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Okami Brings the 'Thunder' with TKO of Linhares

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Japanese middleweight contender Yushin Okami put together one of his most impressive UFC performances to date at the Bojangles Coliseum, as he halted Lucio Linhares in the second round after a clinic of precision striking on Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night card.

By Thomas Gerbasi

CHARLOTTE, March 31 – Japanese middleweight contender Yushin Okami put together one of his most impressive UFC performances to date at the Bojangles Coliseum, as he halted Lucio Linhares in the second round after a clinic of precision striking on Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night card.

Linhares walked right at Okami at the start of the bout, swinging for the fences in an effort to end the fight quickly. Okami calmly dodged trouble as he looked to counted, scoring impressively with a thudding knee to the head. From there, he added right hands into the mix and Linhares began looking for a takedown. Now bloodied, Linhares got to the mat, but Okami rose to his feet to continue his standup hot streak going. He did, and he continued to jar Linhares, eventually dropping him with a right to the head. The Brazilian was able to clear his head on the mat as the pace slowed, but by the end of the round, there was no question who was in control.

Okami (25-5) continued to pick Linhares (13-6) apart with strikes in round two, and finally, with blood covering the face of ‘The Spartan’, referee Dale Frye halted the bout due to the severity of the cut at the 2:47 mark.

British lightweight prospect Andre Winner made it two in a row, following up his knockout victory over Rolando Delgado with a three round unanimous decision win over Rafaello Oliveira.

Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28, for Winner, who improves to 12-3-1; Oliveira falls to 10-3.

Winner showed off impressive hand speed and takedown defense in the opening round as he scored points with his strikes while avoiding a trip to the canvas. In the second, Winner stuck to the gameplan and had continued success, but Oliveira started letting his hands go some more, making for an even more competitive round. In the third though, Winner took control again, taking the well-deserved win back to England.

It may not have been pretty, but Jacob Volkmann scored his first UFC win in his lightweight debut, earning a three round split decision over Brazil’s Ronys Torres.

Scores were 30-27 twice, and 28-29 for Volkmann.

Torres immediately got the takedown to start the bout, but Volkmann recovered well and reversed position on his foe. What followed were a series of close range punches from the Minnesota wrestler, who wasn’t about to give Torres any room to maneuver. After the midway point of the round, Torres found daylight and scored two takedowns, but he wasn’t able to capitalize with any sustained offensive attack.

Scoring with some wild punches to begin round two, Torres put Volkmann on the defensive before ‘Christmas’ bounced back with a takedown and ground control of the Brazilian that lasted throughout the round.

Again in round three, Torres came out swinging, but Volkmann was ready for him as he scored another takedown. But even an armbar attempt couldn’t rescue Torres, who couldn’t escape the grasp of the decorated former college wrestler.

With the win, Volkmann improves to 10-2; Torres falls to 18-3.

Lightweight prospect Nik Lentz got stronger as his fight with Rob Emerson went on, and he eventually pounded out a three round unanimous decision victory to move to 2-0-1 in the UFC.

Scores were 29-28 twice, and 30-27 for Lentz, who improves to 20-3-2; Emerson falls to 11-9 with 1 NC.

Neither fighter was shy about trading punches in the early going, and both gave as good as they got until Emerson looked to be on the verge of something big as he landed a flush left hook. Lentz shook it off and attempted a guillotine choke, but was unable to finish the Californian. The rest of the round was fought mainly against the fence, with Lentz using his wrestling to control Emerson until the end of the frame.

Lentz continued to use his wrestling in round two, even getting the mount briefly in the second half of the stanza before Emerson got back to his feet. And once standing, Emerson had the opening he needed as he rocked the Minnesotan with a few hard shots before Lentz recovered and took Emerson to the mat just before the bell.

The ground and pound attack of Lentz began to take its toll on Emerson in round three, and though he tried to escape to his feet, the former Division I wrestler wasn’t having it, as he kept him pinned to the mat until the end of the bout.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Gleison Tibau promised a knockout in his lightweight bout against Caol Uno and he delivered, finishing off the Japanese star late in the first round.

Despite being known primarily for their ground games, Tibau and Uno kept things standing for much of the early going until the stronger Tibau rocked and dropped Uno with a left hand with 1:45 left. From there, it was all Tibau, as he lowered the boom with a series of thudding ground strikes that brought in referee Bill Clancy to stop the fight at the 4:13 mark of the opening stanza.

With the win, Tibau improves to 31-6; Uno falls to 25-13-5.

Oklahoma prospect Gerald Harris made it two knockouts in two UFC tries, as he halted previously unbeaten debutant Mario Miranda in the first round of an entertaining middleweight scrap.

Both fighters had their share of success in the opening round, Harris (15-2) with his right hand, and Miranda (11-1) with a series of kicks to the head and legs. It was a punch of Miranda’s that got Harris to the mat in the final 90 seconds though, and the Brazilian took advantage with a busy striking attack until Harris scrambled back to his feet. This time, ‘The Hurricane’ struck, hurting and then finishing Miranda with a series of rights that prompted referee Bill Clancy to halt the bout at 4:49 of the opening round.

In a clash of debuting welterweights, Charlie Brenneman got his first Octagon victory, outpointing Jason High unanimously over three rounds in the UFC Fight Night opener.

Scores for Brenneman were 30-27 twice and 29-28.

With the crowd firmly in his corner, Brenneman got things off to a good start for himself behind a solid ground and pound attack that kept High on the defensive for the majority of the first round.

The southpaw High was able to get back into the fight early in round two with some stiff strikes, but once Brenneman got close, he was sent to the mat. With under three and a half minutes left, High got back to his feet and looked to finish the Pennsylvania native off with a guillotine choke, but Brenneman powered free and eventually made it back to his feet, even tripping his foe to the canvas before the bell.

A Brenneman takedown kicked off the final round, and High again tried to finish things with a choke before ‘The Spainard’ broke free and slammed his foe back to the ground. While there, Brenneman controlled the action with a series of ground strikes as he pinned High against the fence, avoiding a last second guillotine attempt from ‘The Kansas City Bandit’ in the process.

With the win, Brenneman improves to 12-1; High falls to 10-3.