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Kampmann Returns with a Win, but Wiman's the Real Hitman in UFC 85 Prelims

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Middleweight contender Martin ‘The Hitman’ Kampmann returned to the Octagon for the first time since March of 2007 and he picked up where he left off before his knee surgery, submitting Jorge Rivera in the first round of UFC 85 preliminary action Saturday night at the O2 Arena.

By Thomas Gerbasi

LONDON, June 7 – Middleweight contender Martin ‘The Hitman’ Kampmann returned to the Octagon for the first time since March of 2007 and he picked up where he left off before his knee surgery, submitting Jorge Rivera in the first round of UFC 85 preliminary action Saturday night at the O2 Arena.

After some brief standup exchanges, Kampmann (13-1) secured a takedown and worked his ground and pound game. Rivera (15-7) tried for a submission attempt but Kampmann eluded it and worked to Rivera’s back briefly. The New Englander got out of immediate trouble, but then found himself in a worse predicament as Kampmann locked in a guillotine choke that forced a tap out at 2:44 of the opening stanza.

“I’m very happy,” said Kampmann, who is unbeaten in four UFC bouts, winning three out of four by submission. “It was horrible to be out, but I’m glad to be back.”

Even though lightweight up and comer Matt Wiman gets married next week, it’s going to be hard for the Ultimate Fighter alum to top the feeling of tonight’s knockout victory over Thiago Tavares, without question the most important and impressive win of his UFC career thus far.

The opening minute of the bout was a submission fest, with Tavares and Wiman trading attempts that drew cheers from the O2 Arena crowd. Both fighters were as good defensively as offensively though, as neither was in serious trouble. Tavares settled into the top position and scored effectively with strikes on the mat, but Wiman never stopped working, eventually getting back to his feet for a brief moment before the fight hit the mat for the final 30 seconds of the round.

Wiman switched gears in the second, opting to test his standup against Tavares, who eagerly complied, even snapping his foe’s head back with a punch before the fight hit the mat in the second minute. But the next time the two rose, Wiman got even as the fight moved to the fence, with a single right hand knocking Tavares out at 1:57 of the second frame.

With the win, Wiman improves to 10-3; Tavares falls to 17-2.

UFC jitters? Octagon newcomer Kevin ‘The Fire’ Burns showed no sign of them as he came in on short notice for injured Ryo Chonan and made the most of his opportunity, submitting Roan Carneiro in the second round of their welterweight bout.

Burns (7-1) impressed with his ground work from the opening bell, both offensively and defensively. Carneiro (12-7) calmly waited for his opening though, eventually working his way into Burns’ mount, where he landed with strikes while searching for the finisher. Yet the Iowan wouldn’t give in, as he escaped the mount late in the round and made it to the second frame.

Carneiro opened round two with a takedown attempt that was rebuffed by Burns, who appeared to jar the Brazilian with a punch in the ensuing scramble. Carneiro recovered, getting his takedown and landing in his opponent’s guard. While there, Carneiro fired off punches but was unable to do significant damage due to Burns’ solid defense. This apparent frustration forced Carneiro into a mistake and it was a costly one, as Burns locked in a triangle choke that forced a tap out at the 3:50 mark and announced the arrival of a new prospect in the 170-pound weight class.

Brazilian light heavyweight Luiz Cane got his first UFC victory in style, impressively stopping Jason ‘The Punisher’ Lambert in the first round of their scheduled three rounder.

The action was fast-paced from the opening bell, with both fighters trading and working at close range, trying to gain the upper hand. Surprisingly, Cane (9-1, 1 NC) let Lambert off the fence when apparently in a dominant position, but ‘Banha’s plan was a perfect one as the aggressive Lambert rushed in and got caught flush with a left hand. From then it was just a matter of time until the fight was over, as Cane teed off with the left until Lambert (23-8) fell and referee Herb Dean halted the bout at 2:07 of the opening round.

Walsall’s Paul Taylor broke a two-fight losing streak over an old foe, winning a three round split decision over Jess Liaudin in their welterweight match, repeating his 2003 win over ‘The Joker’.

The split decision read 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 for Taylor, who improves to 9-3-1; Liaudin falls to 12-10.

After exchanging a pre-fight handshake, Liaudin and Taylor were anything but cordial to each other when the bell rang, with a frenetic standup exchange followed by a Liaudin takedown and a reversal from Taylor. Taylor proceeded to push Liaudin to the fence and land with some punches, but the London-based Frenchman battled his way back to his feet before putting Taylor on the mat. This time it was Taylor rising from the canvas, and the two traded blows at close range before a stalemate produced a re-start from referee Dan Miragliotta. In the ensuing trade of blows, Liaudin held the edge, trying to use his strikes to set up a takedown. Taylor held strong, and with under 30 seconds left he stunned and dropped Liaudin, raining blows down in the final seconds as his foe tried to lock in a submission before the bell interrupted the action.

There was little let-up in the pace in beginning of the second round, but Taylor’s strikes were more accurate and his activity level was higher than Liaudin’s while standing and on the mat. Liaudin finally got his takedown with two minutes left in the round, but Taylor held him close, nullifying his opponent’s offense effectively.

Taylor’s striking looked as fresh in the third round as it did when the fight started, and though Liaudin was able to work his foe to the mat a couple of times, he was ineffective while there and obviously fatigued, with Taylor doing enough work wherever the fight was to secure the victory.

Heavyweight up and comer Antoni Hardonk survived two knockdowns and an aggressive assault from late replacement Eddie Sanchez to score a second round TKO victory in the entertaining UFC 85 opener.

Sanchez – who replaced injured Neil Wain - came out looking for the knockout and almost got it, dropping Hardonk with a right to the jaw seconds into the fight. Hardonk immediately got his wits back as he hit the mat, looking for a triangle choke briefly until settling down and forcing a re-start. There was no let up in Sanchez’ attack once the two rose, but the more measured Hardonk was able to push his foe to the fence and score with some knees before the Californian began firing back again. With the round halfway gone, Sanchez (10-2) took Hardonk to the mat and tried to work his ground and pound. Again, Hardonk held on in an effort to force a re-start, which he got at the 1:30 mark. This time, Hardonk held the edge in the exchanges, though he did end up on the wrong end of a cut over the left eye as the round closed on the mat.

There was little change to Sanchez’ fight plan to open the second, but Hardonk appeared to be a little better prepared and he returned fire well until a counterpunch from Sanchez dropped the Amsterdam native to the mat. Sanchez jumped into action and he scored effectively from the top as Hardonk tried to work his way back to his feet. With three minutes left, referee Mario Yamasaki called for a standup and the two heavyweights opened up again. Hardonk’s punches and leg kicks were textbook, and though a mixture of chin and power kept Sanchez in the fight, as the round progressed, Hardonk’s flush shots were taking their toll, and with Yamasaki watching closely, a final left hand sent Sanchez down and out at the 4:15 mark of the round.

“In the first round he was strong and he was all over me, but in the second round I was able to come back,” said Hardonk, now 7-4. “He’s a very tough fighter.”