Canadian flyweight Gillian (The Savage) Robertson survived a first-round onslaught to submit Kazakhstan's Mariya (Demonslayer) Agapova on a UFC Fight Night card Saturday.
The 27-year-old native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who makes her home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., absorbed a string of elbows to the head as she tried to take Agapova down at the fence in the opening round. But she rallied in the second round to lock in a rear-raked choke that prompted referee Mark Smith to halt the bout at two minutes 19 seconds of the round.
All three judges scored the first round for Agapova, who had a 39-4 edge in significant strikes in the round according to UFC Stats.
But Robertson tripped Agapova to the ground 45 seconds into the second round and eventually took her back and applied the choke. Agapova, who had lost her mouth guard, appeared to be losing consciousness when the referee stepped in.
"I knew she was going to come in there trying to kill me. But I knew that it'd be mine in the end," said Robertson.
Two other Canadians lost on the card.
American middleweight Anthony (Fluffy) Hernandez used his grappling skills to choke out Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault of Gatineau, Que., in the third round on the undercard.
Brazil's Rodrigo Nascimento (9-1-0 with one no-contest) won a split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) over Alberta heavyweight Tanner (The Bulldozer) Boser (20-9-1).
One judge gave the first two rounds to Boser, a native of Bonnyville, Alta., who fights out of Edmonton, while another awarded him the second. The third scored all three rounds for the Brazilian.
The main event at UFC Apex production facility saw American Cory (Sandman) Sandhagen, ranked fourth among UFC bantamweight contenders, beat No. 10 Yadong (Kung Fu Kid) Song of China on a TKO via doctor's stoppage after four rounds due to a cut.
Song (19-7-1 with one no-contest) suffered an ugly gash over the left eye in the second round, sliced open by a Sandhagen elbow. The ringside physician examined the cut after the second and third rounds but called an end to the bout after a subsequent check following the fourth.
Two of the judges had the bout even at two rounds apiece. The third had Sandhagen ahead three rounds to one.
"I hate that it ended that way. I think that he deserved a fifth round," said Sandhagen.
Sandhagen (15-4-0) had lost his last two fights to elite opposition in Petr Yan and T.J. Dillashaw.
Robertson (11-7-0), rebounding from a decision loss to T.J. Aldrich in July, improved to 8-5-0 in the UFC with her eight wins tied for third in UFC flyweight history behind Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian (both on nine). Robertson's seven finishes and six submissions are the most in UFC flyweight history.
Agapova (10-4-0) has now lost two straight and three of her last four.
Robertson, one of two Canadian women in the UFC, was initially slated to fight Melissa Gato on the card but the Brazilian withdrew due to injury, according to the UFC.
Agapova and Robertson had trained together in the past but are now with different gyms.
At 229 pounds, Boser was giving up 32 pounds to his Brazilian opponent, who had a 4.5-inch reach advantage despite the fact both men are six foot two.
While the big Brazilian landed three of seven takedown attempts in the fight, Boser finished with a 62-36 edge in significant strikes and landed more in each of the three rounds (15-9, 32-15 and 15-12), according to UFC Stats.
Boser hurt Nascimento in the second round but could not finish and ended the round underneath the Brazilian.
"I can't say anything bad about Nascimento. He is very tough and that felt like a dogfight," Boser said on social media after the fight. "Nothing but respect to him.
"I know it was close. I think it could have went either way but I will not lament the decision. I went for broke … I'll be back soon with a new coat of paint"
Barriault (14-6-0 with one no-contest) and Hernandez (10-2-0 with one no-contest) wasted little time, fighting at close quarters from the get-go. Barriault got Hernandez's attention with a heavy overhand right.
Hernandez looked for a takedown and ended up on top, grinding the Canadian at the fence. Barriault got back to his feet and scored with a punch and elbow. Hernandez continued his assault at the fence, taking Barriault down again in an all-action first round.
Barriault, who appeared to be favouring his ribs after the first round, found himself back on the ground in the second round as Hernandez kept up the pressure. A bloodied Barriault landed several blows on the feet as the round ended.
Hernandez dumped Barriault on his head in the third round before putting the Canadian to sleep with an arm-triangle choke at 1:53 of the round.
Barriault has gone 3-2-0 with one no-contest in the UFC since losing his first three bouts in the promotion.