Featherweight Shane Young has made it a perfect start for the New Zealand contingent at UFC 234, clinching a unanimous decision win over Austin Arnett in Melbourne.
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In a back-and-forth affair, the 25-year-old's energetic striking saw him home on the judge's scorecards in a highly entertaining contest, sending the American to his knees with a stinging right hook in the waning seconds of the bout.
"The whole fight I was just doing my thing," Young said afterwards. "Whenever I heard corner advice, I just tried to take it on.
"I knew he was going to be tough, but when I cracked him a couple of goodies, I was, like, 'damn'.
"Then he showed it a couple of times that he was hurt, but it wasn’t until the very end, when he ran right in and I dropped him, I thought, 'finally!'"
After having his hand raised, Young - who's been open about his own struggles with depression - launched into an empassioned plea directed at the youth of New Zealand, referencing the rising suicide rate and urging those who needed help to seek it out.
Young began the opening round as the more active fighter, working diligently off the back of his effective jab.
But Arnett soon found his range and began to make use of his significant reach advantage, tagging Young frequently and circling out of his opponent's range.
The second round saw Young find his rhythm on the feet, closing the distance and putting together some crisp combinations to have Arnett staggered and backpeddling on a couple of occasions.
With the contest likely even going into the final round, Young turned up the volume with his feet and as the bout drew to a close, he caught Arnett with a huge right hand to add the finishing touch to his win.