Mitch Gagnon showed no signs of ring rust Saturday night.
The Sudbury, Ont., bantamweight prospect was out of action for the entire year due to a serious knee injury, but at UFC 165 he returned better than ever, handing his opponent Dustin Kimura his first-career loss via first round submission.
“It’s the perfect way to come back,” Gagnon said, at the Air Canada Centre. “I feel like things are coming together and getting better and better.”
It wasn’t without adversity, as Gagnon had to absorb a digging hook to the body by Kimura that noticeably hurt him, but Gagnon quickly recomposed himself and eventually found a fight-ending guillotine choke at 4:05 of round one.
Gagnon improved to 10-2 in his pro career, and 2-1 inside the UFC promotion. He also earned a $50,000 “submission of the night” award.
Montreal’s John “The Bull” Makdessi gave fans something to cheer about with a first-round knockout over Brazillian Renee Forte.
The skilled kickboxer Makdessi easily avoided lunging punches from Forte and landed a hard right counter punch to the temple, sending his opponent to the floor and finishing him off with punches 2:01 into the contest
“I feel very blessed to be able to fight in Toronto,” Makdessi said. “I am happy for the victory and I just want to thank everybody for the support.”
With the win, Makdessi improves to 12-2 in his professional career and 5-2 inside the UFC. He is now enjoying a three fight winning streak with the promotion and could see a jump in competition for his next fight.
Highly touted London, Ontario prospect Jesse “The Body Snatcher” Ronson had a tough debut against Michel Prazeres, dropping a split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
The thicker, stronger Prazeres wrestled Ronson to the mat and wore him like a wet blanket for the better part of the first two rounds. Ronson did his best to rally in the final round and finished strong, but to no avail.
“In the last 10 seconds I thought there was a minute left so I went berserk. I thought I had more time, but I didn’t. I misjudged it. That sucks,” Ronson said after the fight.
Winnepeg’s Roland Delorme enjoyed a great start to his fight against Ultimate Fighter reality show alumni Alex Caceres, dropping the afro-headed “Bruce Leeroy” and dominating most of the first round.
Caceres, however, rallied in rounds two and three with slick footwork and striking while defending attempts to get the fight to the mat by Delorme.
The fight was close overall, but Caceres edged the split decision (29-28, 28-29, and 29-28).
Chatham, Ontario’s Chris Clements unfortunately proved to be a stepping-stone for evolving karate prodigy Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Thompson easily evaded the heavy hitting Clements hands and even landed a few takedowns, showing off new skills from his karate-striking base.
In the second round, Thompson rocked Clements not once, but twice, forcing the referee to step in and stop the fight at 1:27 of round 2.
Finally, American Miles “Fury” Jury downed Montreal native Mike Ricci in a fight that didn’t do much for the capacity Air Canada Centre crowd.
Both men failed to garner much offence and appeared to be going through the motions for most of the three rounds. Jury won the fight based on a few takedowns and control from the top for the split decision victory.
UFC 165 drew a reported 15,504 for a live gate of $1.9 million.