By Thomas Gerbasi
VANCOUVER, BC, June 12 – If you told anyone that the UFC 115 co-main event between world-class strikers Mirko Cro Cop and Pat Barry was going to go nearly three rounds, you would have been called crazy. If you said it would end by submission, you would have been committed. But that’s just what happened at General Motors Place Saturday night as Cro Cop rose from two first round knockdowns to submit Barry in the final round of a memorable heavyweight scrap.
Cro Cop vs. Barry
Barry fired off a right hand to start the fight, getting the nerves out of his system immediately. 40 seconds in, Cro Cop hit the canvas briefly courtesy of a right hand, getting back to his feet to receive some hard kicks to the leg. Cro Cop responded with a leg kick of his own, but it was Barry who cracked his hero with a flush right hand that put him on the seat of his pants and immediately swelled up the left side of Cro Cop’s face. The Croatian rose and remained in the pocket as Barry looked to pick his shots, eventually locking up his foe in an effort to turn the tide. What followed was a roar from the crowd as the two hugged in respect – during the round.
Cro Cop came out with his trademark kicks in round two, throwing in a quick flurry of punches as well before locking Barry up against the fence, where he worked his knees until referee Yves Lavigne called for a re-start. The two proceeded to trade leg kicks, but when Barry missed a subsequent kick to the head, the fight hit the mat, with Cro Cop in the top position as Barry tried to hold on and force a re-start. Cro Cop briefly got the mount, and even worked for a choke when Barry gave up his back, stunning onlookers.
Opening the final round with a left kick to the head, Cro Cop continued to press the action as Barry slowed down. The New Orleans native did dilute a head kick from Cro Cop with a perfectly timed trip and scored with a looping left hand to keep the former PRIDE superstar from getting too comfortable. Fatigue was becoming an issue though, especially when Cro Cop would bull Barry into the fence and land with short punches. With less than two minutes left, referee Yves Lavigne re-started the action and Cro Cop went on the attack, pounding Barry with rapid fire shots that sent him down against the fence. A series of unanswered blows followed, but that’s when Cro Cop flipped the script and sunk in a rear naked choke that forced Barry to tap out at the 4:30 mark and which gave the Croatian perhaps his most satisfying Octagon victory, and only his fourth by submission over the course of a nine year MMA career.
With the win, Cro Cop improves to 27-7-2 with 1 NC; Barry falls to 5-2.
Thiago vs. Kampmann
It may not have been the most explosive performance of Martin Kampmann’s career, but it was certainly one of the welterweight contender’s most dominating and impressive ones, as he outpointed Paulo Thiago unanimously over three rounds. See post-fight interview at ufc.com
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Kampmann, who improves to 17-3; Thiago falls to 13-2.
Kampmann’s striking was sharp in the first round, and he picked at Thiago with crisp punches throughout, even dropping him briefly with a right hand. Thiago used this brief visit to the mat to even the score a bit, as now Kampmann was close enough to grab. “The Hitman” stayed cool though, even working a choke in the late stages of the frame.
Sticking to the gameplan in round two, Kampmann continued to keep Thiago under control with stiff punches, solid takedown defense, and effective groundwork when the bout did hit the mat. Thiago remained game, working for Kampmann’s arm for a good portion of the round, but it was the Denmark native who finished stronger thanks to some close range knees.
Thiago swung for the fences as the final round began, but Kampmann wasn’t buying, and he was able to get the Brazilian to the ground and against the fence shortly after the miss. After some more dominant ground work, Thiago got back to his feet, but only for a moment, as Kampmann got him back down and looked for the arm triangle. Amazingly, Thiago survived the assault until the bell, but there was no question who the winner was.
Rothwell vs. Yvel
It wasn’t pretty, especially in the second half of the fight, but Ben Rothwell got his first UFC win as he scored a three round unanimous decision over Gilbert Yvel. See post-fight interview at ufc.com
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Rothwell.
Rothwell stunned Yvel at the bell with a right hand and a follow-up barrage that drove ‘The Hurricane’ into the cage. Yvel shook off the blows and the bout soon drifted to the mat, where Rothwell eventually got into side control. After some ground strikes, Yvel scrambled up, but then found himself back down and mounted against the fence. Yvel stayed active and even looked for a heel hook, but Rothwell’s size and strength was proving troublesome as he got pinned. With a minute left, he got to his feet and landed with hard shots on the Wisconsinite, but he was unable to hurt or finish his foe before time ran out on the round.
The fight went right back to the mat at the start of the second, and Rothwell’s ground and pound continued to pile up the points. Yvel was able to stand just before the midway point, but not for long, as Rothwell took him back down. This time though, Yvel found an escape route and got in the top position, where he began dealing out his own punishment. After some dicey moments, Rothwell escaped and regained top position, ending the round in the mount position.
Yvel shot for a takedown to open the final round, but wound up on his back, with Rothwell in side control. Unfortunately for Yvel, that’s where the rest of the round played out, with Rothwell effective, but not particularly exciting as he methodically sailed to victory.
With the win, Rothwell improves to 31-7; Yvel falls to 36-15-1 with 1 NC.
Condit vs. MacDonald
Kelowna, BC’s Rory MacDonald may have suffered his first pro loss in the main card opener, but his display of toughness against veteran Carlos Condit will certainly be remembered by fight fans as much as Condit’s impressive finish in a third round that broke open an exciting welterweight battle. See post-fight interview at ufc.com
“It was really close,” said Condit. “Rory’s a great fighter.”
It was tough to separate the two welterweights in the opening round, as each had his moments, both standing and on the mat. MacDonald may have earned an edge thanks to his takedowns, but Condit was far from idle in the bottom position, as he tried to bully the youngster with elbows and punches in a hard-fought and fast-paced five minute period.
There was no let up in round two, and just when Condit looked like he was going to put MacDonald in a precarious spot in the second minute, MacDonald reversed position and got in the former WEC champion’s guard. After standing, the two continued to scrap as the crowd erupted into chants of ‘Let’s go Rory’, and while Condit seemed to get the better of the standup throughout the rest of the round, a right kick to the chest by MacDonald sent him to the mat at the bell.
Blood coming from his nose, MacDonald ignored the crimson and the fatigue as round three opened, marching forward while throwing bombs at Condit. Condit, not surprisingly, was cool under pressure, and he was soon able to get the bout to the mat, where he opened up with hard strikes from the top. The resilient MacDonald, with swelling coming up around his right eye, got to his feet, but Condit put him on his back again and opened up as referee Kevin Dornan watched the action closely. MacDonald wouldn’t give in, but Condit was beginning to pull away, and after a barrage of shots, Dornan stepped in and halted the bout at the 4:53 mark.
With the win, Condit improves to 25-5; MacDonald falls to 10-1. At the time of the stoppage, MacDonald led 20-18 on two judges’ scorecards, with judge Doc Hamilton seeing the fight even, 19-19, after two rounds.