When Anthony Smith is on his game, he rarely sees the judges’ scorecards.
The middleweight known as “Lionheart” lived up to his reputation on Friday in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance 30 headliner, as he put away fellow Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Brock Jardine with ground-and-pound from back mount 3:00 into the opening frame at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. It was Smith’s 21st finish in 23 professional triumphs.
Jardine (12-6) did his best to slow the tempo in the early going, as he closed the distance on Smith (23-11) and moved into top position near the fence. Smith was able to utilize a butterfly guard and free himself, however, and from that point, Jardine’s time in the cage was limited.
Shortly thereafter, Smith dropped his foe with a beautifully timed right hand that was a product of superior length and footwork. He then pounced for the finish with a flurry of ground-and-pound, and with Jardine struggling to defend himself, Smith took the Utah native’s back, secured both hooks and continued to pound away on his flattened opponent. After a salvo of unanswered punches, referee Jim Axtell had no choice but to call a halt to the 185-pound contest.
Smith has now won six straight fights; Jardine, meanwhile, saw a three-bout winning streak come to an end.
In the co-main event, Adam Townsend controlled the cage with his standup to garner a unanimous decision victory over Ryan Roberts in a featherweight tussle. Two judges scored the bout 29-28, while a third had it 30-27, all in favor of Townsend.
Kicks to the body and punching combinations upstairs were the weapons of choice for Townsend (14-3), who stalked his foe for the majority of the 15-minute encounter. Roberts (21-11-1) spent much of the bout firing back at his foe while circling on the outside, but he was far less fluid in his attacks than Townsend.
Townsend, who endured a difficult weight cut, clipped Roberts with a left hand in round one, but his output seemed to dwindle as the fight progressed. The Hampton, Tenn., native was never truly in danger, however, and he punctuated his victory by dropping Roberts during a spirited exchange in the waning moments of the final period.
Earlier, Darrick Minner made short work of Matt Brown in a featured bantamweight showdown, forcing the Oshkosh, Wisc., native to tap to a tight guillotine choke 1:35 into the opening stanza. Minner (14-4) has finished 11 of his professional triumphs by way of submission.
Minner wasted little time taking his adversary to the canvas. Brown (10-5) countered by transitioning to an armbar, but the Premier Combat Center representative was able to slam his way out of the predicament. From there, Minner locked in the guillotine, and while Brown did his best to roll out of danger, Minner’s grip was too tight to be denied.
Elsewhere, Zach Juusola outworked Robert Rojas to garner a three-round verdict in a slow-paced lightweight clash. The Xtreme Couture product received three 29-27 scorecards to earn his third victory in four outings.
Much of the bout was contested in the clinch, but it was Juusola (11-3) who authored the fight’s most significant moments. He clipped Rojas (8-5) with a right hand in round one, landed multiple takedowns and attacked with elbows, punches and knees in close quarters. Juusola was able to prevail despite having a point deducted in the second frame for landing a head butt on the canvas.
MMA Lab product James Nakashima captured a unanimous decision against Alliance MMA’s Chance Rencountre in a battle of unbeaten prospects. All three cageside judges scored the welterweight contest 29-28 in favor of Nakashima (4-0), who has gone the distance in each of his professional outings.
The shorter Nakashima utilized a crisp standup attack throughout, as he consistently beat Rencountre (7-1) to the punch behind an accurate jab and one-two combinations. Having already banked two rounds, Nakashima appeared to be cruising to victory when Recountre briefly dropped him late in round three. While that likely earned Recountre the frame, he was unable to further capitalize on the opportunity.
Kassius Holdorf survived Don Hamilton’s dangerous submission game and then punished his foe with a serious of brutal elbows on the ground to force his opponent to ask out of their welterweight clash. The end came 2:49 into round one, as the 39-year-old Hamilton tapped out under the force of Holdorf’s assault.
While Holdorf appeared to have a distinct advantage on his feet, he was more than willing to work in Hamilton’s guard early on. Hamilton (11-6), who entered the bout with nine submission triumphs, briefly swept his foe and hunted for an ankle lock, but Holdorf escaped with little difficulty and proceeded to put away his man shortly thereafter.
In the opening main card bout, Premier Combat Center representative Kevin Gray (6-2) used takedowns, positional control and periodic ground-and-pound to take a unanimous verdict over Miletich Fighting Systems member Josh Smith (1-3). All three judges scored the flyweight contest 29-28 in favor of “Pocket Hercules.”
While Smith remained competitive by scrambling and threatening with the occasional submission, he was unable to mount enough significant offense to prevent Gray from grinding his way to his second RFA victory.