Ryan LaFlare entered the third round of his UFC 229 bout against Tony Martin with a shot at a decision victory after a competitive opening two frames.
One kick changed that.
LI’s Flare was knocked out by Martin on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, losing via TKO one minute into the third round. Martin caught LaFlare with a big right head kick, dropping LaFlare and following it up with punches to end the welterweight fight.
LaFlare (14-3, 7-3 UFC) suffered the second knockout loss of his career. Martin moves to 14-4 in his career with his first UFC knockout in his second fight since moving to 170 pounds.
LaFlare was on the offensive early in the first round, throwing combinations with kicks and flying punches. After LaFlare landed a low blow and Martin was given time to recover, LaFlare slipped briefly after a Martin punch, but was not stunned and returned to his feet. The men grappled against the cage briefly, but soon returned to the center to the cage. Martin had some luck landing his right hand, knocking LaFlare off balance at times later in the round. LaFlare had success going to the body late and shot for a takedown in the closing seconds, but the horn sounded before he could finish.
From the start of the second round, Martin was intent on landing his right hand. 30 seconds into the round, it landed. LaFlare went to the canvas and followed with more punches, seriously stunning LaFlare before the Lier could pull into half guard, albeit with blood flowing from a cut on his forehead. As Martin searched for submission openings, LaFlare recovered and defended well. Midway through the round, Martin took LaFlare’s back on the ground. LaFlare got out of the position, but soon enough was in a worse one as Martin secured a darce choke. Martin squeezed, but LaFlare avoided the first submission loss of his career and scrambled back to his feet with less than a minute in the round. Martin went back to the right hand and caught LaFlare again, but couldn’t drop him.
LaFlare moved forward to start the third round and had Martin stumbling backwards, but a minute into the round, Martin send LaFlare down for the count. Martin used the right hand he’d landed all night to disguise a massive head kick that landed cleanly, putting LaFlare on the canvas with no chance at recovery. Martin poured on with some ground-and-pound, ending the fight.
The bout kicked off the card, which is headlined by Conor McGregor's return to mixed martial arts in a lightweight title fight with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.