Bigfoot hammers out win at UFC on FX 5
Octagonside by Tim Hobscheid
Photos by Jessie Kelly
The UFC rolled into the Twin Cities riding a wave of bad luck. An epidemic of cancelled fights has tormented the world's foremost MMA promotion throughout 2012, and Friday's UFC on FX card was no exception.
On a night that should have been highlighted by a bounce back performance by Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and the crowning of a number one contender at flyweight, the top stories will inevitably revolve around the loss of two fights on the undercard.
During the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White talked about his frustrations: "Every card has drama now. Every day when I get up it's like a soap opera. When you have 475 different guys under contract from all over the world, shit happens."
Unfortunately, for Dana White, it's happened a little bit too much as of late.
At Thursday's weigh-in, the first spell of bad news came through when Dennis Hallman weighed in seven pounds overweight for his fight with Thiago Tavares. The fight was subsequently cancelled and Hallman released from the remainder of his UFC contract. If that wasn't enough, news broke on Friday afternoon that Jeremy Stephens had been arrested on a warrant for an outstanding alleged assault charge. White was obviously frustrated with the circumstances of Stephens arrest and worked throughout the day to secure Stephens release for the fight.
"I was 100% confident that I would get him out for this fight," said White. "I was willing to have two armed police men bring him from jail to fight and then bring him back to jail. I think they did it in an effort to make him not fight and not get paid."
White was unable to procure Stephens release and subsequently forced to cancel his second fight in as many days. Even with the frustration of Stephens arrest on his mind, White quickly rallied behind his fighter. "These guys are all human beings. They're heroes to some, but they're real people with real problems. This is a company that really gets behind and supports its people. I respect everybody that fights. Everybody's got a side to the story."
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva defeats Travis Browne by TKO, 3:27 Round 1
In a bit of an upset, Bigfoot Silva capitalized on an early hamstring injury to Travis Browne and landed a crushing right hook that took the undefeated prospect off of his feet. Bigfoot followed Browne quickly to the ground and forced a referee stoppage as Browne was rendered unable to defend himself. The win for Silva was his first since defeating former Pride FC Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko in a fight that seemed destined to propel Bigfoot into the Heavyweight spotlight. However, two devastating losses (to Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez) quickly derailed the momentum that he built with his defeat of Fedor.
Coming into this fight, Bigfoot Silva needed a captivating performance and that's exactly what he produced. "The UFC is the biggest show in the world. I trained two months for this fight, because with this fight I have only one opportunity. I can't make any mistakes. For me, it's kill or die and I have to kill."
After the fight, Travis "Hapa" Brown was quick to credit Bigfoot, and not the hamstring injury, for his loss. "I don't want to take anything away from Bigfoot...I just didn't follow through on my gameplan." Browne might have lost his undefeated record, but he was already prepared to turn the page and move on. "I'm just ready to come back. I'm going to come back even more pissed off." In a sport where your next fight is always your most important, that's an encouraging sentiment.
Jake Ellenberger defeats Jay Hieron by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
In the co-main event, Jake Ellenberger avenged his first loss by defeating Jay Hieron by unanimous decision. Hieron spent the majority of the fight trying to stay out of the powerful Ellenberger's range while throwing kicks and constantly circling the cage. Ellenberger was able to land the more significant blows though, and also secured takedowns in the 2nd and 3rd round. Ellenberger's victory was not flashy, but he was happy to get the nod against a competitor like Hieron. Dana White echoed that at the post-fight press conference, "anybody that's been in this business that knows Jay Hieron knows that he is a tough guy and been around a long time. This is one of those situations where Jake is one of the top ranked guys, fighting a guy that's fighting for his life. It was a tough fight for Jake and I respect him for stepping up and taking the fight."
Ellenberger also echoed praise for Hieron. When asked if he considered this fight to be personal, since Hieron dealt him his first loss, Ellenberger responded, I didn't really look at this fight that personally. Every fight is different…I knew going into this fight that Jay would be a dangerous opponent. Each fight I learn and go forward, that's all you can really do."
John Dodson defeats Jussier Formiga by TKO, 4:35 Round 2
In a fight that would establish the top contender for Demetrius Johnson's flyweight title, John Dodson captivated the crowd with a lightning fast TKO victory over Jussier Formiga. Dodson and Formiga exchanged blows throughout the first two rounds and showcased incredible footwork as both tried to find a comfortable range. Dodson was the aggressor throughout and his activity paid off with a left hook that put Formiga on the mat with less than 30 seconds remaining in the second round. Ever the showman, Dodson punctuated the victory with a running backflip off of the cage and a host of other in-ring acrobatics. The crowd seemed restless as the fight wore on, but Dodson quickly brought fans to their feet with the TKO finish and his in-ring showmanship.
