Wanderlei Silva was in vintage form at UFC on Fuel TV 8. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Wanderlei Silva provided the Japanese fans with a performance worthy of his Pride Fighting Championships heyday.
Silva knocked out former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Stann with a violent volley of power punches in the second round of their UFC on Fuel TV 8 headliner on Saturday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Stann (12-6, 6-5 UFC) was left unconscious 4:08 into round two, stopped on strikes for just the second time in his career.
“I’m so proud. Thanks to the UFC for giving me this wonderful opportunity to fight for my brothers here in Japan. I’m proud to fight for you,” Silva said. “I’m so happy that the game plan worked, and I’m glad to [get a win] back here in my home -- in Japan.”
The two light heavyweights left nothing in reserve. Wild flurries marked the first round, as Stann and Silva teed off on one another in furious exchanges. The American seemed to have the upper hand more often than not but retreated to his corner with blood pouring from a nasty gash on the bridge of his nose.
The pace expectedly slowed in round two. With roughly a minute remaining in the period, Silva connected with a vicious two-punch combination that sent his dazed opponent to the canvas. Thudding right hands followed, bringing about another signature finish for the Brazilian legend.
“I knew what I had to risk when I signed on the dotted line next to that man fighting here in Japan,” Stann said. “Wanderlei has always been one of my favorite fighters ever. He’s one of the fighters who inspired me to start in this sport, and I’m very proud to have been a part of his career -- as much as this hurts right now, because my heart is broken.”
Hunt Left Hook Wipes Out Struve
In the co-main event, 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt knocked out Stefan Struve with a left hook 1:44 into the third round of their pivotal heavyweight battle. Once an afterthought in MMA circles, Hunt (9-7, 4-1) has quietly rattled off four wins in a row.
The bout unfolded as most expected: Hunt was in control on the feet, while Struve took command on the ground. The towering Dutchman mounted Hunt in the first and second rounds and tried to finish it on multiple occasions, unleashing his ground-and-pound and fishing for an armbar and a foot lock. Those efforts went unrewarded.
Fatigue had zapped both men by the time they reached the third round. Hunt let his hands fly, drilling Struve with a series of heavy shots before sealing the deal with a clean left to the jaw. Referee Herb Dean moved in for a closer look at the still-conscious but dazed Struve (25-6, 9-4 UFC) and elected to call for the stoppage.
Sanchez Edges Gomi, Notches Split Verdict
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 winner Diego Sanchez made a triumphant return to the lightweight division, as he eked out a split decision over former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Takanori Gomi. All three judges cast 29-28 scorecards, two of them in favor of Sanchez (24-5, 13-5 UFC).
Sanchez, who entered the bout two pounds overweight, set the tone from the start. He struck for three takedowns in the first round and attacked Gomi (34-9, 3-4 UFC) with a well-disguised kneebar. The Japanese star bounced back in round two, where he found a home for his jab, fired away with punches to the body and kept the notoriously aggressive Sanchez off-balance with stance switches.
The third round was difficult to call, as Gomi again shut down his opponent’s takedown game but failed to deliver much of consequence in the standup. Sanchez flurried in the closing seconds, perhaps swaying the judges to his side. The defeat halted Gomi’s two-fight winning streak.
Okami Neutralizes, Outduels Lombard
Yushin Okami put two rounds in the bank and then held on against former Bellator MMA champion Hector Lombard, walking away with a split decision in a pivotal battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Okami (29-7, 13-4 UFC).
Okami neutralized Lombard’s explosive punching power with takedowns, a jackhammer jab and the occasional left cross. The 31-year-old judoka did his best work in the second round, where he tagged Lombard with jabs, struck for a takedown and eventually mounted the American Top Team standout.
Perhaps sensing his situation was dire, Lombard (32-4-1, 1-2 UFC) threw caution to the wind in round three. There, he wobbled Okami with a left hook and swarmed for an attempted finish. However, the crafty Okami lured him into his guard, regained his wits and bled precious time off the clock.
Yahya Spoils Hirota’s Octagon Debut
Constrictor Team representative Rani Yahya overwhelmed former Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota with his otherworldly grappling skills, as he captured a unanimous verdict in a featured featherweight scrap. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Yahya (18-7, 3-1 UFC).
A 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, Yahya was dogged in his pursuit of the takedown. He grounded Hirota (14-6-1, 0-1 UFC) in all three rounds and mounted him in the second, where he came close to finishing the Japanese wrestler with an arm-triangle choke. However, Yahya bailed on the choke in favor of ground-and-pound, allowing Hirota to reach round three.
Hirota exploited the fatiguing Brazilian over the final five minutes, as he threatened with an armbar and put his punches together in combination for the first time. Still, the hole proved too deep, and Yahya rode the scorecards to his third win in four fights.
Kim Dominates Bahadurzada, Settles for Decision
Takedowns, superior positional grappling and heavy ground-and-pound spurred Dong Hyun Kim to a one-sided unanimous decision over Siyar Bahadurzada in a welterweight showcase. Kim (17-2-1, 8-2 UFC) swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 marks, as he won for the sixth time in eight outings.
Bahadurzada (21-5-1, 1-1 UFC) did almost nothing of note offensively. Kim struck for takedowns and mounted the gifted Afghan striker in all three rounds, clubbing him with punches, elbows and double hammerfists from the top. The South Korean judoka went for the finish in the third round, where he worked for an arm-triangle choke, but ultimately settled for the decision.
The defeat was Bahadurzada’s first since November 2008, snapping a streak of seven consecutive victories.
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