MMA: Holly Holm knocks out Correia to cap thrilling UFC Singapore Fight Night

Holly Holm of the United States (left) competes against Bethe Correia of Brazil during their UFC women’s bantamweight event at the UFC Fight Night in Singapore on June 17, 2017.
Holly Holm of the United States (left) competes against Bethe Correia of Brazil during their UFC women’s bantamweight event at the UFC Fight Night in Singapore on June 17, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
Holly Holm of the United States (left) competes against Bethe Correia of Brazil during their UFC women’s bantamweight event at the UFC Fight Night in Singapore on June 17, 2017.
Holly Holm of the United States (left) competes against Bethe Correia of Brazil during their UFC women’s bantamweight event at the UFC Fight Night in Singapore on June 17, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Mixed martial arts (MMA) mania hit Singapore on Saturday (June 17) as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged its second event in the Republic.

Most of the hype surrounding the Las Vegas-based MMA promoter's return to Singapore after three years at UFC Fight Night Singapore, had been on Holly Holm, who is one of the sport's biggest stars.

And the 35-year-old American delivered a knock-out against Brazilian Bethe Correia, 33, to close out the event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But even hours before Holm and Bethe Correia entered the Octagon for their main event, it was evident from the start of the 12-fight card that the 8,414 fight-crazy fans would be treated to a feast of top-class MMA action.

So by the time the fighters on the four-bout main card came out to brawl, the atmosphere inside the Indoor Stadium reached fever pitch as many fans stood on their feet to enjoy the action-packed extravaganza.

One person who was unable to stand still for one moment was Holm, who wasted little time during her entrance. She ran into the Octagon and paced up and down before the start of her fight in a display of intense focus.

But in the early rounds, both fighters were cautious with none of them really wanting to be the aggressor and make the first move, drawing boos from the crowd.

Just when it seemed like the contest would drag on in that manner after two rounds, and while fans were starting to get impatient, Holm capitalised on a moment of lapse from Correia.

Correia let her guard down briefly to taunt Holm, and in a split second, Holm's left foot landed flushed on her opponent's head.

Holm, a southpaw and strikes specialist, finished Correia off with a left strike as Correia collapsed dazed on the canvas to win the bout after 1min 9sec in the third round.

A delighted Holm then did her signature backflip to celebrate her victory after three straight losses. She said afterwards: "My brothers always say, shin on the face, shin on the face.

"This fight, I know we've heard a lot of boos in the first (few) rounds but what I wanted to make it look as clean as I could. She could make a mess out of this fight.

"The plan was to... make a clean shot. There's so many people who have supported me through these three losses. I send all my love... I want to do it for them, this fight is for them.

"I'm going to enjoy this night right now, It's been a year and a half since I was able to do a back-flip, I was glad to do it in Singapore. I feel at home even though I'm on the other side of the world. It's a great place to have a fight."

There were victories also for former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, who made a winning debut in the welterweight division,American Colby Covington, and Polish heavyweight fighter Marcin Tybura.The results for three of their fights went to the judges scorecards.

As fans gave a ringing endorsement of the world's top MMA promotion, Sudhon Sng, a 19-year-old Temasek Polytechnic student was thrilled.

He said: "This is like the premier league of fighting and it's rare to see them in Singapore. I just want to catch the stars here. I'll probably watch this event again on the computer, but I can feel the atmosphere only when I'm here."