Silva Dismantles Irvin in 61 Seconds

By Mike Sloan Jul 20, 2008
LAS VEGAS -- For a fighter competing as a light heavyweight in the UFC for the first time, it couldn’t have looked easier.

UFC middleweight emperor Anderson Silva (Pictures) blew away James Irvin (Pictures) in the main event of Zuffa’s UFC Fight Night 14 card Saturday at the Palms Hotel and Casino.

“The Sandman” was considered by some to be a dangerous opponent for Silva. He is bigger than the Brazilian, and his punching power is significant. However, Silva backed up the Las Vegas sports books that had labeled him the prohibitive favorite by ending the fight with virtually a single right hand.

Irvin tried unfurling a right leg kick, but Silva caught it and retaliated with a stick of dynamite planted firmly on Irvin’s mouth. The blow was dealt with the precision of a surgeon and the speed of a piston. Irvin slumped to the canvas, and the Cannon from Curitiba, Brazil, pounced on his opponent with a vicious barrage of punches, punctuated by two lethal right hands.

Sixty-one seconds after referee Mario Yamasaki had instructed the fighters to fight, he was prying a victorious Silva off of a bewildered Irvin.

“Basically, I’m a muay Thai fighter,” Silva said through an interpreter after the fight. “I’ve been doing muay Thai since I was a kid. I didn’t step into the 205-pound category to disrespect any fighters. I’m here to do my job. But you know, you stand up and exchange muay Thai, this is what happens.”

Silva made the first-round destruction of Irvin, one of the most dangerous men at 205 pounds, look quite simple -- a frightening proposition for anybody at his normal fighting weight of 185 pounds, should they hope to challenge him for his middleweight crown.

Brandon Vera (Pictures) made his UFC debut at light heavyweight as well Saturday, but his fight didn’t unfold anything like that of his Brazilian counterpart. Vera had a tough time against the gritty Reese Andy (Pictures), but he won a unanimous decision.

However, the two combatants fought in spurts, and their actions inside the Octagon left much to be desired. By the midway point of the second round, the mostly filled Pearl Concert Theater was littered with boos and jeers as the crowd begged the two to pick up the pace.

In the end, Vera’s speed and overall athleticism paved the way toward victory, 30-27 (twice) and 29-28. He accepted the win, especially since it halted his two-fight losing streak, but he admitted that it wasn’t the best performance of his life.

“The 205 cut was a little bit more tough than I thought,” Vera said afterward with a sigh. “But I’m happy where I’m at. I’ll do whatever the UFC needs me to be at: heavyweight or 205.”

Frankie Edgar took another step toward title contention, as he surprisingly handled exciting veteran Hermes Franca (Pictures) for three rounds and won a unanimous decision. Winning 30-27 on all three cards was impressive, but the fight was much tougher than the scorecards indicated.

Edgar pressed the action from the start and gave as good as he got on the feet. However, the native of Tom’s River, N.J., also scored multiple takedowns and dished out a fair amount of ground-and-pound from within Franca’s guard. Aside from a scare midway through the opening frame, during which Franca latched on an armbar, “The Answer” had his opponent figured out and clearly won the contest.

Franca tried everything in his arsenal to offset Edgar’s rhythm. Yet the Brazilian jiu-jitsu maestro couldn’t land that massive punch or suture up a submission to prevent the loss. Edgar was too powerful, and his relentless pressure ultimately wilted Franca, who was competing for the first time in more than a year.

Cain Velasquez (Pictures) continued to ascend the rankings among young heavyweight prospects, as he needed only 2:02 to dispatch of the game Jake O’Brien. Velasquez quickly had O’Brien down and in side control. From there he pummeled his foe with about 30 unanswered punches and elbows. Not many were hard strikes, but O’Brien was stuck in a crucifix. He had no way of escaping, and Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight.

Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson, two promising welterweight contenders, fought two grueling rounds that were split between the two. Burns withstood all of Johnson’s vaunted power, and eventually started out-striking him. Johnson scored several powerful takedowns, but he didn’t do too much damage while on top. Going into the third stanza of the fight, it was anybody’s guess as to who would win.

Johnson was badly fatigued in the third. During a quick flurry, Burns inadvertently jammed one of the fingers on his left hand into Johnson’s right eye socket. Burns threw a right uppercut during the combo, but it didn’t land and Johnson cupped his eye and fell to the canvas, face-first.

“As soon as he poked me, I couldn’t see anything. … His finger went deep in my eye,” Johnson said after the fight. “I couldn’t help but scream.”

Referee Steve Mazzagatti had his view obstructed by Burns and didn’t see the eye gouge. He stopped the fight once he saw that Johnson couldn’t continue, ruling it a TKO victory for Burns. The crowd angrily booed the decision when Bruce Buffer announced it, but the ruling in Nevada is that referees cannot use instant replay to change their calls.

“It was extremely accidental,” a disappointed Burns said of the eye gouge. “I throw a palm strike with my left hand. I’ve broke it three times previously, so I’ve got to throw it as a palm. I can’t throw it as a closed fist. It was completely accidental.”

CB Dollaway (Pictures) did his best impression of submission guru Tony DeSouza (Pictures) by replicating the choke De Souza invented: the Peruvian necktie. Dollaway locked up the submission on Jesse Taylor (Pictures) in their anticipated showdown, which was a back-and-forth affair from the start.

Taylor scored a trip takedown midway through the opening frame and began pelting Dollaway with strikes. He got a wee overzealous with his punches and elbows, though, and it caused him to get swept. Taylor turtled up when Dollaway got his back, but Dollaway calmly transitioned into the Peruvian necktie from the side and forced the tap at the 3:58 mark.

“I can’t explain it. It’s insane,” a jubilant Dollaway stated after the fight. “Finally getting to pull off a submission in a big show like this, and being in the UFC and getting a win, [I’m] speechless right now. It’s one of my favorite moves. I work on it all the time. It was right there, and I was like, ‘I better go for it.’”

Timothy Credeur made quick work of Cale Yarbrough, stopping him at 1:54 of the first round. Credeur hurt his opponent with a stinging right hand early and bullied him into the fence for more punches. Yarbrough slumped to his knees, which ended the fight.

Rory Markham (Pictures) scored arguably one of the greatest head-kick knockouts in the history of mixed martial arts, knocking Brodie Farber (Pictures) flat on his back and stiff as a board in just 1:37. Farber had Markham in some trouble with a series of right hands. He got a little careless, however, when he charged after Markham and caught a shin to his chin. Once Markham landed the perfect Cro Cop-esque kick, he calmly turned around and walked to his corner because he knew the fight was over. It took Farber about a minute to get off the canvas and onto his stool.

“This is a dream that has come to fruition over a lot of years of arduous work,” Markham said of his long-awaited UFC debut.

It took him four attempts, but Nate Loughran (Pictures) finally sunk a triangle choke on Johnny Rees at 4:21 of the first round.

Brad Blackburn (Pictures) stopped a battered and exhausted James Giboo with strikes at 2:29 of the second round.

Shannon Gugerty (Pictures) opened the event with a rear-naked choke of Dale Hartt. Gugerty mounted Hartt relatively early, and when Hartt rolled to try and escape, Gugerty seized his neck. After a rather lengthy battle, Gugerty finally sunk in the choke and Hartt tapped at the 3:33 mark of the first.
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