Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For four athletes, Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 13 event marked that special moment in their respective careers.
Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression they made on the sport’s biggest stage from Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
* * * * *
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Modestas Bukauskas def. Andreas Michailidis via TKO (retirement) – Round 1
Record: (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Former Cage Warriors light heavyweight champion Modestas Bukauskas claimed a first-round TKO finish on his octagon debut with a finish that was a near carbon copy of the one that earned him his shot on the big stage.
Back at Cage Warriors 111 in November 2019 Bukauskas finished Riccardo Nosiglia with a barrage of powerful elbows against the cage to retain his light heavyweight title. That win saw him earn a call-up to the UFC, and Bukauskas turned to his elbows once again to score a very similar finish at the end of Round 1.
Bukauskas looked loose and relaxed from the start of his matchup against Andrea Michailidis, but took a little time to calibrate his punching range, with some of his early combinations falling short. But as the round progressed he started to make adjustments and step into his combinations. When he did, he showed a noticeable speed advantage.
That’s not to say he didn’t have to deal with some adversity, too. The London-based Lithuanian got clipped a few times by some solid Michailidis shots, but looked untroubled by them as he closed the distance and put the pressure on the Greek debutant before finishing him with the same elbows he produced in Cage Warriors last year.
All in all, it was a solid, impressive start to life in the UFC, and it will be interesting to watch his continued development in the octagon over the coming months.
Next up: Move to 205 doesn’t pay off for “The Spartan”
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/07/ufc-on-espn-13-rookie-report-grading-the-newcomers-at-ufc-fight-island/