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Struve, Story Win Big in Prelims

It was the Rick Story show on the UFC 117 prelim card as he stopped Dustin Hazelett in impressive fashion.

OAKLAND, CA, August 7 – Rick “The Horror” Story’s fourth consecutive UFC win was his most impressive by far, as he blitzed Dustin Hazelett in their UFC 117 bout from the opening bell to the time the referee halted the one-side welterweight contest in the second round at the Oracle Arena Saturday night.

Hazelett vs. Story

Story rushed Hazelett when the bout started, looking to remind the Kentucky native of his previous knockout loss to Paul Daley. Hazelett stayed cool under fire, but Story kept firing. After a barrage of body shots, Story got Hazelett to the mat for the second time in the early going, but with each stalemate, the Washington native would get up and call on Hazelett to join him. What would ultimately then follow was a barrage of punches and a takedown, with Hazelett not given any breathing room to pull off his submission wizardry.

There was no let-up to Story’s assault in round two, with his opening salvo hurting Hazelett and eventually putting him on the mat. The bruised up Hazelett would gamely rise, but Story was not to be denied, with another ferocious series of punches forcing referee Josh Rosenthal to stop the fight 1:15 into the second round.

“I knew that because of his last fight, the knockout, that would be in his mind,” said Story. “I wanted to jump on him. I could see at one point in the fight, he was just covering up and maybe he didn’t want to fight much longer. He’s a really good fighter. This is definitely the biggest win in my career. From this point on I want to continue to fight big-name fighters to build my name.”

With the win, Story improves to 11-3; Hazelett falls to 14-6.

Struve vs. Morecraft

A battered and bloodied Stefan Struve roared back from a rough first
stanza against newcomer Christian Morecraft to stop the previously
unbeaten New Englander in the second round of an exciting battle of
heavyweight prospects.

“I didn’t feel great before the fight and
I had no energy that first round,” said Struve. “But when I sat on my
stool at the end of the first round I just said there’s no quit in me.”

went to work immediately, taking Struve to the mat and unleashing
strikes from the top position. Not surprisingly, Struve, who had been
down this road before, stayed calm as he looked for a submission from
the bottom. Morecraft kept the heat on, escaping from submission
attempts while continuing to pound away on the bloodied Struve, nearly
bringing referee Herb Dean in to stop it on a couple occasions. With
under a minute to go, Morecraft stood and tried to finish things with a
guillotine choke, but when that plan went awry, he settled for more
ground strikes until the end of the round.

After a long visit
from the Octagonside physician to check his cut lip, Struve was given
the green light to come out for round two, and after a brief touch of
gloves, he opened fire with both hands. Morecraft slugged right back,
but it was Struve who struck paydirt with a big right hand. Morecraft
fell to the mat and Struve finished him off with ground strikes, with
Dean halting the bout 22 seconds into the round.

“When I got the
win, I was very excited,” said Struve. “I don’t want to call it the
biggest win of my career because I’m 22 and I’m going to be around a
long time – and one day I’m going to wear that strap.”

With the win, Struve improves to 24-4; Morecraft falls to 6-1.

Davis vs. Wallace
Light heavyweight prospect Phil Davis made it three in a row in the UFC, scoring a shutout three round decision win over Rodney Wallace.

Davis – who came in on short notice to replace Stanislav Nedkov - got on the board first with a kick to the chest followed by a hard takedown of his foe, and then the former NCAA wrestling champion went to work with ground strikes. With under two minutes left, Wallace was able to get back to his feet briefly, but Davis got him right back down to the canvas, where more ground strikes followed until round’s end.

After some tentative standup to open up round two, a wild exchange ensued, with kicks coming from Davis and haymakers from Wallace. The end result? Another trip to the mat with Davis in the dominant top position. Davis kept working from that spot, moving to side control for a kimura attempt before getting to his feet and then back to the mat. Regardless of where he went, Davis was in control, as Wallace (9-3) had no answers for “Mr. Wonderful.”  

There was little change to the pattern in the final round, with the final 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 decision holding little suspense as Davis notched his seventh win in seven tries.

“I’ve been working on my striking since Abu Dhabi (UFC 112) and I feel like it’s coming along nicely,” said Davis. “My game plan coming into the fight was to establish the distance with my striking and then get inside and get the takedown. I have to give credit to Rodney Wallace for coming after me. If he looks strong on television, he is five times stronger in person.”

