Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo got back in the win column in his first bout since his decision loss to Heath Herring in March, wasting no time in stopping Dan Evensen in a single round in UFC 87 preliminary action at Target Center.
By Thomas Gerbasi
MINNEAPOLIS, August 9 – Heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo got back in the win column in his first bout since his decision loss to Heath Herring in March, wasting no time in stopping Dan Evensen in a single round in UFC 87 preliminary action at Target Center.
Not surprisingly, Evensen (10-3) was the aggressor, but he was unable to score on Kongo (22-4-1) early, and in response, the Frenchman took Evensen to the canvas and drilled his foe with leg kicks and an axe kick that got the crowd roaring. Two minutes were gone when referee Yves Lavigne stood Evensen up, and Kongo immediately closed the distance, pushing the Norway native into the fence. Evensen responded with a standing guillotine, but Kongo easily pulled himself out of trouble and resumed his search for the takedown, which he got with a little over a minute to go. But after a few moments on the mat, the two stood again and Kongo finished Evensen off, dropping him with a right hand and forcing the stoppage by Lavigne with a series of ground strikes at the 4:55 mark.
“Everybody knows I deserve a title fight,” said Kongo. “I want to be the best fighter in the world and I will show more than I did tonight when I get a title shot.”
Welterweight up and comer Tamdan McCrory returned to the UFC after a nine month layoff and showed little evidence of Octagon rust as he pounded out a clear-cut three round unanimous decision win over fellow New Yorker Luke Cummo.
McCrory wasted no time going on the attack, locking Cummo (9-6) up and opening up with hard strikes that ‘The Silent Assassin’ took well. McCrory was undeterred though, and he switched gears by taking the bout to the mat. While there, McCrory got his foe’s back and sunk in a deep rear naked choke, but Cummo gamely fought free. ‘The Barn Cat’ then moved into Cummo’s guard, where ground and pound was the next course of action, followed by a late round armbar attempt that put an exclamation point on a dominant round.
The second was more of the same, with McCrory again pushing Cummo to the limit with a number of rear naked choke and armbar attempts. But Cummo wouldn’t break, even though he was falling far behind on the scorecards.
“You want the down payment for the house, show me” implored Cummo trainer Ray Longo between rounds, and the Long Islander came out aggressively in the final stanza, putting McCrory on his back for a moment before ‘The Barn Cat’ was able to rise to his feet and score his own takedown with a little over three minutes remaining. After a lull for the next couple of minutes, Cummo’s last gasp came in the form of a triangle choke, but McCrory broke loose and finished strong to improve to 11-1 as a pro.
Endicott, New York’s Jon Jones, the UFC’s youngest fighter at 21 years old, made an impressive debut in the Octagon with a three round unanimous decision win over Brazil native Andre Gusmao.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28, for Jones, who improves to 7-0. Gusmao falls to 5-1 in the light heavyweight bout.
The bout was fast-paced from the start, with neither fighter pulling ahead until a beautiful Jones takedown was followed up by some solid striking from Gusmao moments later. After both fighters tasted each other’s thunder, Jones started to pull ahead, but a low right knee killed the 21-year old’s momentum and gave Gusmao time to recover. After the restart, Jones tried to keep the pressure on with some strikes and even a spinning elbow and spinning backfist, but he was unable to take his foe out before the end of the frame.
Early in the second, a borderline low blow by Jones forced another break in the action, and while Jones responded with a quick takedown, Gusmao rose immediately and fired back, refusing to give his opponent the edge. The ensuing standup exchange got the fans roaring, and after a stalemate against the fence that forced a restart by referee Darryl Guthmiller, Jones resumed stalking his foe. But just when it appeared as if Jones was starting to pull away, Gusmao would fire off a counter combination that let him know that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Both fighters were winded in the final round, but Jones had a little bit more in the tank and he showed it, as he aggressively followed Gusmao around the Octagon, landed a variety of strikes and got a late round takedown that sealed the victory.
Team Quest’s Chris Wilson nabbed his first UFC victory, scoring a dominant three round unanimous decision over Steve Bruno in their welterweight bout.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Wilson.
After some tactical action to open the bout, Wilson drew first blood with a right hand that stunned Bruno and forced the bout to the mat. After a brief spell there, the two stood, but Wilson brought it back to the canvas with an impressive throw. The two stood again, with Wilson scoring well and putting Bruno down a second time with the right hand. This time, Wilson got Bruno’s back and looked for the finish, but the bell intervened.
Wilson continued to dominate in round two, with Bruno’s eagerness to get back in the fight costing him as he ate shots on the way in. With 2:20 remaining, a left knee to the head dropped Bruno, but the Florida resident wouldn’t give in, despite getting caught in a triangle briefly in the ensuing action.
A right uppercut – left kick combination sent Bruno to the mat early in the third, deepening the hole the UFC debutant was in pointswise, and though matters didn’t get any better for Bruno in the final frame, he was able to make it to the final bell.
With the win, Wilson improves to 13-4 with 1 NC; Bruno falls to 12-4.
In the opener, welterweight prospect Ben Saunders upped his unbeaten record to 6-0-2 with a second round submission win over Octagon newcomer Ryan Thomas.
Saunders was looking for the kayo early, but Thomas (13-2) was unfazed by the attack, firing back with strikes of his own to keep his foe at bay. With under three minutes left, Saunders was able to stun and drop Thomas, but the Illinois product immediately slapped on a triangle to keep Saunders honest. The bout continued to be waged on the mat for the rest of the round, with Saunders getting his foe’s back but unable to finish before the bell sounded.
The fight went back to the mat as the second commenced, but Saunders rose just as fast, looking to keep it standing. While there, his left kicks to the body appeared to be draining and hurting Thomas, and after the bout went to the canvas following another debilitating kick to the midsection, Saunders went for the kill and got the submission, sinking in a fight ending armbar at the 2:28 mark of the round.
“I did my homework and brought that (the armbar) out,” said Saunders. “I thank Ryan for taking the fight on short notice. He’s a warrior.”