It was a storybook return to the Saitama Super Arena in Japan for former PRIDE champion Wanderlei Silva, who knocked out Brian Stann in the second round of a light heavyweight war that saw the legendary “Axe Murderer” win in his first fight in the Land of the Rising Sun since 2006.
“I’m proud to fight for you,” said Silva, who is now 23-4-1, 1 NC in fights held in Japan.
“Wanderlei’s always been one of my favorite fighters ever, he’s one of the fighters that inspired me to start this sport and I’m very proud to have been part of his career,” said a gracious Stann. “As much as this hurts right now, my heart’s broken but I’m still proud to have put my name on the line and to have fought him.”
It only took 30 seconds for the leather to start flying, and when it did, Silva took the early advantage as Stann slipped to the mat in the middle of a barrage that left the Marine Corps veteran with a cut on his nose. An ensuing exchange favored Stann, who put Silva down to the canvas, and after the two broke, it was only a moment’s reprieve for the fighters and the crowd to catch their breath before the two engaged again. An inadvertent low kick by Stann brought a brief halt to the action midway through the round, and once the fight resumed, both were looking for a way to call a more permanent end to the bout, this one with their fists. In the final minute, both traded again, with Silva hitting the deck twice and Stann finding himself on the mat as well before they settled down on the mat until the bell.
Stann smiled and waved the roaring crowd on as round two began, and then it was right back to business, as he stalked the Brazilian legend around the Octagon. For his part, Silva was now trying to pick his shots, but he was coming up short. A second low kick by Stann drew a stern warning from referee Marc Goddard, but the American didn’t abandon his shots to Silva’s lead leg. Silva remained patient though, and with less than a minute left, a right-left from Silva dropped Stann to the mat. Four shots later, and Goddard intervened at the 4:08 mark, giving Silva one of the most satisfying wins of his storied career.
With the win, the 36-year-old Silva improves to 35-12-1 with 1 NC; Stann falls to 12-6. The bout was held in the light heavyweight division, with Stann expected to move back to 185 pounds in the future.
HUNT vs. STRUVE
The resurrection of Mark Hunt’s career continued in the co-main event, with the Australia-based New Zealander knocking out Stefan Struve in the third round of an entertaining heavyweight scrap.
The win was the 38-year-old Hunt’s fourth straight, snapping Struve’s four fight winning streak in the process.
Hunt scored effectively with his low kicks as the fight commenced, adding body shots to the mix as well before Struve pulled guard in the second minute. Struve got down to business immediately, sweeping his way into the mount. A series of ground strikes followed before Struve went for Hunt’s arm. Hunt got out of danger and got back into the top position, landing a thudding right hand to the face. Struve kept working from the back, but Hunt got into side control as the bell ended the round.
Hunt began round two by cracking Struve with a left hook, but the “Skyscraper” took it well, responding with a few stiff jabs. Hunt kept moving forward, landing more and more shots, a dangerous game for Struve to be playing. Midway through the round, Hunt stunned the crowd with a takedown of Struve, but the canvas is just where the Netherlands native wanted him, as he tried to lock up a leg. Hunt broke loose and then got into side control, but it allowed Struve to rise and take Hunt down. Landing right in the mount, Struve fired away with both hands before almost grabbing an arm, but he missed, letting Hunt get on top again at the bell.
A right left shook Struve early in the final round, and a minute later Hunt did it again, this time for good, with a left hook toppling the youngster. Hunt walked away, and with Struve still stunned on the mat, referee Herb Dean intervened, ending the bout officially at the 1:44 mark.
With the win, Hunt improves to 9-7; Struve falls to 29-6.
Watch Hunt's post-fight interview
SANCHEZ vs. GOMI
It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn't popular with the fans in Saitama Super Arena, but Diego Sanchez’ return to the lightweight division was a successful one, as he scored a split decision win over Takanori Gomi.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Sanchez, who improves to 26-5; Gomi falls to 34-9 with 1 NC.
Perhaps conserving energy after a rough weight cut that saw him come in at 158 pounds at Friday’s weigh in, Sanchez wasn’t his usual frenetic self in the early going, allowing Gomi to catch a striking rhythm early in the bout. Sanchez did get a takedown of “The Fireball Kid,” but Gomi effectively returned to his feet and got back to the business of tagging his opponent, who soon showed blood on his forehead. As the seconds ticked down, Sanchez got a second takedown, which was followed by a kneebar attempt, but Gomi eluded trouble, and once standing, he tagged Sanchez with a hard body shot, the final major statement in a solid round for the hometown favorite.
Gomi’s left jabs to the head and right hands to the body continued to score in round two, and he soon added a left hook to the arsenal as Sanchez tried to respond with kicks that did little to deter his opponent. Sanchez’ accuracy with his strikes improved as the round wore on, drawing himself closer by the bell.
