LAS VEGAS, January 1 – For Saturday night’s UFC 125 co-main event, middleweight up and comer Brian Stann asked for Chris Leben, a gutsy move to say the least given the experience level of “The Crippler”. But the US Marine Corps veteran delivered when it counted, as he scored a stirring first round TKO win at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Leben vs. Stann
“I asked for Chris Leben because he is the toughest guy on the UFC roster,” said Stann. “That could have happened to either one of us tonight; it just happened to be my night.” See post-fight interview with Brian Stann
The standup attack of Stann was sharp in the early stages of the opening round, leading Leben to take matters inside. Stann was able to turn the tables though, pushing Leben to the fence before breaking loose. Midway through the round a big right hand from Stann dropped Leben, but “The Crippler” was able to survive the ensuing onslaught. Stann kept coming though, dropping Leben a second time as they stood against the fence. After Leben rose again, a knee put the veteran down, and this time Stann’s follow-up barrage brought in referee Josh Rosenthal to halt the bout at the 3:37 mark. See post-fight interview with Leben
With the win, Stann improves to 10-3; Leben falls to 21-7.
Vera vs. Silva
Light heavyweight contender Thiago Silva returned from a year long layoff with a clear cut three round unanimous decision victory over Brandon Vera. See post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 twice and 30-26 for Silva, who was sidelined since his January 2010 loss to Rashad Evans due to a back injury.
The fighters met in the center of the Octagon and engaged immediately, trading blows on the inside before breaking and re-engaging against the fence. With a minute gone, Silva turned around expectations by scoring a takedown, and he began firing off ground strikes while looking to improve his position. Vera tried to hold his opponent close in order to force a standup, but it was Silva who stayed active and got into side control. More strikes came raining down, none causing too much damage, but all scoring points for the Brazilian. At the bell, Silva taunted Vera to get up, and the two had to be separated by referee Steve Mazzagatti.
Fired up, Vera came out throwing bombs to start round two, and Silva eagerly threw back as the crowd erupted. After this brief exchange, the two locked up against the fence, with Silva following up with a takedown. Silva fired away from the top position, and he remained there for the remainder of the frame, as he put another round in the bank.
The two trade home run kicks to start round three, but after another quick exchange, Silva once again scored a takedown. Silva remained in control from the back position, but with only sporadic action, the fans were calling for a standup from Mazzagatti. In response, Silva opened up with punches and a series of slaps, adding insult to injury (Vera’s nose appeared to be broken) as the seconds ticked away on Vera’s third straight defeat.
With the win, Silva improves to 15-2; Vera falls to 11-6.
Diaz vs. Kim
Korean welterweight Dong Hyun Kim remained unbeaten, holding off a late charge from Nate Diaz to win a close and hard-fought three round unanimous decision. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Kim, who improves to 14-0-1 with 1 NC; Diaz falls to 13-6.
Diaz kicked off the bout with some crisp standup, an attack nullified by a Kim takedown. Kim fought well from the top position, controlling position while tossing in the occasional ground strike to keep Diaz honest. Kim taunted Diaz while taking short shots to the face, answering with a huge strike of his own. Diaz stayed busy from the bottom position, looking for submissions. Kim’s pressure was relentless though, and by staying busy, he kept himself out of trouble. With less than 20 seconds left, Diaz got back to his feet in a scramble, but wasn’t able to make a final statement before the bell.
Again in the early stages of round two, Diaz’ standup game was working well, but he wasn’t able to avoid Kim’s takedown. And though Diaz was active from the bottom, Kim was controlling the action from the top with strikes and superior positioning. With 1:40 left, Diaz kicked his way free, only to end up on his back moments later. Diaz did fight his way free with less than 30 seconds left, the impending bell stopping any serious offensive retort.
Diaz looked to control the grappling portion of the bout early in round three, pinning Kim to the fence. The stronger Korean fighter broke free fairly easy, and the two locked up. Diaz scored with knee to the head while Kim had his hand on the canvas, drawing a warning from referee Yves Lavigne and a break in the action. After the action restarted, Kim pushed the action, getting the fight to the mat midway through the frame. Diaz battled gamely, almost catching Kim’s ankle, but the “Stun Gun” got loose. When the two stood, Diaz turned it on with his strikes at close range as he looked to finish, but despite his final charge, the Stockton native ran out of time.
Guida vs. Gomi
Lightweight contender Clay Guida got the big name scalp he was looking for in the main card opener, submitting former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi in the second round. See post-fight interview
After a lack of offensive action for the first 90 seconds, Guida landed with a kick to the head that got the crowd roaring. A subsequent takedown attempt came up short, but Gomi was apparently stunned by the lightning fast attack. Flustered by Guida’s head and foot movement, Gomi was unable to find a home for his punches, as he repeatedly came up short. And while Gomi’s takedown defense was rock solid, his offense was non-existent. With less than a minute left, Guida broke through with a takedown, but ran out of time before he could press his advantage.
Guida stood closer to “The Fireball Kid” in the early stages of round two, allowing Gomi to get off a few strikes, but nothing of any significance. Guida was in the same boat, but gradually, his feints would draw Gomi in and open him up for return fire, and with 90 seconds left in the round he got another takedown. Now in control on the mat, Guida patiently worked his ground game, locking in a guillotine choke that produced a tap out at the 4:27 mark.
With the win, Guida improves to 28-8; Gomi falls to 32-7 with 1 NC.