Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Welterweight prospect Ben Saunders scored the most impressive win of his UFC career at the Crown Coliseum Wednesday night, taking out Octagon newcomer Brandon Wolff with a ferocious assault that prompted a halt to the UFC Fight for The Troops preliminary bout in just 109 seconds.
By Thomas Gerbasi
FAYETTEVILLE, NC, December 10 – Welterweight prospect Ben Saunders scored the most impressive win of his UFC career at the Crown Coliseum Wednesday night, taking out Octagon newcomer Brandon Wolff with a ferocious assault that prompted a halt to the UFC Fight for The Troops preliminary bout in just 109 seconds.
Saunders’ first kick of the fight strayed low, forcing a brief stoppage of the action, but his next series of kicks were right on target, as were a barrage of knees to the head from inside the clinch. Hawaii’s Wolff, bloody but unbowed, took everything and tried to recover, but Saunders was relentless, eventually forcing referee Al Coley to stop the fight at the 1:49 mark
With the win, Saunders improves to 7-0-2; Wolff, a former Navy SEAL, falls to 7-3.
In a bout fought at a catchweight of 173 pounds when neither fighter made the welterweight limit on Tuesday, former US Marine Luigi Fioravanti pounded out a three round unanimous decision over a resilient Brodie Farber.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Fioravanti.
Fioravanti (13-4) drew first blood with a takedown, and the Floridian quickly moved into side control. Eventually, Fioravanti stood as he tried to lock in a guillotine choke, but Farber (13-5) escaped, only to be slammed down to the mat with Fioravanti then taking his back. With both hooks in, Fioravanti pounded away, but again Farber escaped. And though he wasn’t able to mount much of an offense for the rest of the round, the Californian was able to survive the opening five minutes.
Eager to turn things around, Farber opened the second up with some crisp strikes but was soon put on his back by Fioravanti, who worked his ground and pound from side control before getting Farber’s back and sinking in a rear naked choke. Farber was like a cat with nine lives though as he broke the hold and got back to his feet. Farber’s persistence looked to be paying off as he worked Fioravanti’s arm on the canvas, but Fioravanti showed some defense of his own as he got loose, stood, and went back on the offensive. It was Farber who finished the round stronger with a nice leg trip before the bell.
Farber’s strong clinch work was put on display in the first minute of the final round, but it was a right hand by Fioravanti that produced a knockdown in the second minute. Looking to capitalize, Fioravanti landed some strikes from the mount and then slammed Farber back to the canvas when he escaped, and even though he was able to get his foe’s back for much of the final minute, he was unable to finish him.
Former US Naval Air Crewman and Rescue Swimmer Steve Bruno picked the perfect occasion for his first UFC win, submitting Johnny Rees in the second round of their welterweight bout.
Rees (10-2) went on the attack immediately, scoring with knees on the inside. Bruno (13-4) recovered quickly, but ‘The Hater Hurter’ kept up the fast pace until the Brooklyn native was able to grab his leg and take him to the mat. By the two minute mark, Bruno got into side control and then briefly took Rees’ back, before pushing his foe to the fence, which allowed Rees to get to his feet and force a re-start from referee Donnie Jessup. After a brief exchange of punches, the two locked up on the fence again until the bell.
Bruno got Rees’ back early in round two but was unable to capitalize and another stalemate forced a re-start. Rees briefly rocked Bruno with a punch a few moments later, but the American Top Team fighter avoided further trouble just as quickly, and with a little over 90 seconds left, Bruno found an opening and capitalized, sinking in a rear naked choke that produced a tap out at 3:44 of the round.
A lightweight bout between Dale Hartt and Corey Hill ended in unfortunate and sudden fashion in the second round when Hill broke his right leg as his kick was blocked, rendering Hartt the victor by TKO.
After some tactical standup to open the bout, US Navy vet Hartt (6-1) rushed and closed the distance, but it was Hill (2-2) who got the takedown. After the two battled to a ground stalemate, they stood, with the 6 foot 4 Hill scoring well on his shorter foe. With 1:30 left, Hill got another takedown, but was ineffective as Hartt didn’t allow him any room to get untracked.
The two traded leg kicks to open the second round, and as Hartt checked Hill’s kick, the bone in Hill’s right leg snapped and he fell to the mat in obvious pain, bringing in referee Donnie Jessup to immediately halt the bout at 20 seconds of the round. Hill was put in a temporary cast before being taken from the Octagon on a stretcher. The courageous Floridian did give a thumbs up to the crowd as he was brought to a waiting ambulance though. At press time, Hill was resting and stable at a local hospital.
“Me and Corey cut weight together and Corey is an awesome dude,” said Hartt of the injury suffered by his foe. “I wanted to beat him, but I would never want something like that to happen.”
Justin McCully bounced back from his July loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in style with a hard-fought three round unanimous decision win over Eddie Sanchez in the heavyweight opener.
Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 twice for McCully, who improves to 9-4-2.
“I knew Eddie was a big swinger, and he hurt me a couple of times, but composure was the story of the night,” said McCully.
With a quick left and tie-up, McCully immediately looked for the takedown, but was turned back by Sanchez (10-3). Once apart, McCully went right back to work, scoring with quick jabs before bulling his foe into the fence. Soon, Sanchez’ face started to show the effects of McCully’s punches, and the ‘Insane One’ was working effectively with dirty boxing on the inside. Late in the round, the fight hit the mat, with Sanchez finally in a position to do some damage from the top spot before the end of the frame.
Sanchez started faster in round two, both offensively and defensively, but McCully was game and not backing down from any exchanges, even staggering his opponent briefly with a kick to the leg. But by the end of the round, fatigue was looking to be an issue for McCully.
The pace dipped in the third, with referee Dan Miragliotta eventually forcing a re-start. The ensuing action saw both fighters swinging for the fences and just falling short on their home run punches. After another lull and re-start with under 1:30 left, Sanchez tried to push the pace as McCully took potshots from the outside, and eventually, McCully put an exclamation mark on his victory with a last-second combination that floored Sanchez at the bell.
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