Brad Riddell put on a show in front of his home crowd, withstanding the grappling effort of Magomed Mustafaev to kick off the UFC Auckland main card.
Lightweight Brad Riddell’s second UFC assignment was far from a cakewalk. The noted kickboxer, who made a splash in his UFC debut last year against Jamie Mullarkey, was tasked with taking on Magomed Mustafaev, who had returned to competition last April with a spinning back kick finish of Rafael Fiziev, after over two years out of action.
Both men meet at the center of the cage and began slowly circling. Magomed Mustafaev fired first with a high kick that Brad Riddell blocked. Riddell answered with a high kick that Mustafaev backed away from. A body kick hit Riddell cleanly, but then Riddell exploded in and knocked Mustafaev down with a beautiful right hand. Riddell followed him down but Mustafaev didn’t let him flurry by going for an ankle lock. Mustafaev used the submission to stand up, taking the back of Riddell and throwing him down several times. It was a Nurmagomedov-like sequence of non-stop takedowns before Riddell spun around. Mustafaev stuck on him like glue and landed a big knee to the body. With short time left, Riddell turned Mustafaev around and escaped the cage before the end of the round.
A right hand came through for Riddell to start the second and then the fighters began to exchange heavy straight punches. Both men connected and Mustafaev was swept off his feet by a leg kick. Riddell elected to let his opponent stand up and ate a heavy uppercut. Riddell responded with a blistering combination that Mustafaev fought through. Mustafaev got a hold of Riddell and had him against the cage but couldn’t take him down. Riddell spun around, which allowed Mustafaev to get a single leg takedown, albeit briefly. Mustafaev rode out the round forcing Riddell against the cage.
Riddell took the center of the cage, ate a big knee from Mustafaev, but then knocked him down with a beautiful right hook. Mustafaev recovered quickly and got a hold of Riddell against the cage. Riddell broke free, then landed a takedown while getting blasted by a spinning backfist. Mustafaev eventually turned position around and got a takedown. Riddell escaped and began pumping up the crowd in top position. Riddell was avoiding the takedown efforts of Mustafaev and landing ground and pound in the process. An excellent battle between two very tough fighters.
THESE TWO HAVE CHINS MADE OF GRANITE! 😳 #UFCAuckland pic.twitter.com/hUKiQSV8lx
— UFC (@ufc) February 23, 2020
Brad Riddell def. Magomed Mustafaev by Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)