Hendricks vs. Brenneman

It was power vs speed in the welterweight contest between Johny Hendricks and Charlie Brenneman, and power won, as Hendricks halted his foe in the second round of a fast-paced scrap.

The two former wrestling rivals got right down to business, with shots being fired as they locked up in the center of the Octagon. Hendricks then took over, attempting a guillotine choke. Brenneman broke loose, but Hendricks kept him in his clutches, landing with some knees until the two broke.  Then it was Brenneman’s turn, as he shot off punches and kicks that got Hendricks on the run. A takedown followed, and Brenneman did his best to keep Hendricks from getting back to his feet. After a stalemate, referee Josh Rosenthal restarted the action, with another Brenneman takedown ending the round.

The quicker Brenneman kept getting his shots off as the second round started, but it was the heavy hands of Hendricks which began to rule the day as he hurt “The Spaniard” repeatedly in response. To his credit, Brenneman kept getting up and firing back, but with each passing shot, Hendricks refused to let him off the hook, and finally, a big knockdown brought Rosenthal in to halt the bout at the 40 second mark of round two.

“Coming into the fight I predicted a knockout,” said Hendricks. “A lot of times I come out sluggish but I’ve tried to change things up in training camp to avoid that. I have to get ready because they’re going to start throwing a lot of good wrestlers at me. I’ve been practicing my head movement at Striking Unlimited. They have my head movement and hands looking great. I’m ready to take a step forward. I don’t call anybody out. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m ready to fight on the main card – but that’s up to Joe Silva.”

Hendricks improves to 9-0 with the win; Brenneman falls to 12-2.

Boetsch vs. Brown
Tim Boetsch made his return to the Octagon a successful one as he pounded out a three round unanimous decision win over UFC debutant Todd Brown.

Scores were 29-28 across the board for Boetsch, who was making his first UFC start since UFC 96 in March of 2009. Brown was a late replacement for the injured Thiago Silva.

It was a competitive first round, with Boetsch (12-3) holding the edge thanks to a more varied attack that included a left hook that rocked Brown (15-2, 1 NC) with a little over two minutes left. Brown bounced back well, landing with some hard strikes of his own, but Boetsch shook them off.

The second was also filled with nip and tuck action, with both men having their moments. Brown finished the round strong again, cutting Boetsch over the left eye with a right hand late.

Two minutes into the third, Boetsch got the fight to the mat, where he briefly looked to sink in a guillotine choke. After that plan came up empty, he settled for ground strikes, but that allowed Brown to get back to his feet. While standing, Boetsch picked his shots and was still the busier of the two, and after a takedown with less than a minute left, it was clear that ‘The Barbarian’ had done enough to pull out the win.

“I learned to mentally relax since my last fight, how to behave better when the lights go on and not let the pressure get to me,” said Boetsch. “He’s a tough guy. I thank him for stepping up on short notice. I’m disappointed because I came out here to finish the fight and I didn’t finish it. But he was very tough to finish.”

Saunders vs. Hallman

It was a nearly ten year wait, but Dennis “Superman” Hallman got back in the UFC win column with a three round unanimous decision victory over Ben Saunders in the welterweight opener.

Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Hallman, whose last UFC victory came over Matt Hughes at UFC 29 in December of 2000.

Hallman dominated the first round on the mat, keeping Saunders stationary behind solid positioning and strikes that bloodied the Floridian’s nose.

Needing to get on the board, Saunders landed with a variety of strikes early in round two that got Hallman’s attention. Before the first minute was gone though, Hallman had grounded Saunders. Keeping up the pressure in steady but unspectacular fashion, Hallman remained in control for the rest of the stanza, with the exception of a brief moment when “Killa B” attempted an armbar from the bottom position.

Saunders’ early strikes in the third round visibly rattled Hallman, but the inevitable takedown from the veteran followed moments later. Saunders got back to his feet quickly this time, but with Hallman still having him locked up, there would be no escape, despite his best efforts. Midway through the round, referee Marcos Rosales broke up the stalemate against the fence, and Saunders went back to work in an effort to pull off the miracle finish. Hallman, not about to give the fight away, pulled Saunders back to the canvas, and the two battled it out with ground strikes until the final bell.

“The difference for me today was my cardio,” said Hallman. “My cardio was so much better tonight than it has been. Yeah, he hit me with some good shots, but I was just waiting for him to get close so I could take him down.”

With the win, Hallman improves to 65-13-2 with 1 NC; Saunders falls to 8-3-2.