Varner Breaks Fickett at XFC 16 – High Stakes; Samman, Kheyfets Earn First Round Stoppages
The main event of XFC 16 saw a pair of Zuffa-veteran lightweights both looking to take another step back toward the big leagues as Drew Fickett took on Jamie Varner. The bout held extra intrigue as Varner began his career training with Fickett before the relationship soured, culminating with a series of videos by Fickett which mocked Varner in the lead up to the fight.
Fickett came to the cage with permanent marker stars, a play on Varner’s star tattoos, still on his chest, however it was Varner who had the last laugh as a straight right dropped Fickett just seconds into the bout. Fickett tried to fight on but Varner was relentless, soliciting a tap to strikes at the forty second mark.
After the fight, the two embraced, and HDNet microphones picked up Varner telling Fickett, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”
Varner remained thankful after the fight as he spoke with Pate Miletich.
“Drew Fickett is the guy that got me into this sport,” Varner said. “I was a junior in college and I went to a fight [of Drew’s], and he was a wrestler who was well rounded and had all this heart. I looked up to him even before I knew him.
“He took me under his wing and introduced me to Trevor Lally. I love the guy and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”
Although Varner entered the bout confident, it did not come without butterflies.
“I was scared,” Varner said. “He was my teacher. Even though I thought I was better than him – I knew I was better – he taught me.
“The right hand was the gameplan. It was a combination of timing, opportunity and luck, and I took it.”
The win improved Varner to 19-6-1, while dropping Fickett’s record to 41-17.
Middleweight Mikey Gomez (12-9) entered his co-main event bout with Josh Samman (9-2) riding a four fight winning streak, however when Samman was able to stuff an early Gomez leg lock and reverse into top position Gomez found himself in trouble. Samman passed to mount, ultimately forcing Gomez to give up his back and tap to Samman strikes at 3:37 of round one.
“We had prepared for him to go for those leg locks and submissions,” Samman said. “I like to be top heavy and I know as soon as I can land a couple on somebody’s chin it will make them rethink their gameplan and I think that is what happened tonight.
“I like to finish by KO. I want to make it so no other middleweight wants to fight me. You choke somebody out and it’s painless, you knock somebody out and they remember that shit.”
Marianna Kheyfets maintained her undefeated record, moving to 5-0 with a TKO victory over Heather Clark (4-2). Clark scored a takedown late in the first round, however not before sustaining significant swelling under her right eye. The swelling became too severe for Clark to see, and the ringside physician called off the fight in between the first and second frames.
“I worked a lot on my boxing,” Kheyfets said. “I wanted to come out and prove I was a striker at heart. I wish it could have gone a second and third round – Heather is a warrior and I commend her.
“It’s a little disappointing. I’m sure she wanted to continue, but I’m glad to get the stoppage.”
Main Card Wrap-Up:
Chris Wright (6-1-1) dominated Len Cook (2-1) in all three rounds to rebound from his first career defeat. All three judges scored the bout 30-27 for Wright.
UFC veteran heavyweight Chase Gormley (8-4) used his wrestling to take a unanimous decision against Brandon Sayles (2-1). Although Sayles was able to escape some dangerous positions he was unable to overcome Gormley’s top game, falling by scores of 29-28 on all three cards.
Middleweight Amaechi Oselukwue (3-5) snapped a three-fight losing streak with a first round knockout over Julio Gallegos (4-3). Gallegos scored an early takedown, but after regaining his feet Osalukwue worked strikes from the clinch before landing a lights-out right-straight counter as Gallegos came forward with a left hook, halting the bout at 1:23 of the first.
Dustin West (6-4) scored a quick knockout in the broadcast’s first fight, staggering Stony Hale (4-3) with a left high kick, then swarming with hooks and muay thai knees until Hale fell, earning the stoppage at 1:23 of the opening round.