Kiwi UFC star Shane Young has suffered his second straight loss inside the octagon, falling to a unanimous decision defeat against Omar Morales at UFC 260 in Las Vegas on Sunday.
All three judges scored each of the three rounds for Morales, handing the Venezuelan his 11th win in 12 professional bouts.
In a fight many expected to be a fire-fight on the feet, the two athletes were patient and tactical through the full 15 minutes; taking a cautious approach when stepped into striking range.
Young forced the pressure from the opening bell, immediately taking the centre of the octagon. Neither fighter produced much offense in the opening minutes as they tried to get a read on their opponent, both of whom were well-rounded mixed martial artists.
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That showed later in the first round when Young looked to use his wrestling and take the fight to the ground. While he was unable to get the fight to the ground, Young and Morales battled for position against the cage. Although Young dominated the position for most of the round, Morales used his reach advantage to great effect – fighting behind his jab and landing the more impactful strikes.
It was a similar story in the second round, as Young looked to work Morales' body and wrestle, but was on the wrong end of the more significant strikes, with Morales edging ahead in what was a very close round with a late flurry.
After being outstruck in the first two rounds, Young's advice from cornerman and City Kickboxing teammate Brad Riddell between the second and third rounds was that he needed to win the third. He pressed the tempo straight away when the round started, and had some early success, before Morales adjusted and matched Young's tempo, ultimately doing enough to edge the round once more and take the spoils from a close, tactical bout.