Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - After a loss to Forrest Griffin in 2007 and two knee surgeries, light heavyweight contender Mauricio “Shogun” Rua needed a win in a bad way, and he got it in the UFC 93 co-main event at the O2 Dublin, stopping Mark Coleman in the third round of their rematch. But the lasting image of the bout may not be Rua evening the score with his rival, but of the courageous Coleman leaving it all in the Octagon in his return to the organization where he made his name in the sport from 1996 to 1999.
By Thomas Gerbasi
DUBLIN, January 17 – After a loss to Forrest Griffin in 2007 and two knee surgeries, light heavyweight contender Mauricio “Shogun” Rua needed a win in a bad way, and he got it in the UFC 93 co-main event at the O2 Dublin, stopping Mark Coleman in the third round of their rematch. But the lasting image of the bout may not be Rua evening the score with his rival, but of the courageous Coleman leaving it all in the Octagon in his return to the organization where he made his name in the sport from 1996 to 1999.
“I’m disappointed in myself,” said the 44-year old Coleman, who defeated Rua in their 2006 PRIDE bout by TKO due to injury. “It was a good fight, but a good fight’s not enough.”
Both fighters performed according to plan at the sound of the bell, Rua (17-3) trying a knee, and Coleman trying a takedown. “The Hammer” won this first skirmish as he got Rua to the mat and tried to implement his legendary ground and pound. Rua fought his way back to his feet and landed some strikes on Coleman (16-9), but was returned to the canvas. Rua worked for a submission until getting up and turning the tables on Coleman with a takedown of his own. The two soon stood and traded, with Rua clearly the more accurate striker. Coleman was game though, and he continued to scrap wherever the fight wound up. But with under 40 seconds left, Rua drilled Coleman with a right behind the ear, sending the UFC Hall of Famer to the deck. Amazingly he recovered from the shot and the subsequent follow-up enough to make it out of the round.
Rua immediately went on the attack to start the second round, and he nailed Coleman with punches, knees, and kicks. Again, the resilient Coleman survived and scored a takedown of the Brazilian. Rua rose to his feet and again waded in, only to get caught with a series of flush jabs to the face. Both fighters were showing signs of fatigue, but In the final minute, Rua seemed to pull away at the end of the round with ground strikes on an exhausted Coleman.
In the third, Coleman scored points early with a takedown and some ground strikes, and Rua looked spent. The crowd began chanting for the 44-year old, and though Rua tried to lock his foe’s leg up, Coleman escaped and got the Brazilian’s back. More strikes followed until Rua escaped and kneed Coleman while he was down, drawing a warning from referee Kevin Mulhall. What the stoppage did do though was get the fight standing again. That was all the room “Shogun” needed as he landed seven unanswered blows that brought a halt to the bout at the 4:36 mark.
Next for the Brazilian star, an April 18th date in Montreal against former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell, announced UFC President Dana White at the post-fight press conference.
Middleweights Rousimar Palhares and Jeremy Horn showed off some solid groundwork in their bout, but Palhares proved himself to be the better fighter on this night as he scored a shutout three round decision over Horn.
Scores were 30-27 for Brazil’s Palhares, who injured his right hand in the first round.
After a tentative first 30 seconds, Palhares (18-2) swung for the fences with a right hand and followed up with a takedown. Within seconds, Palhares got Horn’s back and started landing with thudding strikes to the head. Horn (88-19-5) fought his way free, but Palhares kept the heat on as he settled into Horn’s guard. With under two minutes left, Palhares again got Horn’s back and started firing away, and in the ensuing scramble, he worked for a submission, but Horn was able to survive the round.
There was more of the same early in the second, but Horn refused to go away, even getting Palhares in an arm triangle that appeared to turn the tables until the Brazilian escaped and the two rose to their feet. Horn was the crisper striker, but when he swung and missed, Palhares took advantage and took Horn down, though he wasn’t able to capitalize before the bell sounded.
Palhares opened the final round with a hard takedown of Horn, and proceeded to get his foe’s back for a moment before the two stood. Palhares had no intention of keeping it standing though, and he put Horn on his back pretty quickly. After a stalemate on the canvas, referee Leon Roberts restarted the bout with a minute left. Horn did landwith a hard kick, but was unable to take Palhares out before the bout ended.
Everything went wrong for Alan Belcher in his middleweight bout against international star Denis Kang except the final 20 seconds, and that’s all that mattered, as he spoiled Kang’s UFC debut with a second round submission victory.
Kang came out of his corner throwing, and his strikes were sharp, frustrating Beclher and leaving an opening for the Vancouver resident to take his foe to the mat. Kang, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, moved confidently while on the ground, but Belcher powered his way back to his feet. It may not have been the wisest move as Kang continued to land accurately before another successful takedown. Kang’s domination on the mat continued as the stanza wound down, but Belcher was able to make it to the bell.
The two battled at close range against the fence to begin the second, but after breaking, Kang got back to teeing off at long range and then following up with a takedown. And though Kang was in control of the bout, all it takes is one mistake, and the PRIDE veteran made it, allowing Belcher to sink in a guillotine choke that ended the bout via tap out at 4:36 of the second round.
Belcher improves to 13-4 with the win; Kang falls to 31-11-2 with 2 no contests with the loss.
Welterweights Marcus Davis and Chris Lytle promised fireworks in their UFC 93 main card opener and they delivered beyond the shadow of a doubt, battling it out for 15 minutes before Davis emerged victorious via a three round split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 28-29 for Davis, a battler of Irish descent whose post-fight interview was drowned out by the appreciative fans at the O2.
As expected, the two engaged immediately, with Lytle (36-17-4) wobbling Davis (21-5) briefly with a right hand. Quickly recovering, Davis proceeded to move around the Octagon as Lytle stalked. Davis’ kicks and counterpunches were effective as Lytle rushed in. Lytle was undeterred though, and a 1-2 jarred Davis, who came right back and put Lytle down briefly. As the round ended, Lytle’s ribs were reddened by Davis’ kicks, and Davis was bleeding and swollen under his left eye.
The southpaw Davis continued to laterally move around the Octagon to start the second, but Lytle was able to pin him against the fence and open fire with a series of hard hooks. Davis ran his way out of trouble, but he did leave with a cut on his hairline. As the round progressed, Lytle was proving to be the stronger of the two, but Davis’ speed and counters were keeping “Lights Out” honest. In the final minute, Davis started to land more frequently, yet Lytle’s chin would not be dented.
Davis’ thudding kicks kept Lytle from rushing in wildly as the third commenced, and “The Irish Hand Grenade” looked to be growing more confident by the second. Lytle was still trying to get Davis to stand and trade, and as the final two minutes approached, Lytle was getting closer as Davis’ nose bled and left eye started to swell even more, but the Maine native not only held off a late charge from the equally banged up Lytle, he kept throwing until the bell sounded, finishing off a well-deserved victory.