For Van­nata, first vic­tory in 3 years

De­feats Brazil­ian in Aus­tralia, ends four-fight Oc­to­gon drought

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY RICK WRIGHT

If you’re an MMA fighter who hasn’t won in his last four fights, and not since De­cem­ber 2016, it helps to have a fan in high places.

More im­por­tant, though, it helps to win a fight.

Satur­day, Al­bu­querque light­weight MMA fighter Lando Van­nata de­feated Brazil’s Mar­cos Rosa Mar­i­ano by first-round sub­mis­sion (Kimura) on UFC 234.

Van­nata, in im­prov­ing his record to 10-32, se­cured the sub­mis­sion hold with just five sec­onds left in the round. Mar­i­ano is 6-5.

Though he had signed a new, four-fight con­tract be­fore leav­ing for Aus­tralia, Van­nata said af­ter Satur­day’s fight that his four-fight vic­tory drought (two losses, two draws) had been on his mind.

“(The vic­tory) means ev­ery­thing,” Van­nata said. “… I love this game so much. I en­joy these mo­ments so much. To go out there and get back in the win col­umn was an ab­so­lute plea­sure.”

The Van­nata-Mar­i­ano fight, orig­i­nally sched­uled for an early pre­lim slot to be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, was el­e­vated to co-main event sta­tus on Satur­day’s payper-view tele­cast. The event lost its orig­i­nal main event when Robert Whit­taker was pulled from his sched­uled fight against Kevin Gastelum af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with a her­nia.

Af­ter Satur­day’s card, UFC Pres­i­dent Dana White said the de­ci­sion to up­grade Van­nata’s fight to the PPV tele­cast was a no-brainer.

“Tell me the last (bad) fight you saw that

kid in,” White said. “It doesn’t ex­ist. The kid’s an an­i­mal. I love the way that kid fights.”

Of the fight it­self, Van­nata said it ba­si­cally un­folded as he had ex­pected.

“We kind of had a game plan to go in, take him down and do our work on the ground,” Van­nata said. “But we just wanted to let it come nat­u­rally, just flow with it.

“We knew he had good standup, but I have good standup too. So I had no prob­lem ex­chang­ing in strik­ing. But we were look­ing to take it to the ground once it pre­sented it­self.”

LEO WINS: In Car­son, Calif., Al­bu­querque boxer An­gelo Leo dropped Al­berto Tor­res twice en route to a vic­tory by lop­sided unan­i­mous de­ci­sion on Satur­day night. All three judges’ score­cards read 79-71 af­ter the eight-round bout.

Leo im­proved his record to 16-0 with eight knock­outs. Tor­res, of Sacra­mento, Calif., is 11-2-3 (four KOs).

Tor­res was down in the sec­ond and fifth rounds as Leo, who now lives and trains in Las Ve­gas, Nev., re­mained un­beaten. The bout was con­tested at the 126-pound feath­er­weight limit, although Leo in­tends to cam­paign prin­ci­pally at the 122-pound su­per ban­tamweight limit.

AP FILE

Al­bu­querque MMA light­weight fighter Lando Van­nata, left, shown here in ac­tion in 2016, won by first-round sub­mis­sion on Satur­day night at UFC 234.

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