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‘So proud’: Emotional victory for fighter, after four year break

Australian mixed martial artist Tyson Pedro has made a big statement in his first fight in nearly four years with a knockout victory over American Ike Villanueva in the last seconds of the first round of their light heavyweight bout at UFC Vegas 52.

The fight was Pedro’s first in 1239 days, his last bout being a loss to Mauricio Rua in December 2018. A series of injuries and a cancelled fight led to Pedro’s near four-year long absence. 

Despite a slow start, Pedro appeared to grow more confident as the round went on, laying in heavy leg kicks which rendered Villanueva immobile, then following up with heavy boxing to score the KO just as the round was ending.

This is Pedro’s eighth MMA victory, with all his victories coming from first-round finish. 

“I can’t put it into words how hard it’s been. Four long years. I can’t put it into words, this is the proudest I can say I’ve been of myself in long time,” Pedro said in the cage after the fight.

Addressing the hesitation early in the round, Pedro revealed that was a conscious effort made on his park.

“I didn’t wanna keep pushing it too hard and show that I was forcing it, the first [leg kick] I noticed but I didn’t want to rush it, I didn’t want to keep attacking [Villanueva’s leg], then he checks it and fucks up my foot. Sorry for the language, Mum.”

At the post fight press conference, Pedro said it was an emotional performance after such a long time away from the cage.

“I had a wave of emotions hit me at the end. I just had to lay on the ground,” he said.

“I’m still itching. I just wanna go train and fight again. It’s been too long so lets just put me back in.”

The main event of the night saw former women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade make UFC history as she submitted Amanda Lemos in the first round of their strawweight fight with a standing arm triangle.

The submission is the first standing arm triangle in UFC history, and this victory ties her with current women’s featherweight and former bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes for the most women’s wins in the UFC, with 14.

“This is one of the best fight weeks I’ve had in my life. The result of just the culmination of all my hard work,” Andrade said after the bout.

The fight was Andrade’s first fight in the strawweight division since 2020, taking a brief hiatus in 2021 when she moved up to the flyweight to take on champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Now that she is back at strawweight, Andrade has her eyes set on recapturing the title.

“If I ever want to be champion again, strawweight is the place to be, but if there’s something to do at flyweight I don’t mind fighting there, if there’s something interesting at bantamweight I’ll fight there.”

For her history making submission, Andrade was awarded a $US50,000 performance-of-the-night bonus.

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