On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the UFC hosted UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou from the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

In the night’s main event, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold looked for his first Octagon win against veteran Costas Philippou. Rockhold made his UFC debut against Vitor Belfort last May but fell via first-round knockout. Philippou, meanwhile, had a five-fight winning streak snapped with a decision loss to Francis Carmont in September.

Also on the main card, striking specialist Lorenz Larkin clashed with TUF alum Brad Tavares at middleweight, TUF runner-up T.J. Dillashaw faced off with Mike Easton in a bantamweight affair, Strikeforce veterans Derek Brunson and Yoel Romero met in another middleweight match-up, former flyweight title challenger John Moraga returned to action against Dustin Ortiz, and featherweights Cole Miller and Sam Sicilia locked horns.

The 12-fight event kicked off at 4 p.m. ET with two fights streaming live on the promotion’s digital network, Fight Pass. Four additional preliminary card bouts followed on Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET, with the Fox Sports 1 main card beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Rockhold TKOs Philippou in the First

Luke Rockhold brought the fight to Costas Philippou and tried to earn “Fight of the Night” honors. The two exchanged shots and Rockhold was getting the better of the exchanges. It didn’t take long for Rockhold to land one of his patented kicks to the body of Philippou who immediately dropped to the mat as the referee closed in. Rockhold then landed one more kick to the body of Philippou as the ref called a stop to the fight.

Tavares Claims Decision Over Larkin

Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares had a pretty uneventful four minutes to start the first round. Both fighters tried to find their range early, but Tavares was landing more and more often, keeping Larkin at bay.

Round two opened up with more fast-paced action as Larkin tried to become the aggressor. Tavares began to push back and tried to continue what he started in the first round. Tavares attempted a takedown a little under three minutes in the round and eventually succeeding in bringing Larkin down. Tavares landed in back mount and secured his hooks on Larkin. Tavares utilized leg kicks to the thigh to wear down Larkin.

Larkin did an excellent job of gripping onto Tavares’ wrist to keep the rear-naked choke out and eventually was able to turn around and put Tavares on his back. Tavares attempted to secure an armbar, but Larkin did a good job defending and lasting to the end of the second round.

It was a do-or-die third round for Larkin who looked hesitant to throw anything early on. Tavares utilized some combinations and then would move back out as quickly as he could. Tavares eventually gave Larkin a chance to go for broke, pressing Larkin on the cage. Larkin threw some big elbows, but Tavares was able to last through and end the third round.

Dillashaw Tops Easton by Decision

T.J. Dillashaw and Mike Easton opened up their fight with a high octane first round. Both fighters were firing off, with Dillashaw eventually getting the better exchanges at the end of the first. Dillashaw was also able to shoot in for a quick takedown midway through the round that slowed Easton down for a little bit.

The second round opened much like the first with the two trading shots and standing across from each other with no regard. Dillashaw was able to take a failed Easton takedown to take Easton’s back. Easton quickly turned as Dillashaw landed in half guard. Easton utilized the cage walk to get back up to his feet, but ate a knee as he was coming up that had him back peddle a little bit. Dillashaw then landed some nice shots before using a double leg takedown to drop Easton.

Dillashaw took Easton’s back and continued to pummel away at Easton. Easton eventually stood back up with Dillashaw one hook in on his back. After some knees to Easton’s thighs, Easton tried to straighten Dillashaw’s elbow, but the two eventually separated and ended the second round.

Dillashaw landed some nice combinations early int he third and displayed some great striking defense slipping a lot of Easton’s punches. Dillashaw got the better of the exchanges as he continued to dodge Easton’s strikes to finish the third round.

Romero TKOs Brunson For Comeback Victory

Yoel Romero showed why he was dangerous on the feet early in the first as he backed up Derek Brunson against the cage. Brunson then returned the favor by landing a quick takedown on Romero. The two traded shots before Brunson landed a hard head kick that didn’t even seem to faze Romero.

With around a minute left, the two went through crazy exchanges that eventually saw Romero stumble and roll around to avoid being swarmed by Brunson. Brunson was then able to lift and drop Romero onto the mat for another short lived takedown.

The two began the second feeling out and a deflected punch from Romero landed low on Brunson that stopped the fight temporarily. Brunson finally succeeded on a takedown two minutes into the second round. Brunson then found himself in mount, and was able to keep Romero away from the cage wall. After failing to fully flip Romero over, Brunson found himself standing back up with Romero. Romero tried to trip Brunson, but the two instead fought for underhooks before separating to end the round.

The third was rather uneventful until Romero landed a nice left hook that wobbled Brunson two minutes in. Another 30 seconds and Romero landed another left hand that dropped Brunson. Romero then pounced on Brunson landing some more shots that looked like he would finish the fight. After many short elbows to the body of Brunson, the referee jumped in and stopped the fight in favor of Romero.

