Let’s not beat around the bush – for a Fuel TV show this card was unbelievably stacked – a title fight main event away from being a high-end PPV card, effectively. I actually thought it was weird that they’d put it on Fuel TV where the viewership is pretty low, but I guess it was more like a gift for the Japanese fans than anything else and hey, Fox must’ve been happy as the show ended up shattering the viewing records for Fuel TV anyway.

UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann

03/02/13
Saitama, Japan

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Welterweight Fight: Dong Hyun Kim vs Siyar Bahadurzada

This was a great-sounding fight on paper, although admittedly some of Kim’s fights don’t exactly come off exciting in the end. Still, any fight involving Bahadurzada gets me pumped up – dude is a violent man and had been on the shelf for almost a year prior to this after turning out Paulo Thiago’s lights with one punch. Smart pick was Kim to stifle the Killer with his ground game but I was pulling for Siyar.

Round One and they circle before Kim throws a body kick that connects with Siyar’s arm. Front kick misses for Kim. Siyar looks pretty tentative here. Into the clinch from Kim but Bahadurzada shrugs him off. Right hand glances for the Korean. Head kick is blocked by Siyar. Siyar has the right hand cocked for a counter. Head kick lands for Kim but he slips to the ground and Bahadurzada manages to escape before he’s put on his back. Right hand lands for Siyar and Kim’s right eye looks marked up. Takedown is avoided by Bahadurzada. Good left from Kim sets up the clinch and then he drops for a single leg and gets it. Siyar turns and gets half-guard but Kim immediately passes into full mount. Short punches land to the side of the head and he lands some elbows too for good measure. Looks like Kim might be looking to set up for an armbar, but he gives up on it to land some more elbows instead. Siyar gives his back and Kim gets one hook in as he stands, then slaps on the body triangle. Bahadurzada is in trouble. He manages to hold onto Kim’s right arm though and avoids the choke until the round ends. 10-9 Kim as he totally controlled Bahadurzada.

Round Two and Siyar comes out swinging, but Kim avoids the shots by circling out of range. Counter right hook does connect for Bahadurzada as Kim throws a head kick. Takedown attempt is avoided initially and then Siyar lands a right hand as they separate. Kim comes back with a double leg and lands in side mount. He’s not doing all that much but Bahadurzada can’t get out from underneath him at all. Bahadurzada turns and gives his back again, and Kim gets a hook in and lands some solid punches. He rolls through to take top position again and gets full mount. Kim’s ground game is incredibly powerful. Big elbows and punches land for Kim and Siyar is basically just holding on. Double punches begin to land for Kim and pop the crowd, but mainly he continues to land short elbow strikes. Round ends with Kim in dominant position again and I’d say it’s a 10-8, too.

Round Three and Siyar clearly needs a KO to win this one. He does glance with a right hook and backs Kim up a little, but Kim comes back with a hopping kick and an easy takedown to side mount. He looks for the mounted crucifix and then decides to switch to full mount and Bahadurzada just has no answer, looking totally lost from his back. Kim begins to work for a possible arm triangle choke, landing some knees to the body for good measure. Arm triangle looks sunk and Kim slides out to the side, but somehow the Afghan survives and so Kim slips back into full mount. He continues to look for the arm triangle, then goes back to punching away at the body. Big shots begin to land for Kim and he nails Siyar with elbow after elbow, although it doesn’t look like he’s close to a stoppage. Bahadurzada lands some hammer fists from his back, but Kim allows them and then opens up with some more heavy shots from the top. Bahadurzada manages to escape mount…but Kim gets side mount instead and then takes north/south. Siyar kicks him away, but the fight ends there. 10-8 Kim for a 30-25 (!) on my scorecard.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Dong Hyun Kim. No idea how you could give 10-9’s in each round there as Bahadurzada basically did nothing throughout outside of defending and landing the odd glancing right hand. This was one of the most one-sided bouts I can remember seeing in the UFC in some time and while some would knock Kim for being dull, why wouldn’t he fight like that if he’s against a guy who can’t regain guard from his back?

