Friday night’s UFC Boston card answered a few questions.
Undefeated light heavyweight Dominick Reyes may indeed be worthy of a title fight against Jon Jones after his first-round TKO of former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, while heavyweight Greg Hardy is nowhere near ready to contend for the title after an unimpressive showing.
In the main event, Reyes caught Weidman with a left hook, sending Weidman to the floor, where Reyes landed a series of punches to Weidman’s head before referee Herb Dean stopped the bout 1:43 into the first round.
“Early in the fight I saw the opening there, I saw him lunge in, I knew he would lunge in, and I cracked him right on the jaw and then those hammer fists to finish it,” said Reyes. “I knew he was already hurt and it only took some touches to finish him off and that was it.”
While Reyes, 29, reiterated his desire to face Jones for the title, the result left the 35-year-old Weidman with his fifth loss in his last six fights.
With the TD Garden crowd of 12,066 filling the arena with boos of disapproval, Hardy, the former NFL defensive tackle, initially was ruled the winner of a lackluster three-round decision over Ben Sosoli. But the fight was later ruled a no-contest after it was learned Hardy was using an inhaler during the fight.
“I was in the ring, me and my coach asked the commission if it would be OK to use my inhaler and they said yes, so I took it,” said Hardy. “I’m still new guy in this sport. I did what I do in every situation – I asked permission, I got permission, and I did what I was told.”
It was supposed to be another step for Hardy, 31, who hopes to be the next big star in an aging heavyweight division. But Hardy is not ranked in the top 15, and Friday night’s underwhelming performance against an overmatched opponent making his UFC debut was unlikely to change that.
The co-main event following the Hardy debacle was more along the lines of what the crowd was looking for.
Featherweights Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens went the distance in a spirited three rounds. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Rodriguez, who was close to putting Stephens away in the second round, getting him to the mat and pounding away.
Stephens weathered the storm, managed to get back to his feet, and escaped the round. In the third, Stephens dished out the beating, getting Rodriguez on his back late in the match and pounding away until the final bell rang. UFC rated it the Fight of the Night, resulting in both fighters earning an extra $50,000.
Their fight Sept. 21 in Mexico was halted after just 15 seconds when Stephens was poked in the eye and could not continue. The fight was ruled a no-contest and the much-anticipated rematch was added to the Boston card shortly after.
Earlier in the night, crowd favorite Joe Lauzon of East Bridgewater did not disappoint the fans, rocking Jonathan Pearce with a straight left, then slamming him to the canvas. After Lauzon landed a flurry of right hands while wrapping his left arm around Pearce’s neck, the fight was stopped at 1:33 of the first round.
Maycee Barber continued her rise through the flyweight division, stopping Gillian Robertson at 3:04 of the first round, trapping her against the cage and overwhelming her with a flurry of punches before the fight was halted.
“I made a huge statement tonight. I continued to show that I’m not just talk, not just hype, and I go out there and do what I say I’m going to do, “ said Barber, who, at 21, is hoping to become the youngest female champion in UFC history.
In the opening fight of the main card, middleweight Darren Stewart took a split decision over Deron Winn, his fourth victory in his last five fights.
In the final preliminary bout between a pair of locals, Peabody native Charles Rosa won in his first trip to the octagon in more than two years when he defeated Abington’s Manny Bermudez with an armbar submission in the first round of their featherweight fight.
“I’m back, first-round finish, and I’m coming for the title,” Rosa said. “It means everything to me. This is the city of champions. I’m 3-0 in the Boston Garden now, undefeated in Boston, and I’m going to keep going.
Molly McCann thoroughly dominated Diana Belbita in a fight that went the distance, with judges scoring the flyweight bout, 30-26. It was McCann’s fourth win in a row; Belbita was making her UFC debut.
Gloucester’s Kyle Bochniak went the distance but dropped his featherweight bout with Sean Woodson by unanimous decision. The lanky Woodson, who was making his UFC debut, was able to keep Bochniak at bay while consistently connecting with knees to Bochniak’s head.
Taunton bantamweight Randy Costa received a thunderous ovation as he made his way to the ring. He gave his large contingent in the crowd even more to cheer about when he dropped Boston Salmon twice in the first round, the second time the result of a straight right, allowing Costa to pounce before the fight was stopped at 2:15 of the first round.
Sean Brady sent Court McGee to the canvas after connecting with a left hook, leaving a welt on McGee’s cheek, just under his right eye. The fight would go the distance, with Brady winning his welterweight debut by unanimous decision.
Brendan Allen won an entertaining battle in his debut at middleweight, managing to wiggle out of a chokehold in the first round before defeating Kevin Holland by submission in the second round.
Heavyweight Tanner Boser got the better of veteran Daniel Spitz in his debut, going the distance and winning by unanimous decision. All three judges had Boser winning, 30-27.