Olivier Busquet used a rain of vicious ground-and-pound strikes to mash JC Alvarado's face, vanquishing his opponent with a corner stoppage at the end of the third round in their highly anticipated mixed martial arts clash.
The bout, which was agreed upon shortly after Busquet put out a challenge to the poker world on Twitter in September 2015, commenced after six months of training. Busquet was coming in as the bigger man, agreeing to a fight weight of 187.5, while Alvarado had to make 165.
Nonetheless, according to the terms of the scrap, Alvarado was coming in as the favorite as he put up $150,000 against Busquet's $120,000. Busquet was a novice with no formal training, while Alvarado had been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a key discipline of MMA, off and on since 2011.
Betting markets, though, saw a very evenly matched fight by the time the men headed for the cage. Betting website Pinnacle had a line up shortly before fight time that lined Alvarado at about -115 while Busquet was at about -105, meaning the market pegged Alvarado's win probability at about 54 percent.
The stream of the fight never got off the ground, so the following recap comes from watching smartphone-quality streams — but hat tip to PokerNews' own Sarah Herring for her effort in streaming the fight from her phone and giving the fans what they wanted.
The first round would set the tone for the fight as Busquet quickly landed some hard strikes on the feet, one of which appeared to send Alvarado reeling into the cage. Busquet pounced and the two hit the mat with Busquet in top position and Alvarado working off of his back. Busquet was able to land numerous strikes from half-guard and eventually moved into the mount position, but he was unable to finish the fight before the round ended.
The two circled each other at the start of Round 2, with Alvarado landing some potshot leg kicks while Busquet took the center of the cage and looked to land counters. He was able to time some hard counters, and the two eventually went to the ground again with Busquet soon fending off a triangle that was probably Alvarado's most threatening offense of the fight. Busquet shucked it off and commenced with more ground-and-pound while Alvarado was scrunched against the cage. The referee called for a break and appeared to warn Busquet for strikes to the back of the head. The match resumed with the fighters standing, and Alvarado attempted a takedown only to be thrown to his back again before the round ended.
In between rounds, it sounded like the PA announcer said Busquet had been docked a point for the illegal strikes.
Busquet and Alvarado exchanged a bit more standing up at the start of the third round before Busquet dove in for a double-leg takedown, which he completed. Alvarado had full guard and attempted to set up some submissions but his desperate attempts were easily shucked off by Busquet in between repeated strikes to the body and head. Busquet dutifully kept his limbs out of harm's way and continued to pound away, and by this time, one could see even on the phone streams that Alvarado's face was a crimson mask.
After the third round ended, the fighters returned to their corners with Alvarado presumably in desperate need of a finish in Round 4. However, the final round would never take place. From the sound of the stream, Alvarado or his corner had decided to concede the fight, and Busquet was announced as the winner via technical knockout.
The two men embraced in the center of the cage after the official announcement.
To view the full fight video, shot via Periscope, click here.