LAS VEGAS – It was a perfect night for local fighters at UFC 173.
Michael Chiesa and Sam Sicilia, both based in Spokane, won unanimous decisions at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
Chiesa dominated Brazilian Francisco Trinaldo, and Sicilia took a decision from UFC newcomer Aaron Phillips. Both fights were part of the preliminary card of the UFC’s Memorial Day weekend pay-per-view.
Chiesa (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) didn’t have much trouble with Trinaldo (14-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC), a three-time kickboxing champion in Brazil.
Chiesa spent large portions of the fight in complete control on the ground – where he typically does his best work. Trinaldo, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, put Chiesa in trouble a couple of times in the second round. But the 26-year-old worked his way out of danger and went about his business.
That business was beating Trinaldo up with elbows and punches on the ground, and at one point he had a 104-4 advantage over the Brazilian in ground strikes.
“I hurt my elbow on his very tough chin, but it was worth it,” Chiesa said. “This guy was tough as hell. He made me look like a genius when he was fighting with his hands down.”
Chiesa said a guillotine choke Trinaldo latched onto in the second round was close, but not close enough that he was in true danger of needing to tap.
“The choke was pretty tight, but all I had to do was keep my hips high and I could breathe,” he said. “It honestly looked a whole lot worse than it was.”
The close friend of Sicilia then said with the two both in the win column on the same night, a vacation is in order.
“I think that was my best fight thus far because we went three hard rounds,” said Chiesa, who has won two straight since the lone loss of his career 10 months ago. “I fought the ugly fight that I wanted and came out on top. I can’t wait to head out to my buddy Sam Sicilia’s cabin on the lake for a little rest and hibernation.”
Sicilia (13-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) had few problems with Phillips (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in the night’s second fight after a rough patch in the first round.
Phillips caught Sicilia with a kick to the body in the first round that appeared to stun him. But once he recovered, he cruised to victory.
“I went at him hard,” Sicilia said. “I had a lot of bumps and bruises coming into this one, and I really had to dig deep. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get wins because lately, I’ve found myself on the chopping block. I was able to pull it off on a bad day, so hopefully I can string a few together and let the pressure fade.”
TJ Dillashaw pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, dominating bantamweight champion Renan Barao until the fight was stopped at 2:26 of the fifth round. Dillashaw landed a high left leg kick that sent Barao to the mat and added a few more strikes before referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
In the co-main event, fourth-ranked Daniel Cormier dominated MMA great Dan Henderson, winning with a rear naked choke in the third round.