The UFC Fight Night London main card kicked off with a back-and-forth battle between Brad Pickett and Francisco Rivera, ending in a controversial decision. Following that fight, welterweight prospect Tom Breese found himself in a tough battle with Japan's Keita Nakamura. Here's a recap of those two fights.
As you would expect, these two strikers wasted little time getting to the stand-up exchanges. Rivera struck first blood about midway through the first round with a perfectly placed left hand that put Pickett on the seat of his pants. Pickett recovered and able to score with some leg kicks. Rivera's faster hands and combination punching proved a major issue for Pickett, who was repeatedly tagged with hard shots and wobbled. An all-out brawl broke out in the final minute of the 1st before the pace slowed and Rivera had to defend a takedown.
With Rivera continuing to get the better of Pickett in the striking, Pickett went for a well-timed single leg takedown and had Rivera on his back. "Cisco" minimized the damage and escaped to his feet. The action had slowed a bit before Rivera got a takedown of his own, failed to seize back control, and they duked it out once more. Pickett drilled Rivera with a murderous left hook to the balls, which momentarily stopped action. One major flurry ended the round, with Pickett cracking Rivera with a couple of heavy punches.
The 3rd round was Pickett's most successful one of the fight, as he completed multiple takedowns and controlled Rivera, but didn't generate any seriously dangerous offense. Rivera held onto a futile guillotine choke on the first takedown before PIckett popped his head out, then they went back to standing thanks to the referee. Pickett was taken down by Rivera but popped back up, finished a takedown of his own to close out an entertaining contest.
Tom Breese def. Keita Nakamura via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) - Welterweights
Nakamura exploited Breese's takedown defense in all three rounds but came up short despite a quality effort as the biggest underdog on the card. Breese won the few striking battles that were actually created, and did well to avoid being smothered by Nakamura, especially when he was mounted in the 1st round. The 24-year-old had his best success in the 2nd round when he had top position and busted up Nakamura with ground-and-pound. He did have to survive a deep omoplata attempt in the process, which gave Nakamura a route back into stealing the 2nd round. Round 3 saw another takedown by Nakamura but Breese pulled off another quality sweep, then finished the fight with a failed inverted triangle. Definitely not a fight that will be remembered fondly but Breese ends up with the first decision win of his career.