By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, December 27 – Heavyweight prospect Antoni Hardonk got a spirited effort out of late replacement Mike Wessel in their UFC 92 preliminary bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night, but in the end, the experience and stamina of Hardonk won out as he TKOed Wessel in the second round.
Wessel showed no sign of the first-time UFC jitters as he closed the distance on his taller foe and got him to the mat. While there, Hardonk got his bearings back and looked for a submission until the bout went back to the feet. Hardonk then started to tee off on Wessel with knees and kicks, but the Little Rock product took everything and refused to back down. With under two minutes left, Wessel was able to secure a single leg takedown, and he worked his ground and pound from the top. Hardonk again looked for the sub on his bloodied foe, but was unable to finish before the bell.
The bout resumed on the mat in round two, with Wessel trying to ground and pound while Hardonk looked for subs. A minute in though, Hardonk was able to get his opponent’s back and he proceeded to tee off both there and from the mount position when Wessel turned over. Moments later, it was game over as referee Yves Lavigne stopped the contest at 2:09 of the second stanza.
With the win, Hardonk improves to 8-4; Wessel falls to 8-2.
Former kickboxing standout Patrick Barry promised a spectacular showing in his UFC debut, and he delivered, moving to 4-0 with a first round stoppage of Dan Evensen in their heavyweight bout.
“This is better than Christmas,” said Barry. “I’m working on jiu-jitsu and wrestling, but if I hit you you’ll know you’ve been hit.”
Barry’s leg kicks were as devastating as advertised, buckling Evensen (10-4) with each shot and forcing ‘The Viking’ to take the bout to the mat. And once Evensen rose, things didn’t get any better, as Barry’s thunderous right kick to the leg forced the Las Vegan to stagger away in pain. As Evensen turned his back on Barry, referee Yves Lavigne intervened, halting the bout at the 2:36 mark.
Middleweight contender Yushin Okami continued his steady, but unspectacular rise up the 185-pound ranks with an uneventful three round unanimous decision win over Dean Lister.
Scores were 30-27 for Okami, who won his third consecutive bout.
The first round was mainly tactical, with Lister’s attempts at takedowns and submissions largely nullified by Okami’s stellar defense and the occasional rap to the face.
There was more of the same in rounds two and three, with Okami’s ground strikes providing the only semblance of offense during the final two stanzas.
With the win, Okami improves to 24-4; Lister falls to 11-6
Light heavyweight prospect Matt Hamill bounced back from his September loss to Rich Franklin, halting Reese Andy in the second round of a scheduled three.
The two former wrestlers opted for a standup battle in the first round, with Andy (7-3) taking an early lead behind some hard low kicks and punches upstairs that drew blood from under Hamill’s right eye. Hamill (7-2) wasn’t just a sitting duck though, as his punches raised a mouse under Andy’s left eye.
Hamill looked to be the fresher of the two entering round two, and he sensed it as he attacked Andy while pushing off his opponent’s takedown attempts. 90 seconds in, Hamill landed a hard left to the stomach which put Andy down to a knee. A series of unanswered blows followed, bringing in referee Steve Mazzagatti to halt the bout at 2:19 of the round.
Welterweight Brad Blackburn survived a furious late rally from Ryo Chonan to take a close three round unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Blackburn.
“I definitely won the first two rounds, but he was in phenomenal shape and he definitely won the third round,” said Blackburn. “But it’s a three round fight.”
Blackburn immediately took the fight to Chonan, and after some heated exchanges, ‘Bad Brad’ looked to be getting the best of the Japanese veteran thanks to his straighter and faster punches, and by the end of the round, he was teeing off with ease on his opponent.
Opting to not fix what wasn’t broken, Blackburn kept his attack steady in round two, and Chonan, while game, had few answers for it until late in the round, when he was able to put together some good shots as Blackburn slowed.
With Chonan’s late second round rally making things interesting, the third saw both men trying to make a final statement to impress the judges, and for the final minute of the fight it was all Chonan as he chased a bloodied Blackburn around the Octagon and drilled him with power shots.
Blackburn’s victory lifts his record to 14-9-1 with 1 NC; Chonan falls to 15-9.
Hardonk and Barry Make Heavy Statements in UFC 92 Prelims
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Heavyweight prospect Antoni Hardonk got a spirited effort out of late replacement Mike Wessel in their UFC 92 preliminary bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night, but in the end, the experience and stamina of Hardonk won out as he TKOed Wessel in the second round.