Featherweight Fight: Rani Yahya vs Mizuto Hirota

Bit of an odd fight to make the main card as I’d totally forgotten Yahya was even under UFC contract – although his last fight was a win over Josh Grispi in August. Japanese star Hirota had made the move over from StrikeForce and was dropping to 145lbs for the first time, and after remembering what he did to grappler Satoru Kitaoka in Sengoku a few years ago I was picking him to win, probably by TKO.

Round One and Yahya throws out some feints as Hirota stalks forward. Overhand right glances for Yahya but he eats a counter right for good measure. Takedown attempt from Yahya and he gets Hirota down for a second before the Japanese fighter pops back up. Yahya stays on the single leg and almost gets the back before transitioning right into an oma plata. Hirota avoids and escapes to his feet, then winds up on top himself after a brief scramble. Into half-guard for Hirota but Yahya reverses into a single leg of his own and takes top position with a beautiful sweep. He gets into half-guard and it looks like Hirota wants to stall it out. Reversal from Hirota allows him to stand, but Yahya drags him back down with a single leg and he lands some solid shots from the top. He looks to work free of the half-guard and then decides to go for a far-side kimura, but Hirota looks pretty calm. Particularly considering he’s a dude who had his arm broken by Shinya Aoki! Hirota avoids that but Yahya passes into side mount and then takes the back to end the round. Clear 10-9 for Rani Yahya.

Round Two and Yahya lands a crude overhand right. Surprisingly Hirota decides to clinch and muscles him into the fence, but when they break off Yahya hits a double leg into guard. He passes into half-guard right away and then ties up both legs, Kawajiri style. Hirota looks to use the fence to stand, but Yahya drags him away from it and continues to work from the top to pass. Arm triangle attempt from Yahya and it looks like it’s sunk in from the full mount. He can’t quite slide out into side mount though as the fence is in the way, and that pretty much keeps Hirota in the fight. Yahya can’t finish it and gives it up, but winds up in full butterfly guard. Yahya continues to work from the top with ground-and-pound as Hirota looks to use the fence to stand, but the Brazilian has a tight top game and keeps him firmly down, passing into half-guard for good measure. More of the same follows and that’s the round. 10-8 Yahya.

Round Three and they circle before Yahya drops for a single leg. Hirota avoids this time and Yahya has to get back up. He is looking a little tired. Hirota stalks forward, but he looks a bit gunshy due to the threat of the takedown. Yahya telegraphs a shot though and Hirota shrugs him off easily. Another attempt ends the same as Hirota sprawls nicely. Another takedown is avoided and Yahya is clearly gassed at this point. Another single leg attempt is more successful though and he gets Hirota down. Hirota tries to reverse and take the back, and then Yahya tries a really odd reversal like a wrestling roll-up, and off the scramble Hirota goes for a triangle choke! He switches to a triangle armbar and it looks tight, but Yahya avoids and slips out to take the back. That was a great exchange. One hook in for Yahya and he drags Hirota down. Hirota manages to shake it off and works to his feet, where he looks for a double leg of his own. He puts Yahya down, and then takes the back where he lands some solid punches to the head before standing. Flying knee misses for Hirota and Yahya dives for a takedown, but Hirota avoids it again and lands some more punches from a front facelock. Yahya looks exhaysted and in trouble, but there’s only seconds to go and he circles out. Combination from Hirota but Yahya clinches and lasts the round. 10-9 Hirota but 29-27 for Yahya overall.

Official scorecards read 29-28 all round for Rani Yahya. Decent grappling-based fight if nothing outstanding, as Yahya totally bossed the first two rounds before gassing badly and almost allowing Hirota back into the fight. Would’ve been better with a finish but this was a perfectly acceptable midcard fight.

Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Hector Lombard

After Lombard crushed Rousimar Palhares in December this was the fight I was hoping they’d make for him, as I figured his style matched well with Okami’s – in a sense that I thought he’d be able to stuff Okami’s takedowns and smash him up standing, which would be a cool thing. No offense to Okami but Lombard makes for far more exciting fights at the top of the division. Fun fact – the nicknames of the fighters meant this fight was technically THUNDER VS. LIGHTNING!~! too which is unspeakably cool.

