Full Credit goes to Mike Coughlin and Dave Meltzer of f4wonline.com
Mike Coughlin here, live from inside the Target Center. We’re about 20 minutes away from the the first prelim bout. So far, no sign of Jamie Foxx or Usher. Quinton Jackson was walking around backstage and looked in good spirits. He was goofing off and taking pictures with people like he didn’t have a care in the world.
Ben Saunders will take on Ryan Thomas to begin the show. Saunders is the former TUF star. Having attended Eastern Illinois University, Thomas is a division one wrestler from the former school of Matt Hughes.
The crowd is very hot, though still a bit sparse. It’s still early, so I would expect it to fill in a bit more, but there are noticeable pockets of empty seats. Those that are here are making a great deal of noise.
Clay Guida is in Thomas’s corner.
FIGHT ONE: Ben Saunders v. Ryan Thomas
Saunders starts things off with a flying knee. Saunders is mixing his strikes up well and doing a great job of stuffing Thomas’s takedown. Thomas is really trying for the takedown, but to no avail. High kick drops Thomas, but he recovers well. He tries a kneebar, then goes for a reverse triangle. Saunders escapes. Good exchange. Saunders with side control half-way through the round. Both appear to be resting a bit. Saunders takes Thomas’s back. He has the body triangle, but with the round coming to an end, cannot secure the choke.
Mike’s Score: Saunders, 10-9.
Thomas begins the 2nd again looking for the takedown, but Saunders reverses and ends up on top. Ben stands up, happy to trade with the wrestler. Thomas doesn’t seem to see Saunder’s left kick coming, and as I type that, Saunders lands a high kick. A brief scramble on the mat saw Saunders try an armbar, Thomas pull out, and both men move to their feet. A big body kick by Saunders noticeably hurt Thomas. Thomas is trying to time the kick for a takedown, but Saunders sprawls effectively each time. Thomas is hurt off a strike. He shoots a single and Saunders looks to take his back. Saunders with the armbar for the tapout!
WINNER: BEN SAUNDERS BY ARMBAR, ROUND TWO. 2:28
Good fight and for the record, all three judges scored the first round for Saunders.
FIGHT TWO: Chris “The Professor” Wilson v. “Hollywood” Steve Bruno
Bruno is coming to the ring wearing sunglasses and has kind of this whacky charisma. Wilson is out to what I can only describe as jungle music.
Early clinch work against the cage. Bruno lands a nice right. An inside leg kick followed by a punch seems to drop Bruno. Wilson is sprawling while delivering elbows to the side of the head. He throws a high kick as they stand. Wilson with a nice throw. Bruno stands. Right hand by Wilson drops Bruno solidly. Wilson has his back. Crowd is booing as they’ve been in this position for a minute with no sign of a finish.
Mike’s Score: Wilson, 10-9.
Bruno gets a deep single leg, but Wilson again sprawls. Wilson with the takedown now, getting it easily. Wilson seems to have an answer for everything Bruno tries. Crowd again is quick to boo. Bruno eats a good knee to the midsection. Steven is swinging wildly and looks to be tiring. BIG combination from Wilson ends with a knee that drops Bruno. Bruno shoots to buy time and Wilson sprawls. Wilson actually has a reverse triangle in, but lets it go. Ref orders a restart as Bruno was just hanging onto the single and nothing was happening. ANOTHER single attempt by Bruno. He’s quick enough to grab the leg, but can’t do anything after that point.
Mike’s Score: Wilson, 10-8.
A series of strikes 30 seconds in drops Bruno – again. And, yes, he again answers by shooting on Wilson, with no success. Wilson takes Bruno’s back. He tries to walk away but, yup, Bruno with a shot. They’re standing and while Bruno’s moving forward, he looks tired. ANOTHER single and the crowd vociferously boos. The ref immediately stands them up. Short uppercut catches Bruno. He shoots. Wilson sprawls. The crowd boos. “Quit sucking his dick and fight,” screamed a very petit woman from the crowd. They separate, Bruno shoots, and WILSON KNESS HIM IN THE FACE! But, Bruno keeps moving forward and is fittingly clinging to Wilson’s leg as the fight ends.
Mike’s Score: Wilson, 10-8. Bruno did absolutely nothing and was hurt twice. I cannot imagine any scenario by which Bruno would win.
Official result: 30-27 across the board.
WINNER: CHRIS WILSON BY JUDGES DECISION
FIGHT THREE: Andre Gusmao v. Jon Jones
Jones is only 21 and coming out to a song that says, “Angry Johnny” over and over again. It’s kind of mellow but cool. Gusmao out to “Bulls on Parade” by Rage and he gets a pop. I think folks reacted to his music more than anything.
