After an extended absence due to the Mayweather-McGregor mega fight last month, the UFC returned to action Saturday with UFC Fight Night 115: Struve vs. Volkov. The event aired exclusively on UFC Fight Pass in the U.S., while the four-fight main card aired on Canada’s The Fight Network. The UFC Rotterdam show was topped by a main event of heavyweights Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov, while earlier in the evening, Leon Edwards vs. Bryan Barberna got the main card action started.
Britain’s Edwards, a former BAMMA welterweight champ, entered the night on a three fight win streak, while Barberena came in off a win over Joe Proctor, and 3-1 in his last four.
After a touch of the gloves, Edwards would take the center of the cage, with Bryan Barberena circling on the outside. Barberena worked to establish his jab, but was well out of range, and fanned on a leg kick as well. Edwards slowly pushed forward, backing his opponent up then landing a kick that was later answered. Edwards went high with a kick next, with another to the mid-section moments later. At the halfway point, a kick to the body from Barberena was caught, and Edwards scored the takedown. He then worked to take the back as Bryan Barberena scrambled to the fence. Edwards stayed heavy, putting pressure on the back of Barberena’s head as he tried to stand up, essentially with Edwards’ full weight on him. That failed, and back down he went with Edwards looking to get under the chin for a rear-naked choke. With both hooks in the former BAMMA champ had forty-five seconds to work, but Barberena would survive the round.
In the second, a clinch early would see Bryan Barberena land some knees to the body before being overpowered and pressed up against the cage. He would manage to stay standing and reverse, and eventually they’d break and move back to the enter. Barberena seemed mildly more successful but had a jumping front kick caught, which resulted in Edwards once again taking his back. Barberena survived again, and this time made it count. Moments later he’d drop Edwards with an uppercut and drop a ton of ground and pound with the ref taking a good look. Edwards would survive the round, but that was a huge shift of momentum heading into the third.
The third round saw Edwards land some powerful left hands that failed to phase Bryan Barberena. A takedown by Leon Edwards, however, would kill the momentum Barberena had gained. He attempted to hold on to Edwards, hoping for a stand up. With that not forthcoming, he gave up his back in an attempt to escape, which allowed Edwards to move in for a rear-naked choke attempt. The submission wasn’t there, but Edwards managed to get away from the fence, and with more room to work things seemed dicey. Barberena would escape the body lock, however, and power back up with a minute left. He’d land elbows and then switch to a kimura as Edwards again looked for a takedown; ultimately it would go to the judges. Not surprisingly, all three judges saw Edwards taking two of three rounds.
Leon Edwards def. Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)