First round and Lombard stalks forward right away. Okami circles out and avoids a right hook early on. Combo glances for Lombard. Big low kick from Lombard is caught and Okami puts him on his back in guard. Quick reversal puts Lombard vertical again and he tries a trip, but Okami blocks it and they break. Couple of nice jabs land for Okami as he does a good job of keeping his distance. Lombard fires back with a right hand and a left hook. Big combo just misses for Lombard and Okami ducks under and hits a single leg to half-guard. Okami grinds away from the top without really doing much damage, but he’s controlling Lombard and the round is ticking away. Lombard looks to reverse and manages to get to his feet, but Okami keeps him clinched on the fence. 30 seconds to go now and Lombard can’t seem to break free. Good body shot does connect for him but Okami answers with a knee to the midsection. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Okami.

Second round and Lombard is dropping his hands and trying to egg Okami into trading. Okami doesn’t bite though and stays on the outside throwing the jab. Hard knee into a right hand from Okami. Couple more jabs from Okami and he seems to be beating Lombard to the punch. More jabs follow for the Japanese fighter and Lombard seems reduced to stalking forward and walking into them. Beautiful one-two snaps Lombard’s head back. Lombard comes back with a body shot. Single leg attempt from Okami and he gets Lombard down again and immediately moves into half-guard. Okami chops away with short ground-and-pound and looks to get out of the half-guard, taking full mount. Big pop from the fans for that move. Solid shots land for Okami from the mount but he can’t really open up. Round ends with him in dominant position, though. 10-9 Okami.

Third and final round and Lombard comes rushing out swinging and he lands a couple of left hands early on. Okami looks wobbled and stumbles around, and Lombard follows up with some HUGE POWER HOOKS, looking for the finish! Okami manages to back out and survives, but he still doesn’t look quite out of the woods. Clinch and a knee from Okami but he eats a big left hand. Lombard keeps on swinging and then stuffs a takedown and gets on top in half-guard. He can’t do much from there outside of some short strikes though, and Okami looks for a reversal and goes for a single leg. Lombard avoids though and takes the back to land some punches, but Okami keeps clinging onto the leg to survive. Okami ends up on his back and Lombard settles into the guard to land some more short shots, and then stands back up. Okami gets to his feet and immediately goes for a takedown, but Lombard blocks and they wind up clinched. Knee from Okami but Lombard breaks off and pushes forward. Takedown attempt by Okami is blocked and he pulls guard with about a minute to go. Lombard moves into half-guard but Okami regains full guard and manages to last out the round. 10-9 Lombard but not enough for the decision.

Judges have it 29-28 Lombard (!), 29-28 Okami and 29-28 for Okami to take the split decision. No idea how you’d score that for Lombard but whatever, right man won in the end anyway. Fight wasn’t great though as Okami stifled Lombard for two rounds as he tends to and then while Lombard came out swinging in the third he just couldn’t do enough to put Okami away. I think the drop to 170lbs will do Lombard good as he just isn’t able to be the bully in the UFC at 185lbs. Okami continues to roll but he’s in the Fitch role now where he’s never going to get another title shot, unfortunately, so he’s just a really tricky gatekeeper. Which is cool I guess – someone’s got to do it!

Lightweight Fight: Diego Sanchez vs Takanori Gomi

When this was announced as Diego’s first foray back into the Lightweight division since 2009 I really didn’t know how to feel – on one hand it sounded like an AWESOME fight to see, but on the other hand I hate to see either guy lose and with the flurry of roster cuts in the early part of 2013 I certainly didn’t want to see either man vanish from the UFC. I was taking Diego of course because I never pick against him, but I was hoping to see Gomi look good too so that his job would be safe!

Sad note for Diego – he missed weight spectacularly for this fight, coming in looking out of shape at 158lbs. Word was that he didn’t like the Japanese water or something but who knows really? To say I was worried would be an understatement!

