Sanchez lays claim to No. 1 spot Pearson, Wilks win at TUF 9
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos courtesty of Josh Hedges, UFC
Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez has gone on a tear through the UFC.
Boasting a 22-2 record, the original Ultimate Fighter entered Saturday’s main event against Clay “The Carpenter” Guida with something to prove. Popular opinion held that if Sanchez could emerge the victor, he’d be in line for a shot against the winner of the BJ Penn-Kenny Florian lightweight championship bout at UFC 101.
In a stunning reversal of roles, Sanchez stormed across the Octagon in the opening seconds and immediately went on the attack. He hammered Guida—who was at a significant reach disadvantage—with punches and knees. Many inside the sold out Pearl believed that Guida might have a short night.
But Guida would not fall so easily.
After surviving the initial onslaught, Guida scored a takedown of his foe, and escaped the first round. As this writer wrote at the conclusion of the first, “Somebody call the police, Clay Guida’s just been mugged.”
The second round saw the New Mexico fighter’s pace slow considerably allowing Guida to go on the attack. Guida secured an early takedown and was able to keep Sanchez at bay with a series of wild punches. However, Sanchez once again took advantage of his longer frame and superior reach, avoiding most of the damage while cutting Guida with elbows from the bottom.
In the minds of many, it was all even going into the third and final round.
With the capacity crowd on their feet as the bell sounded, the pair engaged in a standup battle in the first half of the round. It appeared in the early going that Guida might steal the round—and thus the fight—as he landed several punches to the head of Sanchez. As the final moments of the fight took place on the canvas, Sanchez attempted a rear naked choke, a kimura, and an arm bar. Though Guida was not forced to tap, the submission attempts likely sealed the round for Sanchez despite Guida’s final ten-second barrage of punches.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 for Sanchez (twice) and 29-28 for Guida.
“He’s got a couple of hearts,” Sanchez said of Guida.
The bout is certain to be an instant classic and possible fight of the year contender.
Wilks taps Johnson, claims Ultimate Fighter status at 170
Team UK coach Michael Bisping had a lot to smile about Saturday night, as his 170-pound finalists James Wilks defeated American favorite DeMarques Johnson with a rear naked choke as time nearly expired in the opening round.
From the outset, Wilks showed superior grappling skill and poise under pressure. He attempted to finish Johnson early with a heel hook, but found himself on the receiving end of several hammer fists. After abandoning the submission attempt, Wilks continued his ground dominance, taking Johnson’s back.
After fighting out of the first choke attempt, it looked as though Johnson would survive the round. With time running out, Wilks, the longtime martial arts instructor was able to isolate one of Johnson’s arms with his legs, locking in the rear naked choke
One thing is for sure, after Michael Bisping kicked down the door with his season two victory, the United Kingdom is now officially in the building.
Lytle extinguishes “The Fire” in bloody unanimous decision
When two guys are matched up that like to throw blows, the outcome will be an early, but exciting end or a knockdown, drag out 15-minute slug fest. Chris “Lights Out” Lytle and Kevin “The Fire” Burns put on a hell of a three round performance, with the Indiana fire fighter earning a unanimous decision victory.
As soon as the bell rang, the two men wasted no time with each swinging for the fences with every punch thrown. Lytle was rocked early with an uppercut and narrowly escaped defeat by holding on to Burns.
Lytle came out with a vengeance in round two, hammering Burns with several hard shots to the body that echoed throughout the arena. Despite two low blows that temporarily halted the action, Lytle was undeterred. Unlike the first round that saw both men go back and forth, Lytle owned the Octagon. The heavy hitter pushed forward and kept Burns on the defensive for the duration of the round.
In the final frame, a big overhand right from Lytle opened up a nasty cut near Burns’ eye. The site of blood running down the face of Burns sent the crowd into a collective gasp. A few more well placed shots smeared DNA over Burns’ face. The pair went for a crowd-pleasing finish, throwing punches until the final bell sounded.
After the hard fought battle, Lytle and Burns hugged and exchanged pleasantries as though no fight had taken place.
Pearson becomes the UK’s second Ultimate Fighter
Following in the footsteps of his coach, Michael Bisping, Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson became the United Kingdom’s second Ultimate Fighter, defeating fellow teammate Andre Winner in a hard fought unanimous decision.
Much of the bout was fought in the clinch with both men struggling to gain a decisive edge. Pearson appeared to have a slight edge standing and in the clinch, winning most of the standup exchanges. Winner finished the first round with a series of body shots as time ticked to a close.
Both men turned it on in the final frame, exchanging more hard shots inside the clinch. However, Pearson turned up the heat, landing several heavy shots and a big knee in the final ten seconds that may have sealed the deal.
With the win, Pearson wins a six-figure contract with the UFC and improves to 11-3-0.
Guillard defeats Tibau via split decision.
At just 26, Melvin Guillard has more than fifty MMA fight under his belt. However, his career has been hampered by brushes with the law and suspensions. After scoring a knockout in his last UFC appearance, Guillard returned to the Octagon with a razor thin split decision over Gleison Tibau.
