By Jaime C. Feal
The UFC’s first ever trip to China was a resounding success, as a great night of fights took place in Macao. The event was completely sold out and the crowd was very into the action. The card was as solid as some of the pay-per-views have been, so fans watching for free on FUEL TV were really in for a special treat.
Takeya Mizugaki (15-7-1, 2-2 UFC) vs. Jeff Houghland (10-5, 1-1 UFC)
Starting off the evening, Japanese mixed martial artist Takeya Mizugaki took on journeyman Jeff Houghland. Mizugaki scored several takedowns, and avoided the many submission attempts Houghland threw at him from the bottom. Mizugaki proceeded to use hellacious ground and pound to earn a unanimous decision victory. With the win, Mizugaki got back on track in the UFC bantamweight division. He now needs a much tougher and respected opponent to further his career.
Tiequan Zhang (15-3, 1-2 UFC) vs. Jon Tuck (6-0, 0-0 UFC)
Next was a lightweight clash between Tiequan Zhang, the best Chinese mixed martial artist in the world, and undefeated Jon Tuck. Zhang scored an early takedown, but Tuck countered with a vicious armbar from his back. Zhang showed great defense to escape, but the scramble allowed Tuck to gain top position and control the remainder of the first round.
The second round was all fireworks for the first minute. The two men stood in the pocket and traded big shots. Zhang cut Tuck open with a left and then took him down. Tuck went back to submission attempts from his back, and was able to score a reversal and get top position. Tuck put on a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu clinic from that point, scoring points with incredible transitions and submission attempts.
In the final stanza, the fighters went back to trading strikes. Tuck landed the more accurate and crisp punches, and whenever Zhang landed a nice power shot, Tuck simply ate it and smiled back at Zhang. Tuck finally started to get hurt by the power punches of Zhang midway through the round, but Tuck would always recuperate very quickly. Tuck also always threw counter punches and maintained enough offense to be dangerous. Zhang dominated the stand up in the final portion of the third round, and the close fight went to the dreaded judges’ decision. Jon Tuck remained undefeated, as the judges awarded him a unanimous decision victory. With the win in hostile territory, undefeated Jon Tuck becomes a fighter to watch in the UFC lightweight division.
Mac Danzig (21-9-1, 5-5 UFC) vs. Takanori Gomi (33-8, 1 NC, 2-3 UFC)
Midway through the event fans were treated to an exciting matchup between The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 winner Mac Danzig, and Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi. Another Japanese fighter, Gomi is very popular in the region, as he is the former PRIDE lightweight champion. The lightweights started by pawing with the jab and measuring distance. Danzig showed evolution in his striking, mixing in nice leg kicks in addition to his already solid boxing. Gomi had some early success with punches, but Danzig showed his superior strength halfway through the round. Mac got a solid Thai clinch and went to town with knees to Gomi’s body. Gomi scored a takedown and Danzig locked up full guard. Danzig then began working a guillotine choke from the bottom, which allowed him to get back to his feet. The fighters went back to trading, with Gomi landing the harder shots. Danzig then shot for a single leg takedown which he nailed, taking down Gomi with ease to close the round.
The pattern continued on the feet in the second, with Gomi holding a slight advantage in strikes, but Danzig scoring with the Thai plum and knees to the body. Gomi again went to work with his boxing, and just when you thought “The Fireball Kid” was going to dominate the remainder of the round, Danzig snapped his head back with a counter. A very nice left hook by Danzig connected with two minutes remaining. Nice two-one from Danzig and a beautiful double leg takedown. Danzig in half guard utilizing heavy top control. Mac now looking to pass to mount. Danzig pushing the head down, going for a guillotine and pulls guard. Danzig reverses it into a mounted guillotine, Gomi with nice defense to avoid being choked out, but Danzig wins the round.
