The featured preliminary bout at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 34 saw Austin Lingo and Luis Saldana face off.
The featherweight fight saw Lingo looking for a second straight win, while Saldana was looking for his sixth, dating back to his pre-octagon days.
Saldana landed a cracking kick to the body early in the opening round, drawing an immediate reaction from the limited number of spectators, staff and teammates inside the UFC Apex. It didn’t seem to slow Lingo any, nor did a second, but a third kick to the midsection and a leg kick had him backing up. Saldana continued his targeted kicking attacks, adding a spinning kick to the body, mixing in punches, and bloodying his opponent. But it was the digs to the body that seemed to be adding up.
Clearly in his comfort zone, Saldana showed fantastic movement and even threw a punch off the cage as the round wore on. For Lingo’s part, he did land a couple of hard leg kicks of his own; one in particular seemed to trip up Saldana.
In the second round, Austin Lingo managed to slip in another leg kick of his own. He appeared to be the fresher fighter after five minutes. Saldana changed levels for a takedown, which was stuffed. Just ninety seconds into the round, Saldana had gone from stomping on the gas, to a leisurely Sunday drive. He remained dangerous, as shown with a spinning back kick to the midsection, but Lingo looked much more confident by the midway point of the round.
Heading into the third, there was a strong argument to be made that the fighters were even, having won one round apiece. Saldana looked for a single-leg takedown early, which Lingo fought off. A second single-leg attempt from Saldana was no more successful, but the spinning kick to the body was there for him once again. Lingo pressed forward, working his jab and stuffing another takedown attempt. Late in the round, Lingo would have his biggest moment, knocking down Saldana with a minute remaining. Lingo went to the ground with his opponent, and Saldana gave up his back— but Lingo was too high up.
After starting out strong, Luis Saldana simply couldn’t keep up with his own pace on Saturday. That cost him, as after gassing out, he lost the final two rounds on the scorecards. Lingo, meanwhile, claimed his third straight victory with the win.
Official Result: Austin Lingo def. Luis Saldana by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)