On a night when none of the 10 fights went to the scorecards, it seems somehow fitting that one of the stars of the night was a guy with the last name of Usman.
Kamaru Usman is the UFC welterweight champion, the tallest fighter in the world and one of the greatest MMA fighters in history.
His younger brother, Mohammed, doesn’t have his reputation or fame, but he made some history on Saturday. He knocked out Zac Paugan, a former practice squad member of the Houston Texans36 seconds into the second round at Apex in Las Vegas to win the heavyweight division of Season 30 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” In the process, the Usmans became the first set of brothers to win TUF.
Kamaru Usman, who won Season 21 at welterweight in 2015, was in his younger brother’s corner on Saturday. Mohammed Usman’s last name may have helped land him on the TUF cast, but once he got there, he created his own success.
With former WBC boxing heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder watching from ringside, Mohammed Usman cracked Pauga with a left hook on the chin to end things early.
It earned him a UFC contract three years after the tragic death of his 3-year-old son, Nash, who accidentally drowned.
“It means the world to me” to win TUF for his son, Usman said. “He means the world to me and he’s the reason I’m here right now. Don’t get me wrong, man. I could sit here and tell you it’s easy, but it’s not. I hurt every day of my life. It hurts now sitting here talking about it. I know he wants me to have a good life. He wants me to take care of my children that I will have in the future [as well as] my current children. He wants me to be a blessing to them.
“That’s the No. 1 thing. I’m just trying to be the best dad I can be and show my kids, and my future kids, that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish in this world if you put your mind to it.”
He existed in his brother’s shadow for much of that time, working diligently serving as Kamaru’s hype man for his fights. But he thought about winning TUF and winning a UFC deal and he did that in a big way.
Mohammed Usman put on a show on Saturday, but he wasn’t the only one. Each of the 10 fights ended in a finish, only the second time in UFC history that has happened.
Geoff Neal wins slow second round, angry coach
Geoff Neal was brilliant in the first round of his welterweight fight with Vicente Luque. Neal landed 52 significant strikes in the first round, rocking Luque repeatedly with a straight left hand. Neal was powerful, accurate and in control.
But in the second, he took his foot off the gas and it was a more even round. It is, he said, a problem he often has. His trainer at Fortis MMA, Sayif Saud, knew it and informed him of it after the round. Saud got in Neal’s face during the rest period and told him in no uncertain terms to get going.
“I have a tendency to take the second round off, especially when I’m going a tough first round,” Neal said. “I’m just saying, ‘Let me see if I can get through this round and come back in the third,’ but that’s just stupid of me.”
Neal hurt Luque with a blistering straight left that sent him into the cage. Neal then threw eight consecutive left uppercuts before the fight was stopped at 2:01 of the third.
Jamahal Hill rallies in a quarter after a lopsided third
Thiago Santos took down Jamahal Hill five times in the third round of the main event in a light heavyweight fight. But Hill, who calls Apex “Sweet Dreams Stadium” because of his success there, wasn’t deterred.
He suspected Santos would be tired of the third-heavyweight, as he took Hill down five times in 11 attempts. Hill came out fast in the fourth and hurt Santos.
He dropped him and finished him off with some nasty ground and pound. Referee Herb Dean stopped it at 2:31 of the fourth when Hill blasted Santos with elbows.
“I just don’t stop working,” Hill said. “That’s what I learned from my coaches and what I learned from my team, just keep working.”
Hill came into the bout ranked 10th at light heavyweight, with Santos sixth. He’s hoping for a title shot next against champion Jiri Prochazka, but said if it didn’t happen, he wanted ex-champ Jan Blachowicz, who is No. 2.
Juliana Miller wins TUF flyweight title
Juliana Miller went a perfect 4-for-4 on takedowns Saturday to dominate Brogan Walker and win the TUF 30 flyweight title via third-round TKO. She stopped Walker with elbows to the head from Mount at 3:57 on the third and final round.
It was a dominant presentation of Miller, who had 9:40 of control time in the 13:57 of time in the attack.
Miller landed 54 of 85 of her significant strikes, connecting on 63 percent, in addition to the perfect strikeout effort.
Biggest highlight was Brian Battle KO’s head kick
Former TUF winner Bryan Battle had perhaps the most memorable moment of the night. He needed just 44 seconds to stop Takashi Sato in their bout, knocking Soto out with a kick to the head.
Battle said that in camp, he and his trainers noticed that Sato was being threatened with head kicks.
“It’s something we anticipated,” he said. “I didn’t see it happening so soon. That was probably the most beautiful strike I ever made.”
After the fight, he called out both Bryan Barberena and Ian Garry for an attack.