Kiwi lightweight Brad Riddell put on another torrid showcase of violence to earn a split decision win over Russian Magomed Mustafaev at UFC Auckland.
The Christchurch native backed up his 'Performance of the Night'-winning effort in his debut fight in Melbourne with a barnstorming three-round performance to make it two from two for the City Kickboxing crew.
After a close opening two rounds, Riddell proceeded with an onslaught to which Mustafaev had no answer.
He egged on the hometown crowd and savoured every moment of an emphatic final stanza, sending Spark Arena to deafening levels.
"The noise was unreal," Riddell said post fight. "It's just deafening. You can't hear anything, it just comes through the back of you and out with your punches. It's crazy."
Quake' stated his intentions right out of the gate in the first round, blasting Mustafaev with an overhand right to drop him to the canvas.
But Mustafaev fought through the follow up shots and quickly initiated an iron clinch, which forced Riddell to defend for the majority of the round.In the second round, Riddell settled quickly into his rhythm on the feet, tagging Mustafaev regularly and dropping him to his knees with one particularly heavy low kick.Mustafaev went back to the clinch with some success, but not enough to steal the round.
The third round was all Riddell. He ramped up his aggression to a level the Russian couldn't match, unleashing on the feet and dominating the grappling exchanges.
"I feel like he underestimated me, and it didn't work out for him."At one stage in the final round, Riddell paused to wipe some blood from his head and quickly saw red, in more ways than one.
"I could just feel his body breaking I could see it in his face the fight was leaving him. His spirit was broken. Coach was yelling at me to disengage.
"I could've finished him on the feet but I was in the moment."Riddell admitted he was "surprised" by the split decision handed down from the judges, but wasn't about to quibble about it.
"I was annoyed. He held on and he was strong, got a bit of ride time, but I had the drops in there. Primarily domination really.
"But a win's a win."
As for what's next, Riddell clarified it was Alexander Hernandez he was keen to fight next, not retired light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson, as mentioned in his immediate post fight interview.
"He's talked a lot of shit about very respected experienced opponents like Cerrone. I feel we're about the same tier and I just want to give him a humbling."