In a card-opener that build through three rounds to a final, crushing crescendo, Julio Arce finished Julian Erosa’s night with a crushing head kick at UFC Rochester.
UFC Rochester marks Julian Erosa’s 30th career MMA fight at 29-years-old. The Washington native was 14-2 when he joined the cast of the 22nd season of The Ultimate Fighter. Erosa went 3-1 on the show, falling to finalist Artem Lobov. He went 1-1 in the Octagon in 2015/16 and was subsequently cut. The Yakima MMA product went 6-2 outside of the UFC to earn a shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. After winning by second-round knockout, he was signed by the promotion again. The featherweight is 0-2 since then, but returns at UFC Rochester.
Julio Arce started his career at 8-0 with three defenses of the Ring of Combat bantamweight title before falling to current UFC fighter Brian Kelleher in consecutive fights. He then won the featherweight title in the promotion and defended it twice before getting a shot at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He won by second-round TKO on the show and received a UFC contract. He won his first two fights in the promotion before dropping a split decision to Sheymon Moraes. He was looking to bounce back Saturday against Erosa, opening the card at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Some feeling out and feinting opened Arce vs. Erosa, with Erosa flashing a front kick that fanned before being walked down by Julio Arce. An early clinch saw Erosa fire a knee, but through the first two minutes, neither man had landed much significant. Erosa fired a right that glanced off his opponent, and later fired a low kick that Arce came back over top of with a combination. While Arce dictated pace at points, Erosa was able to land a kick to the body with about ninety seconds left, leading to a clinch that neither man got the better of. Erosa utilized head movement to duck and roll under Arce’s strikes, and launched a late-round head kick that was only partially blocked. Arce would connect high himself late in the round, and set up a takedown in the dying seconds.
Round two kicked off with a much brisker pace, both men firing combos. Arce mixed in a leg kick, connected with a jab, but the two carried on. Erosa would eat a high kick as the round progressed, but managed to back Arce into the fence momentarily. He’d do that again on the opposite side, but Arce swung his way free. Still, Arce was consistently finding his back against the fence as the round wore on, not a safe place to be. Arce would land shots to the body and head near the ninety second mark, keeping himself in the fight, and bloodying Erosa’s nose in the process. Erosa would attempt a takedown around the final minute of the round, but was stuffed and ate a punch for his troubles.
The third started fast and furious, much like the second, with Erosa eating a kick upstairs even as he penned Arce in. Soon enough the pair were trading some heavy leather, mixing in high kicks until Julio Arce connected with a head kick that sent Erosa falling back to the canvas. A single follow up punch landed as the ref came in for the save, and Arce was back in the win column!
Julio Arce def. Julian Erosa by knockout (head kick), Round 3, 1:49