Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold rebounded from a knockout loss in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut to stop Costas Philippou in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35 on Wednesday in Duluth, Ga.
Also, Las Vegan Brad Tavares won a unanimous decision over Lorenz Larkin in a middleweight bout.
Rockhold, knocked out by top contender Vitor Belfort in May, made quick work of Philippou. Two left kicks to the body dropped Philippou to the ground, doubled over in pain. Rockhold then landed one more solid body kick before the referee called the bout at 2:31 of the first round.
“I was stoked to go out there and perform,” Rockhold said. “My goal was to be patient and pick my opportunities. In the past, I’ve been sloppy and rushed, but tonight I was happy with my patience. I came to the UFC to be the best, not good but great.”
Tavares kept the pressure on Larkin, a flashy striker, throughout the three rounds. The strategy left Larkin little room to get off many of the spinning punches and kicks for which he is best known.
“I wasn’t surprised I was an underdog coming into this fight, but it made me think, ‘Man, I’m the best bet on this card,’” Tavares said. “I think with this win I can consider myself a top-10 guy in my division.”
Larkin finally found a little space in the final round, but Tavares had won each of the first two rounds on all three scorecards and held on for the victory.
T.J. Dillashaw and John Moraga each won decisions. Also, Yoel Romero knocked out Derek Brunson in a middleweight bout, and featherweight Cole Miller submitted Sam Sicilia.