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Newcomers Steal UFC 84 Prelim Show

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - It was the night of the newcomers in UFC 84 prelim action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with Octagon debutants Rousimar Palhares, Shane Carwin, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and Dong Hyun Kim all making immediate names for themselves in the organization with impressive early victories.

By Thomas Gerbasi

LAS VEGAS, May 24 – It was the night of the newcomers in UFC 84 prelim action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with Octagon debutants Rousimar Palhares, Shane Carwin, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and Dong Hyun Kim all making immediate names for themselves in the organization with impressive early victories.

Brazilian Top Team’s Palhares showed some slick jiu-jitsu in his Octagon debut, making it look easy as he submitted longtime UFC standout Ivan Salaverry in the first round.

Salaverry tried to keep Palhares at bay as the bout began, but a kick to the head was blocked by the Brazilian’s arm and then met with a lightning-quick takedown. Within seconds, Palhares was in the mount and he then got Salaverry’s back, where he worked for the rear naked choke. Salaverry fought back valiantly, but just when it looked like he had found some daylight, Palhares quickly transitioned into an armbar, ending the bout via submission at 2:36 of the first round.

With the win, Palhares ups his record to 17-1; Salaverry falls to 12-6-1.

Rising light heavyweight star Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou earned his first UFC victory in impressive style, stopping Japanese vet Kazuhiro Nakamura at the end of the first round.

“My first UFC fight I was putting too much pressure on myself and I was too serious,” said Sokoudjou (5-2), who was submitted by Lyoto Machida last December. “Tonight, I said let’s have fun, put on a good show, and get the victory.”

Sokoudjou struck first with a hard knee to Nakamura’s belly, and followed up moments later with flush kicks to the legs that could be heard throughout the arena. Nakamura (11-8) hung tough, but there was little response in the way of consistent offense until the midway point of the round, when he was able to land with some strikes. Sokoudjou seemed to slow down in the second half of the round, perhaps guessing that Nakamura wasn’t going to be an early knockout victim, and the two combatants circled and looked for openings. With seconds left that opening came for Sokoudjou, as a right hand to the jaw gave Nakamura a one way ticket to the canvas. Sokoudjou looked for the finish, but the bell intervened.

As Nakamura rose to his feet though, it was clear that he wasn’t fit to continue as he staggered into the fence on rubbery legs. Referee Steve Mazzagatti agreed, halting the bout before round two could begin.

Lightweight veteran Rich Clementi survived a rough first round against British up and comer Terry Etim, but ‘No Love’s veteran savvy and ground game proved too much as he pounded out a three round unanimous decision victory, his sixth in a row.

Scores were 29-28 across the board for Clementi, who improves to 40-12-1. Etim falls to 10-2.

“His height and lankiness was a little difficult for me,” said Clementi. “He surprised me with his standup but on the ground I was stronger.”

The lanky Etim’s height and reach advantage caused problems for Clementi, with some crisp strikes keeping the Louisiana resident at bay. With a little over three minutes left, Clementi was able to secure the takedown and he quickly forced his foe to the fence, where he fired away with strikes as Etim tried to stall to force a standup. With 1:50 left, Etim got his wish, and though Clementi pursued aggressively, it was Etim who countered well and dropped the veteran to the mat with an uppercut. Clementi survived the ensuing onslaught and the two rose again, but Etim finished the round strong with a series of flush shots that ignited the crowd.

Clementi looked to even the score in round two, chasing Etim around the Octagon until he was able to get the takedown. While there, Etim tried to sink in a guillotine choke, but Clementi broke loose and got into side control. Clementi’s strikes there did little damage, drawing a standup from referee Yves Lavigne with 2:20 left. Clementi again got a takedown, landing in Etim’s guard, where he bloodied the Brit with his ground and pound attack.

With the fight up for grabs in the final round, Clementi stuck with what was working as he tripped Etim to the canvas early in the third. Etim had no answers as Clementi peppered him with ground strikes, and the crowd booed the one-sided action. With under 90 seconds left, Lavigne stood the fighters up and Etim made his last stand with some hard strikes that nonetheless had no effect on Clementi, who put his foe on the seat of his pants for the rest of the bout.

One of two fourth degree judo black belts on the show, Japan’s Yoshiyuki Yoshida made short work of The Ultimate Fighter season six’ Jon Koppenhaver, submitting his foe in under a minute.

Yoshida’s judo was on display immediately, with Yoshida throwing Koppenhaver hard to the canvas. It was practically game over right there, with Yoshida sinking in a tight anaconda choke. Koppenhaver (6-2) tried to break loose, but it was to no avail, with referee Herb Dean calling the bout off 56 seconds into the bout.

“It was just the way I expected,” said Yoshida, now 10-2. “The anaconda choke was there for me.”

Busan, South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim made a huge impact – literally – in his first UFC fight, slamming and stopping England’s Jason Tan in the third round of their welterweight bout.

“I have a lot of confidence in my abilities and I think I match up very well with the welterweights in the UFC,” said the 10-0-1 Kim, the other fourth degree black belt in judo debuting tonight.

Tan (6-3) looked for the takedown in the opening stages of the bout, but Kim fought off the Liverpool native’s attack with elbows and punches that quickly bloodied his opponent. Tan kept pushing and eventually got Kim down with a minute and a half gone in the round, but within seconds the South Korean reversed position and again opened fire with bad intentioned strikes, including a forearm to the head that drew an ‘ohhh’ from the crowd. Tan was able to weather the storm and survive the round though.

Looking fresh after his 60 second break, Tan again pursued Kim, this time with a striking strategy. But when the two locked up, it was Kim being the aggressor as he threw Tan to the canvas. While on the mat, Kim kept looking to improve his position as Tan was simply unable to mount an offensive or escape from the precarious spot, leaving him to just wait for the bell ending the round.

It was just a postponement of the inevitable, as Kim closed the show in the third with a thunderous throw of Tan followed by a barrage of forearms that forced referee Steve Mazzagatti to halt the bout 25 seconds into the final frame.

Highly-touted heavyweight prospect Shane Carwin delivered in his Octagon debut, stopping Christian Wellisch in the first round of the UFC 84 opener.

Carwin went on the attack early, stalking Wellisch, who nonetheless countered well with his own strikes. Less than a minute into the bout though, Carwin shot out a left jab that missed and followed immediately with a thudding right hand that dropped Wellisch hard to the mat. The follow-up barrage was merely a formality, with referee Yves Lavigne halting the bout at the 44 second mark.

With the win, Carwin improves to 9-0. Wellisch falls to 9-3.