AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Nate Marquardt tapped out James Te Huna in the first round of their main-event bout on Saturday at "UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs. Marquardt," New Zealand's first UFC card.
Te Huna, who in 2010 became the UFC's first New Zealander, thrilled the crowd with his walk-in, which featured Maori warriors performing a traditional haka war dance. The energy carried into the cage, as both Te Huna and Marquardt started in rapid fashion. But after a few big exchanges on the feet, the end would come on the floor.
Battling in the clinch against the cage, Marqaurdt (33-13-2) threw Te Huna (16-8) to the canvas and moved immediately into mount. When Te Huna rolled to escape, Marquardt went to the back and then slipped off to the side, trapping the arm and extending it to earn a submission win with 26 seconds left in the opening round.
"An armbar was not part of my plan," said Marquardt. "It just sort of happened."
The night's heavyweight co-feature was a little light on action, but Jared Rosholt (11-1) picked up a one-sided decision win over Australian fan-favourite Soa Palelei (21-4).
It was Rosholt's wrestling pedigree that earned him the win, utilizing a grinding grappling attack to bring Palelei repeatedly to the floor and preventing him from really ever launching any sort of attack. The crowd often booed the slow-paced fight, but at the end of 15 minutes, it was clear Rosholt had done enough to win the fight, and he was awarded the victory with three scores of 30-27.
"I was a little disappointed with that win," Rosholt admitted. "I had a vision to dominate, which I did, but not in the fashion I wanted.
"My last few fights have gone the distance, which is disappointing but proves that I have the conditioning, which is definitely an advantage at this weight class."
In a grappling-heavy featherweight matchup, Charles Oliveira (18-4) scored an impressive submission win over fellow jiu-jitsu ace Hatsu Hioki (27-8-2).
The entertaining matchup saw both men transition and sweep to dominant positions on the floor while seeking submission opportunities. Multiple attempts came from both men, but it was a modified guillotine choke in the second round that sealed the victory for Oliveira. Trapped in the hold, Hioki was forced to tap out for the first time in his career.
"My opponent tonight was very tough and challenging," Oliveira admitted after the fight. "I studied all of his fights and knew he would be tough.
"I know we are in New Zealand, but you always hear Brazilians in the crowd. They are the most passionate fight fans and always make lot of noise. Tonight, they inspired me to take the win."
In the night's first main-card matchup, New Zealand native Robert Whittaker (13-4) picked up an impressive decision win over fellow welterweight Mike Rhodes (6-3).
Whittaker, the former winner of "The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes," was the better striker throughout the three-round affair, using crisp boxing to pick apart his opponent with a sharp jab and powerful right hand. Rhodes was a game opponent, offering counters until the end and never seeming to slow, but Whittaker's relentless attack earned him all three rounds, and he was awarded an unanimous-decision win with scores of 30-27 across the board.
"The game plan was to throw as many weapons at my opponent as possible," Whittaker said after the win. "Hats off to Mike -- he gave a lot and definitely took a lot of shots. I like to think I punch hard, so props to him to keep on going."