Stepping away from his previous nickname “Pooh Bear,” Bryan Battle lived up to his new name “The Butcher” in his fight against fellow welterweight AJ Fletcher on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 79 main card, giving Battle his second win in a row.
Fletcher, like Battle, was coming off a single win, in his case against Themba Gorimbo with a guillotine. “The Ghost” was antsy to get another win, almost starting to throw hands before the bell rang.
Looking small compared to Battle, Fletcher eagerly started round one. The two traded punches, Battle keeping Fletcher at the end of his reach. Fletcher managed to get inside Battle’s shield a few times, throwing combinations that Battle blocked. After a minute where the two didn’t exchange many kicks or punches, Fletcher threw a huge overhand punch that did not amount to anything. Throughout round one, Fletcher kept bouncing back and forth between southpaw and orthodox stances. Battle, however, stayed calm and composed throughout the entire round, solidly in his orthodox stance. Less than a minute left, Fletcher attempted a double-leg on Battle and drove him to the cage but was unable to finish. After working the clinch, Fletcher threw a huge elbow that connected to Battle’s face. The round ended shortly thereafter.
A new sense of urgency in round two, Battle started picking up the pace and throwing more punches. Fletcher, however, was not to be outdone. He drove Battle to the cage and the two worked on each other. Battle reversed the position and threw Fletcher’s back against the cage. The two welterweights threw knees at each other, but Battle was dominant throughout the exchange, keeping good pressure. Listening to his coaches, Fletcher took Battle to the ground, but again, was quickly reversed. Battle, in half guard, attempted a kimura then straight armbar before working on advancing his position and bothering Fletcher with strikes. Battle tried for an americana. Turning to his side signed Fletcher’s demise. Battle transitioned to backpack position and sunk in a rear naked choke. Fletcher’s attempts to defend were futile and he eventually tapped to the TUF alum.
When asked, Battle refused to call out any welterweights for a future fight, instead saying the rest of the division can be the ones to call him out.
“Doesn’t matter who I call out, they’re not going to want to fight me,” he said, before adding that, including fights on TUF, he has won the most fights in the Apex. “I’m king of this Apex, you know what I’m saying?”
Official Result: Bryan Battle def. AJ Fletcher by Submission (rear naked choke), Round 2, 4:32