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Irishman Richie Smullen suffers first-round loss in UFC debut

The Wicklow native was given a shot on MMA’s biggest stage after featuring on The Ultimate Fighter.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Pena v Smullen Source: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC

RICHIE SMULLEN’S FIRST visit to the UFC’s octagon ended in disappointment in the early hours of this morning as he suffered his first defeat as a professional.

Smullen (3-1-1), a native of Arklow, was submitted by American opponent and fellow debutant Luis Pena (5-0) in the opening round of his debut appearance on the biggest stage in mixed martial arts.

The fight, which took place at the Pearl Theatre in Las Vegas, formed part of the preliminary card for the Finale of the latest series of The Ultimate Fighter.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Pena v Smullen Source: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Smullen initially had success with his gameplan by securing an early takedown. However, the 26-year-old was unable to pose any major problems on the mat for Pena, who eventually found his way back to his feet.

Boasting a significant height advantage, Pena put his lengthy reach to good use and rocked Smullen with a series of combinations. When Smullen was sent crashing, he went in search of a leg lock but to no avail.

On the ground, Pena worked towards a guillotine and Smullen was forced to tap after three minutes and 32 seconds of the first round.

Smullen was the first Irish fighter to debut in the UFC since his Straight Blast Gym team-mate Charlie Ward in November 2016. After a disappointing debut, he’ll hope that the organisation offer him a chance to make amends with a second bite at the cherry.

Smullen featured on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC’s reality TV series, but was unable to compete in the tournament following a pre-fight diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis — a breakdown of muscle fibers which can be a consequence of over-training.

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Paul Dollery

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