Click below for the UFC 137 main card report....
LAS VEGAS, October 29 – Matt Mitrione had made quite the impression in just five professional fights, all in the UFC, but the Ultimate Fighter alum’s step up fight against veteran contender Cheick Kongo proved to be too much of a leap at the moment, as Kongo scored a three round unanimous decision win over Mitrione in the UFC 137 co-main event Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. See post-fight interview
The judges saw it 30-27, 30-28, and 29-28 for Kongo, who improves to 27-6-2; Mitrione falls to 5-1.
Mitrione tried to baffle Kongo with his unorthodox movement and some early fight chatter, but the Frenchman wouldn’t take the bait, instead choosing to wait for Mitrione to make the first move so he could counter. A couple sloppy exchanges eventually followed before the two locked up against the fence. After a stalemate, referee Herb Dean broke the two, and Kongo tried to lead with two rights, but he came up short. Mitrione proceeded to pressure Kongo, but he wasn’t throwing any punches, drawing the ire of the crowd. In the final 30 seconds, Kongo opened up a bit more, but there was no significant scoring.
Apparently the fighters were sufficiently warmed up from the first round, as both began getting their offenses in gear in the second, Kongo landed with some hard leg kicks and threw in punches to the head and body as well. Mitrione started throwing more himself, but he wasn’t having the success his opponent was, even though he was the unquestioned aggressor.
Mitrione came out fast to begin the final round, but Kongo responded with a furious attack of strikes capped off by a slam of the former NFL lineman. Mitrione calmly worked his way back to his feet, but Kongo kept him tied up against the fence, landing with knees to the leg the whole way. Kongo went on to score another takedown on Mitrione, who was unable to escape from under the ground attack of the veteran heavyweight.
NELSON vs. CRO COP
It was the end of a heavyweight era, as former PRIDE superstar Mirko Cro Cop called an end to his storied career after getting stopped in the third round by Roy Nelson, who resurrected his own after back-to-back losses to Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir with an impressive effort from start to finish. See post-fight interview with Nelson
After testing his standup with Cro Cop for the first minute of the fight, Nelson quickly shot in for the takedown and got it, freeing him up to work his ground strikes. Midway through the round, Cro Cop sprang to his feet and was able to land a left kick to the body and a left punch to the head, reddening Nelson’s face. Nelson fired back with a hard right hand, but after the two circled each other for a bit, Cro Cop delivered a hard uppercut that got the crown chanting his name. Nelson kept moving forward though, and his pressure appeared to bother Cro Cop. See post-fight interview with Cro Cop
In the second, Nelson briefly rocked Cro Cop, but the Croatian returned the favor a second later. Cro Cop proceeded to empty his clip on “Big Country,” but the iron-chinned Las Vegas refused to go down. With a little over two minutes left, Cro Cop drew a roar as he threw his trademark left kick to the head, but Nelson avoided any danger as he moved in and then took Cro Cop to the mat. Moving into side control, Nelson smothered Cro Cop and locked his arms up in the crucifix position, opening him up to a barrage of punches and evening the score for the series of shots he took earlier in the round.
A minute into the final round, Nelson’s right hand staggered Cro Cop, and seconds later, he got his exhausted opponent to the mat with a right-left-right. Nelson proceeded to take Cro Cop’s back and finish him with strikes, with referee Steve Mazzagatti calling a stop to the fight at the 1:30 mark.
With the win, Nelson improves to 17-6; Cro Cop, one of the most feared strikers to ever compete in the sport, falls to 29-10-2 with 1 NC. He was never to match his success in Japan in the UFC, only managing a 4-6 record in the organization, but the standing ovation he received from the crowd following the bout was evidence of the impact he had on MMA.
JORGENSEN vs. CURRAN
Bantamweight contender Scott Jorgensen put in a full night’s work in his bout with returning vet Jeff Curran, winning a close unanimous decision over “The Big Frog” in a competitive three rounder. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 30-27 for Jorgensen, who ups his record to 13-4; Curran falls to 35-14-1.
Jorgensen ate a steady diet of jabs as the bout opened, forcing him to seek – and get – a takedown. Both fighters stayed busy on the ground, with Curran not content to stay idle on his back as Jorgensen worked his strikes. After a restart by referee Kim Winslow with less than 40 seconds left, Curran landed a couple hard punches before Jorgensen ended the frame with a second takedown.
There were some solid standup exchanges to start the second round, but a missed Curran takedown attempt allowed Jorgensen to lock his foe up and land with a series of knees before scoring with his own takedown. A second takedown would follow later in the round, but a late surge by Curran reminded his foe that he was not done yet.
The third round was a closely-contested battle, with both fighters giving and taking their best shots. The slightly busier Jorgensen looked to have the edge though, with his solid defense keeping Curran from scoring the takedown and landing his haymakers.
HIOKI vs. ROOP
Japanese featherweight star Hatsu Hioki made his long-awaited UFC debut in the opener, but he got more than a stiff challenge from George Roop before eking out an unpopular three round split decision win. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Hioki, who improves to 25-4-2; Roop falls to 12-9-1.
Roop’s busy striking attack kept Hioki from getting into any sort of offensive rhythm as the bout started, and the Arizonan continued to score until Hioki was able to pin his foe to the fence and eventually get him to the mat with a little over a minute left. But Hioki was still unable to capitalize, allowing Roop to get back to his feet before the bell.
Hioki was more effective in closing the distance on his lanky foe in round two, and this time, he was able to gain a dominant side control position quickly before moving into the mount. And while Hioki pinned Roop to the canvas for much of the round, Roop got loose late and finished with a flourish, chasing Hioki around the Octagon until the bell.
Roop got his own takedown in the third, smothering Hioki in the subsequent exchange on the mat. Hioki tried to work for submissions from the bottom, but Roop was resolute in his attack, and while he wasn’t spectacular, his workmanlike performance appeared to earn him the victory, but the judges disagreed.