Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - After losing to former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in his Octagon debut in February, many wondered whether former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar was more hype than substance. But after a shutout three round decision win over perennial heavyweight contender Heath Herring in the UFC 87 co-feature at Target Center, there is no question that Lesnar may very well be the division’s next big thing.
By Thomas Gerbasi
MINNEAPOLIS, August 9 – After losing to former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in his Octagon debut in February, many wondered whether former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar was more hype than substance. But after a shutout three round decision win over perennial heavyweight contender Heath Herring in the UFC 87 co-feature at Target Center, there is no question that Lesnar may very well be the division’s next big thing.
“Can you see me now?” screamed an ecstatic Lesnar to his hometown crowd. “I fell off the horse against Frank Mir, and I got back on that stallion and rode off on it.”
Scores were 30-26 across the board for Lesnar.
Lesnar’s first right hand of the fight landed and dropped Herring, forcing him to flip over backwards on the canvas. Lesnar immediately moved in to tackle his foe, only to have Herring rise. Lesnar tried to sink in a guillotine choke, and though Herring would escape, his left eye was already bloody and swelling rapidly, and Lesnar would easily desposit him back on the mat with a lightning quick takedown. While there, Lesnar took his time, but when he did throw something, it jarred ‘The Texas Crazy Horse’, who was unable to make it back to his feet before the bell sounded.
Herring, with no quit in him whatsoever, fought off Lesnar’s first takedown of the second round, but he wasn’t so lucky on attempt number two, and the former NCAA national wrestling champion controlled the bout from the ground, getting Herring’s back and patiently looking for the opening that would end the fight. Herring got out of immediate trouble, but he was taking some vicious knees to the body in the process, and though Lesnar moved to side control, he was unable to do any significant damage and the two stood. While locked up against the fence, Lesnar and Herring traded knees before the Minnesota hero scored a knockdown just before the end of the round.
Looking to turn things around, Herring bullied Lesnar into the fence early in the third, but he got spun around and nailed with some knees before the bout hit the canvas. Herring had no answers for Lesnar or his thudding knees, and after an aborted kimura attempt by Herring, Lesnar briefly took the mount position, with Herring again giving up his back to escape. The alternative wasn’t much better for Herring though, as he continued to get drilled. A brief standup exchange gave Herring a light at the end of the tunnel, but Lesnar went back to his bread and butter and took his foe to the canvas, finishing the bout with another series of ground strikes.
“I’ve been trying to work on everything every day to be a complete fighter and a contender in the UFC,” said Lesnar.
With the win, Lesnar improves to 2-1; Herring falls to 28-14, 1 NC.
Roger Huerta showed that he could compete with the best at 155 pounds in his highly-anticipated showdown with Kenny Florian, but it was Florian who proved that he was ready for another shot at the lightweight crown as he scored a shutout three round decision win over the hometown hero, winning his fifth straight bout in the process.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Florian, who improves to 12-3; Huerta, who lost for the first time in his UFC career, falls to 22-2-1.
“I know how hard it was to fight Roger Huerta,” said Florian. “I didn’t want to get into a brawl with him, I wanted to be technical and I think I was able to do that.”
Huerta picked at Florian with leg kicks and counters early on as Florian took his time and waited for his opening. 1:15 in, Florian scored the takedown, and with Huerta against the fence, the Bostonian moved into the mount position and then took Huerta’s back. But Huerta powered his way back up and out of trouble, prompting a chant of ‘Huerta, Huerta’ from the crowd. On the feet, Florian scored with a knee, but Huerta flurried back furiously before the two locked up and battled at close range. When the two locked up, Florian held the edge with the cleaner technique, but Huerta’s aggression remained unchecked, and the fans roared at the bell.
The pace started off fast in round two, with both fighters having their moments while standing, but nothing fight altering. Two minutes in, the fight hit the mat, with Florian escaping a kimura attempt and briefly getting Huerta’s back. ‘El Matador’ escaped without any problems and got back to his feet, only briefly hitting the mat again after a Florian trip. In the final minute, the fighters locked up, with Florian’s elbow the big scoring shot, but Huerta refused to cower, and he was still swinging as Florian tagged him in the final seconds.
Florian opened up the final round with a kick to the chin and a brief takedown, and after the two scrambled back to their feet, Florian landed a series of hard strikes and put the fight on the mat again. With 1:30 gone, the two stood, and Huerta – his face swelling up – flurried, only to get tagged again by Florian’s more precise counters. Huerta continued to stalk, but he was unable to cut Florian off, and it was ‘Ken Flo’s steady course of action that was paying off, with a final takedown and close range attack punctuating the hard-fought victory.
In an exciting display of groundfighting between two of the middleweight division’s top submission artists, unbeaten Demian Maia outlasted Jason MacDonald, submitting his opponent in the third round of a torrid battle.
“He’s a tough guy and a very hard man to tap,” said Maia of MacDonald.
After some brief standup exchanges to open the fight, Maia (9-0) pulled guard and almost immediately locked in a triangle choke. After some dicey moments, MacDonald (21-10) escaped and got on the board with a rear naked choke attempt, eventually ending up in Maia’s guard after the Brazilian escaped. MacDonald scored well with strikes from the top and then sunk in a guillotine choke. Maia, now bleeding from over his left eye, escaped and then got MacDonald’s back, keeping the submission war going with a rear naked choke that the Canadian broke free from just before the bell, ending a spectacular round.
Both fighters locked up while standing for the first minute of the second frame, with Maia than taking the bout back to the mat, where he ended up in the full mount and started pounding away with elbows that drew blood from MacDonald’s nose. As the round entered it’s final minute, MacDonald was still in the fight, but he was unable to escape until an armbar attempt by Maia went for naught. And as the frame ended, it was MacDonald in the top position.
Told by his trainer Mark Pavelich that he needed a knockout, MacDonald tried to follow his corner’s advice, but the third round began with Maia taking the bout to the mat again. MacDonald was able to get into Maia’s guard, and as he pushed his foe to the fence, he briefly got the Brazilian’s back, but it was Maia who ended up in the mount position, and then on MacDonald’s back. Moments later, Maia coolly slipped his arm under MacDonald’s chin for the rear naked choke, and the tap out followed, giving Maia the win at 2:44 of the final round.
The action was fast and furious in the lightweight battle between The Ultimate Fighter season five vets Rob Emerson and Manny Gamburyan – at least for the 12 seconds it lasted before a right hand standing and a left hand on the mat spelled the end for Gamburyan.
Gamburyan (10-4) came out bombing, and Emerson (10-6, 1 NC) eagerly obliged his foe’s aggression, trading with the Armenia native and landing with a crisp right hand to the jaw that scored a knockdown.
“If that right hand didn’t land, it would have been a war,” said Emerson, but it did, and a follow-up left hand put Gamburyan out, prompting the stoppage by referee Yves Lavigne.
“He said he was gonna come out strong, so I said I’d better be ready for it,” said Emerson. “But he’s tough guy, an animal, and my hat’s off to him”