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UFC:Singapore - Post-fight Review

The UFC returned to Singapore today with UFC Fight Night 162 being held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang. It was the second time that the promotion had made the trip to the Southeast Asian country. The main event was a welterweight bout between the tough Brazilian Damian Maia and former ONE champion Ben Askren, making his 4th appearance at the arena.

Muslim Salikhov vs. Laureano Staropoli (Welterweight bout)

Muslim Salikhov moved to 16-2 by defeating Argentine Laureano Staropoli by unanimous decision in a great performance. 9-2. The Dagestani, with almost 200 professional kickboxing bouts on his record, dominated the fight both on the feet and on the ground, successful with 3 of his 5 takedown attempts. He also rocked Staropoli in the second round, landing big punches and elbows against the cage and several hard spinning kicks to the body. Salikhov is now on a three-fight win streak since losing his UFC debut and is definitely causing a stir in the welterweight division, whilst Staropoli is beaten for the first time in the organisation.

Ciryl Gane 5-0 vs. 6-3 Don'Tale Mayes (Heavyweight bout)

Ciryl Gane maintained his unbeaten record and moved to 5-0 a clinical display. The French heavyweight surely now drops his 'prospect' status after overwhelming American Don'Tale Mayes with a perfect display of striking, utilizing all eight limbs brilliantly. His cardio was second to none today as Gane landed almost 100 significant strikes in the bout and finished in style. The end came after a brutal flying knee and a body kick which dropped the Indiana native late in the third round, allowing Gane to lock in a heel-hook and get the submission victory with 14 seconds from time. This performance has left a lot of heavyweights on notice.

Frank Camacho vs. Beneil Dariush (Lightweight bout)

In what was touted as the potential fight of the night, Beneil Dariush produced a perfect and decisive display to defeat Frank Camacho, landing an early takedown and sinking in the rear-naked choke a little over two minutes into the first round. The 30 year old Iranian-American has been a long-time contender in the division and is looking to once again climb up the rankings again, improving his record to 17-4-1. Camacho is now 1-3 in his last 4 fights and it is very tough to see where the tough Guamanian goes from here, now at 22-8.

Michael Johnson vs. Stevie Ray (Lightweight bout)

In the co-main event, veteran Michael Johnson was beaten by Stevie Ray in a somewhat controversial majority decision, coming down to how the judges saw a very close opening round. The American Johnson easily took the second by keeping the fight at range and landing crisp, straight shot. The Scottish Stevie Ray dominated the final round, landing flurries of unanswered strikes in the final two minutes. He even almost got the finish, taking Johnson's back and getting hooks in but the veteran was able to see out the round. Johnson's record is now 19-15 and has lost 5 of his last 7 contests, whilst Stevie Ray moves to 23-9.

Damian Maia vs. Ben Askren (Welterweight main event)

In a fight that neither man could afford to afford to lose, Damian Maia submitted Ben Askren in the third round via real naked choke. In a masterful display of the ground game from both fighters, Maia seemed to have an answer for Ben's superior wrestling with a couple of unreal BJJ transitions and sweeps when the American landed takedowns. Askren looked reluctant to go in for the takedown, maybe the devastating knockout defeat to Jorge Masvidal had something to do with it.

Askren looked to be getting the better of the striking battle, despite being momentarily shaken early on in the first. Although sloppy at first, Askren landed a couple of precise right hands in round two, creating a cut on Maia's cheek. Askren's game plan seemed to be to secure the takedown at the end of rounds, showing great strength to get the fight to the ground. In the third round, Maia appeared gassed and was beginning to show signs of fatigue, a sign that Ben could've began to run away with the fight. However, a beautiful sweep by Maia after an Askren takedown in the third round, forced the former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion to tap out.

Askren has now suffered back-to-back defeats, as his poor UFC career continues and is now 19-2(1NC). Serious questions will need to be asked about the future of the American grappler whilst 41 year-old Maia moves to 28-9, making it three straight wins in the process.