Despite a big height and reach advantage over Katsunori Kikuno, Quinn Mulhern wanted to – or thought he needed to – fight on the ground.
It didn’t work for him. Mulhern repeatedly had his takedowns stuffed, or dropped into guard by choice, and Kikuno did enough work on top to take a unanimous decision win.
The lightweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 34 event at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore. It streamed on the UFC’s new Fight Pass digital network.
The crowd seemed to buzz as Kikuno came out in an unorthodox stance. Mulhern used his massive height and reach advantage early, trying to work his front kick like a jab. But a minute in, Mulhern fell back into guard when Kikuno looked for a takedown. When Mulhern threatened off his back, the fight moved back to the feet. From his karate stance, Kikuno landed a good right. Mulhern dropped for a takedown, but again he had to settle into guard. A fourth takedown attempt in the final 30 seconds was more of the same.
A Mulhern slip again had him on his back – and again Kikuno let him back up. But seconds later, Mulhern again when after a takedown, and again failed. Kikuno landed a few solid hands on top before letting Mulhern back to his feet. It was more of the same seconds later, though Kikuno spent more time on top before letting Mulhern up. With a minute left, Kikuno got inside for a solid left hand, then landed a knee as Mulhern again tried to drop down.
Mulhern spent much of the third on his back, just like in the first two rounds. Kikuno didn’t have to do much work to get there throughout the fight, other than defend Mulhern’s takedowns, or simply wind up on top when Mulhern pulled guard by choice. The speculation was that Mulhern may have had trouble seeing out of his right eye.
But no matter, Mulhern never got started, and Kikuno rolled to a 30-27 sweep of the judges’ scorecards.
Kikuno (22-5-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) stretched his winning streak to six fights after a 3-0 run of first-round finishes in 2013. Mulhern (18-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) has lost back-to-back fights, both in the UFC, after dropping his debut in the promotion this past March to Rick Story.