Chris Duncan made his UFC debut at UFC 286 against fellow Dana White’s Contenders Series alum and a five-fight UFC vet in Omar Morales.
The Scotsman, Duncan, was on the verge of being put out cold before a shock, last-ditch, one-punch knockout earned him a UFC contract. His debut opponent was a tall task though, credentialed Venezuelan kickboxer Omar Morales. The fight appeared to be a surefire banger on paper.
When the opening bell sounded, Chris Duncan pressured forward and Morales largely let him without much resistance. Both were tentative, feeling each other out and mostly just landing leg kicks at first. Morales caught a kick from Duncan and knocked him off balance at one point but was unable to do much with it before the Scot got back on the forward pressure and landed a good right hand.
Morales was just not active enough and he let Chris build a solid lead just by virtue of sher volume. Omar tried to counter most times but could not pull the trigger quick enough or Duncan was not there to be hit when he did. Duncan did not do a massive amount of damage and failed his only takedown attempt, but he was solidly in the lead. Suddenly, with 45 seconds left in the round, Morales rocked Duncan with a massive right. As the Venezuelan tried to finish his foe he ran onto a right hand though, which staggered him backwards. Duncan then clinched up and ended the round with a big elbow.
Duncan came out with a wrestling gameplan to start round two, he was able to put Morales on the cage and just chip away with knees for a while. With three minutes left in the round Morales surprised with a switch and was able to get back to striking off of it. He landed a good right hand there to start, finally letting some punches fly. Morales was sharp in the second, he checked all of Duncan’s low kick attempts, absorbed less damage, and was more able to find the counter when at striking distance.
Chris Duncan resolved this by shooting a takedown. He got to a double leg against the fence but Morales spread his base to stay up with good technique. Duncan even switched to a single but could not finish it. He hung onto the leg for most of the rest of the round, only separating in the last thirty seconds; Morales was only able to land once in that time.
The fight had been close but the activity heavily weighed in favor of the Scot. Morales needed to be urgent in the final round, but Duncan was the one pressing forward and landing a strike to kick it off. Both men’s defense was on point but Morales did land one big low kick that took Duncan off his feet; he then responded with a takedown. He got Morales down for a second but the Venezuelan got to a knee against the fence in the scramble. Morales tried to stand but Duncan’s pressure was too heavy for him at first as he leg rode Omar against the cage.
Duncan continued to press the position and Morales was unable to get up, despite his posturing to try and gain a stand-up from the referee for inaction. Morales just would not explode to try and get up, even as the clock ticked past the one minute mark. Duncan did little damage but he was constantly pressuring, mat returning, and advancing his position. Morales only got free with thirty seconds left and he really did press the issue then. But it was too little too late, as Duncan was able to land one last takedown to get to the end of the fifteen minutes.
It was likely that Chris Duncan had earned a victory when the judges scorecards were read, so nobody was nervous. Maybe they should have been though, as the first judge bizarrely scored all three rounds for Omar Morales, despite landing almost nothing in the final round and being largely dominated in it. The next two judges rectified it though, both giving Duncan two rounds, and thus the victory.
Official Result: Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales by Split Decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
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