Most surprising in the victory was the improvement of “The Young Assassin’s” ground game. All three of Guillard’s UFC losses have come via submission, but Tibau was unable to capitalize after taking Guillard down and struggled to get the takedowns he scored during the bout.
Absent from the fight were the spectacular finishes long time fans have come to expect from Guillard. The Lousisana fighter came out swinging early, causing Tibau to hop on his bicycle to avoid a quick end. Tibau’s jiu-jitsu was nullified and Guillard escaped several sticky situations. At one point, Guillard scored big with a Judo throw that wowed the crowd.
Guillard won the first two rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards, allowing him to emerge the victor in a fight most fans may want to see again.
“A lot of people are used to seeing me come out and throw hands but I showed superior wrestling,” Guillard said, acknowledging what many were silently thinking about the lightweight.
With Guillard’s troubles behind him, he also realizes that a second chance in the Octagon was not a given, despite his talent.
“I had a lot of growing up to do,” he added. “Dana White and the UFC believed in me. I just want to be a better asset to this company.”
With his wrestling on display to accompany his heavy hands, Melvin Guillard may have put the rest of the 155-pound division on notice.
Stevenson bests Diaz, gets back in the win column
After dropping his last two bouts, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson put on a jiu-jitsu clinic en route to a 29-28 unanimous decision victory over fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Nate Diaz.
Both men are known for their superior ground skills, but the much shorter Stevenson got the better of all the exchanges. From bell to bell, Stevenson smothered the Stockton, California. To Diaz’ credit, he escaped Stevenson’s trademark guillotine choke, nearly turning red before escaping the hold that has forced several fighters to tap out.
Diaz, clearly behind on the score cards came out aggressive in the final round, declining to touch gloves. However, like the first two rounds, Stevenson used his superior jiu-jitsu skills to keep Diaz on the offensive.
With the win, Stevenson improves to 35-10.
Blackburn wins in controversial fashion
Both “Bad” Brad Blackburn and Edgar Garcia promised a fight full of fireworks, and neither disappointed the capacity crowd at The Pearl inside the Palms. Though both fighters’s tested their hands and the other’s chin, Blackburn emerged with a controversial split decision, besting Garcia 29-28 on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
Blackburn—who broke one of his hands early in the fight—was showered with boos after the announcement of the decision.
Both fighters started off at a feverish pace, with Blackburn appearing to get the better of the standup in the early going.
Garcia and Blackburn both slowed down considerably in the following rounds, with neither able to effectively hurt the other. The tide appeared to turn in the final round when Garcia planted “Bad” Brad with a stiff punch. However, the former wrestler was unable to close the deal as time expired.
The two men shared a spirited embrace in the middle of the Octagon after a hard fought bout.
Fight News scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Garcia.
Drwal brutal in first round TKO
Tomas Drwal emerged as another potential contender in the UFC’s stacked 205-pound division, defeating Mike Ciesnolevicz at 4:48 in the first round via TKO.
From the outset, Ciesnolevicz was a step slower than his opponent and was made to pay for it. Each time Drwal circled in, Ciesnolevicz appeared powerless. He was unable to stop the takedowns, and incapable of landing a solid strike.
A big knee planted Ciesnolevicz on the canvass, allowing Drwal to pounce. Referee Herb Dean gave Ciesnolevicz every opportunity to recover, but was forced to stop the bout after Drwal rained down a series of unanswered punches.
Osipczake ends Lester’s underdog story
Frank Lester was season 9’s Rocky Balboa. An unlikely contender, Lester fought four times on the show and lost several teeth in one of the most shocking moments in TUF history. However, Lester’s feel good story wasn’t enough to lift him to victory over Nick Osipczak.
Team UK’s Oscipczak defeated Lester via rear naked choke at 3:40 in the first round.
The Team US fighter came out firing early, but the tide turned when Lester was caught with a hard shot. After Oscipczak seized Lester’s back, it seemed only a matter of time before the bout was over. With less than two minutes left in the opening frame, Oscipczak locked in the choke, forcing his rival to call it quits.
Dent cracks the bank, chokes out Dollar
Jason Dent kicked off the Ultimate Finale in style, defeating fellow American Cameron Dollar in the first round with an anaconda choke.
The opening minutes started in seesaw fashion as the pair traded shots with both men struggling to gain the upper hand. However, when you play on the big stage, one mistake can signal the end of a night for a fighter. Dent took advantage of an attempted takedown by Dollar, sprawling to avoid the ground game while locking in the choke that would eventually end the match.
For Dent, the victory was a throwback to his days on the hit reality show. “I got him with the anaconda choke. I got him on the show a couple times,” Dent said before adding, “I thought he worked on his defense.”
Dent may have won the battle mentally before he stepped into the Octagon. “I knew Cameron was heavy-handed but I’ve never been knocked out so I wasn’t worried about that.”