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SEATTLE, March 26 – It wasn’t the coronation many expected, but in the UFC Fight Night main event at Key Arena Saturday night, fight fans got to see the continuing education of rising star Phil Davis, as he won a three round unanimous decision over veteran contender Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, whose competitive showing let the light heavyweight division know that he still has plenty of gas in the tank.
Scores were 30-27 across the board.
Nogueira vs. Davis
“I knew he was tough, and he’s resilient,” said Davis, who admitted to dealing with “all types of injuries” in the training camp leading up to the bout. See post-fight interview
Davis began the fight with range-finding kicks that soon turned into bad-intentioned ones, with a front kick hitting paydirt early. Nogueira stalked calmly, but wasn’t getting off with his punches. The Brazilian’s takedown defense was solid though, and that had to be a confidence booster when facing a former NCAA Division I champion. By the end of the round, Nogueira even began finding his range with his strikes.
The exchanges came with more drama in round two, with Davis firing off kicks and Nogueira trying to time those shots with counterpunches. Again, Nogueira was able to fight off Davis’ takedown attempts, and as the round approached its midway point, he scored with his own kick to the head. Finally, with two minutes left, Davis was able to take Nogueira to the mat, and even though the veteran scrambled up to his feet, Davis kept him locked up, and in the final minute he put Nogueira down again and finished the round with a barrage of strikes.
Going on the attack to begin the final round, Davis threw kicks and a knee at Nogueira before taking him down to the mat. Nogueira fought his way up briefly, but Davis had found his takedown rhythm now, and he again took the top position on the ground. Midway through the round, Nogueira got to his feet and began pursuing Davis aggressively. That led to another takedown from the Pennsylvania native, and the mat was where he kept his foe for the remainder of the bout.
With the win, Davis improves to 9-0; Nogueira falls to 19-5.
Hardy vs. Johnson
Anthony Johnson used the Georges St-Pierre blueprint to defeat Dan Hardy in their highly-anticipated welterweight bout, and while it wasn’t the most scintillating bout, the three round unanimous decision win was a disciplined and effective return to action for “Rumble”, who was making his first start since a loss to Josh Koscheck in November of 2009. See post-fight interview
All three judges saw it 30-27 for Johnson, a former junior college national wrestling champion who improved to 9-3. Hardy, who has now lost three in a row, including a one-sided wrestling-dominated decision to GSP in 2010, falls to 23-9 with 1 NC.
After an early feeling out process, Johnson dropped Hardy with a left kick to the head. Johnson moved in for the finish, but Hardy was able to weather the assault and get back to his feet. Johnson wasn’t about to let the momentum slip away though, as he took Hardy back down in order to unleash his ground strikes. From the bottom, Hardy tried to lock up Johnson’s arm, but the Georgia native pulled free, allowing him to land more strikes to finish up the round.
Johnson kicked off his offense in round two with another takedown, this time pinning Hardy against the fence. Hardy worked on Johnson’s arm a second time, but again “Rumble” powered himself free. After a stalemate, referee Josh Rosenthal restarted the action in the final minute, but Hardy was unable to mount any offense, as he was taken down just before the end of the round.
Hardy and Johnson repeated the pattern of round two in the final stanza, with Johnson controlling his foe on the mat and Hardy trying to turn things around with a fight-saving submission. After a brief standup exchange two minutes in, Johnson got yet another takedown, and he quickly transitioned to Hardy’s back. Unable to do anything there, Johnson moved again to look for an arm triangle choke, but Hardy wasn’t tapping. He wasn’t mounting any offense either though, and the bout ended with Johnson in control like he had been from the start.
Sadollah vs. Johnson
Amir Sadollah survived a spirited effort from late replacement DaMarques Johnson, stopping his opponent in the second round of a fast-paced welterweight bout. See post-fight interview
Johnson was Sadollah’s third opponent of the month, as both Duane Ludwig and James Wilks were forced out of the bout due to injuries.
Sadollah and Johnson came out throwing at the bell, with Johnson briefly rocking his opponent before the two scrambled to the mat. Johnson tried to capitalize on top but was unable to, and the fighters got back to their feet. The exchanges continued for a bit, with Johnson eventually catching a Sadollah kick and using it to get his foe to the canvas. On the mat, Johnson landed some hard strikes before allowing Sadollah to stand. Sadollah was able to jar Johnson briefly with a left punch to the face, but the ensuing lockup against the fence was a stalemate until Johnson scored with a beautiful throw that capped off a solid round for the Utah native.
In the second, Sadollah started to find his range with his strikes, and he tagged Johnson repeatedly. In response, Johnson swung a series of haymakers, drawing a roar from the crowd. As the bout strayed to the mat, Sadollah took control with knees, elbows, and punches. Johnson fought off the assault, but Sadollah didn’t let up. As the two rose, they locked up briefly, but Sadollah took Johnson down again, this time landing in the mount position. The ensuing barrage was the finisher, with referee Mario Yamasaki halting the bout after Johnson tapped out at 3:27 of the round.
With the win, Sadollah improves to 6-2; Johnson falls to 17-9.
Garcia vs. Jung
It wasn’t the “Fight of the Decade” like their first bout was, but Chan Sung Jung made a good case for earning Submission of the Year consideration after he finished Leonard Garcia in the second round with the first Twister submission in the history of the UFC. See post-fight interview
The featherweight bout was a rematch of the April 2010 war in the WEC that saw Garcia win a close decision over “The Korean Zombie”.
It only took around a minute for the two friendly rivals to warm up and start getting into it, with Garcia taking an early lead thanks to a thudding right punch to the head. Jung stood back, looking to counter, but Garcia continued to land the cleaner shots, bruising his foe under the right eye. With under two minutes left, Jung took Garcia to the mat, and there he had more success, landing a series of ground strikes as he easily won the positional game on the ground.
The pace was more measured in round two, with each fighter cautious about getting into all-out exchanges. But just as in the first round, it was Jung finishing strong as he was able to work Garcia over on the mat in the final minutes, and with time running out, he sprang into action, locking in the Twister submission made famous by Eddie Bravo that forced Garcia to tap out at 4:59 of the second round.
With the win, Jung – who was a late replacement for the injured Nam Phan - improves to 11-3 in his UFC debut; Garcia falls to 19-7-1.