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UFC 107 Prelims - Belcher Wins in Round One

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - With a host of family and friends in the FedEx Forum, Biloxi, Mississippi’s Alan Belcher left no one disappointed in UFC 107 action Saturday, as he halted Wilson Gouveia in the first round of a slugfest contested at a catchweight of 195 pounds.

By Thomas Gerbasi

MEMPHIS, December 12 – With a host of family and friends in the FedEx Forum, Biloxi, Mississippi’s Alan Belcher left no one disappointed in UFC 107 action Saturday, as he halted Wilson Gouveia in the first round of a slugfest contested at a catchweight of 195 pounds.

Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia -- Fight of the Night at UFC 107

“I wanted to show that I can finish fights and that I can knock everybody out in the UFC,” said Belcher, now 14-5.

The clear crowd favorite, Belcher stalked Gouveia (12-7). And while a hard right hand by Belcher got Gouveia’s attention, it also woke him up as he opened up with both hands on ‘The Talent’. Belcher eagerly threw back, and the crowd roared as a fight broke out in the Octagon. With a little over two minutes left, the heavy hands of Belcher hit paydirt, with a barrage of punches sending Gouveia slumping to the canvas. A few more ground strikes later and referee Herb Dean had seen enough as he halted the bout at 3:03 of the first round.

Now Belcher looks forward.

“I’m ready to step up and be the next contender,” he said. “I want that belt.”

In lightweight action, Matt Wiman broke a two-fight losing streak with a shutout three round decision over Shane Nelson.

Scores were 30-27 across the board

Wiman vs. Nelson -- Watch it here

Nelson had some success in the first half of the opening round behind his quicker and more accurate punches, but by the middle of the frame, Wiman started to find his range, and a few hard right hands staggered Nelson and sent the fight to the mat, where the Texan finished the round strong and left Nelson with a cut on his forehead.

The fight hit the mat early in round two, but when the action stalled, referee Mario Yamasaki was forced to re-start the action two minutes in. Back on the feet, Wiman began to find a home for his right hand, but he started doing even better work with his striking on the mat as he kept Nelson – who tried a late submission attempt - from mounting a consistent attack.

A low kick by Wiman brought the third round action to a halt in the opening minute, and though Nelson came back fast after a brief break, Wiman took the bout back to the mat and slowed the Hawaiian’s momentum. By the two minute mark, the two were back on their feet, and both fighters scored well before another trip to the canvas. With under two minutes left, Wiman looked for an arm triangle, but Nelson wouldn’t bite, instead trying for a heel hook briefly after getting loose. And though Wiman ended the round with Nelson’s back, there would be no finish here.

With the win, Wiman improves to 11-5; Nelson falls to 13-5.

Johny Hendricks vs. Ricardo Funch -- Watch it here

In a clash of welterweight unbeatens, Johny Hendricks pounded out a lopsided three round unanimous decision over UFC debutant Ricardo Funch.

Scores were 30-27 twice and 30-25 for Hendricks, who improves to 7-0; Funch drops to 7-1.

Hendricks found himself in an unusual position in the opening minute as he saw his first takedown attempt rebuffed by Funch, who managed to score a takedown of his own briefly. Hendricks recovered quickly, slamming Funch to the canvas midway through the round. Funch didn’t stay there long, and he might have regretted that decision as Hendricks punished him with uppercuts at close range before the fight went back to the mat. There, Hendricks tried to finish the bout twice with guillotine chokes before the bell sounded.

There was more of the same in rounds two and three, as Hendricks kept the pressure on and dominated the action for the final ten minutes. And though he was relentless in his attack, Hendricks couldn’t finish off the game Brazil native.

Rousimar Palhares vs. Lucio Linhares -- Watch it here

Middleweight Rousimar Palhares made his first start since a leg fracture earlier this year a successful one as he submitted Octagon newcomer Lucio Linhares in the second round.

Palhares wasted no time getting Linhares to the ground, and he immediately went to work in search of the submission. Linhares, no slouch on the mat himself, survived the initial onslaught and was able to stall and get the fight re-started with a little more than two minutes left by referee Greg Franklin. After another quick punch and takedown by Palhares, ‘Toquinho’ went after Linhares ankle, but again the Finland-based Brazilian was able to find daylight and get loose just before the round ended.

In the second, Linhares found more success as he tried to lock in a triangle choke in the opening minute, and while his subsequent punches on the mat after Palhares escaped did little damage, they were scoring points, as did another submission attempt, but just as soon as it looked like Linhares was evening the score, Palhares showed off his wizardry once again with a heel hook that forced Linhares to tap out at 3:21 of the round.

With the win, Palhares improves to 19-2; Linhares falls to 13-5.

Damarques Johnson vs. Edgar Garcia -- Watch UFC 107's Submission of the Night

There was a little bit of everything for fight fans when Damarques Johnson took on Edgar Garcia in a back and forth welterweight battle, but when the dust settled, it was Johnson who emerged victorious via a first round submission.

Garcia (7-2) looked for the highlight reel KO early, but it was Johnson (15-7) whose quicker, straighter counters were finding the mark, forcing Garcia to find refuge on the mat. Johnson was comfortable off his back, looking for subs from the bottom, but instead it was Garcia who locked in a Peruvian necktie, and it seemed like the end was near.

“It was pretty tight, but I decided to go to sleep or find my way out,” said Johnson, who kept his cool and made it out and back to his feet. While up, the two exchanged big punches, drawing a roar from the crowd and a call from Johnson to bring it on. Garcia did just that, knocking Johnson down, but in the follow-up attack, Garcia got sloppy and Johnson capitalized, locking in a triangle choke that ended the bout at the 4:03 mark of the opening frame.

Kevin Burns vs. TJ Grant -- Watch the Knockout of the Night here

Canada’s TJ Grant made a statement in his welterweight opener against Kevin Burns, rebounding from an early knockdown to finish his foe with seconds remaining in an exciting opening round.

As expected, the two 170-pounders came out fast, and Burns drew first blood as he dropped Grant to the mat, after a few tense seconds, the Nova Scotia product cleared his head and got back into the fight. After standing up, Grant scored the takedown and worked well on the mat. This time, it was Burns showing resilience as he escaped back to his feet, but then things got progressively worse for ‘The Fire’. First he took an inadvertent low kick that forced a stoppage to the action, and then when the fight resumed, he ate a right hand to the jaw that sent him hard to the canvas. Grant pounced, and forced referee Greg Franklin to halt the bout at the 4:57 mark.

With the win, Grant improves to 15-3; Burns falls to 8-4.