UFC Fight Night 21 Analysis: The Main Card

By Tim Leidecker Apr 1, 2010
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday stopped in Charlotte, N.C. for the first time in 15 years, with UFC Fight Night 21 at the Bojangles Coliseum. It marked the promotion’s third event in the last 10 days.

Unfortunately, the Kenny Florian vs. Takanori Gomi, Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve doubleheader lacked the spark of the marquee matchups on the UFC’s most recent free television event. Nelson was too dominant and the lightweight main event was too uneventful.

Analysis follows for the four main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 21.

Ross Pearson def. Dennis Siver -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: Siver bounced around and held his own in the early exchanges, but Pearson sank his teeth into the fight and bloodied the German following an easy takedown late in the first round. In the second stanza, Siver delivered his patented spinning back kick; Pearson ate it without as much as a flinch. By then, Pearson was punching with more precision, and Siver appeared to be gassed because of his bloody nose. The highlight of a third round that saw many missed punches was a suplex from Pearson, who went on to win a unanimous decision.

Forecast for Pearson: The 25-year-old has become the symbol for everything good about MMA in the United Kingdom. Pearson works hard and has proven durable during his time inside the Octagon. An American wrestler -- Clay Guida, Jim Miller or Efrain Escudero -- could await “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner.

Forecast for Siver: The defeat snapped a three-fight winning streak for Siver, but the Russian-born German has won “Knockout of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” bonuses in his last two appearances. Back at .500 through eight UFC fights, he has become a sort of dark match gatekeeper. Siver performs best when matched with fellow strikers. Showdowns with Robert Emerson, Sam Stout or a recovering Duane Ludwig all make sense.

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Jorge Rivera def. Nate Quarry -- TKO (Punches) 0:29 R2

What happened: Exam failed for Quarry, who had shown major progress in his stand-up attack in recent fights. Rivera, a learned striker, brought the “Rock” crashing back to earth. Rivera knocked down Quarry three times in the first round alone. Quarry showed massive heart and came forward with everything he had left in the second round, only to be dropped and stopped by “El Conquistador.”

Forecast for Rivera: The 38-year-old middleweight needs to fight more often, especially given his advanced age and the nature of bouts he attracts. Seven of his last nine fights have concluded with him or his opponent on the end of a knockout. Rivera could certainly put together exciting performances against Tomasz Drwal, Drew McFedries or Alessio Sakara.

Forecast for Quarry: A win, which would have been his fifth in six fights, might have propelled the 38-year-old back onto the main card of a pay-per-view event. The loss clouds the Oregonian’s immediate future. Fights against Ryan Jensen, Rob Kimmons or Lucio Linhares could be on tap.

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Roy Nelson def. Stefan Struve -- TKO (Punches) 0:39 R1

What happened: When Junior dos Santos knocked him out in less than a minute, it became clear that Struve’s kickboxing was a work in progress. Nelson, though he had plenty of technical knockouts on his resume, had not made much of a name for himself as a knockout artist. Still, two overhand rights were enough to send Struve crashing to the canvas, where the big-bellied Las Vegan polished him off with some ground-and-pound.

Forecast for Nelson: “Big Country” has found his groove in the last two fights. It will be interesting to see how the promotion utilizes him going forward. Can he become the first winner from “The Ultimate Fighter” to challenge for the heavyweight title? In his immediate future, opponents like Gabriel Gonzaga, Cheick Kongo and Ben Rothwell stand in his way. The Rothwell rematch may be the most intriguing fight out there for Nelson.

Forecast for Struve: The bout with Nelson was over before the Dutchman could show off his acclaimed ground skills. The 22-year-old must now return to the drawing board. Future bouts against Antoni Hardonk, Gilbert Yvel or Mike Russow would all carry some intrigue for the 6-foot-11 heavyweight.

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Kenny Florian def. Takanori Gomi -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2:52 R3

What happened: Gomi fought from a very low stance and looked to counterpunch. Florian used his reach and peppered the Japanese veteran with his jab. It may have come as a surprise to some to see Gomi, a wrestler by trade, not attempt any takedowns. Instead, Florian took him down early in the third round, and the former Pride Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder did not look comfortable working off his back. After softening him up with strikes, Florian passed to mount and, as Gomi spun to his stomach, sank the rear-naked choke.

Forecast for Florian: The UFC will try hard to legitimize another title shot for “KenFlo,” especially if current champion B.J. Penn decides to vacate his belt. Putting the gold on the 33-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt would add further credibility to “The Ultimate Fighter” franchise, which has already produced one champion in light heavyweight Forrest Griffin. Florian’s next fight, perhaps against Gray Maynard, Tyson Griffin or Jim Miller, might serve as a title eliminator.

Forecast for Gomi: He received a rude awakening in his Octagon debut. While he was trending downward before signing with the UFC, there were high hopes that competing inside the world’s most prominent organization might rekindle the fire in the former lightweight king. Much to Zuffa’s chagrin, the same Gomi who went the distance with Seung Hwan Bang, Sergey Golyaev and Tony Hervey showed up instead. Interesting challenges for “The Fireball Kid” could now come from Mac Danzig, Tyson Griffin or Nate Diaz, the latter providing quite a storyline twist.
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