Round One and they circle before Gomi clips Diego with a right. High kick comes back for Diego but Gomi answers with a one-two. Leg kick from Diego but Gomi lands a right to the body. Nice right connects for Gomi. Short right lands for Diego. Nice counter by Gomi as Diego comes forward. Right hand glances for Gomi but Diego catches him low with a kick. Ref calls time and they restart and Diego immediately hits a double leg and stacks up to land some punches, but Gomi quickly scrambles to his feet. Leg kick from Diego. Loud chant for Gomi. Couple of wild swings miss for Gomi. Left body kick from Sanchez. Nice right hand counter lands for Diego. Gomi is really pushing forward now. Left hand glances for the Fireball Kid. Takedown from Diego after taking a knee and he goes for a kneebar, and it looks tight. Gomi manages to slip free though and escapes to his feet again. Couple of jabs from Gomi and he follows with a hard body shot. Exchange continues with neither man really landing anything major before Diego catches a kick and gets a takedown on the buzzer. Super-close round but I’d lean towards Diego, 10-9.

Round Two and Gomi pushes forward with some jabs. Nice right to the body from Gomi and he follows with a right hook to the head. Stiff jab from Gomi. Diego looks like he’s slowed down, surprisingly enough. Takedown attempt from Diego is stuffed nicely. Body shot again from Gomi. Kick connects low for Diego and Marc Goddard calls time and warns him that he’ll take a point if he lands low again. They restart with Gomi continuing to work the jab. Leg kick from Diego. Right to the body and left hook from Gomi. Diego tries to swing back but he’s being outboxed by the Japanese star. Body kick from Diego but Gomi counters with a right hand. Uppercut glances for Sanchez. Pair of inside leg kicks connect for Gomi. Couple of kicks from Diego don’t land but back Gomi up a little. Right hook glances for Diego. Jabs from Gomi set up his right hand. Takedown is stuffed by Gomi and the standing exchange continues. Nice body kick from Diego. Another one follows. Gomi pushes in with a combo, but Diego fires right back. Flying knee misses for Diego. Round ends with a bit of a scramble for the clinch. 10-9 Gomi.

Round Three and Diego comes rushing out but he takes a couple of jabs. Gomi immediately has him circling out by using crisp punches. Nice jab from Diego. Good leg kick too. Punches miss for both men. Body shot lands for Diego. Big swings miss for Gomi. Good right connects though. Front kick glances to Gomi’s face. Stiff right lands for the Japanese star. Nice body kick into a right hand from Diego. Gomi is switching stances a ton here. Body kick from Diego. Takedown attempt follows but Gomi stuffs it again. Kick is caught by Gomi and he takes Diego down for a split second but lets him up. Right to the body and head from Gomi. Seconds left now and Diego charges in for a takedown but Gomi shrugs him off. Counter left lands for Gomi. Both men throw kicks and Diego slips down for a second but pops back up. Flurry from Diego backs Gomi up to end the round. Really close round but I’d call it 10-9 Gomi and 29-28 for him overall. Could see it either way though.

Judges have it 29-28 Sanchez, 29-28 Gomi and 29-28….for DIEGO THE DREAM SANCHEZ!~! Man, to say I was worried when that verdict came in – especially after Diego missed weight and all….whew. I think he dodged a major bullet there as the fight wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as I’d hoped either and a loss in that manner plus missing weight might’ve been trouble for him. In the end both guys seem pretty secure with the UFC which is what I wanted, but the fight was a disappointment in my eyes as neither man seemed at the top of their game. Wasn’t bad or anything but I expect more from a Diego Sanchez fight I guess.

Heavyweight Fight: Mark Hunt vs Stefan Struve

This looked like another fun fight, with the more well-rounded skills of Struve looking to match up with the concussive punching power of the New Zealander Hunt. As far as a pick this was one of those fights that really depended on who could impose their game – if the fight stayed standing then Hunt’s punching power would likely be able to smash through Struve’s somewhat questionable jaw, while if the fight hit the ground Struve had the clear advantage. I ended up picking Hunt just because I didn’t trust Struve to try to take him down.

