Chris Kelades goes from fan to winner on Halifax UFC stage
Charlottetown lightweight Jason Saggo lost a split decision
Going from fan to fighter in five days, Chris (The Greek Assassin) Kelades made Canadian UFC history Saturday night.
Kelades, a local flyweight replacing an injured fighter on the UFC televised Fight Night show, only found out Monday that he was on the card that he had bought tickets to see.
He came into the fight against Patrick (The Hooligan) Holohan as a 3-1 or 4-1 underdog. But he emerged victorious, winning a unanimous 29-28 decision over the previously undefeated Irish fighter.
In addition to the win, the only Nova Scotian on the card made history by becoming the first Canadian 125-pounder to fight in the UFC.
Kelades, from nearby Cole Harbour, walked out to Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" and got a rock-star reception of his own from the soldout hometown crowd at the Scotiabank Centre.
"It was great," he said. "It was a moment where I was starting to just get a little too excited and I was like 'OK, bring it down a little bit. You've got to get the job done.' And then you can kind of let it all hang out."
"But it was amazing. To know that's for you was pretty phenomenal."
Both Kelades and Holohan earned an extra US$50,000 after their bout was named fight of the night.
Nova Scotia pride
With veteran UFC lightweight T.J. Grant in his corner, the scrappy Kelades went after the bigger Holohan and got his attention with a straight right hand. But he ended the first round fighting off a choke with the Irish fighter on his back.
In the second, Kelades (8-1) rammed a series of knees into Holohan, with the crowd cheering every one as if it was the main event. Kelades ended the round attempting an armbar after pounding away from the mount position.
Holohan (10-1-1) needed work from his corner between rounds. But the Irish fighter, who had the benefit of his own home-town crowd when he won in Dublin in July, was smiling as the third round began.
Kelades kept coming forward, taking Holohan down and blunting his offence as the crowd cheered him on.
When the fight ended, he got up from the floor and put his hand in the air while the crowd gave him a standing ovation. He then ran around the cage with the Nova Scotia flag.
Kelades admitted he was closer to 150 pounds than 140 pound when the UFC call came, triggering a condensed weight cut.
No win for Islander Jason Saggo
He showed that at Friday's weigh-in, towelling every bead of sweat off before stripping naked and getting on the scale behind a towel.
There was no such happy ending for Matt Dwyer of Kelowna, B.C., another UFC debutante.
New Jersey-based Russian Albert (Einstein) Tumenov iced Dwyer with two kicks to the head — not easy against a six-foot-four welterweight. Dwyer amazingly got after the first — which slammed into his face with a thud — but was immediately felled again and the fight was stopped after 63 seconds.
Dwyer (7-2) paused to watch the replay of the kicks as he made his way from the cage, an ugly mouse under his eye. He was taken to hospital after the bout to be checked out.
Dwyer had won five straight before running into Tumenov (14-2).
Charlottetown lightweight Jason Saggo (10-2) lost a split decision (28-29, 29-28, 28-29) to Paul (The Irish Dragon) Felder (9-0). Montreal lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier (6-1) submitted Jake (The Librarian) Lindsay (9-2) by inverted triangle choke at 3:22 of the second round.
Canadian Rory (Ares) MacDonald, ranked No. 2 among welterweight contenders, faced former Strikeforce champion Tarec (Sponge) Saffiedine, ranked ninth, in the main event