NEWARK, N.J. -- Matthew Riddle was cruising to a win to open UFC 111 until he took a groggy turn for the worse. The former college wrestler was taking Greg Soto down at will when he got booted in the face by an illegal kick on the ground early in the final round.
The New Jersey doctors checked Riddle once and were about to allow the fight to go on, but while trying to regain his wits the fighter told referee Keith Peterson he was finished. Riddle got the victory via disqualification at 1:30 of the third round.
Riddle (4-1, 4-1 UFC) took down Soto (7-1, 0-1 UFC) in each of the first two rounds and controlled him on the deck. He never got into a position to attempt a submission, but landed plenty of elbows and punches to be way ahead on the scorecards.
The scenario in the third round was bizarre. Riddle was again in Soto's guard when he leaned back for a second. While still sitting up on his right leg, Riddle got blasted on the chin by a Soto kick with his left foot. Riddle fell flat on his back with his arms out to his side. He was out for a second. It took him a minute to rise to his feet.
The fight's over, right? Not quite. For some reason, the ringside doctor thought Riddle was fine to continue. When Peterson tried to restart the fight, Riddle waved him over and said no. It was clear from just outside the cage, Riddle was in la-la land. It's unclear where the signals were crossed.
Hamman comes out on top in early fight of the night candidate
The second fight of the night was a good example of quality matchmaking. Jared Hamman or Rodney Wallace will never be the UFC light heavyweight champ but they provided an excellent card filler. Wallace, the wrestler, showed some good power on his feet but too often on his takedowns, Hamman was able to reverse and get the groundwork into his favor.
Update: Hamman and Wallace did get the fight of the night bonus. Each received $65,000.
On the feet, Wallace did his best work in the opening round. He blasted away mostly with a nasty left hook. Hamman (11-2, 1-1 UFC) regained control of the fight when he floored Wallace first with a right headkick and then a big knee. Hamman took the unanimous decision, 29-28 on all three cards.
Palhares nearly rips off Drwal's foot
You don't want to go to the ground with Rousimar Palhares. At the beginning of the fight, Tomasz Drwal was being cautious, attempted a front kick and unfortuntely slipped. Drwal fell to his back and Palhares pounced on him as "The Gorilla" tried to protect himself with a butterfly guard. That was bad news. Palhares latched onto his leg, fell to his back and grabbed hold of Drwal's ankle. The heel hook was so devastating it had Drwal screaming in agony. He tapped almost immediately and Palhares held on for a few extra seconds for good measure. Palhares got a quick win at 0:45 of the first and is the lead candidate for submission of the night.
In his postfight conversation with UFC analyst Joe Rogan, Palhares (11-2, 4-1 UFC) said he didn't realize immediately that Drwal (17-3, 3-2 UFC) was tapping. Maybe the UFC should reconsider a bonus if it thinks Palhares held onto the hold for too long.
Update: The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board thought Palhares held on too long. As a result, the Brazilian was suspended for 90 days.