Gusmao’s first kick to Jones’ side was ridiculously hard. Jones’ looks the smaller fighter here, for sure. Nice throw by Jones sends Gusmao to his back. Jones tries a keylock, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt shrugs it off. Jones is throwing bombs but gets caught in the Thai clinch. Separation now. Both men have their mouths open. Crowd is booing. Jones’ accidentally knees Gusmao low. As Andre turns away in obvious pain, Jones lands a series of punches. Crowd is booing something fierce, but I’m not sure exactly why. I can’t tell if they think Jones is a cheater or Gusmao’s a faker or they’re upset with the ref for stopping what they thought was a finish. “Bullshit” chant now. Hot ending to the round as Jones threw a spinning backfist and spinning back elbow!
Mike’s Score: Jones, 10-9.
ANOTHER low blow from a knee by Jones opens the second round. Crowd becomes VERY upset when a replay shows Gusmao actually landing low at one point! Jones tries a throw, plants Gusmao on his head, but they scramble to their feet. Jones with a right hand stuns Gusmao. Guasmao with a right now, but with no effect on Jones it appears. Jones again tries a spinning backfist. Gusmao motions that he’s been hit low – again – but the ref doesn’t seem to buy it.
Mike’s Score: Jones, 10-9, but a closer round.
An attempted takedown by Jones ends in a weird back and forth series of punches a minute in. Jones with a spinning back kick now. He is officially hot of spinning strikes to throw. Gusmao tries a takedown but Jones stuffs it well. There’s a minute left. Not much has happened in the round, but it looks like Gusmao will need a finish in order to win. Jones with a takedown and right into side control. Gusmao with the rubber guard and a lose omaplata, but the round ends.
Mike’s Score: Jones, 10-9.
Official result: 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 for Jon Jones.
WINNER: JON JONES BY UNANIMOUS DECISION
FIGHT FOUR: Cheick Kongo v. Dan Evensen
“You’ve gotta respect a guy who beat CroCop, but for some reason I don’t.” The Norwegian Evensen is a character.
Kongo opens the round with a big slam one minute in. Kongo is standing over Evensen, throwing kicks, ala Sakuraba in his prime. Evensen tries a standing guillotine but Kongo slips out. “Kongo” chant. Another takedown by Kongo, followed by some punches. With 15 seconds to go, Kongo drops Evensen with a right hand. Viscious ground and pound and it’s all over!
WINNER: CHECIK KONGO, ROUND ONE. 4:55
Rogan tries to interview Kongo. Kongo actually walks away as Rogan asks him to take us through the replay.
FIGHT FIVE: Luke Cummo v. Tamdan McCrory
Some early inside fighting by both men, throwing punches and elbows inside the clinch. McCrory appears to have more power. McCrory takes Cummo down 90 seconds in and mounts the Serra student. McCrory tooks Cummo’s back and had his entire arm under his chin, but still didn’t get the choke. McCrory on top as they fight over guard passes. Tamdan can’t pass, but he’s definitely trying. McCrory with an armbar. Cummo popsout and the crowd goes wild. Too little too late to win the round.
Mike’s Score: McCrory, 10-9. Good round.
McCrory with a takedown opens the second round. McCrory passes, takes the back, and goes for the choke, but Cummo defends. McCrory still has the back, now with a body triangle. McCrory then goes for an armbar and one wonders how this thing didn’t break Cummo’s arm. Luke’s a darn tough kid. Another armbar attempt, but McCrory lets it go and tries the rear naked choke again. Cummo defends. VERY hard punches land right on Cummo’s chin, but he keeps fighting back.
Mike’s Score: McCrory, 10-9. Another entertaining round.
Cummo lands a nice body shot to begin the third. An attempt at a throw, Cummo finishes on top. McCrory literally spears Cummo to the ground two minutes in. Cummo has three minutes to do something dramatic or else he’s going to lose. McCrory goes for the arm. He pulls it. The elbow looks bent, but of course Cummo doesn’t tap. One minute left and Cummo needs the finish. Takedown by McCrory with 55 seconds to go, but he lands in a triangle. He has a hand in, blocking, but the crowd momentarily comes alive. They really pop when McCrory powerbombs Cummo.
Mike’s Score: McCrory, 10-9.
Official result: 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
WINNER: TAMDAN MCCRORY BY UNANIMOUS DECISION
That’s all for the undercard. Dave Meltzer now takes over for the live PPV portion of the broadcast. And, no, I never saw Jamie Foxx.
They are adding stats on the broadcast, with an interesting note that St. Pierre has been successful on 80% of his takedowns in the UFC, while Jon Fitch has been successful in defending 70% of the takedowns attempted on him.
Jason MacDonald vs. Demian Maia opens the PPV. Two ground fighters here.
