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UFC: MacDonald Stops Saffiedine, Stakes Claim At Title Shot

rorymacdonaldNo. 2 ranked welterweight contender Rory MacDonald staked his claim for the next title shot with a third round stoppage of Tarec Saffiedine at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Saturday. MacDonald’s win should get him a title shot against the winner of the bout between UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks and No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler in December.

“Ares” took the first two rounds of the fight, staying in the pocket and winning striking exchanges with the “Sponge” before landing a crushing left uppercut that sent the Belgian, now 15-4, to the canvas where MacDonald continued with strikes until the fight was stopped as he improved to 18-2.

No. 4 bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao showed no reservations about being jumped for the next bantamweight title shot by former champion Dominick Cruz, as he moved to 23-4 and performed impressively in a unanimous decision win (30-27 all cards) over No. 10 ranked Bryan Caraway who falls to 19-8. The Brazilian controlled the fight even though lots of exchanges and takedowns occurred for both fighters as “Kid Lightning” pressed his game. Assuncao did attempt a late guillotine choke in the third en route to his seventh straight win.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations winner Chad Laprise remains unbeaten at 10-0 with a with a unanimous decision win (30-27 all cards) over Yosdenis Cedeno. “The Disciple” showed his discipline in his ability to keep “The Pink Panther” off balance and unable to mount a sufficient offensive attack as he fell to 10-4. Another TUF Nations winner, Elias Theodorou also remained unbeaten at 11-0 with a unanimous decision win (29-28 all cards) over Bruno Santos. “Carioca” falls to 14-2 in a well-fought loss that “The Spartan” seemed to get stronger in as the fight moved to the judges.

Canadian Nordine Taleb endured and overcame in a split decision win (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) over Li Jingliang to improve to 10-2. “The Leech” kept the fight close and pushed Taleb in what proved to be an evenly matched fight. Mitch Gagnon won his third straight fight and ruined the UFC debut of Roman Salazar with a first round submission win to up his mark to 12-3. “El Gallito”, the injury fill-in, became a rear-naked choke victim as he fell to 9-3.

An upset was the big story across the pond earlier in the day as Rick Story took a five-round split decision win (50-44, 49-46, 47-48) over No. 12 welterweight contender Gunnar Nelson, the first loss of Nelson’s pro career. “The Horror” Story improved to 18-8 and kept the pressure on in the fight that dropped Gunni to 13-1-1. Featherweight Max Halloway gets his fourth stoppage in four fights in 2014, along with his fourth straight win in a first round stoppage win over Akira Corassani. “Blessed” improved to 11-3 with a stoppage by punches win over the Swede who falls to 14-6-1.

Jan Blachowicz moved to 18-3 with a first round stoppage win over Ilir Latifi. “The Sledgehammer” succumbed to a vicious kick to the gut as he fell to 10-4 with a no contest. Mike Wilkinson improves to 9-1 with a first round stoppage win over Niklas Backstrom, handing him his first loss. “The Warrior”, in his first fight back from injury, made short work of the Swede with a right hand for the first round knockout that dropped Backstrom to 8-1 with a no contest.