The first fighter for the first UFC fight in Nassau Coliseum history was met immediately with the first cheer from the hometown crowd.
Islip’s Chris Wade entered the cage at 4:03 p.m. Saturday, his arms raised toward the rafters as the early arriving crowd saluted their guy.
“That was awesome,” Wade said.
They greeted him even louder as Wade’s arms pointed toward the sky once more — this time by the referee to signify the victorious fighter. Wade earned a hard-fought unanimous decision against Frankie Perez, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, at UFC Long Island.
Wade won the first two rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. Perez won the third round on two cards.
“With the first fight though, sometimes it’s not so full, but I had a lot of people here to support me so it was still amazing,” Wade said of the home crowd. “I saw so many familiar faces. Even though it wasn’t full to capacity like when Weidman gets in there [in the main event], they still got loud for me and I appreciate that.”
The win was Wade’s first since January 2016, ending his two-fight losing streak.
Wade (12-3, 5-2 UFC) controlled Perez for much of the fight, outgrappling him and winding up in either top or side control after various scrambles throughout.
The 29-year-old Wade, who beat Perez in Ring of Combat in 2014, connected on a solid right punch that got through Perez’s defense midway through the third round. Perez (10-4) shook it off, but Wade was able to get inside the lankier fighter for the takedown. Wade said he felt he was close to submitting Perez with a choke.
“He gave me that little extra edge I needed,” Wade said, referring to some trash talk from Perez during fight week.
Wade said he wants to fight Nik Lentz. Wade said at the UFC athlete retreat in Las Vegas in May, he tried to start a conversation with Lentz about both having lost to Islam Makhachev.
“He couldn’t have been ruder to me,” Wade said about the encounter with Lentz. “I don’t know if he remembers this, but I remember it. That guy doesn’t have anything for me, so if he wants to get it, he can get it.”