Anderson Silva. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Moving up to the light heavyweight division proved to be no problem at all for pound-for-pound phenom and current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, as he made quick work of hard-hitting striker James Irvin in the main event of UFC Fight Night 14, which was organized promptly to counter Affliction Entertainment’s debut show happening just one state over.
What was expected to be somewhat of a test for Silva, who has completely cleaned out the UFC’s 185 lb division of viable contenders, proved to be nothing at all. After exchanging kicks with Silva early, Irvin attempted to go inside with a high kick. Unfortunately for him, it was caught, allowing Silva to come right down the pipe with a straight right hand. Irvin was sent crashing to the canvas. Silva pounced on him, landing unanswered punch after punch until the final one finished Irvin off for good.
After the fight, Silva, who originally expressed uncertainty when questioned if he would like to remain at light heavyweight, stated that he’d be willing to do whatever Dana White and the UFC asked of him. It’s the exact way of thinking that landed him an impressive win over Irvin.
“It doesn’t matter where I have to fight, at middleweight or light heavyweight, I’ll do whatever the UFC wants me to do,” Silva said. “I want to help setup the biggest fights I can and I want to be a part of them. I’m here to challenge myself and test my skills against the best fighters in the world.”
While Silva’s future was said to include an improbable rematch against Yushin Okami, the last man to defeat him, rumored plans for the bout to take place this fall may now be put on hold due to a reported hand injury Okami suffered during a recent training session. However Silva has admitted that he asked UFC management to be able to fight more often, increasing the chances that we will see the pound-for-pound phenom compete once again before the year’s end.
The night’s co-main event was fairly lackluster to say the least. One-time heavyweight contender Brandon Vera made the drop to light heavyweight for the first time in his career, taking on newcomer and International Fight League veteran Reese Andy. The weight-cut was said to be hard for Vera - It was mentioned on the broadcast that it would be the first time that Vera, a former standout Greco-Roman wrestling standout, would be cutting weight in over nine years.
It was all Vera early on in the bout as he stifled Andy’s wrestling attack with an array of kicks and strikes, even taking the former All-American down in the process. His closest chance of winning came in the second round, when he took Andy’s back and fought to sink a rear naked choke, but was ultimately unable to do so. The constant clinching up against the cage took a toll on both fighters who were visibly gassed as they coasted towards the final bell, much to the dismay of the crowd.
At the end of the fifteen minutes, Vera had done enough to win an unanimous decision on the judge’s scorecards and keep himself in the UFC. However he admitted after the bout that it was essentially his most disappointing performance to date.
“The fight for sure wasn’t the most exciting fight that I’ve ever had, by far,” Vera said. “The weight-cut was a little bit tougher than I thought it was going to be. It was good times though, I can’t complain. But I knew the difference as soon as I clinched up with Reese. I was like ‘woah’, I’m not as strong here.”
Former lightweight title challenger Hermes Franca returned to action following a one-year suspension for a positive steroids test in California. However his comeback didn’t go quite as planned - the Armory founder lost to his second straight powerhouse wrestler in the form of New Jersey native Frankie Edgar.
Franca had ample chances to finish the fight. He caught Edgar in an armbar in the first round and followed it up with a hard knee that caused a gash on Edgar’s nose in the third. However Edgar persevered and used dominant control from top position en route to an easy unanimous decision victory, his first since suffering his first career loss to Gray Maynard earlier this year.
Cain Velasquez showed why he is one of MMA’s most highly regarded prospects as he quickly dismantled “Irish” Jake O’Brien in just over two minutes. Velasquez took O’Brien to the fencing right from the very start, eventually wearing down his opponent with punches until O’Brien found himself trapping underneath Velasquez. Unable to escape from Eddie Bravo’s infamous ‘Twister’ side control, O’Brien took numerous unanswered blows from Velasquez until the referee stepped in to save him from any further punishment.
The night’s most controversial bout featured hard-hitting welterweight Anthony Johnson and Kevin Burns, who shocked many last month when he submitted jiu-jitsu black belt Roan Carneiro at the UFC’s latest show overseas in the United Kingdom. Burns was again playing the role of spoiler, ruining the predictions of those who saw a quick win for Johnson by aggressively counter-punching the Cung Le-trained fighter.
While Johnson was clearly ahead on the judge’s scorecards thanks to a trio of timely takedowns, he had to worry about the adventurous fingers of Burns, which poked Johnson in the eye on multiple occasions throughout the first two rounds, even prompting referee Yves Lavigne to issue Burns a warning. The third round saw a strange turn of events when Johnson suddenly flopped down to the canvas in pain. Burns delivered an unanswered shot to a downed Johnson and Lavigne waved the bout off.
Confusion quickly settled in as Johnson told Lavigne that he was fine but was poked in the eye and had temporarily lost his vision. Replays showed that Burns poked Johnson directly in the left eye with one of his fingers, abruptly putting Lavigne in place to make a tough call. After a few moments, in-ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced that Burns was the victor by TKO, with the Iowa native surprisingly escaping without a disqualification loss.
In a bout that featured the two original combatants for the finals of this season’s “Ultimate Fighter” show, C.B. Dollaway used one of his tricks that was shown on the program, his patented Peruvian Neck Tie, to submit problem child Jesse Taylor in the first-round to start off the night’s main card.
The evening’s preliminary bouts saw Rory Markham, shake off numerous consecutive punches and then channel his inner Mirko Cro Cop in head-kicking and knocking out fellow UFC rookie Brodie Farber. His fellow former IFL mate Brad Blackburn was also impressive, using quick strikes to dispatch of James Giboo.
Garnering submission victories were Nate Loughran and Shannon Gugerty, who were both making their respective UFC debuts. Usual grappler Tim Credeur also showed why he may have been the most underrated contestant on the most recent season of TUF, stopping fellow cast member Cale Yarbrough with strikes in the first round of their bout.
Shannon Gugerty def. Dale Hartt - Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Brad Blackburn def. James Giboo - TKO (Strikes)
Nate Loughran def. Johnny Rees - Submission (Triangle)
Rory Markham def. Brodie Farber - KO (Head Kick)
Tim Credeur def. Cale Yarbrough - TKO (Strikes)
C.B. Dollaway def. Jesse Taylor - Submission (Peruvian Neck Tie)
Kevin Burns def. Anthony Johnson - TKO
Cain Velasquez def. Jake O’Brien - TKO (Strikes)
Frankie Edgar def. Hermes Franca - Unanimous decision
Brandon Vera def. Reese Andy - Unanimous decision
Anderson Silva def. James Irvin - KO (Punches)
The television broadcast featured completely new graphics….International Fight League footage was used prominently to promote the UFC debut of light heavyweight Reese Andy. The promotion itself was also mentioned several times throughout the night, added fuel to the speculation that the UFC is nearing a purchase of the IFL….After hearing about Fedor Emelianenko’s 36 second submission of former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, UFC President Dana White’s tone concerning the Russian changed a quite a bit based on what he told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. “It does change my opinion,” White said. “Tim Sylvia was a real opponent.”....Post-fight awards were awarded to Hermes Franca and Frankie Edgar (Fight of the Night), C.B. Dollaway (Submission of the Night), and Rory Markham (Knockout of the Night). Each of the fighters were given $25,000 bonuses.
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