On Saturday, Feb. 16, the UFC  held its seventh broadcast on Fuel TV from the Wembley Arena in London, England.

In the night’s main event interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao defended his belt for the first time against surging 22-year-old Michael McDonald.

In addition to the main event, the main card also featured rising featherweights Dustin Poirier and Cub Swanson, light heavyweight sluggers Cyrille Diabate and Jimi Manuwa, ground specialist Gunnar Nelson, who welcomed Jorge Santiago back to the Octagon at welterweight, rising 205-pounders Ryan Jimmo and James Te Huna, and British welterweight Che Mills against Matt Riddle.

The event featured a total of 12 bouts. A three-hour, six-fight showcase aired on Fuel TV, while an additional six bouts streamed via the promotion’s YouTube page. The action kicked off at 12:15 p.m. ET with the live stream, with the main card beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Barao submits McDonald to retain interim bantamweight title

Interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao continued his lengthy winning streak by submitting Michael McDonald with an arm-triangle choke.

The champion opened the fight by quickly scoring with a takedown and moving into side control. McDonald recovered his guard and then scrambled to his feet. The pair exchanged on the feet, with each able to land counter shots. McDonald connected with a heavy shot to the temple of Barao which forced the Brazilian to tie up and gain another takedown in the final minute of the round.

Round two saw a more conservative attack from both fighters. Barao dragged McDonald to the mat at the midway point of the round, but the 22-year-old quickly scrambled back to his feet. The counter shots continued as the round progressed and Barao began to unleash his kicking arsenal.

A wild flurry from Barao opened the third frame. He backed McDonald against the fence and secured a takedown, but the challenger was able to stand as Barao looked for the mount. The counter right hands from both fighters continued to find their mark, but Barao landed with a higher volume of shots. A spinning back kick from Barao found McDonald’s chin as the round came to a close.

In the fourth frame McDonald stuffed an early takedown from Barao. Barao delivered a knee that busted open the nose of McDonald, but the pace from both fighters slowed. Barao dragged McDonald to the mat and quickly latched onto an arm-triangle choke. McDonald desperately tried to survive but was forced to tap in the final minute.

Barao called out the injured champion Dominick Cruz, encouraging him to get well soon because he is waiting for him.

Swanson edges Poirier

Featherweight Cub Swanson continued his march toward a rematch with champion Jose Aldo with a hard-fought unanimous decision over fellow top-10 combatant Dustin Poirier.

Swanson opened the fight winging big hooks that Poirier was able to block. Poirier countered with a barrage of leg kicks to try to slow Swanson’s advance. An uppercut from Swanson wobbled Poirier, which led to him putting Swanson on his back. Swanson returned the feet as the round closed.

Poirier opened more aggressively in the second frame, but Swanson turned his attention to the body. Despite the body work, Poirier marched forward and looked for a takedown. He got it with two minutes remaining in the round when Swanson missed with a spinning back fist. Swanson answered with an omoplata to get the fight back to the feet, but Poirier continued to score as the round exhausted.

In the final round Poirier opened up with his hands, scoring repeatedly with combinations. Swanson countered with a takedown of his own and worked for ground and pound. Poirier tried to escape and Swanson took his back. When Poirier looked to reverse position, he was mounted. Poirier again fought back to his feet, but Swanson used a head and arm throw to bring the fight to the ground again.

When the scorecards were read, it was Swanson who earned the decision nod.

Manuwa claims victory as Diabate injures calf

Britain’s Jimi Manuwa climbed up the light heavyweight ladder with a win over the 6-foot-6 Cyrille Diabate.

Manuwa quickly closed the distance to avoid Diabate’s reach as the fight began. As the pair clinched along the cage, Manuwa caught a knee from the lengthy Frenchman and dumped him on the canvas. Diabate was able to return to his feet, but ate a number of lead hooks from Manuwa as they exchanged on the feet. Manuwa again caught a kick late in the round and put Diabate on his back.

Between rounds the doctor entered the cage and called a halt to the contest as Diabate suffered a torn calf muscle in his left leg.

Nelson too much for Santiago

Welterweight Gunnar Nelson moved to 2-0 in the UFC and kept his undefeated record intact with a decision win over veteran Jorge Santiago.

The opening stanza lacked rhythm as both fighters struggled to get comfortable. Santiago opened aggressively, but Nelson’s footwork and karate-style kicks seemed to confuse the Brazilian. Nelson scored with a brief takedown, but was unable to capitalize as Santiago was able to stand before the round came to an end.

Nelson relaxed early in the second and connected with a flurry of hooks along the fence. Santiago was surprised by the sudden aggression of his Icelandic foe and was planted on his back once more. Nelson mixed a variety of strikes from the top position, scoring with punches, hammerfists and elbows. The ground and pound allowed Nelson to pass to side control and then gain the full mount near the end of the round.

