Urijah Faber entered the Octagon at UFC 181 in Las Vegas on Saturday night looking to remain at the top of the bantamweight division, while his opponent, Francisco Rivera was looking to bounce back from a loss to win the biggest fight of his career.
Faber took control of the fight early, taking the center of the Octagon and putting Rivera on the back foot, clipping him with a left hook. Rivera seemed to gather himself and find his rhythm a little more in the latter half of the opening round, when he started to find a home for his leg kicks and closed the round with a couple solid right hands.
The second round opened with Faber again pressing forward. Rivera seemed to still be in his rhythm until Faber stuck out his left hand, accidentally poking Rivera in the eye. Referee Mario Yamasaki, however, didn’t see the eye poke, which was made clearer on the replay after the fight.
Rivera staggered backwards and dropped to a knee, where Faber clasped a bulldog choke and forced the tap at 1:34 of round two. Despite the eye poke being clearly visible on the replay, Faber was awarded the victory by submission.
“I just saw (the eye poke) on the replay. I didn’t know it the minute I got him in the eye,” said Faber after the fight. “That’s unfortunate. You don’t wish that on anyone. It’s unfortunate for him, but I go out there to finish fights.”
The victory improves Faber’s record to 32-7, while Rivera drops to 10-4 with 1 no contest. Rivera was not immediately available to discuss whether or not there would be an appeal of the decision.
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