AUBURN HILLS, MI, November 20 – Conventional wisdom would have dictated that the only way the UFC 123 prelim bout between Brian Foster and Matt Brown would have ended on the mat is if one of the two welterweight bangers got knocked out. But Foster flipped the script on ‘The Immortal’, moving seamlessly from striking to submission mode to force Brown to tap out in the second round at The Palace of Auburn Hills Saturday night.
Brown vs. Foster see the fight
“Man, I’m ecstatic,” said Foster. “I wanted this so bad.”
After the two circled each other for the first 30 seconds of the bout, Foster surprised his for with a quick takedown. The ground action didn’t last long, and when they both stood, it was Brown scoring with a takedown of his own. Brown was able to keep Foster pinned for a bit, at least until the Illinois product scrambled loose and landed some strikes. Brown got back in a controlling position, but Foster scrambled up, got in some hard strikes, and again took the fight to the mat. Brown worked free efficiently and briefly got the mount position before transitioning and locking up Foster’s arm. Despite what looked like a definite finisher, Foster got loose and began firing off strikes from the top position. At the bell, the two stood and stared at each other. See post-fight interview
As the two engaged to begin the second round, back to back low kicks from Brown momentarily stopped the action. Both fighters kept firing kicks once the fight resumed, and Foster caught one of Brown’s and slammed him hard to the mat. Taking advantage of this change in fortune, Foster landed some more ground strikes before suddenly moving in and locking up a guillotine choke. The end came moments later, as Brown tapped out at the 2:11 mark.
With the win, Foster improves to 17-5; Brown falls to 13-10.
Simpson vs. Munoz see the fight
Longtime college wrestling buddies Mark Munoz and Aaron Simpson certainly didn’t fight like friends in their middleweight bout, trading vicious punches and equally impressive ground techniques over an entertaining 15 minute battle won by Munoz via a close, but unanimous decision. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Munoz, who improves to 9-2; Simpson falls to 7-2.
Both Munoz and Simpson delivered high level action in the first round, whether it was standup exchanges, close quarters fighting or their bread and butter wrestling attacks.
There was more of the same in the second stanza, much to the delight of the crowd, and as the round progressed, it looked like Munoz’ punches had a little more steam on them. After a trip to the mat, Munoz emerged with a cut on his forehead, and to add insult to injury, he caught a low kick in an ensuing standup exchange. After a break in the action, Munoz fired off thudding kicks to the body and head, but Simpson amazingly took all of them without blinking. After a takedown by Simpson and an ensuing standup, the two locked up against the fence, with Simpson getting a low knee that brought another momentary halt to the bout. Yet after resuming, it was back to work, and as the round ended, it was clear that both were willing to leave it all in the Octagon in search of victory.
The third began with some fast-paced wrestling on the mat, enhanced by Munoz’ thudding ground strikes. After the two rose, they exchanged strikes with Simpson claiming a poke in the eye and a brief respite thanks to referee Mark Fennell. Upon resuming, Munoz attacked and closed the distance, pinning Simpson to the fence until Fennell broke them. Munoz didn’t let up, chasing Simpson and letting loose with whatever strikes were at his disposal. Simpson looked for two takedown in response, but was turned away by Munoz, who wanted to keep it standing. With a little over a minute left, Munoz lost his balance and fell, but Simpson was unable to capitalize and they stood again, battling it out at close range and going toe to toe for the final ten seconds of the bout.
Parisyan vs. Hallman
Veteran Dennis Hallman continued his resurgence, stopping returning contender Karo Parisyan in the first round of their welterweight bout. See post-fight interview
An early stalemate against the fence brought in referee Dan Miragliotta to re-start the action. That was the break Hallman needed, as he drilled Parisyan with a right hand that dropped ‘The Heat’. Still stunned, Parisyan wasn’t able to recover immediately, and a series of unanswered strikes from Hallman prompted Miragliotta to call a stop to the bout at the 1:47 mark.
With the win, Hallman – who is coming off an August win over Ben Saunders – improves to 66-13-2 with 1 NC. Parisyan falls to 26-6 with 1 NC in his first UFC bout since January of 2009.