Santiago scored early in round three, but his march forward was tempered by the threat of takedowns from Nelson. The pair engaged in a wild exchange along the fence that saw Santiago’s legs start to wobble from Nelson’s right hand. The Brazilian survived and answered back with some big shots of his own near the end of the fight, but ultimately it was not enough.

Te Huna outlasts Jimmo

A back-and-forth light heavyweight affair between James Te Huna and Ryan Jimmo ended with Te Huna walking away with a unanimous decision win.

After a grinding start along the cage, Jimmo unleashed a vicious left head kick that sent Te Huna crashing to the mat. Jimmo smelled blood and worked hard for the finish, but the New Zealander was able to recover. Te Huna attacked with elbows and an armbar from his back, but Jimmo remained on top and in control until the round closed.

The pair traded takedown attempts to start round two, but it was Te Huna that brought the fight to the ground with a big slam into side control. Te Huna worked for the crucifix, then transitioned to the mount. Jimmo managed to recover his half guard, but ate big shots from Te Huna in the process. Te Huna’s onslaught continued for the remainder of the frame.

In the final frame there was a lengthy battle for position along the fence. Jimmo failed at a single-leg takedown, but Te Huna was able to bring the fight to the mat once more from the over-under. Working from the half guard, Te Huna rained big shots until the final bell to claim victory.

Riddle bests Mills

Welterweight Matt Riddle used a strong wrestling base to neutralize the striking prowess of Britain’s Che Mills en route to a decision win.

Riddle’s takedowns were the story of the first round as the American frequently put Mills on his back. Mills did he best to keep the fight upright, but Riddle drove deep into his single-leg attempts to secure the top position on multiple occasions.

The second frame featured more of Riddle’s top game as he caught a kick from Mills and dumped him to the ground. Riddle briefly attacked with a north-south choke, but abandoned it in favor of ground and pound from side control. Late in the frame Riddle took Mills’ back, but was unable to find a submission finish.

Mills opened the final round by letting his hands go and Riddle opted to brawl with him for a short while. Riddle then returned to his wrestling attack mid way through the frame, putting Mills on his back once more. A late reversal from Mills proved to be too little, too late.

Mills was the beneficiary of a very questionable scorecard in his favor, but the other two judges rewarded Riddle with the victory for his performance.

Preliminary Card Summary

Brazilian Renee Forte entered the event as the biggest underdog but played spoiler against England’s Terry Etim. The two lightweights started slow, but Forte used his aggressiveness to get inside Etim’s long reach. In the second round, Forte unleashed a barrage against the fence that sent Etim falling to canvas. Forte worked hard for a finish, but Etim would survive. In the end, the Brazilian’s pace was simply too much as he took home the decision win.

Team Alpha Male lightweight Danny Castillo played with fire but did not get burned as he took home a lopsided decision win over submission ace Paul Sass. Sass immediately attacked with a flying triangle and was greeted with a violent slam from Castillo. Sass attacked with multiple leg lock attempts, but Castillo easily defended and delivered ground and pound from the top position for the majority of the three-round affair.

Ultimate Fighter veteran Andy Ogle showed off a well-round attack in handing former No. 1 featherweight contender Josh Grispi his fourth straight defeat inside the Octagon. Grispi started strong and threatened to submit Ogle with a triangle choke for a large portion of the first round. However, Ogle turned up the heat in the second and third rounds, outgrappling Grispi and cruising to the decision win.

In a tremendous, back-and-forth battle, the UK’s Tom Watson scored a second-round TKO over Stanislav Nedkov. Watson scored early with knees from the clinch, but Nedkov answered back and nearly ended the fight late in the first stanza. Nedkov continued his assault in the second frame, but Watson’s resolve proved to be too much, as he flurried with more knees and body shots to force a referee’s stoppage.

Vaughan Lee earned his second Octagon victory with a unanimous decision over Motonobu Tezuka. Tezuka spent the entire 15 minutes working for a single-leg takedown, but Lee exhibited tremendous balance to keep the fight upright and deliver shots along the fence.

British flyweight Phil Harris picked up his first UFC win with a unanimous decision win over Ulysses Gomez. Harris absorbed an onslaught of leg kicks early from Gomez, but got his hands going as the fight progressed, earning the fight on the scorecards.

FULL RESULTS
Renan Barao def. Michael McDonald by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 4, 3:57 – retains interim BW title
Cub Swanson def. Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Jimi Manuwa def. Cyrille Diabate by TKO (calf injury). Round 1, 5:00
Gunnar Nelson def. Jorge Santiago by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
James Te Huna def. Ryan Jimmo by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Matthew Riddle def. Che Mills by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Renee Forte def. Terry Etim by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Danny Castillo def. Paul Sass by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Andy Ogle def. Josh Grispi by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Tom Watson def. Stanislav Nedkov by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:42
Vaughan Lee def. Motonobu Tezuka by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Phil Harris def. Ulysses Gomez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Photo: Renan Barao (L) squares off with Michael McDonald (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)