Excellent first round. Almost all on the ground. Maia had a triangle early that MacDonald escaped from. MacDonald tried a choke that Maia got away from. MacDonald also tried a guillotine and also got a few punches from the top that cut Maia. Maia was working a choke for the last 30 seconds of the round but MacDonald survived. Maia’s submissions came closer so I’d give him the round 10-9 but I think the judges may go the other way because MacDonald was on top more and cut him.
Maia connected with knees early and got a takedown, and was in full mount most of the round. Maia cut him with elbows and used ground and pound. With 10 seconds left, MacDonald got a reverse. I’d go 10-9 for Maia for to me it was very close to 10-8 because it was almost a complete round domination.
Jason’s corner screaming at him to keep it standing in round three. Told him he needs a knockout.
Maia took it right down. MacDonald at one point was working for a choke, but Maia escaped and got top position, did some ground and pound and Maia finished him with a choke midway through the round. Good technical match.
UFC fans right now are 73% for St. Pierre. On this web site it was 88%
Kenny Florian vs. Roger Huerta is up now. People popped when the names were on the screen.
Dan Miragliotta is back refereeing after surgery. Huerta a huge favorite here.
Not as explosive as people would hope for. Florian got a takedown and worked for a choke but most of the round was standing with Huerta moving forward and being the aggressor. Close round, I’d go to Huerta slightly.
The key to round two was a takedown and Florian getting Huerta’s back and working for a choke. Huerta escaped. Florian put Huerta down with a low kick and got some punches. Florian also scored with some kicks and punches standing late in the round. I’ve got it 19-19 as Florian took the round.
Florian clinched the fight in the last minute. He had a takedown late and connected with some good punches and knees from the clinch. Most of the round was Huerta as the aggressor but Florian connecting on more counters. Florian early connected with his cool front kick right to the chin. Huerta at the horn wasn’t happy. Not a fight of the night to me. I’ve got it 29-28 for Florian.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Florian. Florian put over Huerta as a future champion partially to keep the fans from booing him. Florian said his game was technique. Florian put over his escapes. Florian noted that Jorge Rivera just lost his 17-year-old daughter and dedicated the fight to her.
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Rob Emerson is up now.
Emerson put him down with a right, hit a left as he was falling that hurt him and another left that put him out in 12 seconds.
Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring is up next.
Lesnar knocked Herring head over heels with a punch right away. Herring’s left eye looks like hell. Jesse Ventura is at ringside. Lesnar then outwrestled him the rest of the round. Lesnar did some ground and pound and some knees to the body, but Lesnar was tiring late. 10-9 for Lesnar but Lesnar isn’t showing finishing skill.
Lesnar took Herring down, had a mount, had the back and controlled most of the round. Lesnar was looking very tired at the end of the round although Lesnar threw some hard knees standing late and got a late takedown. Lesnar won 10-9 and really the name of the game is can Lesnar’s cardio last to round three.
Lesnar took Herring down and controlled him the entire round, throwing some punches and knees to the body. He never had Herring close to finished. It was mostly a wrestling match and Herring couidn’t do anything. This got over great because it was Minneapolis and a pro-Lesnar crowd, but to entertain, he’s going to have to learn submissions and take chances, but he knew he needed the win and he dominated start to finish. Has to be 30-27 if not 30-26.
Scores were 30-26 across the board for Lesnar.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Jon Fitch for the welterweight title is next
St-Pierre completely dominated the round. He got two takedowns and two knockdowns and was rocking Fitch hard on the ground late in the round. The only reason Fitch is still there is because he’s a hell of a survivor. Fitch’s left eye was busted. 10-8 for St-Pierre. I don’t think judges will give a 10-7 but this could be argued for that.
Second round was a lot closer. All standing and St. Pierre seemed to have a slight edge, but Fitch was coming on strong late in the ground. Fitch opened St-Pierre in the forehead. Fitch rocked St-Pierre late but St-Pierre came back with a strong punch. 10-9 St-Pierre
St-Pierre decked Fitch early in the round, and then late in the round was put down with a knee. Fitch had the top position after escaping a choke but GSP reversed and later when standing, St-Pierre dominated again. It’s really a tribute to Fitch he’s still in but I’ve got it 30-25 at this point with another 10-8 round.
Mostly standing. Fitch cut St-Pierre’s left eye with a punch early, but St-Pierre still did better standing, blocked a takedown and landed on top and did some ground and pound. Fitch’s left eye is swelling really bad. 40-34 at this point.
St-Pierre scored three takedowns and grinded it out. He also hit a spinning backfist. It was a great performance by St-Pierre and a gutty one by Fitch, but crowd was quiet when it was over. 50-43 is my score but St-Pierre completely dominated the fight.
50-43, 50-44, 50-44 for St-Pierre
B.J. Penn came into the cage to challenge St-Pierre. Dana White stayed in the background and never spoke during the show, even though this was the time to speak. St-Pierre accepted of course.
Full Credit goes to Mike Coughlin and Dave Meltzer of f4wonline.com