Moraga Takes Split Decision Over Ortiz

John Moraga and Dustin Ortiz started with the feeling out process. Ortiz then landed a nice shot and eventually earned back mount on Moraga. Failing to do anything, the two eventually got back up, but Ortiz was able to keep Moraga pressed on the cage. Ortiz then dropped for a takedown and succeeded in bringing Moraga to the mat. Ortiz landed a few punches and elbows before the end of the first round.

Moraga woke up in the second round and began to open up with some solid strikes. It didn’t take long for one of Moraga’s strikes to find a home and wobble Ortiz. As Ortiz backed up, Moraga was able to chase him down and hold him against the cage. As Ortiz circled away, Ortiz slipped and Moraga went to take advantage of the slip. Fortunately for Ortiz, he was able to grab a hold of Moraga.

Moraga did an excellent job to counter Ortiz and grab his back, and tried to sink in a rear-naked choke. Moraga was unable to finish the choke and Ortiz once again was able to find his home on top of Moraga. After a failed sprawl, Moraga had his back taken by Ortiz. Ortiz was unable to take any advantage of the back mount with what little time was left in the round.

Moraga and Ortiz traded shots, but Ortiz utilized some nice slips to dodge a dangerous head kick from Moraga. Ortiz seemed out of his game and was unable to find a takedown until three minutes into the final round. Ortiz was able to hold down Moraga in side control for a little bit, before finding himself back in half guard. Moraga transitioned very nicely from side control to closed guard. From his closed guard, Moraga was able to get himself back up. At the end of the third, Ortiz landed another takedown before the final ten seconds ticked off the clock.

Miller Chokes Out Sicilia

It was a good first round for Cole Miller who was able to keep Sam Sicilia at bay due to Miller’s lanky frame. Sicilia was able to land a few good punches, but Miller’s jab and a right hand was enough to mark up the face of Sicilia early on. Sicilia’s most significant strike came at around two minutes left in the first. Sicilia landed an excellent right hand that had Miller backpeddling from the headshot.

Sicilia looked content to continue his ways from the first round, looking to land the big shot as Miller continued to find his range. Just under two minutes into the second round, Miller was able to find placement for an overhand right that dropped Sicilia. From there, Miller went for a guillotine. When that didn’t work, Miller immediately transitioned to back mount and was able to sink his hooks in to submit Sicilia with a rear-naked choke midway through the second round.

Preliminary Card Summary

Justin Edwards put forth a valiant and entertaining effort against former TUF teammate, Ramsey Nijem to close out the preliminary card. Edwards battled through a tough second and third rounds that saw Nijem’s striking and grappling dominate the fight. Edwards was cut open in the third round and would later fall to Nijem by unanimous decision.

Elias Silverio utilized his dominant grappling skills to trip, take down and dominate Isaac Vallie-Flagg. In the second round, Silverio was deducted one point due to a questionable illegal knee to Vallie-Flagg. Fortunately for Silverio the point deduction didn’t stop his grapple attack or his eventual unanimous decision victory.

Brian Houston and Trevor Smith went back-and-forth in their middleweight preliminary bout. Despite having a cut opened in the second round, Smith took control of the fight via takedowns and a more aggressive third round to steal the split decision victory from Houston.

After a first round that saw both fighters get wobbled, Louis Smolka turned up the heat in the remaining two rounds. Alptekin Ozkilic’s gas tank dried out early and when it came to the third round, Smolka was in in utter control of his fellow flyweight. Smolka took the fight by unanimous decision to open the Fox Sports 1 prelims.

Vinc Pichel’s first UFC victory came in a hard fought, grappling battle over Garett Whiteley. The first round was an excellent grappling display from both fighters before the fight ultimately went to Pichel. The second and third round Pichel utilized his grappling skills to wear down Whiteley before Pichel took the fight by unanimous decision.

Charlie Brenneman’s UFC return didn’t go as planned after being rocked by Beneil Dariush early on in the first round. Dariush took advantage of the hurt Brenneman, secured the back and eventually sunk in the rear-naked choke to take the fight by first round submission.

FULL RESULTS
Luke Rockhold def. Constantinos Philippou by TKO (kick to the body). Round 1, 2:31
Brad Tavares def. Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
T.J. Dillashaw def. Mike Easton by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Yoel Romero def. Derek Brunson by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 3:23
John Moraga def. Dustin Ortiz by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Cole Miller def. Sam Sicilia by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 1:54
Ramsey Nijem def. Justin Edwards by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Elias Silverio def. Isaac Vallie-Flagg by unanimous decision (29-27 x3)
Trevor Smith def. Brian Houston by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Louis Smolka def. Alptekin Ozkilic by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Vinc Pichel def. Garett Whiteley by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Beneil Dariush def. Charlie Brenneman by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 1:45