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UFC returned to Anaheim, CA tonight to play home to the first ever Women’s championship fight and main event in the organization. The card started out with a spectacular showing from two welterweights making their UFC debuts. Yuri Villefort took on Nah-Shon Burrell in the first Facebook fight. They came out looking to mix it up from the get go and that is what they did for the whole fifteen minutes. Burrell definitely got the edge in the stand up but Villefort made him fight his way out of numerous tight submission attempts. In the second round they just stood and banged with each other. Villefort was mixing thudding hooks to the body with outside leg kicks and Burrell was working the jab and counter punches. In the third Villefort dropped down for an ankle lock but Burrell postured up on him and unleashed a series of punches to the unprotected face of Villefort. When Villefort finally let go and got up his face looked like something out of a horror movie with huge busted nose and blood covering most of the right side. In the final half minute the two fighters stood in front of each other and punched away hoping one or the other could land that punch to steal the fight out of the judges hands. Burrell who took the unanimous decision 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 will give up a chunk of his purse for missing weight by nearly five pounds.
In the second prelim fight on Facebook Neil Magny kept his opponent Jon Manley from ever implementing his money technique the take down. Magny defended 11 of 12 take downs and Manley never tried to strike with him. Manley had no other plan than to take the fight to the ground. Magny would make him pay with knees to the body and short punches as he spent most of his time pressed against the cage by Manley as he worked for the take down. Neil Magny took home the unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
The final Facebook fight didn’t last long as Kenny Robertson went for a quick take down and finished it with his head in the guillotine choke of Brock Jardine. Robertson was able to defend and pop his head free from there he quickly moved to side control than eventually took Jardine’s back. Robertson sunk both hooks in and went to work for the RNC. Jardine tried to dump him off his back over the top but Robertson shocked everyone when he was able to submit Jardine by grabbing the foot of Jardine and pulling it forward till he had no choice but tap or rip his hamstring. Dana White went on to tweet “How sick was that!!!! Love the evolution of this sport.” Great to get complements like that from the president.
Once the action moves to FX for the prelims to continue one of the UFC’s most experienced young fighters Sam Stout took to the cage to welcome another Strikeforce transplant Caros Fodor. These two went at it for fifteen minutes in close jockeying for position and taking turns trading shots to the body and head. Good fight but it was one that you could just tell was gruelling as each man was trying to put his weight on the other and the short knees and punches back and forth to the body and head. Stout would take home the ultra thin split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
I know I was blown away with the performance from Burrell and Villefort but the show was stolen once Matt Grice and Dennis Bermudez started it off. Bermudez ended up on top of Grice early and unleashed 40 ground and pound shots on Grice who had one arm pinned which prevented him from blocking them. Grice gets to his feet though and is able to drop Bermudez with a left hook that almost brings the fight to a screeching halt. Herb Dean makes a great decision seeing Bermudez is recovering and lets them continue. Grice gets the better in the second round clearly with that left hand finding a home numerous times. Round 3 begins and Bermudez unleashes an assault to be remembered for all time. Over and over again he connects with uppercuts, elbows, knees and kicks. He is pound away on the ground and when they are on their feet. Dean is watching closely and nearly stopping it again but lets them continue and Grice connects with another of those big hooks and Bermudez is scrambling to get back to his feet. These two stand for the last part of the round just unleash a barrage of hay makers. Dennis Bermudez takes home the split decision 29-28×2, 28-29. Everyone should go and find this fight and watch it! Easily it will get consideration for the year end awards.
Michael Chiesa, the TUF winner, was getting out struck in the fight and was not looking so sharp against Anton Kuivanen in the first round. That all changed in the second as he was able to take the back of Kuivanen while they were on their feet. Chiesa got them to the ground locked in the body triangle and kept working for the rear naked choke until he got it. Which he successfully did at 2:29 of round 2. Than the prelims went on to end on a sour note when Brendan Shaub took on Lavar Johnson. In what everyone was expecting to be ended with a devastating knockout was the exact opposite. Schaub clearly wanted no part of Johnson’s stand up game as he took him down early and often. Schaub spent most of the fight in Johnson’s half guard but did very little as far as offense. Johnson out struck Schaub from the bottom and punished the body of Schaub when they were on their feet. Most of the strikes all came from the clinch as even when they were standing Schaub was locked onto Johnson. Johnson did bust open Schaub in the third when they got a little separation but it wasn’t enough and the judges handed the unanimous decision to Schaub by scores of 30-27×3.