Last night (Wed., July 16, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Joe Proctor and Justin Salas went to war on the main card of UFC Fight Night 45 from Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Proctor came into the bout off a decision win over Cristiano Marcello at February's UFC Fight Night 36, running his UFC record to 2-1. The former Reality Fighting (RF) lightweight champion had a dangerous but inconsistent test in Salas.
"J-Bomb" also won his last bout, a UFC Fight Night 40 knockout of Ben Wall. But he also lost two of his previous three mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts and needed a win over Proctor to shake his up-and-down tendencies in UFC.
When it was all said and done in New Jersey, Proctor picked up a big win to keep his momentum rolling.
The bout kicked off with Salas throwing a glancing low kick. He missed with a rushing combo and absorbed a low kick. Proctor was patient as Salas moved in and out of the pocket, and the fighters traded hard shots. Salas pushed forward with a solid right hand and a knee before Proctor countered with two shots of his own. Proctor nailed Salas with another hard counter left and began to find his rhythm with more of the same punch.
Salas' eye was opened up and his movement slowed. He ate a high kick before scoring with a good flurry. Proctor defended a takedown and snapped a low kick, but Salas hit him with a big right. The exciting first round came to an end with Proctor sprawling another takedown attempt and Salas landing an accurate combination.
Proctor had a huge hematoma on his left ear to start the second (see pic here). He controlled the Octagon, but Salas went to work with a combo before rushing forward with a bevy of shots followed by a knee. Proctor landed a good counter and Salas a sharp left, finally securing a takedown that didn't last long at all.
Salas controlled the clinch on the cage, breaking to score a big looping shot. He landed some body shots, but Proctor landed a huge left hook that dropped Salas.
Somehow "J-Bomb" got back to his feet to clinch, but it didn't last long. Proctor threw yet another hard counter left that felled Salas once again, and the referee stepped in to call off the fight.
It may have been a questionable stoppage. Salas was stunned as he argued vehemently that he could still fight. It didn't matter, as Proctor had already won.
With two straight wins, he'll move on to a solid fight in a tough division. Someone towards the bottom half of the Top 20 would make sense for the East Coast native; he isn't quite ready for a top-ranked challenge just yet.
He relied solely on his left hook tonight, and while it worked out in New Jersey, that won't last long as his opposition gets better.
Salas will swear he could have still fought on, and maybe he could have. But he was turtling up and taking damage, so the ref may have had no other choice but to call it on a split second decision.
He needs to shore up his striking defense in a big way, as Proctor used a rather one-dimensional gameplan to finish him off. He's now at 3-3 in UFC, so the pressure will be on him to win his next bout.
Joe Proctor delivered for his nearby fans with a second round knockout of Justin Salas. He looked good in the win, but it's clear he has some things to work on. What will the future hold for the rising prospect?