Read below for the UFC 128 main card report..
NEWARK, March 19 – Two former WEC champions met in the UFC Octagon for the first time in the co-main event of UFC 128 at Prudential Center Saturday night, and it was Urijah Faber beginning a new chapter in his storied career as he bounced back from some rough moments in the first round to defeat Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision in a bantamweight bout.
Faber vs. Wineland
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Faber, the former featherweight champion who is now 2-0 at bantamweight. See post-fight interview
Wineland, the WEC’s first bantamweight champion, did his best to impose his will on Faber physically, jamming him against the fence a few times before slamming his foe midway through the round. The two quickly scrambled back up, Wineland having made his point, but after that, Faber seemed content to strike until he was able to set up a takedown. Wineland appeared to be too strong for Faber though, as he tossed the takedown attempt aside and later drilled his foe with a hard shot to the head. Faber fired back and landed solidly seconds later, but it was clear that it wouldn’t be wise to get into a striking match with Wineland.
Faber got his takedown in the second minute of round two, and he began raining strikes down on Wineland. Even when the Indiana resident would try to scramble and get back to his feet, Faber’s speed and ground technique kept him on his back, making it clear that while Wineland had the edge standing, Faber was king on the mat.
Wineland was able to keep the fight standing for the first three and a half minutes of round three, but a tireless Faber handled his foe a lot better, even teeing off with a series of hard punches that jarred Wineland before he got put on his back by “The California Kid.” And once the bout hit the mat, it was all Faber as he fired off ground strikes to finish up the bout.
With the win, Faber improves to 25-4; Wineland falls to 18-7-1.
Miller vs. Shalorus
After winning his seventh consecutive UFC bout, this time halting previously unbeaten Kamal Shalorus in the third round, Jim Miller made it clear what he wants his next step to be – a lightweight title shot. See post-fight interview
“That’s seven in a row in arguably the toughest division in the UFC,” said Whippany, New Jersey’s Miller. “I’m ready for a title shot. I come in here and fight my heart out.”
Both lightweights came out throwing, with Miller’s tighter punches reaching the mark ahead of Shalorus’ wilder and wider swings. Shalorus was soon sporting a mouse under his left eye from Miller’s accurate blows, but it did not impede his forward motion, and he was having success with his leg kicks. With less than two minutes left, Miller landed with a kick of his own, this one to the head, and the crowd roared. Miller went on to attempt a guillotine choke, but Shalorus slipped free and was able to land in the top position as they tumbled to the mat. A stalemate ensued, leading to a restart from referee Kevin Mulhall just before the bell.
Miller continued to sharpshoot in round two, and when Shalorus tried to take the bout to the canvas, it was Miller who instead brought matters downstairs, where he quickly took his foe’s back and looked for a submission. Shalorus stayed calm under duress, refusing to give his neck up, and he was able to survive the round.
With no quit in him, Shalorus pressed the action in round three, with Miller content to counter the wild incoming attacks. Soon, Miller had his range and he nailed Shalorus with a left uppercut, hurting him. A left knee soon followed, sending Shalorus to the canvas. A follow-up barrage ended the bout, with Mulhall stepping in at the 2:15 mark.
Miller ups his record to 20-2; Shalorus, a WEC veteran, falls to 7-1-2.
Marquardt vs. Miller
Middleweight contender Nate Marquardt put on his hard hat and went to work against Dan Miller, drilling out a shutout decision win over his New Jersey foe in a grueling three rounder. See post-fight interview
“I feel really invigorated after this victory,” said Marquardt. “I wanted to go out and show how I’m the new Nate Marquardt.”
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Marquardt, who was originally scheduled to face Yoshihiro Akiyama before Akiyama was forced to withdraw from the bout due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit his native Japan.
After trading right hands to start the bout, Miller was the first to look for a takedown, with Marquardt resisting the attempt for a while until finally hitting the mat. Marquardt’s defense was tight and as the two rose, he slammed Miller. The New Jersey standout attempted a guillotine choke in response, but Marquardt was able to slip free. After a stalemate, referee Dan Miragliotta restarted the action, and a good right hand from Marquardt led to another emphatic takedown.
Marquardt’s striking was sharp in round two, and he was able to get his shots in and scoot out before receiving any retaliation, leaving Miller with a mouse over his left eye. Miller’s granite chin wouldn’t give way though, allowing him to stay in the fight and almost finish it with a tight guillotine choke in the last minute of the round.
The mouse over Miller’s left eye gave way to a cut in round three, but the unyielding Whippany product continued to battle, giving Marquardt a tough go at every turn. Marquardt responded well to the challenge though, firing away with ground strikes for the rest of the bout while showing why he’s considered to be one of the top middleweights in the game.
With the win, Marquardt improves to 34-10-2; Miller, originally scheduled to face Nick Catone on tonight’s card, falls to 13-5.
Cro Cop vs. Schaub
Brendan Schaub got a gut check and a highlight reel memory the day after his 28th birthday, as he battled through adversity, blood, and a second round point deduction to knock out Mirko Cro Cop in the third round of the heavyweight main card opener. The bout earned Schaub Knockout of the Night. See post-fight interview
Schaub wasted no time going on the attack, immediately forcing Cro Cop to fight on the defensive. After some initial flurries by Schaub, Cro Cop locked up with his opponent, but it was Schaub who muscled the Croatian around on the inside. After the two broke, Schaub shook the Octagon with a takedown, and his ground and pound attack added a new dynamic to what was expected to be a standup affair. Cro Cop showed a veteran’s poise in scrambling to his feet with little over a minute to go, but Schaub was able to keep him from mounting any significant offense in the closing stages of the round.
Taking Cro Cop back to the mat in the first minute of round two, Schaub was again in control, but after a brief stoppage due to an illegal upkick by Cro Cop, the fight returned to a standing position, where both traded until locking up against the fence. The two heavyweights traded hard strikes sporadically while locked up, but it was the now bloodied Schaub who came out on the worst end of things as he was docked a point by Dean for a punch to the back of the head. When the action resumed, Cro Cop fired off a kick, but Schaub defended it and locked the veteran up again.
Cro Cop opened the third frame with a thudding low kick, prompting a stop in the action for Schaub to recover from the inadvertent foul. When the bout resumed, Schaub went on the attack and scored a takedown. Cro Cop got up fairly quickly, but Schaub repeated his success seconds later. Schaub was unable to improve his position on the mat and the two rose, with Cro Cop landing a hard kick shortly thereafter. With 90 seconds left, Cro Cop impressively stuffed a takedown attempt, but Schaub didn’t mind because a crushing overhand right followed. Cro Cop dropped as if he was shot, and referee Herb Dean rushed in to halt the bout at 3:44 of the final round.
“This is the second legend I’ve gotten in a row,” said Schaub, who defeated Gabriel Gonzaga in his last bout. “This is a big turning point in my return. The thing with Cro Cop is he puts both feet even before he throws the kick, so I timed it and threw the big right hand.”
With the win, Schaub ups his record to 9-1; Cro Cop falls to 27-9-2 with 1 NC. At the time of the stoppage, Schaub led 19-18 on all three scorecards.