145-pounders Mizuto Hirota and Rani Yahya entered the cage in the second televised fight on Saturday night’s UFC on FUEL TV 8: Silva vs. Stann event and looked to keep the night’s momentum rolling.
Hirota and Yahya engaged early and were fighting at the same furious pace we have come to love from the lighter weight classes.
After a beautiful sweep, Yahya was on top in the half guard and able to box Hirota’s ears while holding his position while Hirota controlled Yahya’s posture and avoided any serious damage. Hirota briefly escaped the bottom position, but Yahya was immediately able to get back in Hirota’s guard after a brief scramble. Yahya’s superior ground game was evident throughout the entire first round. It was a dominating opening frame with Yahya fighting at a completely different level than his opponent.
Hirota took the center of the octagon to start round two and he was looking to avoid returning to the mat. He was able to fend off a few early takedown attempts before Yahya successfully completed a takedown.
Once the fight returned to the canvas, it was all downhill for Hirota.
Yahya had a threatening arm triangle attempt that appeared to be the finishing move for the fight, but Hirota was able to stay calm and escape the submission attempt. Despite failing to lock in the submission, Yahya stayed in the top position for the remainder of round two and rained down some impressive ground-and-pound on his way to another earned round on the judges scorecards.
In the third-round, Hirota nearly pulled off an improbably upset when a scramble led to him having Yahya in the triangle position. Yahya was fighting to escape the submission and ended up giving up an arm to an armbar attempt. It was a great final effort, and while it was enough to earn the Japanese fighter the round, it just wasn’t enough.
Yahya earned a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) when the judges scorecards were tallied.