Sanchez ran out of the corner to start the final round, but he proceeded to let Gomi lead as he looked to counter. And counter he did in the opening two minutes, not allowing Gomi to get close enough to score with quick 1-2s. Gomi kept stalking, stuffing takedown attempts along the way, and with the crowd firmly in his corner, he was able to catch Sanchez with point scoring shots despite a late flurry from “The Dream.”
See highlights from the victory
OKAMI vs. LOMBARD
With back-to-back wins over Alan Belcher last December and Hector Lombard Saturday night (Sunday in Japan), Yushin Okami put himself back in the middleweight title hunt, with his split decision victory over Cuba’s Lombard marking his first win at home since 2006.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Okami, who has now won three straight.
Lombard (32-4-1, 1 NC) was right in Okami’s face from the opening bell, looking to land one of his fight ending haymakers. Okami (30-7) waited for his opportunity to strike back, and less than a minute in he did, scoring with a single leg takedown. Lombard got back to his feet quickly and went back on the attack, showing no respect for Okami’s power. Okami’s defense was solid though, and his takedown game was on point as well, as he kept the Cuban from getting his offense in gear.
Okami’s jab was sharp in round two, keeping Lombard at bay throughout the first half of the frame, and as the second half commenced, a takedown added to the Kanagawa native’s point total. In the final minute, Okami got into the mount position, locking up another round.
Knowing that he needed a big finish, Lombard came out blasting in the third, and he hurt Okami with a left to the side of the head. Okami shook off the effects of the blow, but he wound up on his back moments later, with Lombard smelling blood. Okami held on for dear life before making at attempt to get back to his feet, but Lombard wouldn’t let him get free. With 90 seconds remaining, the two rose, but soon found themselves back on the canvas. Lombard was in the top position, but his work rate wasn’t that of someone probably needing a knockout or submission to win, and Okami was able to run out the clock and secure the win.
See highlights of Okami's performance
YAHYA vs. HIROTA
Brazilian submission artist Rani Yahya survived a late charge from featherweight newcomer Mizuto Hirota, winning a close, but unanimous decision to move to 3-1 in the UFC and 18-7 overall.
Scores were 29-28 across the board.
Yahya’s single leg takedown worked like a charm as he got Hirota to the mat in the opening minute. Hirota (14-6-1) was able to get out of trouble though, fighting his way into the top position. In response, Yahya swept his way into the dominant spot, and he began to go to work to soften his foe up for a submission attempt. And while Yahya didn’t get the finish in the first five minutes, he did lock up a dominant first round.
Getting the fight right back to the mat to start the second, Yahya stayed busy and a step ahead of Hirota, quickly locking in an arm triangle choke. After some tense moments, Yahya released the hold but stayed in control for the rest of the frame, making it 2-0 on the scorecards with relative ease.
Finally getting into the fight in round three, Hirota almost turned the tables on the Brazilian submission artist, moving from a triangle choke to an armbar attempt during a scramble. Yahya pulled loose, again taking the reins of the fight as the two locked up against the fence. To his credit, Hirota wouldn’t give in, missing a wild flying knee and landing some ground strikes on the tired Yahya in the closing minutes, but it was too little too late for the UFC debutant.
Watch highlights of the fight
KIM vs. BAHADURZADA
Welterweight contender Dong Hyun Kim produced another Kim-esque performance, using his smothering ground attack to nullify Siyar Bahadurzada for three rounds en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision victory.
Scores were 30-27 across the board.
Surprisingly, Kim was the more active of the two in the standup realm as the bout opened, but his attacks missed or were blocked for the most part, as Bahadurzada looked to get his own shots off. Eventually though, Kim went to his bread and butter, taking his opponent to the mat in the second half of the round and getting into the mount position. Kim fired away with short strikes to the head as Bahadurzada held on, hoping to force a restart. Just before the end of the round, Bahadurzada made his own luck as he returned to his feet, albeit with Kim draped across his back.
Coming out with a sense of urgency in the second, Bahadurzada swung wildly at Kim, only to find himself back on the mat with the Busan, South Korea product easily implementing his ground assault. With under two minutes left, Kim moved into the mount position, with his busy strikes keeping referee Herb Dean from standing the fight back up.
Kim wasted no time getting the takedown to open the final round, and in no time he was back in the mount. This time, Kim worked for an arm triangle choke, and while he didn’t get it, it just put more points in the bank for “Stun Gun,” who showboated and let Bahadurzada hit him in the final moments as he finished up the 15 minute win with more ground strikes.
With the win, Kim improves to 17-2-1 with 1 NC; Bahadurzada, who saw a seven fight winning streak snapped, falls to 21-5-1.
The Axe Murderer Forever: Silva KOs Stann - UFC on FUEL TV 8 Main Card Results
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