UFC 289: Steve Erceg Pulls Off Upset Win In Late Notice Debut

David Dvorak and Steve Erceg, UFC 289
David Dvorak and Steve Erceg, UFC 289 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Flyweight newcomer Steve Erceg made the trip to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada from the other side of the world, with the Australian placed opposite #10-ranked David Dvorak on the UFC 289 preliminary card.

Dvorak had lost two straight, while Erceg was on an eight-fight win streak coming into his promotional debut.

The fight began with Erceg looking to put on some forward pressure and use his long range striking. Dvorak looked to land some solid calf kicks to nullify the forward pressure of Erceg, but it didn’t halt Erceg’s movement and footwork. The “Undertaker” stepped in attempting a right hook but was caught with a counter hook that rocked him backwards. Dvorak managed to recover from the big check hook and began landing the calf kick again.

“AstroBoy” didn’t slow down with the forward pressure though, despite being cracked with the calf kick constantly. Erceg looked to strike his way into power range but was blasted with a counter 1-2 down the pipe, with Dvorak evading the danger coming his way too. Round two ended with Dvorak seemingly being the one with the more momentum.

Round two began with more of the same, forward pressure by Erceg with Dvorak looking to counter strike. The short notice fight didn’t look to be causing Erceg any cardio issues, as he consistently pressed forward. Again he landed a big right hand whilst covering the space and getting into range with Dvorak. It became clear that Dvorak’s game-plan was to utilise his footwork and counter striking to try and out-point the 27-year-old. With just over two minutes left of round two, Erceg attempted a takedown against the cage, but Dvorak stuffed it well and got back into striking range.

Not long after, Erceg landed a huge right hand that momentarily dropped Dvorak. The Czech fighter made it back to his feet but was then caught with a big right head kick that dropped him again. As Dvorak dropped to the ground, Erceg looked to wrap up a guillotine but couldn’t quite sink it in. The round finished with the two making it back to their feet and trading strikes in the center of the Octagon.

Round three began with it being relatively unclear who was up in this fight. Erceg looked to be moving fluidly and without issue despite stepping in on late notice for this fight. He showed no signs of slowing down two minutes into the final round, with Dvorak looking to put some forward pressure on himself. Dvorak looked to secure a takedown of his own, but it was stuffed by “AstroBoy” as he looked to once again lock up a guillotine. Just a few seconds later, Dvorak did manage to secure a takedown and maintained top control for just a few moments.

Erceg did extremely well to reverse the position with a beautiful scramble and make it back to his feet. With around a minute left of the fight, Erceg landed a takedown of his own, but wasn’t able to do anything with it before Dvorak made it back to the cage. The fight ended with Erceg maintaining control against the cage.

Official Result: Steve Erceg Def. David Dvorak via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)


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