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Fresh off a loss to Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, Tim Elliott squared off against Louis Smolka in 2017. With both fighters coming off losses and desperate to return to the win column, it came as no surprise that Elliott and Smolka would end up competing in one of the finest scramble-fests we had ever seen.
Boosted by the energy of his home crowd in Kansas, Elliott started the fight as though he had been shot out of a cannon. Immediately pressing forward, he tackled Smolka to the ground and started to work on a guillotine choke. Much to the delight of everyone watching, the large majority of the fight would remain on the mat.
Smolka used a kimura lock to reverse position and pin Elliott to the ground. In this sequence, he also attempted a mounted guillotine which Elliott managed out of. The grueling and exhaustive pace of their scrambles was only heightened by expert transitions, supported by an impressive butterfly guard on Smolka's behalf. Whichever position either man hunted, the other would simply cancel them out.
Here's Elliott countering Smolka's Granby roll with a roll of his own:
Elliott would end the first round with more control, parlayed with an elbow that opened Smolka up, thus giving him the edge on the scorecards.
The second round carried on from the first: the same pace, the same scrambles. Neither guy looking at all as if they were starting to fade. Smolka jumped for a guillotine and had his wrist locked under the neck of Elliott who somehow managed to get back to his feet and initiate a trip takedown to break the submission. Elliott immediately scrambled to Smolka's back and worked in a rear-naked choke. Just when the fight looked as though it was about to end, Smolka escaped and Elliott found himself in top mount position. Smolka showed mind-blowing leg dexterity to reverse Elliott's top mount with a heel hook attempt. Elliott scrambled, found himself in a guillotine, worked out of it, and ended up securing his own mounted guillotine. Guess what? Smolka escaped that too.
The average person would have passed out after a singular minute of rolling with either fighter. Smolka and Elliott, however, were about to start the third round of the fight and neither guy's breathing was laboured.
Smolka started the third round with a boxing-heavy approach, landing a few shots on Elliott. After recognising Smolka's striking patterns, Elliott began to bob and weave out of the strikes and find openings to chain the takedown. His head movement was so crisp that it drew cheers from the crowd. When the fight returned to the feet, Elliott entered the matrix again. This time, however, he dodged the final strike in Smolka's combination and secured a judo throw takedown. After further grueling exchanges, it was Smolka who ended the fight with the most exciting moment, chaining a slam takedown into a north-south choke just as the horn sounded.
I worked up a sweat just writing about it.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/55723/tim-elliott-vs-louis-smolka-ufc-fight-night