Louis Smolka faced a raucous Irish crowd but had no problem dampening their spirits as he put away hometown favorite Paddy Holohan by rear-naked choke after a thrilling two rounds in the UFC Fight night main event from Dublin.
Smolka was thrust into the spotlight this week after Joseph Duffy suffered a concussion in training and his bout against Dustin Poirier was cancelled. Smolka still had to face the same opponent, but going from opening fight on the main card to main event in a matter of days could rattle the cagiest of veterans.
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Instead, Smolka put on one of his best performances to date as he weathered an early storm from the Irishman, who clearly wanted to get the submission win but in the end got tapped out for his troubles.
Holohan wasted no time taking the fight to the ground as he engaged immediately in a war of submission attempts with Smolka.
The two flyweights scrambled on the mat with each of them looking to gain the upper hand. Smolka got close on a D'arce choke before Holohan came back with a near twister and then rear-naked choke attempt.
Late in the round, Smolka finally worked back to his feet, and he took full advantage with a barrage of strikes landed on the popular Irishman. Smolka pushed forward with a blitz of punches while Holohan tried to time a counter but instead ate a few hard punches.
As soon as round two started, Holohan rushed forward and quickly got Smolka's back in a quick exchange before dragging the Hawaiian to the mat.
Holohan locked on a body triangle and started fishing for a rear-naked choke, but Smolka stayed patient while defending the submission and eventually twisted his body around to get on top again.
This time it was Smolka's turn for a submission attempt as he latched onto a standing guillotine choke, lifting Holohan in the air, which forced the hometown favorite to drop to the ground or risk being finished.
Smolka saw an opening and continued to pour on the punishment while noticing that Holohan was fading. The Hawaiian was unrelenting with his attack as he hurt Holohan with a series of punches, advancing to mount and then raining down some brutal elbow strikes.
The crowd roared behind Holohan trying to rally a comeback, but it was all for naught as Smolka just blasted away until the Irish favorite finally rolled to his stomach trying to avoid strikes.
Smolka wasted no time slipping his arm under the chin and wrenching up on the rear-naked choke and at that point there was no escape for Holohan as he tapped the canvas and brought the impromptu main event to an end.
The stoppage came at 4:09 into the second round as Smolka moves his UFC record to 4-1 overall with his third victory in a row inside the Octagon.
"It was surreal," Smolka said after having his hand raised. "Ireland, you guys might hate me right now, but I love you guys."
Despite the loss, Holohan was greeted like a champion by his hometown Dublin crowd as they cheered in frenzied applause for their favorite flyweight as he took to the microphone following his fight with Smolka.
"I never come out here and say I'm the best," Holohan stated. "I never said I was born gifted, but I tell you one thing when I do come out, I give you everything."
Two weeks ago, Smolka and Holohan were supposed to kick off the main card ahead of a big night of fights in Dublin. When injuries ravaged both the main event and the co-main event, the flyweights were bumped into the headline slot with just two days to go until the fight.
Smolka and Holohan may not have been the main event the fans in Ireland were promised, but they certainly did everything in their power to deliver. Smolka gets a defining win on his record as he beats a tough Irish flyweight on his home soil and it now propels the Hawaiian contender forward in the division and likely stets him up for a top 10 fight when he returns in 2016.
The other big winner from the night has to be the crowd in Dublin, Ireland because nothing seemed to go right with this card with fight after fight just falling apart, but the fans from the Emerald Isle showed up, made just as much noise as ever and proved once why this destination is becoming a top landing spot for the UFC.