By Nick Tylwalk
Heavyweight contender Travis Browne has grown accustomed to ending the nights of his foes early, scoring six first round stoppages in his last eight fights headed into Friday night’s UFC on FX show. Now he knows what it’s like to leave the octagon after a quick loss too.
The previously undefeated Browne was favored over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the main event of a four-fight main card from the Target Center in Minneapolis. But after suffering an apparent knee injury in the early going, he ate a huge right hand along the cage and was unable to recover, tasting defeat for the first time as a pro at the 3:27 mark of Round 1.
Browne (13-1-1, 4-1-1 in the UFC) had the crowd reacting from the opening bell, firing a big right hand and going for a flashy kick. As he bounced around on his feet, he tasted a counter right from Silva (17-4, 1-1 UFC), who also attempted some kicks of his own before walking through a knee and backing Browne into the fence.
Referee Herb Dean warned Browne for grabbing the top of the cage in an attempt to escape the clinch, and it was apparent he had something wrong with his left knee from the way he moved tentatively back out to the center of the octagon. His next flurry of punches had little steam on them, and Silva was able to move in to connect with a thunderous right. A few hammer fists followed, but the damage was already done, and Dean rushed in quickly to stop the fight.
The win should restore some forward momentum to Silva’s career after a pair of tough losses. Bigfoot made a name for himself by stopping Fedor Emelianenko in early 2011, but he was knocked out by Daniel Cormier later that year and mauled by former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in his UFC debut. Browne is just 30 and will be expected to bounce back, though it would not be surprising to see him on the shelf for a while pending news about his knee.
The welterweight co-feature saw Jake Ellenberger avenge his first ever career loss, which came back in 2006 in the IFL, by taking a unanimous decision over veteran Jay Hieron. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Ellenberger, who showed more patience than he’s usually known for in bouncing back from a knockout loss to Martin Kampmann during the summer.
Ellenberger (28-6, 7-2 UFC) avoided coming out too fast, content to stalk in the first round while the longer Hieron (23-6, 0-3 UFC) used jabs and kicks to keep his distance. Hieron felt his opponent’s power thanks to a short uppercut, and his late takedown attempt went for naught when Ellenberger hopped on one leg lone enough to land a knee and come out unscathed.
Hieron controlled the early part of Round 2 with combination punching mixed with some light kicks. A missed punch gave Ellenberger the opening he needed to score a takedown, and he opened up a cut with elbows landed from guard. Hieron managed to scramble back to his feet with just over two minutes remaining and keep the fight standing for the rest of the frame.
UFC legend Randy Couture and the rest of Hieron’s team urged him to go for broke in the final round, but his most significant strike was an inside leg kick that landed to the groin in the opening minute. Ellenberger took Hieron down again and landed some knees from the clinch, which was enough for him to get the nod from the judges.
Neither of the first two undercard fights needed to go to the scorecards. The flyweight battle between John Dodson and UFC newcomer Jussier Formiga was expected to be a highlight, but it drew mostly boos from the fans until Dodson ended the fight quickly with several flush left hands toward the end of Round 2.
There was little action in the first round, with Dodson (14-5, 3-0 UFC) looking extra cautious with his striking and Formiga (14-2, 0-1 UFC) unable to get the fight to the ground. The biggest impact probably came when the fighters clashed heads late, and the Minneapolis crowd expressed its displeasure.
Dodson finally broke through with just under two minutes to go in the second, knocking down Formiga with a left hand upstairs. The Brazilian survived that one, but two more lefts sealed his fate, sending him to a TKO defeat at the 4:35 mark. Dodson’s win made him the number one contender to face UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson.
Justin Edwards needed even less time to dispose of Josh Neer in the FX opener. The welterweights battled for under a minute before Neer got caught in a textbook arm-in guillotine choke and was submitted without tapping out.
Edwards (8-2, 2-2 UFC) wasted little time rushing in, throwing a quick flurry before managing to get the guillotine applied while Neer (33-12-1, 6-7 UFC) was still standing. The hold stayed locked in as the two men went to the mat, and “The Dentist” was put to sleep, a look of disbelief on his face when he was checked on by the referee and the cageside doctor.