SAN ANTONIO — Clint Hester had no answer for Antonio Braga Neto’s ground game and found a way to win anyway.
The Ultimate Fighter alum looked sharp on his feet and survived some dangerous positions on the canvas to win a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Neto at UFC Fight Night on Saturday at AT&T Center.
When the fight took place standing up, Hester was devastating with hooks to the head and body. He almost mixed in some hard body kicks. Neto clearly didn’t want anything to do with Hester’s striking, attempting to take things to the ground as often as he could.
Neto (9-2, 1 NC) had Hester in all kinds of trouble, in full mount, in both the first and second rounds. The first ended with Neto going for a kimura just as the bell sounded. Hester found his groove a bit in the second and then really turned it on in the third, moving forward recklessly with punches and kicks.
Hester (11-3) was dominant in the third until he slipped and Neto ended up on top. Somehow, Hester powered out from under Neto and got dominant position. That probably sealed the third round for the Atlanta native.
"I left it all in the Octagon in that last round so I’m pretty exhausted right now," Hester said. "I felt like I had to go for broke at the end there because it was a close fight and you never want to leave it in the hands of the judges."
Hester has now won six in a row, including four straight in the UFC after appearing on The Ultimate Fighter 17. Neto, a Brazilian former heayweight, came in having won four in a row, all by submission.
"I’m glad I didn’t listen to a lot of people who told me it was time to go to one of the big camps and leave my gym," Hester said. "I’ve won all four of my fights in the UFC now and I’m still at home in Atlanta which means a lot to me.”