UFC 174 Prelims: Kiichi Kunimoto Choke Submits Daniel Sarafian

By Brian Knapp Jun 14, 2014
All Kiichi Kunimoto needed was a small opening.

Kunimoto submitted “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1 semifinalist Daniel Sarafian with a first-round rear-naked choke at UFC 174 “Johnson vs. Bagautinov” on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Sarafian (8-5, 1-3 UFC) conceded defeat 2:52 into round one, as the stocky Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt submitted for the first time in his career.

A Pancrase veteran who has now won six consecutive fights, Kunimoto (17-5-2, 2-0 UFC) secured a takedown two minutes into the match and went to work. He dodged a guillotine, operated from inside the Sarafian guard and eventually scrambled to his back, snatching the rear-naked choke in the transition. The tapout came moments later following a brief but fruitless struggle.

Letourneau Edges Fellow Newcomer Phillips

American Top Team’s Valerie Letourneau survived significant damage to her left eye and eked out a split decision over Elizabeth Phillips in a preliminary women’s bantamweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Letourneau (6-3, 1-0 UFC).

Phillips (4-2, 0-1 UFC) had her moments, a stiff right hand that raised a grotesque swelling on her counterpart’s upper cheek chief among them. However, Letourneau’s more polished standup game and superior gas tank proved to be the difference. The 31-year-old Canadian peppered Phillips with crisp punching combinations, punctuating many of them with kicks to the legs and body. Letourneau was the aggressor and more effective fighter down the stretch, as she picked up her fifth victory in six appearances.

Jabouin Subdues Reeling Easton

Tristar Gym standout Yves Jabouin paired a multi-pronged standup attack with well-disguised takedowns, as he captured a unanimous verdict over Mike Easton in a preliminary bantamweight battle. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Jabouin (20-9, 5-3 UFC).

Easton (13-5, 3-4 UFC) had the Haitian-born Canadian on his heels with aggressive straight punches inside the first minute of round one. However, the first of Jabouin’s takedowns stymied his momentum and began to turn the tide. “Tiger” did his best work in the second round, where he opened up on Easton with his vast striking repertoire, utilizing uppercuts, head kicks, step-in elbows and even a spinning back kick to the body.

Easton’s late surge fell short. He swept into top position with a kimura and delivered some ground-and-pound from side control over the final five minutes, but the finish he needed never materialized. After a 3-0 start in the UFC, Easton has lost four fights in a row.

Bang Counter KOs Johnson

Korean Top Team’s Tae Hyun Bang knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” alum Kajan Johnson with a looping overhand right in the third round of their undercard tilt at 155 pounds. Bang (17-8, 1-1 UFC) drew the curtain on the Canadian 2:01 into round three.

Johnson (19-11-1, 0-1 UFC) enjoyed some success with takedowns and a stinging jab, but he simply could not withstand the Sengoku veteran’s punching power. Bang rattled him with a clean left hook in the first round, dropping him to his knees and foreshadowing what was to come. Early in round three, the Korean caught a head kick from Johnson, slipped into position and countered with an overhand right to the face that sent the Tristar Gym representative crashing to the canvas in a semi-conscious state.

Unbeaten Tanaka Breezes Past Delorme

Incessant lateral movement, timely takedowns and elbow-laden ground-and-pound carried Pacific Xtreme Combat champion Michinori Tanaka to a one-sided unanimous decision over Roland Delorme in their preliminary bantamweight encounter. Tanaka (10-0, 1-0 UFC) swept the cards with matching 30-27 scores.

Flummoxed by the Japanese prospect’s side-to-side motion, Delorme (9-3, 3-2 UFC) left himself open to takedowns. Tanaka employed a stifling top game on the mat, feeding “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 graduate a steady diet of short punches, hammerfists and slashing elbows, one of which resulted in a cut near Delorme’s right eye. Tanaka put the finishing touches on a victorious Octagon debut in the third round, where he escaped the Canadian’s mount, settled into top position and resumed his assault.

Saggo Wins Fifth Straight

Jason Saggo put away Bellator MMA alum Josh Shockley with late first-round punches in an undercard scrap at 155 pounds. Shockley (11-3, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to unanswered blows 4:57 into round one.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under Royler Gracie, Saggo (10-1, 1-0 UFC) scored with multiple takedowns and worked effectively inside the Duneland Vale Tudo export’s active guard, achieving full mount on two different occasions. The 28-year-old Canadian transitioned to Shockley’s back in the waning moments of round one, flattened him on the canvas and unleashed a volley of punches that resulted in the stoppage.


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