Chinese prospect Song Yadong scored an important win at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Saturday night (local time). He outpointed Marlon Vera in a hard-fought featherweight encounter at UFC Jacksonville.

Coming off an anticlimactic majority draw against Cody Stamann this past December, Song redeemed himself by overcoming the most difficult challenge in his professional career to date.

Yadong was declared the winner by a margin of 29-28 on all three judges’ sheets, operating behind his power shots over the course of three rounds and then shutting down Vera’s desperate attempt to change the tide in the final frame.

Back and forth contest

It was an intense back-and-forth contest as both men hammered each other with a slew of punches and kicks right off the bat. However, Song was able to establish his rhythm midway point of the opening salvo, tagging Vera with a heavy right hand that sent the Ecuadorian tripping backwards.

While Vera banked on his leg kicks to keep him afloat and mollify his opponent’s advances, Song soon moved in to address the gap as a plethora of knees and elbows found home in close-quartered exchanges.

Vera came out more aggressive to start the second period as he continued to throw leg kicks and managed to startle Song with a decent combination. But the latter had the perfect response, uncorking two hard hooks that forced his foe to back off and shake his head to regain his faculties.

The two kept throwing punch after punch for the remainder of the round, and Song’s right hands were connecting hard.

Trading leather

Despite being on the receiving end of the punishment, Vera refused to back down and persistently invited Song into a risky trade of leather. It paid off for ‘Chito’ in the dying minutes of round two, where he buckled the Chinese fighter with a body shot.

With Song clearly in pain, Vera rushed in recklessly only to be a recipient of his adversary’s counter punches and a knee strike right at the horn.

In the third and final stanza, Vera raced out of his corner with a flying knee. But Song saw it coming and evaded the strike, immediately pacifying the energetic Ecuadorian by tying him up along the cage fence.

Vera got a reversal and took the action to the ground for the first time, but he could not keep control for long enough. When Song returned to his feet, it allowed him to once again pummel the Ecuadorean with two punches that opened small cuts on the nose.

Debatable decision

With seconds remaining in the bout, Vera changed his attack and dragged Song to the canvas where they scrambled for better leverage and looked to rack up significant points.

While the decision could have easily gone the other way, it was Song who got the nod as he improved his professional record to 16-4-1. In addition, he remained undefeated inside the UFC’s octagon after five fights.

Vera was visibly furious upon hearing the outcome and refused to shake Song’s hand after.

“I did all I could do right now,” Song said in a post-fight interview. “I was prepared for three rounds. My opponent was a really good fighter.”

On the other hand Vera fell to 15-6-1 and saw his five fight winning streak snapped. Both men normally fight at bantamweight but moved up a division for this bout.

Best of the rest

In the main event Pride, Dream and K-1 veteran Alistair Overeem rolled back the years to stop Walt Harris in the second round. The Dutchman had to weather the storm during the opening exchanges and looked close to being stopped.

But the former Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight champion and K-1 World Grand Prix winner used all of his experience to see out the round. He came back strong in the second stanza with a head kick doing the damage.

Overeem dropped Harris and then continued to attack with ground and pound until the referee called off the contest. The Dutchman improves to 46-18-0-1 and celebrates his 40th birthday in style while Harris drops to 13-8.

UFC on ESPN 8, Jacksonville, May 16th
Alistair Overeem def. Walt Harris via TKO (punches) 3:00 of Round 2
Claudia Gadelha def. Angela Hill via Decision (Split)
Dan Ige def. Edson Barboza via Decision (Split)
Krzysztof Jotko def. Eryk Anders via Decision (Unanimous)
Song Yadong def. Marlon Vera via Decision (Unanimous)
Miguel Baeza def. Matt Brown via KO (Punches) at 0:18 of Round 2
Kevin Holland def. Anthony Hernandez via KO (Punches) at 0:39 of Round 1
Giga Chikadze def. Irwin Rivera via Decision (Unanimous)
Nate Landwehr def. Darren Elkins via Decision (Unanimous)
Cortney Casey def. Mara Romero Borella via Submission (Armbar) at 3:36 of Round 1
Rodrigo Nascimento def. Don’Tale Mayes via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 2:05 of Round 2

GALLERY