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Bocek Wins Battle of Black Belts

Click below for UFC 124 prelim results...

MONTREAL, December 11 – Mark Bocek took the drama out of his anticipated UFC 124 bout with fellow jiu-jitsu black belt Dustin Hazelett early and emphatically, impressively submitting his foe in the first round at the Bell Centre Saturday night.

Bocek vs. Hazelett
“I’ve been quiet for a long time,” said Bocek. “I’ve got the best jiu-jitsu in the lightweight division. Let me fight George Sotiropoulos in Toronto (in April 2011) and prove it.” See post-fight interview

Bocek scored the first takedown of the fight less than 30 seconds in, using his ground strikes to loosen Hazelett’s solid defense. It worked – as he effortlessly transitioned into a triangle choke. Hazelett tried to fight the move off, but he was soon forced to tap at the 2:33 mark of the opening round.

With the win, Bocek improves to 9-3; Hazelett falls to 14-7.

Doerksen vs. Dan Miller
In middleweight action, Dan Miller squeezed out a close three round split decision win over Joe Doerksen. See post-fight interview

Scores were 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 for Miller, who improved to 13-4 with 1 NC; Doerksen falls to 46-14.

The battle commenced on the ground almost immediately, with Miller pressing the action and Doerksen showing off solid defense as well as peppering strikes from his back. And while it wasn’t Miller’s best form in the first five minutes, he did enough to take the round.

Miller opened up the second with another takedown, but this time Doerksen scrambled immediately and got into the top position. The Manitoba product was able to get off some ground strikes, but Miller fought back to his feet and then took Doerksen down, which didn’t please the crowd too much. A little past the midway point, Doerksen struck with a kimura from the bottom, but after some dicey moments, Miler escaped and resumed his attack of ground strikes, though it was the Jersey native who went back to his corner with a cut over his left eye.

The gameplan remained unchanged for Miller in round three – take Doerksen down and work him over on the mat. Doerksen wasn’t a shrinking violet on his back though, as Miller’s bloodied and bruised face made very clear. And as the round progressed, it was Doerksen being the busier of the two fighters, which left the judges with a dilemma scoring-wise as the final bell tolled.

Bongfeldt vs. Natal
A big last round from Jesse Bongfeldt allowed the debuting Ontario middleweight to eke out a three round majority draw against Rafael Natal. See post-fight interview with Natal

Scores were 29-28 for Natal and 28-28 twice.

Natal put on a groundfighting clinic in the first round, with only Bongfeldt’s resolve keeping him in the fight until a late surge where he took the Brazilian down and attempted to get matters in his favor, only to have the bell ring. See post-fight interview with Bongfeldt

Bongfeldt (15-4-1) did what he needed to do to get back in the fight in round two, turning it into a brawl. And it worked as he got the fight to the mat and unleashed ground strikes in between submission attempts from Natal. Eventually, Natal cleared his head and got back to his feet, drawing a warning just before the two minute mark for grabbing the fence. After the brief break, Natal took Bongfeldt to the mat and then took his foe’s back. Bongfeldt broke free after a spell, but only for a moment, as Natal kept him locked up as he looked for the choke.

Natal (12-3-1) looked exhausted as he came out for the final round, and Bongfeldt – though fatigued himself – took advantage and used his striking to get Natal to the mat. He quickly got into the mount position as Natal tried to hold on, and a series of strikes from the top had referee Dan Miragliotta looking closely at the New York resident. Natal must have sensed the end though, as he got out of trouble, and despite taking more hard shots, he was able to make it to the end, though the 10-8 round on two judges’ cards cost him the bout.

Riddle vs. Pierson
It was a debut years in the making, but veteran Ontario welterweight Sean Pierson made the most of it, winning an exciting three round scrap with Matt Riddle via unanimous decision. See post-fight interview

“It was great to be in there exchanging punches with Matt,” said Pierson. “He’s very resilient, but I felt like I had the decision. The crowd was amazing. This was 14 years in the making. I’m extremely proud and happy to be in the UFC.”

All three judges saw it 30-27 for Pierson in a fight that was a lot closer than those margins would indicate.

Pierson showed no sign of the first time UFC jitters as he took the fight to Riddle from the opening bell, rocking him with punches as the two battled against the fence, and then dropping the Ultimate Fighter veteran with a stiff right hand on the jaw. Riddle weathered the attack admirably, but Pierson still stayed one step ahead, slamming his foe to the canvas and continuing to pepper him with accurate shots while standing.

Riddle came out fast for round two, only to get more flush counters to the face for his trouble. In response, Riddle looked for the takedown but was turned away. Pierson went on to put on a jabbing clinic, but Riddle kept pressing, almost catching Pierson in a guillotine choke after closing the distance. Moments later it was Riddle rejecting Pierson’s takedown attempt and getting into the dominant position on the mat, where he stood to the final bell.

The exchanges got more and more heated in round three, but Pierson’s southpaw jab continued to dictate the action. That’s not to say Riddle wasn’t getting his licks in, as his strikes opened a cut under Pierson’s right eye. Through it all, Riddle kept a smile on his face, as the crowd chanted Pierson’s name. In the final minute, it was Pierson taking matters to the mat, but as the bout ended, it was bombs away for the two welters, with Riddle rocking Pierson just before the bell.

With the win, Pierson ups his record to 11-4; Riddle falls to 5-2.

Grant vs. Almeida
Ricardo Almeida bounced back from his August loss to Matt Hughes with a three round unanimous decision win over Nova Scotia’s TJ Grant in welterweight action. See post-fight interview

Scores were 30-27 across the board.

After some effective standup work to set up the takedown, Almeida got what he was looking for 30 seconds into the fight, and he proceeded to take matters over there with his ground and pound attack as he worked for dominant positions. Early on, Grant got his licks in from the bottom, but by the round’s end, Almeida was dictating the pace and the location of the fight.

Almeida got the fight to the mat 30 seconds in again in round two, and the constant movement of the “Big Dog” kept Grant from escaping for any length of time or mounting any offense. With under a minute left, Grant finally got free and began delivering some hurt with his fists, but the round ended before he could capitalize on the change in fortunes.

In the third, Almeida shook off Grant’s late surge in the previous round with a quick takedown and more of the same on the ground. With a little over two minutes left, Almeida got into the mount position and then took his foe’s back briefly, but he wasn’t able to put the finishing touches on the game Canadian, who was simply overwhelmed by the Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s attack.

With the win, Almeida improves to 13-4; Grant falls to 16-5.

Audinwood vs. Makdessi
Debuting Montrealer John Makdessi set the tone for the hometown crowd immediately, as he scored a shutout three round unanimous decision over Pat Audinwood in the lightweight opener. See post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 twice and 30-26 for Makdessi, who improves to 8-0; Audinwood falls to 9-2-1.

Makdessi’s first round in the Octagon was an impressive one, as he mixed up kicks to the body and legs with a straight left punch to the head that dropped Audinwood with two minutes left in the frame. Makdessi wasn’t able to finish, but his control of the fight was evident.

The dominating performance from the Canadian continued in the second stanza, as he calmly walked Audinwood down, knocking him off balance with each shot from his fists or feet. Makdessi’s takedown defense was solid as well as he pushed off Audinwood’s lone attempt at taking the bout to the mat.

To his credit, Audinwood kept the pace up in the final round, trying to turn things around, but every time an exchange occurred, it was Makdessi landing the more accurate and damaging blows, capping off a successful debut for “The Bull.”