Quebec welterweight Yohan (White Lion) Lainesse wins on UFC 279 undercard

Canadian welterweight Yohan (White Lion) Lainesse picked up his first UFC victory, earning a split decision on Saturday against American Darian Weeks on the UFC 279 undercard.

The judges scored 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for the 30-year-old from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que. Weeks seemed surprised when the scorecards were announced.

« It was a close fight, » said Lainesse, who is six-foot-one. « I have a big problem – it’s always been my gas tank because I’m a power puncher.

« I’m very happy to do three laps today. And I proved to myself that I can do three laps with a good pace. Darian is a badass. And this is just the beginning. We have a new animal in the welterweight division. »

Lainesse (9-1-0) lost his UFC debut in April to (gifted) American Gabe Green, who survived an early attack to stop Lainesse in the second round. Lainesse won his UFC contract on « Dana White’s Contender Series » with a 97-second knockout of previously undefeated Justin Burlinson last November.

China’s Heili (The Mongolian Knight) Alateng (16-8-2) used a clean strike to win a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Alberta bantamweight Chad (The Monster) Anheliger (12-6-0).

Anheliger, who trains in Calgary but lives in suburban Airdrie, entered Saturday’s fight on a 10-fight winning streak with his last loss in June 2014.

The revamped all-American main event at T-Mobile Arena pitted Nate Diaz against Tony Ferguson in a five-round welterweight bout. The co-main event featured undefeated Swede Khamzat Chimaev, who was originally scheduled to face Diaz, and Kevin (Trailblazer) Holland at a catchweight of 180 pounds.

Chimaev was 7.5 pounds over the non-title welterweight limit of 171 pounds and was pulled from the Diaz match to fight Holland at catchweight on the advice of UFC doctors.

Calgary featherweight (Mean) Hakeem Dawodu (13-2-1) took on American Julian (Juicy J) Erosa (27-9-0) in a follow-up bout.

Dawodu missed the non-title featherweight limit by 146 pounds, weighing in at 149.5 pounds. He was fined 30% of his scholarship.

The card featured three of the 14 Canadians currently on the UFC roster.

Weeks (5-3-0) was scheduled to meet Cedric Doumbe on a Sept. 3 card in France, but switched to face Lainesse after the fight fell through. The Missouri-based fighter lost his first two UFC outings, to Bryan (Bam Bam) Barberena on four days’ notice and most recently to Irishman Ian (The Future) Garry in April.

Lainesse, with former UFC contender Patrick (The Predator) Cote in his corner, connected with several powerful right hands early on. Weeks scored with a nasty stomp on Lainesse’s left leg later in the first round.

Weeks did better in the second round, teetering Lainesse early with a left hook. Lainesse returned the favor mid-lap. Weeks slammed Lainesse to the ground with a big takedown, only to see the Canadian get back up. Lainesse fended off another takedown later in the inning.

Lainesse stuffed Weeks’ takedown attempts in the third but found himself clinching on the fence as Weeks pushed the pace. Both fighters appeared to be running out of steam as the fight ended.

Anheliger, 35, fell back midway through the first round after taking a punch from Heili. And Heili sent him back again with a big blow to the forehead.

Anheliger, blood-faced, was injured again as the Chinese fighter continued to find the target.

“You got caught a couple of times,” Anheliger was told between rounds.

Heili continued to pressure Anheliger in the second round, scoring from the left and then knocking the Canadian back with another shot. Anheliger kept hitting but had the worst of most rallies.

Heili changed strategy to open round three, knocking out Anheliger with a trip. He scored another out late in the round.

Heili was coming off a 47-second stoppage of Kevin (Crash) Croom in April and entered Saturday’s fight with a UFC record of 3-1-1.

Anheliger earned his UFC contract with a split decision win over Tajikistan’s Muin (Yajik) Gafurov on « Dana White’s Contender Series » last September.

The judges scored 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Anheliger.

« A hell of a fight and he’s a Canadian, » White said of announcing the 135-pounder was heading to the UFC. Anheliger won in his UFC debut in February, stopping Jesse (Sui Generis) Strader in the third round.


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