. Danzig comes over the top with a left hand, a right to the ribs and a right uppercut. Danzig is starting to rack up leg kicks now as the bout reaches the halfway mark and the Atlanta crowd begins to boo again. Danzig comes in behind another stiff leg kicks, clinches for a moment and exits. Another clinch from Danzig and Escudero gets off some knees to the body as he’s shoved into the cage. Danzig gives him a few in return before Escudero reverses and goes for a takedown of his own, which is denied.
The lightweights are quickly back in the clinch, where Escudero goes for knees before quickly disengaging. Danzig walks Escudero into the cage again and they exchange slapping leg kicks. An underhook for Danzig gets him the advantageous position on the fence; he throws left hands to Escudero’s ribs while Escudero responds with knees. Danzig puts in a hook standing and tries to take Escudero’s back but can’t get there. They separate momentarily but Danzig is soon back to clinching and trying to take the back standing. Again it fails and they jockey for position on the fence until ref Blake Grice splits them up with just under two minutes to go. Escudero stands with his back to the fence, as he has for much of the round, allowing Danzig to score with more leg kicks and then clinch up again. Danzig gets the last word with a knee to Escudero’s body.
Official result: The judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, all for the winner by unanimous decision, Mac Danzig.
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
From the southpaw stance, Njokuani misses with his first low kick while Makdessi lands one to the body. Njokuani gives him one back and they start circling, with Makdessi taking the center while Njokuani goes clockwise around the cage. It’s a pure kicking contest through the first two minutes until Njokuani rushes with a straight punch combo, finishing off with a kick. Makdessi clips him with a counterpunch the next time and they resume circling. Njokuani seems to hurt Makdessi with a short punch as “The Bull” begins moving backward. Njokuani tries to capitalize but Makdessi regains his wits. The high kicks of Njokuani are grazing now while the shorter Makdessi is pulling up short. Solid left kick to the body from Njokuani and Makdessi throws more side-kicks at his rangy opponent. Makdessi lands a kick to the body but Njokuani was already moving backward.
Njokuani resumes circling, alternating stances while the orthodox Makdessi gives chase with kicks to the head and body. Njokuani stops circling to let off a series of sharp leg kicks, has a body kick blocked. Catching a kick, Njokuani tries to sweep the back leg of Makdessi but can’t get him down. Makdessi walks into range and scores with punches, steps away and grazes with a head kick. Njokuani retaliates with more inside leg kicks. Makdessi goes to the body but misses with a flashy wheel kick. Njokuani comes forward to throw hands and gets backed up by a Makdessi left. Makdessi misses with an axe kick; Njokuani ducks inside after the attempt, digs a right hand to the body and moves out. He catches a kick from Makdessi and connects with a combination as he chases the Canadian. Makdessi shoots and grabs waist lock at the horn.
It’s back to the familiar position with Njokuani on the outside and Makdessi kicking from the middle. Makdessi is looking for a big overhand right now, too, but Njokuani is too far out of range and answers with more leg kicks. Makdessi lands a nice leg kick of his own and Njokuani puts another on his reddened left thigh. Makdessi hits a spinning back fist, though Njokuani was ducking and may have partially blocked it. A grazing hook kick scrapes Njokuani’s face and he gives back a one-two-leg kick combination. Njokuani snaps off a left high kick, a right hand and another left high kick in quick succession. Makdessi is still moving forward with a minute to go, firing the overhand right when he gets close enough to Njokuani but still unable to land it. Njokuani lands a pair of body kicks and circles out, prompting Makdessi to shrug as he gives chase. The crowd boos at the horn and Makdessi shrugs again.
Official result: All three judges score the bout 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision, Anthony Njokuani.
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
Thompson touches gloves high, stands back and immediately goes high with a side kick. He switches stances with his hands at his waist, throwing kicks as Brown chases him around the outside. Brown goes for an awkward shot, tries to pick the ankle, but Thompson slips away. Brown... (Continues on next page)