When asked if the crowd's restlessness bothered him, Dodson brushed it off, "I can't blame the fans for booing during my fight, since they were so spoiled with the earlier fights. There were so many knockouts and so many great back and forth battles before me, and then I get out there and I'm being very technical…I gave them a knockout so they started cheering afterwards."
With the victory, Dodson is already looking forward to a fight with Demetrius "Mighty Mouse" Johnson. "It's going to be fun and it's going to be explosive. I've seen the fight happen probably a thousand or a million times in my head." Dana White was also quick to point out that the fight will be between "two of the fastest guys ever in the UFC."
Justin Edwards defeats Josh Neer by Submission (Guillotine Choke), 0:45 Round 1
Josh Neer is tough as nails. He's a wily veteran that can take a lot of punishment and wiggle out of dire situations. That's what makes Justin Edwards quick Submission of the Night performance so incredible. In the opening fight of the UFC on FX broadcast, Edwards came out firing with heavy punches and pushed Neer into a clinch against the cage. Neer picked up Edwards for a takedown but Edwards locked in a nasty guillotine choke and would not let go. The victory was a necessary one for Edwards, as he came into the fight with a 1-2 UFC record (all of which went to decision).
Michael Johnson defeats Danny Castillo by KO, 1:06 Round 2
In the final bout of the UFC on Fuel broadcast, Danny Castillo came out firing on Michael Johnson early. Landing a big right hand that put Johnson on the canvas, Castillo followed-up with a barrage of hammerfists that left Johnson on the brink of consciousness. Quickly Castillo moved into position for an arm triangle that looked destined to end the fight. As aggressive as Castillo was, Johnson showed amazing resilience and worked his way out of the choke and rode out the round on his back.
As the second round opened, Johnson's offensive output increased. He capped off the comeback with a short left hook that put Castillo out. The finish earned Johnson the Knockout of the Night bonus. Johnson stated afterwards, "I knew he was tired and just stayed strong in the second."
Mike Pierce defeats Aaron Simpson by KO, 0:29 Round 2
Aaron Simpson had Mike Pierce reeling in the first round, but couldn't quite finish after landing hard shots and just missing on a guillotine choke before the end of the round. As the second round began, Pierce was ready to put the pressure back on Simpson and landed a homerun counter right hand flush on Simpson's chin.
Pierce later commented, "He had me pretty good there in the first round and landed a few good strikes but I came back. In between rounds they were telling me to press the action and that's what I did. It's been awhile since I had a finish and I wanted a knockout. I'm happy with the win."
Marcus Levesseur defeats Carlo Prater by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Minnesota's own Marcus Levesseur earned a tough split decision over veteran Carlo Prater. Levesseur (four time Division-3 national champion) did just enough to land the more effective strikes and secure a few takedowns in a fight that was rather slow-paced as both fighters struggled for position.
"It felt good out there doing my thing in front of my hometown fans. I could hear them in the background cheering me on and I'm appreciative of their support. Carlo was a tough opponent. It was a physical chess game out there but we trained hard for this stuff. I just feel very blessed to get this win."
Jacob Volkmann defeats Shane Roller by Submission (Rear Naked Choke), 2:38 Round 1
Jacob Volkmann got back on track with an impressive submission victory over Shane Roller in front of his hometown crowd. Volkmann was aggressive from the start, throwing leg kicks and diving for an ankle pick as Roller attempted to stay out of range. Volkmann was able to hit a quick combination that stunned Roller and allowed Volkmann to take his back. That was all the opening that he would need, as he sunk in a deep Rear Naked Choke. In true form, Volkmann used the post-fight interview to lead the crowd in the University of Minnesota rouser chant and urged, "If you don't like Obama and you don't like Romney, write my name in." As eccentric as Volkmann can be, he certainly has the tools to be a factor at 155. After the fight Dana White spoke regarding Volkmann's win, "a finish always gets you in a bit more favorable position."
Diego Nunes defeats Bart Palaszewski by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
In the Fight of the Night, Diego Nunes showed great footwork and power striking while Palaszewski proved again that he has a ton of heart. Palaszewski, known for getting stronger as the fight progresses, weathered the early storm from Nunes and pushed the pace of the fight until the final horn. Palaszewski just took too much damage and could not dig himself out of that early hole.
Darren Uyenoyama defeats Phil Harris by Submission (Rear Naked Choke), 3:38 Round 2.
The UFC on Fuel card started strong with a fast paced fight between two 125 pounders. Coming off of a big victory against Kid Yamamoto, Uyenoyama was ready to make another statement to the UFC's flyweight division. He certainly did that in his win over Phil Harris. Uyenoyama used a keylock to roll Harris to the ground and take his back. Once there, he locked in a deep Rear Naked Choke that sealed the victory.