Master of chaos Niko Price faced knockout artist Phil Rowe in what would have been the featured prelim of UFC Orlando on Saturday (a shuffling of the deck bumped it up to the main card).
Price was coming off of a decision win over a fellow chaotic fighter in Alex Oliveira while Rowe had knocked out his last two opponents since losing his UFC debut. Although Rowe missed weight, this fight was one that, on paper, seemed likely to be exciting from start to finish and Rowe would have the benefit of a home crowd behind him, although Price is also from Florida.
Price backed up Rowe against the fence early on and was able to land a variety of leg kicks. Rowe tried to use his longer arms to stick the jab and set up the right hand but was unable to land much early on until he landed a flying knee two minutes in. Phil Rowe began to play around and showboat a little bit but the fight was close and he was likely down on the strike count. With two minutes left in the round Price landed a flurry against the fence. Rowe wobbled Price with a punch with ninety seconds left in the round but Niko quickly recovered. A late left hook and right hand landed clean also from Rowe before the bell rang. Although he got outstruck early, he made the round close and may have won it late.
Before round two Phil Rowe did push-ups and hip thrusts, showboating some more despite being in a fight. Niko was charging forward urgently to get to Rowe while Rowe looked to avoid the blitzes and counter with hard punches. Price’s output increased significantly early in the second round. Rowe shot a surprising takedown two minutes into the round and ended up in full guard. Price tried to lock up a triangle choke and Rowe stood back up, letting Price do so as well. On the feet Price was still extremely active in his awkward style but when Rowe landed his shots were cleaner and more powerful, though he did not let his hands go often.
A failed takedown by Niko Price ended with Phil Rowe on his back after a scramble and Rowe immediately locked up a body triangle. As Rowe looked to lock up a choke, Price decided to try to punch the man on his back at an awkward angle instead of focusing on defense. Rowe put an arm over Price’s chin and tried to get a neck crank but Price escaped and got back to his feet in an unusual, and indescribable, manner. The back take and sub attempt seemingly had won Phil the round but it was not a sure thing.
Rowe and Price jawed at each other before embracing at the start of round three and they immediately got to swinging to take each other’s heads off after that. One minute in to the round Price landed a big right hand that hurt Rowe and a follow up knee did more damage. Rowe got on the back foot, trying to stay alive, and he fell to his back with Price on top, raining down hammerfists before settling in half guard. Still, in half guard, Price tried to land strikes but had trouble doing so while controlling Rowe. Rowe finally came up on a body and got to his feet but Price refused to stop swinging.
Rowe came back with a straight punch that hurt a now potentially tired Niko Price. A big right hand from Rowe landed with two minutes left and Price stumbled backwards to the fence, visibly hurt and on shaky legs. ‘The Fresh Prince’ flurried non-stop with punches and collar tie knees against the fence until Price was so out of it he could not keep his head up and Mark Goddard stopped the fight. This fight represented the biggest win of Rowe’s career and he had overcome adversity against his toughest opponent to date to get his third straight knockout.
Official Result: Phil Rowe def. Niko Price by TKO (knees and punches), Round 3, 3:26