The main card of UFC Fight Night 102 kicks off with light-heavyweight New York native Gian Villante taking on Saparbek Safarov, with the Russian making his Octagon debut as a fill-in for Patrick Cummings (Villante’s original opponent).
Though visibly smaller than the hulking Villante, Safarov shows no hesitation in his willingness to duke it out. And it costs him, because when Villante’s defense is on point, he’s able to stay in range and turn the Russian’s face into hamburger. In no time, Safarov is stumbling and falling to the canvas, and Villante is raining down hell from above. But Safarov is as tough as they come, and by the final minute of the round – and despite throwing kicks that clearly hurt his own leg – Safarov has nailed Villante with shots that have Villante buckling.
Referee Keith Peterson makes sure the doctors check out Safarov’s leg before Round 2 begins, and once they clear him, both fighters are back at, taking chunks out of the other’s soul. With hard kicks, Villante targets his foe’s injured leg, and that – plus exhaustion – has Villante opening up with fists and elbows against the Russian’s noggin’. Eventually, the ref sees enough, and steps in when it’s clear that Safarov isn’t going to defend himself.
Results: Gian Villante def. Saparbek Safarov via TKO (Punches and Elbows) at 2:54, R2