The third of three debuting fighters at UFC Vegas 50 on Saturday was A.J. Fletcher, in a tough welterweight match-up against Matthew Semelsberger.
Fletcher was undefeated at 9-0 to start his pro career, and had impressed on Dana White’s Contender Series with a flying knee finish of Leonardo Damiani. Semelsberger was a tall order for a debut fight regardless of past success, however.
Too tall an order, as it turned out.
Semelsberger, known for his quick finishes, came out firing. Fletcher attempted a takedown that was denied but with a second shot, he got the fight down. Quickly Fletcher transitioned into mount. Semelsberger attempted to scramble and Fletcher snatched a guillotine. It didn’t work out but Fletcher regained top control. Again Semelsberger tried to get back to his feet and another guillotine from Fletcher put him in control, that would see him wind up in mount. Fletcher ended the round on top in full mount.
A spinning back fist that just missed from Fletcher came early in round two. Fletcher was fighting in bursts, getting out of the way of the power of Semelsberger. Some heavy leg kicks came from Fletcher before he exploded in and got the takedown. That time Semelsberger sprang right back up. Both clashed and as they slipped Fletcher took the back. Semelsberger shook him off and got top position. Posturing up Semelsberger was landing some good ground and pound including a few smashing elbows. The elbows cut the side of the head of Fletcher. Semelsberger was in the driver’s seat for the last two minutes of the round, ending it on top.
In the final round, it was Semelsberger that landed the first big shot, that being a front kick to the jaw. Semelsberger found more success with his hand but walked right into a takedown from Fletcher. Not accepting the bottom Semelsberger got right back to his feet. No jedi mind trick required by “Semi the Jedi.” Soon after it was Semelsberger that ducked in and got a beautiful scoop takedown. Fletcher kept shifting his hips and putting his feet on his hips but couldn’t get out from underneath. Semelsberger showed strong top position and stayed busy landing punches. Some more elbows sliced the head open of Fletcher again. Fletcher did reverse and got on top. Semelsberger scrambled back to the feet and the two swung to the final bell.
Official result: Matthew Semelsberger def. A.J. Fletcher by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)