WATCH THIS: Hong Kong-based fighter Alberto Mina makes a big impression on Las Vegas in UFC Fight Night 90
The Brazilian beat veteran American opponent Mike Pyle with one minute and 17 seconds left in the second round
Alberto Mina came to Las Vegas looking to make a mark.
And while the one left there on Mike Pyle’s right cheek by a flying left knee was the most obvious result of the Hong Kong-based fighter’s efforts, the bigger impression may well be the one Mina has left on the UFC.
Mina rose to the occasion on Friday morning (Hong Kong time) as he made his debut on the fight game’s biggest stage, laying his veteran American opponent down first to the canvas with that knee and then laying him out under a barrage of blows as their welterweight bout was called to an end with one minute and 17 seconds left in the second round.
When the camera zoomed in on Mina his message was immediate.
— #UFCVegas (@ufc) July 8, 2016
“Thank you, Hong Kong,” said the Brazilian, who fights out of Central’s Epic MMA gym.
The knockout – in a bout staged as a preliminary on the UFC Fight Night 90 card - moved the 34-year-old Mina’s record in the UFC to 3-0, and as a professional he now stands at an impressive 13-0.
— #UFCVegas (@ufc) July 8, 2016
Pyle was presented as the testing material for Mina as he attempts to rise through the UFC’s ranks, and the American came into his 40th pro bout with a record of 27-11-1. Add one more to that loss column.
“The goal for this fight was to be patient, listen to my corner and then finish off the fight,” said Mina afterwards.
Mina’s game plan was apparent from the first bell – end this matter as soon as possible – as over a long career the 40-year-old Pyle has built a reputation as a slow starter who gains in power and confidence as the time ticks down.
Mina never really gave him a chance, though, connecting to his opponent’s head late in the first round before making Pyle stagger off balance in the second – with a dismissive flick away of a kick attempt – before moving in to finish matters off for good.
“I was surprised when he staggered and stayed on his feet because in the past he has liked to draw his opponents down to the canvas. That’s why they call him Quicksand,” said Mina. “But I could see he was still distracted so I moved in.”
The hope, immediately, is that Mina will move closer to mixing it with the big boys of the welterweight division loaded with stars, not least among whom is the current champ Robbie “Ruthless” Lawler (20-10-0).
A title shot might still be some ways in the distance, but Mina continues to make all the right moves and the UFC commentators were full of praise for the fighter’s poise and his potential.
Fighting on the Fight Night 90 undercard, in the week leading up to UFC 200, left Mina with a taste of what he hopes is to come.
“Fight by fight I get smarter when I train,” Mina told reporters after the win. “All I ask is for big names to fight. It is a pleasure to fight the legends of my division.
“Mike is a tough guy but this is the tipping point in my career. I will wait to see who the UFC has for me next. Am I am just out here representing the UFC in Asia – and I’m just doing my job.”