Last night (Feb. 1, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo went to war in the opening pay-per-view (PPV) main card bout of UFC 169, which emanated from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Touted mixed martial arts (MMA) prospect Trujillo came in with a 2-1 record in the Octagon, his only loss coming at the hands of tough No. 7-ranked contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. "Killa" was last seen finishing Roger Bowling at UFC on FOX 9 in Dec. 2013. He made a quick turnaround to face a solid step up in competition in Varner.
Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight champion Varner had seen mixed results in his return to UFC, getting wins over Edson Barboza and Melvin Guillard, but losing to Joe Lauzon and most recently, Gleison Tibau at UFC 164. He needed a victory to prove he had the consistency to rise up in the tough UFC lightweight division.
And for a while, he was well on his way to accomplishing that goal.
Ultimately, however, Trujillo pulled a trick out of his sleeve to score a shocking knockout in Newark. Let's take a look back at "Killa's" murderous performance.
The bout began with a bang, as each fighter took little time to begin throwing haymakers. Several hard punches found their mark as both Varner and Trujillo took their turns pressing the action. Trujillo went for a takedown and Varner pulled off a slick reversal to take "Killa's" back. Varner locked on a tight North-South choke that Trujillo somehow escaped. The fight went back to the feet and Varner landed some more big shots to close out the first round.
The second round saw even more heated action as Varner pressed forward with some huge hooks and knees. Varner was losing steam after expending a ton of energy, but he could smell victory. Trujillo was wobbled and in big trouble, holding onto Varner's leg for dear life while he ate shots.
But, the tides were about to turn in his favor.
A desperate Trujillo swung for the fences and unleashed a pinpoint right hand that blasted Varner at full force, knocking out the WEC vet long before he hit the canvas. It was an emphatic comeback in every sense of the word, and fully deserving of every dollar earned. Trujillo amazed in the win; however, there are obviously several holes he has to work on for his next fight. He was nearly submitted and he was tagged with countless power shots,
Overall, it was a surprise that he wasn't knocked out. Still, he has some scary knockout power and should continue to improve at South Florida's Jaco Hybrid Training Center. He'll need to shore up his elusiveness and striking defense if he wants to contend in the stacked 155-pound arena. After showing a less-than-stellar wrestling game against Nurmagomedov, Trujillo still has lot to learn.
We'll see if he can contend with the top lightweights in the world. He'll probably receive an opponent somewhere towards the bottom of the Top 15 rankings.
For Varner, the loss is extremely disheartening. He was clearly winning this fight, but couldn't seal he deal and ended up paying the ultimate price. He looked gassed and could improve his conditioning.
His rollercoaster of a career has unfortunately hit another downward slope. Varner should get one more shot before he gets cut from UFC, but it's time to sink or swim for the wildly inconsistent Varner. His window of opportunity is closing.
Abel Trujillo showed insane toughness to come back from the brink of death and knock out Jamie Varner. What's next for the dangerous "Killa?"