A UFC main event expected to end early instead became a war of attrition on Saturday night in Auckland, New Zealand.
By the time the fourth round rolled around, heavyweight Mark Hunt simply proved to be too much for Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 110.
“It was just a matter of who could take more and it was me,” Hunt said.
Lewis spent much of the night with his back against the cage as the powerful strikers traded huge shots. All the damage and energy exerted took its toll on Lewis, who eventually covered up and bent over as he stood near the fence and referee Marc Goddard stepped in at 3:51 of the fourth round.
Lewis, who had his six-fight winning streak snapped, said after the fight his performance was impacted by a lingering back injury that he suffered in 2011. He also said he’s unsure whether he will fight again as he plans to get married next week and doesn’t want to put his family through it anymore.
Hunt was particularly pleased to secure a victory in his first MMA fight in his native country.
“I know Derrick Lewis is from the hood, but this is my hood,” the 43-year-old said after outlasting Lewis.
Middleweight Derek Brunson wasted no time in ending Dan Kelly’s four-fight winning streak.
Brunson came over the top with a left hand to drop the four-time Olympian and put an end to the bout just 1:16 into the first round with a series of left hands on the ground.
“I felt I had something to prove in this fight,” Brunson said after snapping a two-fight losing streak that included a very controversial decision loss to Anderson Silva. “I felt like I wasn’t getting the respect I deserved and my opponent was talking about how he was going to gas me out so I knew what I had to do.”
Ion Cutelaba and Ben Nguyen needed even less time to pick up wins on the main card.
Cutelaba unleashed a barrage of straight punches down on light heavyweight Henrique da Silva after putting him on his back and ended the fight after just 22 seconds.
“I was in a rush because I have a baby at home who is going to sleep soon and I wanted to say goodnight,” Cutelaba said.
Nguyen upset flyweight contender Tim Elliott with a rear-naked choke just 49 seconds into their bout to improve to 11-1 in his last 12 fights and 4-1 since signing with the UFC.
Lightweight Dan Hooker, an Auckland native, dropped a charging Ross Pearson with a right knee that knocked him out midway through the second round.
“I feel like I’m going to have to spend a few days reflecting on this,” Hooker said. “All I could envision was the bell ringing so now that it’s all done, I’m going to sit back on the farm and enjoy this experience. It’s an amazing feeling to have everyone here in Auckland see me fight. Ross Pearson is a guy you can never underestimate so I owe everything to my coaches. They studied the tapes, they made me drill that knee over and over, and they are the reason this happened tonight.”
It was Hooker’s first UFC fight at lightweight after moving up from featherweight. He intends to stay at 155 pounds after the victory.
Featherweight Alexander Volkanovski opened the main card by winning his 12th straight fight and improving to 2-0 in the UFC with a unanimous-decision victory over Mizuto Hirota.
On the preliminary card, lightweight Vinc Pichel returned from a hiatus of over three years to knock out Damien Brown in the first round.
“This was a long journey for me so I wasn’t going to let anything stop me tonight,” said Pichel, who has won three straight overall. “I have tremendous respect for Damien Brown as a fighter and for serving our country. I told him that this week and I want to say it again now. However, I wasn’t going to let him take this moment from me. I’m healthy and want to fight again ASAP. It’s time to show the world what I can do.”
Former flyweight title challenger John Moraga won a unanimous decision over Ashkan Mokhtarian. Also on the card, Luke Jumeau, Zak Ottow and JJ Aldrich picked up decision victories.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.