Click below for the UFC 143 Main Card report
LAS VEGAS, February 4 - In a battle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts, Fabricio Werdum brutalized and bloodied Roy Nelson in the Muay Thai clinch for most of their UFC 143 co-main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision. And yet a slimmed down “Big Country” never stopped coming forward, even briefly dropping Werdum with his signature overhand right in what was otherwise a grossly lopsided first round.
The whuppin’ Werdum delivered also featured high kicks, front kicks to the face and crisp punching combinations. The world champion grappler’s unpredictability served notice to future heavyweights that Werdum, after nearly 3 and ½ years away from the Octagon, can beat opponents in so many different ways.
“This was the strategy. I know Roy Nelson is a tough guy, but I do Muay Thai every day,” said Werdum, whose closest call came when Roy Nelson trapped him in a tight standing guillotine choke.
Scores for Werdum were 30-27 across the board. Watch Werdum's post-fight interview
Up and coming welterweight Mike Pierce called out longtime contender Josh Koscheck and did his best to back it up, but it was “Kos” who grinded out a split decision in UFC 143 main card action Saturday.
In what was predominantly a standup affair between two high-level wrestlers, a couple of Koscheck takedowns, some timely right hands and being busier down the stretch likely proved to be the difference. Koscheck bled from the mouth and Pierce from the nose by the end of the fight.
As they often do, when “Voice of the Octagon” Bruce Buffer announced the winner, fans indulged the opportunity to massively boo Koscheck, which didn’t faze the welterweight contender too much.
“You guys boo me all the time. I’m the most hated man in MMA,” he said nonchalantly. “Guess what? I win. Deal with it, man. I win.”
Two judges scored the bout 29-28 for Koscheck (19-5); the third saw it 29-28 for Pierce (13-5).Hear what a fired-up Kos had to say after the fight
Fast and accurate puncher? Check.
Hard leg kicks. Check.
Distinguished BJJ black belt? Check.
Superb takedown defense? Check.
Future UFC champ? Well, the verdict is still out on whether Renan Barao will reach MMA’s Promised Land, but after stretching his unbeaten streak to 30 fights (tops in the UFC) with a commanding win over Scott Jorgensen, it does not seem far-fetched to think the 24-year-old Brazilian just might follow in the footsteps of teammate and featherweight superstar Jose Aldo.
Through the first two rounds, Barao virtually put on a clinic, loading up on his jabs, low kicks, and cracking Jorgensen hard with combinations that occasionally snapped the Idahoan’s head back. A lesser opponent would have folded, for sure, but Jorgensen is nothing short of a battering ram, and he just kept brushing off the carnage and charging forward (and occasionally landing some hard shots himself).
Jorgensen, a decorated Division I wrestler in his day, tried in vain for takedowns but was always rebuffed. Entering the third round, this much was clear: Jorgensen would need a finish to pull it out. One of his cornermen tried to inspire that sense of urgency in Jorgensen as he stepped off his stool to begin the final round.
“Win this fight right now! Come on let’s go!” he yelled.
Jorgensen (13-5) remained super-aggressive and had his best round, drawing blood on Barao’s face with his punches. Yet Barao, despite losing a little bit of steam on his punches, always retaliated and usually got the better of the exchanges.
Judges handed him a unanimous decision via scores of 30-27 across the board.
“I came here to fight three rounds. He was a very tough opponent and I expected that,” Barao said. “We trained a lot the distance and the kicks. That was exactly the gameplan.”
Before leaving his interview with commentator Joe Rogan, Barao had a message for everyone else at 135 pounds.
“I want the belt!” he yelled. Watch Barao's post-fight interview
Ed Herman couldn’t stop the heavy right hand of Clifford Starks. And Clifford Starks couldn’t stop the Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills of Ed Herman.
In the end, it was Herman’s BJJ that triumphed, knocking Starks from the ranks of the unbeaten with a rear naked choke at 1:43 of the second stanza.
“He was landing some good right hands on me; luckily I got a good chin because he was hitting me hard,” said Herman, his left eye swollen and beginning to close. “I was surprised I was getting hit with them. I shouldn’t have been standing right in front of him, but I pulled it off.”
Herman improved to 20-7. Starks, a former Arizona State University wrestler, fell to 8-1. Watch Herman's post-fight interview