Gomi clipped Danzig to start the round and then wound up on top after Danzig stumbled. Danzig with a good defensive guard, then attacks a leg looking for a submission. Danzig trying to knee bar Gomi, but Gomi gets on top. Danzig goes for a guillotine and again uses it to stand up. The lightweights jockey for position on the cage. Gomi shot for a takedown but Danzig stuffed it. Mac then transitioned to the back and landed a hard right hand to Gomi’s dome. Gomi got back up and lethargically traded some more strikes with Danzig. Mac responded by dominating the standup in the last half minute of the fight. The judges scored the fight 29-28 Danzig, 29-28 Gomi, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi. There was a substantial portion of the crowd booing the judge’s decision.
Dong Hyun Kim (15-2-1, 1 NC, 6-2 UFC) vs. Paulo Thiago (14-4, 4-4 UFC)
Next up was a great matchup between welterweights Paulo Thiago and Korean fan favorite Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim. The judo ace Kim easily took Thiago down in the first round. Stun Gun took the back and began attacking with a choke, then working punches to Thiago’s head. Kim really dominated the BJJ black belt Thiago, utilizing impressive back control. Thiago just struggled to defend from Kim submitting him. Stun Gun was on him like an anaconda for four minutes, almost finishing him at the end with a rear-naked choke.
In the second round, Kim again got Thiago to the ground, but this time Paulo countered with a nice kimura lock. Kim was forced to defend the kimura for a couple minutes, but then escaped. A positional battle ensued for several minutes, until Thiago got to his feet. Kim got Thiago down and clinched the round by almost finishing Thiago with a D’Arce choke.
Kim missed a hard spinning back fist in the third round, clearly looking to finish Thiago. The story of the fight played out again as Kim was wrapped onto Thiago like an anaconda on the ground. Extremely impressive grappling from Stun Gun against a high level BJJ black belt. Kim absolutely dominating this fight. The fight finished with Kim going from back control to full mount, then to back control again. It was a masterpiece from Kim and the judges awarded him the rightfully earned unanimous decision. Big win for Stun Gun.
Thiago Silva (14-3, 1 NC, 5-3 UFC) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (12-0, 1-0 UFC)
The light heavyweight clash saw the fighters grapple on the cage for the first minute, and then it seriously opened up when Silva tried for a knee and slipped to the ground. Thiago popped up and the fighters started banging. More great standup ensured, until another positional battled on the cage. Silva grabbed the plum and landed a knee before Nedkov separated to strike again.
In the second round there was more jockeying for positioning on the cage. Silva had the slight advantage because he was throwing knees when they were clinched. Silva is the more renowned striker so it appears Nedkov’s gameplan is to simply smother him on the cage and tire him. The crowd is booing this strategy. The fighters break and the referee implores them to work, but the pattern remains the same. Finally some good action with twenty seconds left, when Nedkov clips Silva BAD with a counter. Silva crumples and Nedkov swarms, but Silva is saved by the bell.
Nedkov comes out aggressive in the final round with his boxing. Silva turns the momentum with a knee to the body, and several right hands. Big left head kick, and Nedkov is rattled. Silva takes him down and mounts him with ease. Silva with a big shot, Nedkov in trouble. Silva locks in a vicious head-and-arm choke, passing to side control, spinning and torqueing on Nedkov. Silva quickly elicits the tap, and hands Nedkov his first professional loss.
Rich Franklin (29-6, 1 NC, 14-5 UFC) vs. Cung Le (8-2, 1-1 UFC)
The Vietnamese martial artist Le comes out to a warm welcome from the crowd, and Rich “Ace” Franklin also receives applause shortly thereafter. The veteran middleweights then begin trading strikes in the opening minutes. Both men are southpaws, and very patient and measured. Franklin and Le both using lots of kicks, but Cung using more of the spinning variety. Franklin starting to put together some nice combinations early, punctuated by a hard left hand. As Franklin throws a left outside leg kick, Cung Le perfectly times a short right hook counter, knocking Franklin out cold. Franklin falls face first to the mat, completely unconscious, and the crowd explodes as Cung Le earns the biggest and most impressive win of his career. Knockout of the year candidate.