Lullo vs. Barboza
Unbeaten Brazilian newcomer Edson Barboza’s Muay Thai attack delivered as advertised in his lightweight prelim bout against late replacement Mike Lullo, as a devastating series of kicks to the leg ended matters in the third round. See post-fight interview
“I’m very happy with my performance tonight,” said Barboza. “I didn’t get to showcase all of my talents tonight, but I’m definitely a striker and I felt I was extremely effective.”
After some crisp leg kicks to open the fight, Barboza (7-0) stunned Lullo by turning a takedown attempt into a slam of his own, drawing a roar from the crowd. After standing, the crowd got even louder when Barboza did it a second time. Lullo (8-2) kept his cool, mixing a choke and some ground strikes from the bottom position, evening the playing field in the process. Eventually, Barboza broke free with 1:15 left and got back to his feet, continuing to drill Lullo in his lead left leg.
Lullo attacked Barboza at the bell and looked for the takedown, a wise choice since every kick to the leg was producing a wince from the Illinois native. After another quick barrage, the fight went back to the mat, but this time Barboza was able to stand without taking much damage, and he resumed his chopping attack. With less than two minutes left, the fighters tumbled to the mat, with Lullo pulling out all the stops in search of a submission. Barboza wasn’t biting, and after a couple more kicks to the leg, Lullo could barely stand, even resting in the wrong corner at the bell.
Gamely coming out for round three, Lullo and everyone in the house knew what was coming, and after three more kicks to his opponent’s left leg, two of which sent him to the canvas, referee Mark Fennell halted the bout 26 seconds into the final round.
Kelly vs. O'Brien
Liverpool’s Paul Kelly got back in the win column in style, stopping game Octagon debutant TJ O’Brien in the second round of an entertaining lightweight battle. See post-fight interview
“I stayed relaxed for once,” said Kelly. “I didn’t rush my shots. I’m always a million-miles-an-hour fit. I throw a thousand punches but land every one in 10. So I did a better job of picking my shots.”
There were some solid exchanges in an opening round spent predominantly on the feet, and while Kelly’s busier workrate and aggression probably won him the round, O’Brien wasn’t far behind, as he looked very comfortable in his first Octagon bout.
Kelly appeared to be getting more confident as the bout progressed though, which was no surprise after he dropped O’Brien with a left hook early in round two. But an ensuing scramble saw Kelly mounted by his foe and in a bad way, but amazingly, Kelly fought his way free and turned the tables, locking up O’Brien’s arms as he fired away with right hands to the head. Eventually, with no way to get free, O’Brien was rescued by referee Dan Miragliotta at 3:16 of the round, though the game Iowan was clearly not happy with that decision.
With the win, Kelly improves to 12-3; O’Brien falls to 16-4.
Griffin vs. Lentz see the fight
Minnesota’s Nik Lentz remained unbeaten in the Octagon, scoring an unpopular three round split decision over Tyson Griffin in the lightweight opener. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 27-30 for Lentz, who is now 4-0-1 in his UFC stint.
“I personally thought I won, 29-28, but you never know with the judges,” said Lentz. “He had an awkward striking style. He was kind of swinging wildly and that’s sometimes harder to defend than a normal boxing style.”
Lentz opened the fight with a quick takedown, but it was Griffin who controlled the rest of the frame, slamming his foe twice and keeping him pinned to the fence before a late break that saw ‘The Carny’ score with some hard body kicks in the closing stages of the round.
Starting the second round strong as he used his height and reach advantage well when it came to striking, Lentz nonetheless found himself on the wrong end of Griffin’s second half takedowns, and he was unable to pull himself loose long enough to get back to his feet or mount an offensive attack.
Early in the third, it was Griffin’s striking coming to life as he dropped Lentz twice briefly before the bout wound up on the mat. After another extended session there, Lentz got to his feet and slammed Griffin, using the advantage in position to land some strikes and even lock Griffin’s arm up briefly, apparently doing enough on the scorecards to take the victory.
With the win, Lentz improves to 22-3-2; Griffin, who has now lost three in a row, falls to 14-5.