Alves Stops Hughes in London

Jun 8, 2008
LONDON -- Fighting with an injured right ankle, Thiago Alves (Pictures) hammered what looks to be the penultimate nail in the career coffin of welterweight great Matt Hughes (Pictures) at London's O2 arena on Saturday night. The lethal Brazilian muay Thai specialist survived a spirited first round attack from the former champion to deliver a beautifully-timed flying knee, followed by a crunching right hand to elicit a pertinently-timed stoppage from referee Herb Dean (Pictures) at 1:02 of the second round.

"He's a good fighter, he got me, no doubt," said Hughes moments afterwards.

Hughes had begun brightly enough. Fighting in the southpaw stance, he hung with the explosive Brazilian on the feet in the bout's early exchanges, while actively looking for takedowns. After briefly pulling guard, Hughes regained his feet and scored a takedown at the two-minute mark. Hughes was able to control the bout's tempo for the next few minutes, but did little significant damage.

With the crowd growing restless, Alves regained his feet and took Hughes down, landing a few strikes to end the round on top, without doing enough damage to win the session.

In the second, Hughes looked for the takedown early only to eat an Alves knee for his trouble. The knee opened a cut on the cheekbone and the Brazilian enjoyed a brief spell in top position, before a subsequent scramble saw both men regain their feet. It would be a just a few seconds before Alves was able to land the knee that effectively ended both Hughes' night, and likely his career as a top flight mixed martial artist. Over 15,000 were in attendance to Alves' coming of age.

"Mr. Dana White, I've been a good boy, please give me a title shot," pleaded Alves afterwards.

With a knockout win over perennial contender Karo Parisyan (Pictures) in his previous bout, followed by this destruction of Hughes, it shouldn't be too long before the likeable youngster gets his wish.

Hughes, engaging in his 50th professional bout, promised he had one last effort in him: a much-awaited grudge match with bitter rival Matt Serra (Pictures). Like Alves, the old champion will likely see his desired bout come to fruition before too long.

A little earlier in the evening, the eagerly awaited comeback of heavyweight Brandon Vera (Pictures) ended in controversial circumstances when the popular banger was mounted and stopped by Brazilian Fabricio Werdum (Pictures) at 4:40 of the opening round.

Vera had made a reasonable start to the bout, matching the bigger Brazilian in the clinch, and surviving an initial trip takedown to hoof the Brazilian off with both feet. After regaining his feet, Vera rocked Werdum with a countering left hook. Moments later Werdum came close with a high kick before scoring a beautiful takedown. Werdum transitioned to side control and quickly into the mount, where he unleashed a barrage of punches. While Vera was neither hurt or dazed, he was trapped and a succession of unanswered blows forced referee Dan Miragliotta to come to his rescue, much to Vera's dismay and the crowd's derision.

Graceful in defeat, Vera thanked Werdum for the fight, but felt the stoppage had come far too quickly.

"There was 15 seconds left (in the round). Let me take my ass whupping and let's go to a second round," said Vera to a rapturous cheer from the UK fight crowd.

The controversy shouldn't overshadow an otherwise solid performance from Werdum, who, following victory over Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures) at UFC 80, finds himself advancing as a logical contender to the UFC heavyweight title.

Liverpool's hugely popular Michael Bisping (Pictures) performed somewhere close to his devastating best by dismantling Jason Day (Pictures) in the opening round. The dangerous Canadian, who had been expected to provide a very adequate test for Bisping in the English fighter's second bout at middleweight, was never allowed out of first gear.

In what seemed like one long, almost effortless sequence, Bisping scored early with jabs and took Day to mat before scoring with a flurry from top position. The action returned to the standing position and Bisping quickly scored another solid takedown before transitioning to his opponent's back before opening up with a flurry of strikes to force a stoppage from Miragliotta at 3:42 of round one.

"People think I have no wrestling, no ground game -- have a bit of faith!" said Bisping afterwards.

Another significant middleweight bout played out in far less conclusive circumstances a little earlier in the evening. Nathan Marquardt (Pictures) and Thales Leites (Pictures) battled to the three round distance in a blood and guts war won by Leites, but only after point deductions for Marquardt in both the second and third rounds. Leites made the bout's first significant statement, dropping Marquardt with a crushing right hand in the first round. Leites pounced, but Marquardt hung tough and after regaining his feet, it was his turn to rattle Leites, a right uppercut sending the Brazilian reeling before the bell.

The main story of round two was a crushing illegal knee from the Denver stylist, which led to a point deduction, and a long delay while Leites recovered. Upon resumption, Marquardt took the Brazilian to the mat, grounding and pounding while the gutsy Leites bravely looked to snag a submission as the two fighters battled it out until the bell.

Round three was a fitting and desperately hard-fought conclusion to an excellent bout, but a further point deduction from referee Herb Dean for what appeared to be a questionable elbow to the back of Leites' head sealed the split decision for the Brazilian. The scores were 28-27 for Leites on two of the scorecards with a 28-27 going for Marquardt.

Mike Swick (Pictures) survived a second-round point deduction by using a well-rounded skillset and intelligent game plan to score a dominating win over streaking fellow welterweight Marcus Davis (Pictures). The anticipated shootout never materialized, as Swick nullified Davis with high kicks, takedowns and sharp ground-and-pound. All three judges scored the contest 29-27 for Swick, who was simply too dynamic and too fast for the well-supported Davis throughout.

Heavyweights Antoni Hardonk (Pictures), of Holland, and Eddie Sanchez, of the USA, had got the night off to a rip-roaring start, in a brutal war won by Hardonk at 4:15 of round two. Hardonk had been staggered and dropped by an aggressive flurry of punches in the early stages of round one. Hardonk did well to recover and the two traded back and forth for the remainder of the round, with Sanchez' looping power punches and uppercuts being countered with Hardonk's brutal knees.

Hardonk was dropped again early in the second, and once again was forced to absorb more harsh leather on the mat before being stood up moments later. The two bangers continued to trade, with Hardonk now getting a little distance, landing the jab and torturing his opponents' leg with violent low kicks. Sanchez began to wilt and a brutal combination capped by a pair of savage left hooks finally sent Sanchez to the canvas where referee Mario Yamasaki jumped in to call a halt.

Welterweights Jess Liaudin (Pictures), of London Pancrase, and Paul Taylor (Pictures) of Walsall, engaged in a three-rounder, won by Taylor via split decision. Both had their moments in an absorbing contest won by Taylor with two scores of 29-28 against a 29-28 to Liaudin. The win snaps a two-bout losing streak for the Taylor, who repeated a 2003 decision over Liaudin.

Light heavyweight Luis Arthur Cane (Pictures) made quick work of dangerous counterpart Jason Lambert (Pictures) with sharp southpaw striking causing the American's quick demise at 2:10 of the opening round.

In an upset, Roan Carneiro (Pictures) found himself caught in a triangle-choke from late replacement Kevin Burns, a banker by trade, at welterweight. After winning the first round, a sloppy moment in round two saw Carneiro tap at 2.53 of the round.

In a bigger upset, Brazilian judo and jiu-jitsu sensation Thiago Tavares (Pictures) was shockingly leveled by Mat Wiman at lightweight. Two big rights did the damage for Wiman, who came back from a shaky opener to score his biggest career victory at 1:57 of round two.

Finally, middleweight Martin Kampann shook off the ring rust by making quick work of veteran Jorge Rivera (Pictures). Kampmann secured a tight guillotine at 2.44.
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