Matheus Nicolau couldn’t find the finish, but was dominant against Luis Smolka at UFC 219.
Opening up the televised main card portion of UFC 219 in Las Vegas on Saturday was a flyweight battle. Louis Smolka, who after a four fight win streak had lost three straight in the promotion, faced Matheus Nicolau. Nicolau had won both his UFC appearances leading into the bout, including a split decision over John Moraga at the TUF 25 Finale in July.
Smolka was more than likely fighting for his job Saturday. He was caught early with a left hook by Nicolau, however, but recovered nicely. Still, it was Matheus Nicolau who was controlling the action in the opening minute of round one. His movement was superior, moving in and out, changing levels, and generally appearing to be the quicker fighter. Smolka answered back, looking to get his hands going and adding uppercuts.
With less than two minutes gone from the round another left hand connected, dropping Smolka. Nicolau pounced, looking to follow up with some ground and pound. Smolka would survive and eventually get back to his feet, only to be clipped again a minute or so later and dropped once more. This time, Nicolau was able to set up an arm triangle choke. Somehow, Smolka survived again. It was a rough night at the office in round one for Louis Smolka, who was dropped a third time in the dying seconds of the frame. He grabbed a leg, desperate to survive, and made it out of the round.
At the start of round two, Smolka blocked another left hook from Matheus Nicolau. That could easily have been another blow that dropped him. Instead, Smolka began mixing in kicks to the body with his boxing. He began pressing forward, and though bloodied, was at least more of a factor compared to round one. Nicolau threw in a few uppercuts to the body, but appeared to have slowed a step. Smolka answered back with a high kick. A side kick to the face was his next attack.
In round three, Smolka was looking to take advantage of a tiring Nicolau. However, it was Nicolau catching a lazy Smolka kick and dumping him on his back. He’d make it back up, only to be taken down later in the round. Nicolau would use this to catch a rest, then let his opponent back to his feet. With ninety seconds to find a finish, Smolka instead found himself thrown to the canvas. Nicolau moved to side control, and a scramble followed that allowed Nicolau to take the back. He’d work for a rear-naked choke, but Smolka refused to go out, and made it through to the final bell.
Matheus Nicolau def. Luis Smolka by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)