By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, November 21 – With the combined knockout power of welterweight contenders Josh Koscheck and Anthony Johnson, many expected their UFC 106 co-main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to end in quick and explosive fashion. But it was Koscheck, a former NCAA National Champion, going back to his roots to take Johnson down and submit him in the second round Saturday night.
And in doing so, Koscheck – who is coming off back to back finishes of Johnson and Frank Trigg – stated his case for a shot at the 170-pound title held by Georges St-Pierre.
“I’m the number one contender in this weight division,” said Koscheck, addressing Octagonside guest Dan Hardy, who earned the number one spot last week with his win over Koscheck’s teammate Mike Swick.
The fighters traded leg kicks to open the bout, with both waiting for the right moment to let their power shots go. By the second minute, the time was right for both to start winging their finishers, with Johnson holding an early edge thanks to his right hand. At the midway point of the round, Koscheck – having taken a couple hard shots – looked for the takedown, but Johnson held off the attempt. In an ensuing scramble, Johnson kneed his opponent to the head while he was still down, bringing a halt to the action as Johnson was docked a point by referee Mario Yamasaki and Koscheck received a visit from the Octagonside physician. After being cleared, the action resumed and Koscheck waded right into battle, firing away with both hands. With 1:20 left, Koscheck attempted a takedown again and got it, quickly taking Johnson’s back. Unable to get his hooks in, Koscheck was foiled at any further progress before the end of the round.
The early action in round two was halted by an inadvertent eye poke suffered by Johnson, and after a brief pause, it happened again, dropping Johnson to the mat and forcing another halt to the bout. When the fight resumed, both fighters swung for the fences in an effort to finish matters, and the crowd roared in response. But after the exchange, Koscheck took the fight to the mat and tried to ground and pound his way to victory. After a few blows, Johnson was bloodied, and Koscheck slowly moved in with a rear naked choke. After sinking it in, Johnson had no choice but to tap out at 4:47 of round two.
With the win, Koscheck improves to 16-4; Johnson falls to 8-3.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the twin brother of heavyweight superstar Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, made his long-awaited UFC debut a successful one as he scored a spectacular first round stoppage of countryman Luiz Cane in light heavyweight action.
The two southpaws circled each other early, with Cane the first to lead with kicks to the leg. Nogueira responded with hard punches upstairs, rocking Cane repeatedly with left hands to the head. Cane went on the retreat to try to clear his head, but Nogueira stalked him relentlessly, eventually timing him with a perfect left that dropped “Banha” to the canvas. Referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped in shortly after at the 1:56 mark, heralding the arrival of a new Nogueira in the UFC.
With the win, Nogueira ups his record to 18-3; Cane falls to 11-2 with 1 NC.
Welterweight up and comer Paulo Thiago notched his second UFC win of the year, pounding out a hard-fought three round unanimous decision over Octagon newcomer Jacob Volkmann.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Thiago.
Both fighters were patient in the early going, with Thiago (12-1) picking the pace up with a takedown in the second minute. Volkmann (9-1) worked his way back to his feet, but Thiago got him down again, scoring more points, and the Brazilian punctuated the round with a 1-2 that knocked Volkmann down at the bell.
Encouraged by his strong finish to the previous round, Thiago came out fast for round two, but Volkmann was able to get a dominant position and land some strikes when the bout hit the mat. Thiago soon got back to his feet, but Volkmann kept him trapped along the fence before getting another takedown to kick off the second half of the round. Thiago stayed active, reversing position and getting into Volkmann’s guard before landing a hard strike that allowed him to move into side control just before the round ended.
In round three, it looked like Thiago was going to pull away, but Volkmann kept himself in the fight with some solid ground work in the second half, before Thiago ended the bout with ground strikes until the final bell.
The Ultimate Fighter season seven winner Amir Sadollah scored his first post-TUF win in the opening main card bout, weathering an early assault from Octagon returnee Phil Baroni to take a clear-cut three round unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Sadollah, who improves to 3-1; Baroni falls to 13-12 in his first UFC bout since 2005.
Baroni went on the attack at the bell, flurrying with both hands. The New Yorker dropped his foe briefly with a right hand and later staggered him with an uppercut, but Sadollah hung tough, landing some knees in the clinch as the pace of the fight settled down a bit. Even while in the clinch, Baroni kept swinging away before scoring a takedown midway through the round. While on the mat, Sadollah looked for a submission while Baroni landed ground strikes, and after a brief battle on the canvas, the two stood, with Baroni trying everything to get the resilient Sadollah out of there. By the end of the round, Sadollah was landing with more knees at close range, punctuating a strong finish to the opening stanza.
Cut over the left eye, Baroni looked winded as the second round opened, and Sadollah sensed it as he moved in for the finish. This time it was Baroni’s turn to show his resilience as he took hard kicks to the midsection. Sadollah was steady in his attack though as he systematically broke Baroni down. Baroni kept trying to land the haymaker that would turn the fight around, but his punches were losing steam with each passing second, leading to a big round for Sadollah.
There was more of the same in round three, with Sadollah punishing the game but exhausted Baroni, whose face was covered in blood for much of the frame. To his credit, Baroni remained upright, but by the final bell, there was no question who the winner of the bout was.