By Thomas Gerbasi
LOS ANGELES, October 24 – Former training partners Pat Barry and Antoni Hardonk promised a standup war in their UFC 104 heavyweight clash and they delivered on their promise, duking it out for seven minutes and 30 seconds at STAPLES Center Saturday night until Barry emerged victorious via an exciting second round TKO.
“Antoni Hardonk is the man,” said Barry. “That’s why I wanted this fight so bad.”
Hardonk shook off the customary touch of gloves to start the bout, and Barry responded with a hard right to the head. Hardonk recovered quickly and began his own standup assault, but it looked like Barry’s punches and kicks had more steam on them. 90 seconds in, the bout was halted briefly as Barry took an inadvertent shot to the eye, and after the action resumed, Hardonk went on the attack. Just past the midway point of the round, the fight surprisingly hit the ground, and even more surprisingly, it was Barry controlling the action. After a brief foray on the mat, the two stood and Barry – who was bruised below the right eye - bloodied Hardonk’s nose with a straight punch and landed with a high kick just before the bell ended the round.
Barry scored with the first big shots of round two, jarring Hardonk twice with straight punches down the middle before dropping him with the same combination moments later. Hardonk quickly rose, but Barry went right back to work. Midway through the round, another huge right sent Hardonk to the mat, and a brief follow-up brought in referee Josh Rosenthal to halt the bout at 2:30 of the round.
Barry improves to 5-1; Hardonk falls to 8-6.
The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Ryan Bader showed no ill effects from an April injury, as he returned to the Octagon with a hard-fought three round unanimous decision win over ‘Red’ Schafer.
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 29-26 for Bader.
Bader’s standup looked sharp from the opening bell, and he kept the pressure on consistently, eventually knocking Schafer down with a hard shot to the head at the midway point of the round. The end looked to be near, but Schafer weathered the storm and shook the cobwebs loose. Bader continued to press the action when the fight hit the mat, yet Schafer remained dangerous thanks to his jiu-jitsu.
‘Darth’ Bader’s momentum was slowed early in the second when he took an inadvertent poke to the eye, and with fatigue also starting to play a role, Schafer was able to get himself back in the fight, especially getting his foe’s attention with a left hook to the jaw with 90 seconds left in the round.
Schafer ate another huge right hand in the first minute of round three, and again it looked like the end was near, but Schafer, now cut on the bridge of the nose, survived again. A visit to the doctor to inspect the cut brought a brief halt to the action, and after the fight resumed, Bader added to his point total with a takedown as the bout approached it’s final minute, clinching the win for the Arizonan.
Bader’s win ups his record to 11-0; Schafer drops to 13-4-2.
Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen pulled off the biggest win of his second stint in the UFC, dominating highly regarded Yushin Okami for three rounds en route to a shutout decision victory.
“I went right after him,” said Sonnen. “Yushin doesn’t push the action, but he’s always ready to fight.”
All three judges scored it 30-27 for Sonnen, who improves to 25-10-1; Okami falls to 24-4. Okami’s only other Octagon loss came to Rich Franklin in 2007.
Sonnen went right after Okami to begin the bout, scoring two takedowns in the process. Okami quickly got back to his feet after both trips to the canvas, but Sonnen wouldn’t release his grip as he scored with knees and foot stomps. Midway through round one Okami escaped, but Sonnen kept moving forward as he tried to get Okami out of his comfort zone, and he effectively peppered his foe with punches and kicks before nailing another takedown. Okami rose quickly again and the two traded hard punches before the bell ended the round.
There was no let-up in Sonnen’s attack in round two as he did everything in his power to make Okami’s night miserable. And it worked, as he put another round in the bank behind some solid, yet unspectacular standup.
In round three, fans starting chanting ‘Chael, Chael’, and Okami just couldn’t find any answers for Sonnen, despite standing in the pocket and continuing to respond to everything his opponent threw at him. As the bout entered it’s final three minutes, Sonnen struck with another takedown, taking Okami’s back in the process. After eating some ground strikes, Okami got to his feet and pulled guard as he tried to pull off a kimura, but Sonnen yanked his arm free and got back to work until the final bell.
Veteran middleweight Jorge Rivera continued to turn back the clock at 37 as he notched his second straight UFC win with an impressive third round stoppage of Rob Kimmons.
Kimmons came out fast, using strikes as a setup before he bulled into the fence. Rivera broke free and got off a few hard shots of his own before Kimmons tied him up again. To get loose, Rivera used some hard uppercuts, and then he was the one controlling the action against the fence with flush shots as Kimmons was pinned. Even after they broke loose, Rivera kept the pressure on as he punished his foe. With less than a minute left, Kimmons bounced back with a takedown and effective ground and pound, leaving him in control as the round ended.
Neither man let up as the second round commenced, with Rivera again doing his best work on the inside with knees to the body and uppercuts to the head. Kimmons’ first takedown attempt of the round was stuffed, with Rivera following up with a barrage of ground strikes to emphasize his point. By the second half of the round, Rivera was clearly in control but remaining disciplined as he looked to lower the boom, but as the fighters stood in the final seconds, Kimmons showed he still had fight left in him as he battled toe-to-toe with his veteran opponent.
Already in control, Rivera went for broke as the third started, hurting and dropping Kimmons with a series of strikes, opening a cut on his forehead in the process. 90 seconds in, referee Jason Herzog halted the action in order for the doctor to inspect Kimmons’ cut. The bout was allowed to continue, but Rivera finished it on his own moments later with a barrage of strikes that forced Herzog to intervene at 1:53 of the third round.
With the win, Rivera improves to 17-7; Kimmons falls to 22-5.
The Ultimate Fighter season eight’s Kyle Kingsbury earned his first Octagon win in light heavyweight action as he scored a close split decision victory over Iowa’s Razak Al-Hassan.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Kingsbury, who improves to 8-2 with 1 NC; Al-Hassan falls to 7-2.
Al-Hassan struck first with a takedown of the bigger Kingsbury, but the Arizona State lineman recovered quickly as he worked his way into full mount. Kingsbury wasn’t able to finish though, as Al-Hassan did a good job of keeping his opponent contained as he fought his way out of the precarious position. With under a minute left, referee Jason Herzog re-started the action, and Al-Hassan went to work with his strikes until the bell sounded.
As the second round started, Kingsbury used his strikes to set up a takedown, but Al-Hassan turned the tables and was able to take the top position. After a stalemate, the two stood and locked up along the fence, with Al-Hassan drawing oohs from the crowd with a knee to the head as the two grappled. After the pace slowed for much of the remainder of the round, Herzog re-started the action and Kingsbury flurried late in an attempt to steal the frame.
The evenly matched battle continued in round three with neither fighter able to pull ahead in a clear-cut fashion. Kingsbury was able to get two brief takedowns during the round though, and his status as the aggressor may have been the deciding factor in the close
“You never want to go the distance,” said Kingsbury. “I know I made some mistakes. I’ll tweak some things and work on my cardio.”
Rising heavyweight prospect Stefan Struve handed Octagon debutant Chase Gormley his first pro loss in the opener, submitting the Los Angeles resident in the first round.
The action was fast-paced from the start with Gormley (6-1) initially taking control behind an effective ground and pound strategy. Struve (22-3) weathered the early storm as he looked for submissions from his back, and the two traded momentum shifts. In the second half of the round, Struve scored the takedown and began to take control, eventually locking in the triangle choke that forced Gormley to tap at the 4:04 mark.
“I’m only 21 and in my opinion I’m getting better with every fight, so keep looking out for me,” said Struve, now 2-1 in the UFC.