Phil Harris secured a maiden victory in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s newest class as he edged past Ulysses Gomez.
The Portsmouth flyweight, who is based at GYM01 in Fratton, kicked off the preliminary card of the FUEL TV event at Wembley Arena with a unanimous judges’ decision after a gritty battle with the Los Angeles-based opponent.
Harris, who was a clear underdog before the fight, got the nod from all three judges (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28) in a close affair.
And he felt he got his tactics just about right after avoiding Gomez’s renowned floor skills.
Harris said: ‘I was really pleased to win.
‘He’s a top, world-class scrapper and I knew it’d be tough. But I took away the best part of the game, and made sure I kept on my feet.
‘The fight went very well. Nearly all of it was on our feet, which is where I wanted to keep the fight as he is world class on the floor, so we worked take-down defence a lot in this fight camp to avoid that.
‘It would have been nice to finish him, rather than leave it in the hands of the judges as it was such a close fight.
‘But fighting at such a high level, it’s harder to get the finish.’
Having lost to Darren Uyenoyama on his UFC debut back in October, it was a welcome victory for 29-year-old Harris, who withstood a barrage of low kicks but edged the contest with his boxing.
Swanmore middleweight Tom Watson enjoyed a stellar night with a brutal victory over Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov – and then pocketed a huge cash bonus of 100,000 dollars (around £64,000) for being awarded the double accolade of fight of the night and knockout of the night.
Nedkov appeared to have taken control in the first round with a take down and a flurry of punches as Watson was saved by the bell.
But Watson made it count in the next round as he knocked his opponent down and then followed it up with some heavy punches that gave the referee no option but to stop the contest and award the technical knockout.
Watson said: ‘After the fight I was feeling good. It was a strange experience to be in there and on the floor but then having knocked someone out and having a great fight.
‘I have been fighting a long time in the UK. A lot of my fans have supported me and it’s good to repay them.
‘But I don’t care if I win or lose – I just always want to entertain.’
The Shock N Awe 13 event takes place at the Mountbatten Centre on Saturday, March 9. Call the box office on 0844 8700 887 for tickets.
n More pictures from the Wembley event online at portsmouth.co.uk