First round and Struve opens with a head kick that Hunt blocks. Hunt closes in with a one-two and totally walks through Struve’s reach advantage. Good leg kick from Hunt. Left hook and a right to the body follow. Struve isn’t using his reach at all. Another leg kick connects for the New Zealander. Lunging left hook narrowly misses. Good right to the body from Hunt. Left from Hunt but Struve clinches and pulls guard. Beautiful sweep from Struve puts him in full mount and Hunt could be in trouble. Hunt hits a nice hip escape to half-guard though before any damage can be done. Looks like Struve might be working to set up an arm triangle, but Hunt manages to defend it and avoid. Pass to mount from Struve and he opens up with a big flurry that has Hunt covering up. Armbar attempt from Struve and he goes into a belly-down variant, but can’t get it and Hunt gets free to take top position. Good right hand from the top for Hunt. Triangle attempt from Struve but Hunt postures out and drops another right. Another armbar attempt is avoided too. Seconds to go and Struve decides to look for the sweep again, but Hunt avoids, passes into side mount and lands some punches. Round ends with Hunt in control. Close round but I’d lean slightly towards Struve for the ground work; 10-9.

Second round and Hunt pushes in and lands a short right before following with a pair of vicious left hooks that have Struve covering up. Struve manages to stay in the fight but he’s leaning back with his chin up to avoid some of these punches. Couple of jabs land for Struve but Hunt is continuing to walk through his reach. Looping left hook lands again for Hunt and he’s beginning to land more and more. Good body kick from Struve. Nice combo from Hunt. Struve just isn’t using his reach here at all. Into the clinch and Hunt hits a surprising takedown into guard. No idea why he’d do that! Struve immediately looks to set up a possible triangle, then switches off for a leglock attempt. Hunt tries to roll with it and manages to get free, but decides to settle back into the guard. Couple of short hammer fists connect for Hunt in the guard and then he passes into side mount. Reversal from Struve though and he puts Hunt on his back and takes full mount again. Nice punches from Struve and he’s looking to finish. Hunt manages to cover up though and Struve drops for an armbar, but TOTALLY botches it and that allows Hunt to take top position again. Elbows from the bottom for Struve and that’s the round. I’d go 10-9 Hunt there actually as he was all over Struve standing and didn’t get into major trouble on the ground outside of the short period when he was mounted.

Third round and Struve opens with a jab but eats a combo from Hunt ending with a body shot. Big left hook follows, lands flush, and wobbles Struve badly. Struve tries to clinch but Hunt breaks with an uppercut. Both men look gassed suddenly. They both keep swinging and both land, but Struve is still letting Hunt walk through the reach and land combos. Big head kick lands flush for Struve but Hunt eats it. Hunt drops his hands and takes some good punches, but he walks into a left hook that forces Struve back. Hunt is exhausted now but he lands a BIG RIGHT HAND that wobbles Struve badly. He stumbles back and Hunt FUCKING WAYLAYS HIM WITH A HUGE LEFT HOOK!~! Struve goes DOWN and Hunt walks away before Herb Dean even decides to stop it. Of course, it’s OVER.

Well, that was a really fun fight even if both guys showed their massive limitations. The big difference in the end was that Struve for some reason seemed quite happy to stand with Hunt (despite Hunt seeming willing to go to the ground!) and when you’re not using your reach in the way you probably ought to against a striker the calibre of Hunt it’s always likely to end badly. For Struve it ended REALLY badly as the final left hook actually broke his jaw in a nasty way, but hey, you pick your poison. Big win for Hunt and incredibly this was his fourth straight win in the UFC, which would’ve seemed inexplicable when he first debuted with that awful loss to Sean McCorkle!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann

When this fight was announced at 205lbs rather than 185lbs it seemed strange, as neither Wandy or Stann had fought at Light-Heavyweight since 2010, but the rumour was that Wanderlei was considering retirement after the fight and so he didn’t want to cut weight, and Stann was quite happy to oblige him. Despite Stann seeming to have more in the tank than the Brazilian legend, with the fight being in Wandy’s old stomping ground of Japan I couldn’t help but pick him to win and I ended up laying some cash on him too.

