Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight prospects Jake Matthews and Johny Case dueled last night (Sat., March 19, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 85 inside Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia.
One of the youngest fighters on the roster and perhaps Australia's best hope at future UFC gold, Matthews is an incredibly gifted prospect. He was facing a stiff test in Case, but a win would do major things for his career.
To his credit, Case has finished more fights in the first round than Matthews has even competed in. "Hollywood" is also a very talented fighter, but he's been looked over in favor of other Lightweight standouts. This was his chance to change that.
Instead, his opponent really shined.
Early on, the exchanges favored the hometown favorite, as he repeatedly scored with his right hand. Case managed to reverse a takedown attempt momentarily, but he wasn't able to do much damage before Matthews returned to his feet.
Back on the feet, the two continued to exchange at a decent pace. For the most part, Matthews continued to get the better of his opponent, although a hard left from Case did have him backing away at the end of the round.
It wasn't a blowout, but "The Celtic Kid" was ahead after five minutes.
After a slower start to the second round, a brutal body kick from Matthews prompted Case to shoot and score with a takedown. Matthews quickly threw up a triangle, but Case managed to escape and went to work with elbows and punches.
It took most of the round, but Matthews did manage to return to his feet under some fire from his opponent. Once more, Matthews cracked his foe with a nasty body kick but fell to another takedown.
While the third round could award either man the victory, Case was tired and bruised.
In the final frame, Matthews continued to batter his foes body, both with kicks and some left hooks. Case was landing some shots of his own, but he wasn't able to deter the younger fighter and could not complete his takedowns.
Near the end of the round, Case failed on a takedown, allowing Matthews to take his back. The Australian is a very dominant fighter from top position, and he quickly tried to finished the fight with a rear naked choke. Case initially defended and began to recover position, but Matthews worked towards the choke again and finished it with just a few seconds left.
At just 21 years old, Matthews is already a force to be reckoned with in the Lightweight division. He's been an incredible athlete since his first fight on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but the Australian athlete has come a long way in developing his technical game.
Most importantly, Matthews has grown tremendously as a striker. In his last bout, Matthews was nearly knocked out by Ahkbar Arreola, who's far from the most gifted kickboxer in the division. This time around, Matthews was the one dictating the pace standing against a far more dangerous foe.
In particular, Matthews did great work to the body. Case usually has some very solid conditioning, but Matthews abused his mid-section to the point that "Hollywood" was exhausted in the final frame. While his powerful grappling finished the bout, it was Matthews striking that made it possible.
Despite the impressive nature of this victory, Matthews doesn't need to be thrown against the top 15 just yet. Instead, a match up against a veteran like Francisco Trinaldo would help him grow further.
It's an unfortunate turn of events for Case. The well-rounded athlete has a ton of talent and has paid his dues, both in as a professional on the regional scene and in the UFC. Those was supposed to be a big opportunity for him, a victory that propelled him up the ladder.
Instead, he ran into a freight train.
While Case was game throughout, he did make one rather major error opposite Matthews. At one point in the third, he attempted to stand too quickly while Matthews was threatening his back, which allowed the prospect to secure his second hook and attack with the choke.
Regardless, it's back to the drawing board for Case, who's still in the unenviable position of a Lightweight up-and-comer trying to stand out.
Last night, Jake Matthews submitted Johny Case in the closing seconds of the fight. Just how high can Matthews climb in the talent-rich Lightweight division?
For complete UFC Fight Night 85: "Mir vs Hunt" results and play-by-play, click HERE!