UFC Fight Night 17 Notebook: TKO Leaves Hyped Velasquez Unsatisfied

By Brian Knapp Feb 9, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. -- Cain Velasquez hears the hype.

Viewed by some as a man who can contend for the heavyweight championship sooner rather than later, the 26-year-old American Kickboxing Academy prospect knows the UFC expects much from him. He believes his latest effort -- a second-round stoppage of pudgy newcomer Denis Stojnic in the UFC Fight Night 17 co-main event on Saturday at the Sun Dome -- left plenty of room for improvement.

“My timing was off,” Velasquez told UFC.com after he was pushed into the second round for the first time in his career. “The last two weeks of my training camp, I wasn’t able to spar. I think that had a lot to do with it. Other than that, I felt great.”

Still, he cannot argue with the results. Velasquez (5-0) battered Stojnic throughout the fight with knees, kicks and punches from the clinch. He did well in space, too, as he nearly finished the Golden Glory product with clean strikes from the outside in the first. A two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, Velasquez mauled Stojnic on the ground and forced the referee to intervene 2:34 into the second round. Even so, he was not satisfied.

“I just wasn’t relaxed out there,” Velasquez said. “I think I need more ring time. I kind of tightened up. I was just throwing two punches [at a time]. I want to be able to throw more … head movement, sit in the pocket and keep that progress going. I was throwing and backing off. That’s not what I want to do. I want to be more active.”

‘Batman’ Vies for Air Time

Kurt Pellegrino wants a piece of the main card pie.

The 29-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt roared back from a tepid start to submit Robert Emerson with a second-round rear-naked choke at UFC Fight Night 17. Afterward, he lobbied for more premium air time at UFC events.

“Kurt Pellegrino always comes to fight,” he told UFC.com. “I always come to fight. I don’t come here to [expletive] wrestle. I come here to fight.”

Emerson controlled round one with solid strikes, a stiff jab and a pair of takedowns. Still, a patient Pellegrino (13-4) bided his time and waited for an opening. He delivered a powerful takedown of his own in the second period, moved quickly to mount and cinched the submission as soon as Emerson surrendered his back.

“I finished him when it counted,” said Pellegrino, who has fought in dark matches in each of his last two appearances. “He surprised me with getting me down twice, but like I said, I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu, so I’m comfortable on the floor.”

UFC Post-Fight Bonuses Total $120K

It lasted less than 10 minutes, but the Josh Neer-Mac Danzig lightweight showdown at UFC Fight Night 17 made its mark -- with fans in attendance and with the promotion.

Neer and Danzig were awarded matching $30,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses after they engaged in a spirited, emotionally charged back-and-forth battle that ended when Neer submitted “The Ultimate Fighter 6” winner with a second-round triangle choke. It marked the first time in his 25-fight career that Danzig tapped out.

Cut by what appeared to be a first-round head butt, the 25-year-old Neer (25-7-1) fanned the flames when he refused to touch gloves with Danzig at the start of the second period. A smattering of boos greeted him afterward.

“The cut … it did affect me,” Neer told UFC.com. “I felt like I got head butted. I haven’t watched the fight, but I felt it, and I’m pretty sure it was a head butt. It started affecting my vision. I started wiping my eye. I couldn’t see very well, and that’s when he started getting through with some punches. I knew I had more heart than him. I was just going to do whatever I had to do to win.”

Other post-fight honors went to Joe Lauzon -- who pocketed a $30,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus after he finished the rugged Jeremy Stephens with an armbar in the second round of their main event -- and Velasquez, who banked a $30,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus.

Miller’s Stock Rising

The last man to hold the International Fight League middleweight championship has had an immediate impact inside the Octagon. Three-time national wrestling champion Jake Rosholt was at his mercy on the UFC Fight Night 17 undercard.

Unbeaten in his past 10 bouts, Dan Miller needed just 63 seconds to coax a quick tapout from Rosholt, as he caught the Idaho native in a modified guillotine choke.

“We came up in the scramble,” Miller told UFC.com. “I hit him a few times, but he went to go double-[leg] me, and I was able to sink my arm in, pull it up and get the guillotine. I got a real tight guillotine, got it in elbow deep, was able to sink it in, and that was the fight.”

Miller (11-1, 1 NC) -- who suffered his lone career defeat in a split decision loss to UFC veteran Mike Massenzio in 2006 -- has delivered seven of his 11 victories by submission. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt and brother to UFC lightweight prospect Jim Miller, he did not expect the previously undefeated Rosholt to go so quietly.

“Jake’s a really, really tough guy,” Miller said. “He can take punishment. I knew I had to go in there and figure something out fast. I thought it was going to be a war.”

What’s next for the 27-year-old New Jersey native?

“Hopefully, the UFC likes what they saw and gives me another opponent soon,” Miller said. “I love fighting. It really doesn’t matter.”

This & That

Youth was served at UFC Fight Night 17. The average age of the 10 victors was 25.7 years, and none of the 10 has hit the 30-year-old mark yet. In fact, three of them -- Anthony Johnson, Matt Riddle and Lauzon -- are under 25 … There was plenty of star power in the corners, as the UFC made its 2009 Florida debut. The list of cornermen at the show included top lightweight contender Kenny Florian and World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres (Pellegrino), Strikeforce middleweight and lightweight titleholders Cung Le and Josh Thomson (Johnson), along with future UFC hall of famer Matt Hughes and one-time EliteXC middleweight kingpin Robbie Lawler (Matt Veach) … Danzig’s loss to Neer leaves “The Ultimate Fighter” winners with a combined 40-17-1 record after their appearances on the Spike TV reality series; that number does not include their respective finales … Rich Clementi’s defeat to American Top Team lightweight Gleison Tibau marked the first time in 47 career bouts the Louisianan had submitted to a guillotine choke … Might Riddle be the most promising prospect spawned by season seven of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show? The 23-year-old overwhelmed Steve Bruno over the final two rounds of their bout, as he smothered the ATT veteran and former SpiritMC champion with relentless offense and pressure from the top.
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