24-year-old Louis Smolka entered enemy territory on Saturday, taking on Paddy Hollohan in the UFC Fight Night 76 main event in front of Holohan’s hometown of Dublin, Ireland. He emerged with a submission win, but it was no easy task.
Holohan’s pressure was relentless. He didn’t give the Hawaiian room to breathe in the opening round. The Irishman scored an early takedown and the two engaged in a back-and-forth chess match on the ground complete with scrambles, reversals and submission attempts.
Smolka finally found some space in the closing moments of the first round and landed combinations, but the round went to Holohan.
In the second frame, it was Smolka who pressed the action. As he moved forward, Holohan changed levels and took the fight to the ground. He was able to take Smolka’s back, but Smolka turned into him, gaining top position.
While in top position, Smolka delivered heavy shots. He advanced to the mount position and Holohan gave up his back. Smolka quickly applied a rear-naked choke that forced the Irishman to tap out.
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It was a whirlwind week for the Hawaiian. Originally slated to kick off the main card, the fight with Holohan was elevated to the top of the fight card after two bouts fell apart days before the event.
“It was surreal,” said Smolka following the win.
Holohan was clearly disappointed after losing in front of his hometown crowd.
“I never come out here and say that I’m the best. I never said that I was born gifted, but I’ll tell you one thing, when I do come out I give it everything,” he said. “Hats off to Louis. He came here and did the job in my own backyard.”
With the win, Smolka extended his winning streak to three consecutive fights and will likely move into the top 15 rankings.