Fight begins and they circle with Stann pressing, and they TRADE WILDLY for a second before Stann looks to drop for a takedown. Silva blocks it and lands a knee, and they go SHOT FOR SHOT from inside the clinch and Wandy goes down! He pops right back up and forces Stann into the fence, where they continue to trade knees. Looks like Stann’s nose is bloodied already. They break off and Stann swings a haymaker that misses, and that causes Wandy to grin at him before they THROW DOWN WITH RECKLESS ABANDON and a right hand PUTS SILVA DOWN! He pops up and drives Stann into the fence, but they break off quickly. Another brief trade follows with both men landing. This is AWESOME. Low blow lands for Stann though and the ref has to call time to let Wandy recover. Comical moment follows as Wandy juggles his balls a few times before they restart. Stann’s nose looks FUCKED UP. Wanderlei seems to be looking to work the jab off the restart, and he lands a nice right hook too. Right hook connects for Stann too. Stann continues to stalk forward and he connects with a hard leg kick. WILD TRADE FOLLOWS AGAIN and this time Wanderlei goes down to a knee but POPS UP AND DROPS STANN FACE FIRST!~! Stann comes back up and FIRES RIGHT BACK to DROP SILVA HARD and he pounces into the guard looking to finish! Holy fucking shit. Silva manages to tie him up and there’s BLOOD EVERYWHERE as Stann is evidently cut bad. Round ends there. Crazy stuff. 10-9 Stann I guess. Trades were hard to PBP as they were so fucking wild!

Into the 2nd, incredibly enough, and Stann comes out stalking again. Big right hand from Stann and Wanderlei counters with one of his own. Another mad trade follows but it’s a shorter one this time as Wandy gets out of dodge. Good leg kick from Stann. Exchange continues and both look a little slower now and rightfully so. Another leg kick lands for Stann. Right haymakers narrowly miss for both men. Leg kick again lands low for Stann and Marc Goddard calls time. We get MORE BALL JIGGLING before they restart and Stann almost walks into a right haymaker. Good right hand from Silva. Stann continues to move around and lands with a glancing right hook. Head kick misses for Wandy. Leg kick from Stann. Silva looks in full counterpuncher mode now. One minute to go and Stann continues to stalk forward. Suddenly a BIG ONE-TWO lands for Wandy and STANN GOES DOWN and some punches on the ground STIFFEN HIM UP!~! Unbelievable.

Incredible fight. Total FOTYC level stuff from start to finish and the first round alone was one of the best rounds of fighting I’ve ever seen. I mean, you got the feeling that Stann could’ve come in with a smarter gameplan and tried to pick Wandy apart ala Rich Franklin, but I guess he knew the fans wanted to see a crazy old-school brawl and he decided to oblige them and these two THREW DOWN LIKE MEN. Tremendous stuff. This turned out to be Stann’s final fight as he retired a month or so back and I can’t think of a better way for him to go out really. As for Wanderlei? He probably should’ve retired after this too – one final triumph in front of his Japanese fans – but he’s chosen to continue, which in a way isn’t surprising as I’m guessing he’ll go out on his shield. Like Chuck Liddell before him, live by the sword, die by the sword. Amazing main event to end the night on the highest high possible.

-And the show ends there with a BANG.

Final Thoughts….

Up to the final two fights this was looking like a bad show, as while Yahya/Hirota was solid enough the other three fights had been really disappointing if not horrible or anything. The last two fights absolutely saved the show though, with Hunt/Struve being a lot of fun and ending in a brutal knockout and of course Wanderlei/Stann turning into one of the wildest brawls in recent memory. Those two fights alone are enough for a thumbs up – just about – but you can probably skip the first four fights.

Best Fight: Silva vs. Stann

Worst Fight: Kim vs. Bahadurzada

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman - NewmanMMA@gmail.com