Justin Tafa (right) stopped Juan Adams in the first round of their bout at UFC 247.
Justin Tafa knows what it's like to be the hometown guy getting knocked out in front of his local fans. Now he's shared that with Houston's Juan Adams.Looking to bounce back from his knockout loss at UFC 243 in Melbourne late last year, the Australian-based Kiwi stopped Adams in less than two minutes at UFC 247 in Houston on Sunday.It was an important fight for the 26-year-old from West Auckland. Given his shot in the UFC after just three professional fights, he needed to prove he belonged on the stage after being starched in his promotional debut against Yorgan de Castro.While Tafa controlled that fight, people only remember results, and a first-round knockout on debut brings the doubters out. Against Adams, who was also needing a win to prove he belonged in the UFC after losing two of his first three fights with the company, Tafa took that opportunity.On the main card of a pay-per-view on American soil, in the fight immediately preceding the flyweight title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Kaitlyn Chookagian, Tafa let fans of the sport know his name.
Tafa was patient in his approach, looking to work kicks to the calf early against the taller and rangier Adams. When the opportunity came to bring the power, Tafa was ready for it and executed superbly with a quick right hook sending Adams stumbling backwards against the cage, before a short uppercut sent him to the canvas.
Shevchenko, of Kyrgyzstan, has now defended her title three times, with two of those defenses coming by stoppage. It was somewhat of a homecoming moment for the 31-year-old, who lived in Houston for two years and still does some of her training there.While 'USA' chants went up around the arena in Houston to try give Chookagian a lift, Shevchenko couldn't be slowed down and controlled the bout from start to finish.In the main event, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones squeaked out a unanimous decision victory over Dominick Reyes.Reyes did plenty of good work in the first two rounds, rocking Jones on a number of occasions to clearly go ahead 20-18 on the scorecards. Jones started to show a bit more fight in the third round, with both fighters doing some good work in the middle round splitting fans over who had won it.The final two rounds were all Jones as Reyes slowed down in his first five-round fight, and in the end Jones was awarded the victory 48-47 (x2) and a controversial 49-46 on the judges' cards.The next time a Kiwi will be in action in the UFC octagon will be when the promotion returns to New Zealand shores, with Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell, Kai Kara-France and Ben Sosoli all taking part in UFC Fight Night 168 at Spark Arena on February 23.