Once the bell sounded to begin the highly anticipated grappler’s delight, Askren pressed forward and chased down Maia finding much success. Utilizing peppering jabs and a solid uppercut, the American was able to damage his adversary’s face.
This continued for the first ten minutes and looked to be very effective with a few grappling exchanges mixed in. Entering the second stanza, Maia was bloodied and visibly slowing down.
Looking to capitalize on his weakening, Askren clinched early yet this decision would backfire badly. He initially succeeded in slamming Maia to the ground but the Brazilian submission ace got back up.
Askren was persistent though and got Maia back to the canvas. This time around the Brazilian was able to use a lock leg to get the sweep.
He then methodically slithered into mount, Askren exposed his back and that is when the body triangle was latched on. Maia rolled over, slid the arm under the neck and put the American to sleep with a rear naked choke.
After going undefeated in his first nineteen fights, Ben Askren (19-2) is finished for the second straight time. Maia (28-9), on the other hand, stretches his streak to three, and with 22 victories becomes number two on the list only behind Cowboy Cerrone for the most in UFC history.
In the co-headliner, Stevie Ray pulled off the upset by coming back in the final round and defeating Michael Johnson via majority decision.
The opening round turned out to be very evenly matched on the feet. Ray was able to slow the pace of the fight and that allowed him to go strike for strike. Both individuals landed sparsely yet nothing of significance connected to really give the round decidedly to one fighter.
Johnson came out in the second pumping the jab and touching his opponent across the face. After a few double jabs found a home, Johnson went over the top with the right hand and opened up a cut above the right eye. Once the blood started to trickle down the nose, Johnson upped the volume and varied the attacks.
Going into the third round, Johnson continued with his striking arsenal. Even though Ray landed his fair share, the punches were taking a toll. About midway through the round, Ray shot for a takedown and trapped Johnson against the fence and commenced to punish him for his stagnant behavior.
Ray then dragged Johnson backwards. With the body triangle constricting the midsection, Ray searched for the choke but Johnson defended well. The Scot adjusted to mount and dropped down hard shots nearly finishing the fight. Although both fighters were stuck in a weird position on the ground, Johnson ended the round absorbing some nasty elbows.
With the decision loss, Johnson (19-15) failed in his return to the lightweight division which leaves him lost moving forward and stuck between two weight classes. Meanwhile, Ray (23-9) obtained a much needed win on the last fight of his current contract but it is yet to be seen if that performance will warrant another offer from the organization.
In other impressive performances, Beneil Dariush and Ciryl Gane picked up dominant submission wins against Frank Camacho and Don’tale Mayes, respectively. While Dariush (17-4-1) extends his win streak to three, Gane (5-0) proves to be a serious prospect in the heavyweight division by keeping his unbeaten record intact.
Early in the night, a historic moment for the country of Thailand commenced when Loma Lookboonmee stepped foot into the UFC Octagon for the first time and put her patented Muay Thai skillset on display.
Even though Alexandra Albu connected with some fancy kicks and combinations, she had no answer for the strong clinch game of Lookboonmee which led to a split decision victory for the Thai phenom.
Lookboonmee starts off her UFC stint on a positive note and moves her record to 4-1, while Albu loses her second straight and drops to 3-2 overall.