French heavyweight Cyril Asker grounded and pounded his way to his first UFC win. The Frenchman made quick work of Dmitrii Smoliakov in the UFC Phoenix opener.
Cyril Asker approached the bout off the back of an unsuccessful UFC debut in April 2016. Asker lasted two minutes and 44 seconds against Jared Cannonier. Asker’s form prior to that is impressive. The Frenchman had won five straight fights in Europe and South Africa.
Dmitrii Smoliakov also found life difficult in his promotional debut. The Russian heavyweight lost by second-round submission against Luis Henrique in July last year. It was the first defeat of his nine-fight professional career.
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Asker took the center of the cage early, looking to establish control on the feet. In a surprising turn of events, it was Smoliakov who came forward with the first notable flurry of strikes, but it also forced a break in the action as Asker suffered an eye poke during the exchange.
Every bit as surprising was Asker’s attempt to take down his opponent once the action restarted. Smoliakov is the much more experienced wrestler, but Asker had no problem putting the Russian heavyweight on his back.
Asker wasted no time improving his position, mounting Smoliakov before throwing a barrage of punches from the top. There was no singularly damaging blow, but the punches rained down relentlessly until referee Al Guinee was forced to call a halt to the action at the 2:41 mark in the first round. Asker had wasted no time putting Smoliakov away, to secure his first Octagon win by TKO.
The win improved Asker’s record to 8-2. The fighter has now won six of his last seven, but the win over Smoliakov was clearly the most impressive of his young career. Smoliakov has now lost two in a row, both on the sport’s biggest stage.