Vera Leg Kicks Chop Down Patt at UFC 96; Grove Flattens Day in 92 Seconds

Brandon Vera broke Michael Patt with leg kicks at UFC 96 and pointed his still-promising career back in the right direction.

The gifted and charismatic Vera brutalized Patt with repeated heavy blows to his legs and ultimately finished him 1:27 into the second round at UFC 96 “Jackson vs. Jardine” on Saturday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Vera’s strategy became clear from the start, as he went to work on Patt’s lower extremities. A superior stand-up fighter, he landed at will with quickness and power but did the majority of his damage with kicks to the legs. He knocked down the game but overmatched Patt (12-4) with a leg kick in the first round in a precursor of what was to come.

A 31-year-old former heavyweight, Vera desperately needed to win. He entered the Octagon with losses in three of his last four appearances and was in danger of becoming an afterthought in a light heavyweight division that feature’s some of the world’s premier fighters. Vera (10-3) had not finished an opponent since November 2006, when he slaughtered current interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 65.

Meanwhile, “The Ultimate Fighter 3” middleweight winner Kendall Grove blasted an overaggressive Jason Day in a cool 92 seconds.

Day (17-8) rushed out and met Grove with an early onslaught, but when he failed to connect with anything of substance, he left himself open for disaster. The 29-year-old Canadian ate a blistering right hand on the back end of a one-two combination and hit the mat as a result. His Hawaiian foe followed with a series of elbows that left Day stiff before the referee could intervene on his behalf.

Grove (10-5, 1 NC) -- who had not competed since he won a split decision from the late Evan Tanner almost nine months ago -- has rebounded nicely from back-to-back one-sided losses to Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera.

File Photo

Tamdan McCrory is back
on track in the UFC.
Elsewhere, welterweight prospect Tamdan McCrory utilized his superior grappling skills and delivered a first-round technical knockout against the previously unbeaten Ryan Madigan.

The 6-foot-4 McCrory (11-2) scored with an early takedown and made Madigan, an amateur kickboxing champion, look like a novice on the mat, as the 22-year-old passed to side control and eventually to full mount. After he failed to secure a triangle from the top, McCrory buried Madigan (5-1) with strikes. The end came 3:35 into the first round, as referee Yves Lavigne stepped in and halted the action.

In another light heavyweight tilt, Jason Brilz made the most of his first impression, as he outpointed the favored Tim Boetsch en route to a unanimous decision in his UFC debut. Scores were 29-28 on all three cards.

Brilz (17-1-1) recovered from a subpar first round, brought the fight to the ground and neutralized Boetsch the rest of the way. He struck with elbows to the head and knees to the body in the second round and then finished strong in the third. The former Victory Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder mounted and cut Boetsch late and made his point with the judges.

The 33-year-old Brilz (17-1-1) has rattled off 10 consecutive wins and remains unbeaten in his last 13 appearances. He suffered the lone setback of his career in 2001.

Controversy paid an early visit to UFC 96.

Shane Nelson posted his eighth consecutive victory and upset the well-traveled and durable Aaron Riley by first-round TKO in a preliminary lightweight bout. The 25-year-old B.J. Penn protégé dropped Riley with a counter right hand, and though the stunned Indiana native appeared to recover quickly and was clearly defending himself against follow-up blows, the night’s opening fight was halted 44 seconds into round one.

Riley (27-11-1), who entered the cage on a three-fight winning streak, protested the stoppage immediately. Boos from the crowd backed the International Fight League and Pride Fighting Championships veteran’s cause. Nelson (12-3) has not lost in almost two years.
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