Heavyweights Chase Sherman and Justin Willis squared off inside the Octagon tonight (Sat., April 21, 2018) from inside the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, live on Fox Sports 1. Willis had been undefeated for six bouts straight, including his first two UFC fights. Sherman was looking to bounce back from his latest loss, a TKO finish to Shamil Abdurakhimov.
They traded early, both men connecting. Chase Sherman threw a front kick, Willis caught it. Willis slipped a right straight and threw his counter left from southpaw, connecting solidly. He staggered Sherman with the same punch moments later. Sherman threw up a high kick that Willis just blocked. Sherman landed an inside leg kick, connected on a punch but the return rocked him a bit. He threw hard, missed, avoided the return this time. He stepped in again, and after they collided a front kick Willis threw straight up the center hit him in the cup. They restarted with a warning for Willis. Willis dropped Sherman with a hard left hand! Sherman got back up, went down again, tried to tie Willis up as Willis landed ground and pound looking for the finish. Incredible recovery from Sherman, who seemed intent on landing leather on Willis’ chin. His lack of head movement became even more pronounced as he ate punches in every exchange, but kept throwing, confident in his power. Willis landed a knee to the dome from the double collar tie. They clinched, Sherman ate an uppercut, but pinned Willis to the cage with an underhook and head pressure. He kept Willis there until the end of the round, landing short punches and a shoulder bump as the bell sounded.
The second round started with Sherman stepping in and eating the counter left and right again, but this timehe hung in there and landed a jab to close out the combination. He attempted another high kick. He stepped in and again got countered. He just doesn’t move his head when throwing punches. Willis connected on a hard jab-cross. Sherman put his finger in Willis’ eye and immediately apologized. They resumed action and Willis landed that hook-cross once again. Sherman landed a body kick. He stepped in with a hook and mostly avoided the returning three punches. Willis landed his lead hook again in an exchange. Sherman threw up a high kick, ate a body jab, fell short with a one-two. He landed a high kick but fell awkwardly off it, ending up with Willis on top in his guard. He wasn’t doing a whole lot from the top but was okay just controlling Sherman for the duration of the round.
The third round started the same way, with Sherman coming forward indefatigably and getting clipped on the counter with Willis’ hook and cross combination. Willis caught a high kick and pushed Sherman to the fence. Sherman landed a knee to the body and an elbow before the break. Sherman finally connected better than Sherman in an exchange. Sherman pushed Willis to the cage and landed a knee to the body. Sherman landed a couple up-elbows in the clinch. He separated and looked for a right before Willis circled off. Willis landed two more counter punches before Sherman pushed him to the cage again. Two minutes to go and Sherman was down two rounds to nothing, needing a stoppage to win. He landed some more elbows in the clinch before they separated. Sherman came forward and landed a shoveling right hand. He ate a counter left to the body, then set up a right hand with a head kick. Sherman swung big, missed big. Willis pushed him to the cage. Sherman tried to break the clinch, finally did. Sherman stepped in, again ate a counter. They clinched until the end of the fight, both heavyweights breathing heavily.
Justin Willis doesn’t have a whole lot more than his two hands and an excellent sense of timing, but that will carry him far at heavyweight and it carried him past Chase Sherman today. As for Sherman, he needs to work on his striking defense, specifically moving his head during his combinations moving forward.
Official result: Justin Willis def. Chase Sherman via unanimous decision (29-28x3)
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