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Vera Decisions Andy in Light Heavy Debut; Edgar Impressive at UFN

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - There was good news and bad news for Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera in his light heavyweight debut at The Pearl at The Palms Saturday night. The good was that he got the unanimous decision victory over Reese Andy. The bad, he didn’t get the definitive finish he wanted after a tougher than expected cut from heavyweight.

By Thomas Gerbasi

LAS VEGAS, July 19 – There was good news and bad news for Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera in his light heavyweight debut at The Pearl at The Palms Saturday night. The good was that he got the unanimous decision victory over Reese Andy. The bad, he didn’t get the definitive finish he wanted after a tougher than expected cut from heavyweight.

“The 205 cut was tougher than I thought,” he said. “I didn’t think it affected me until me and Reese walked up and I was like ‘woo, I’m tired.’”

Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Vera, who ups his record to 9-2. Reese falls to 7-2 in his UFC debut.

Vera wasted no time to get started, firing out two lead head kicks at Andy once the bell rang. Andy responded the way a three-time All-American wrestler should, with a takedown, but Vera bounced back up and resumed his standup attack. Even when subsequently pinned against the fence, Vera looked impressive at his new weight, tossing Andy to the mat and landing in side control. Andy’s defense was solid though, and the two stood as the round ticked away.

The pace of the bout continued to be controlled by Vera in the second, as he scored an early takedown and picked away from long range when he stood with Andy. The pace was measured at best though, and the crowd voiced its displeasure.

In the third Andy continued to be a tough nut to crack for Vera, and though he wasn’t winning the fight, he was showing his toughness, and was getting some shots in of his own sporadically, but not enough to take the bout.

Lightweight contender Frankie Edgar impressively rebounded from his April loss to Gray Maynard, pounding out a shutout three round decision over Hermes Franca.

Scores were 30-27 across the board for Edgar.

The fighters went to the mat early, with Edgar doing nice work from the top as he pounded away on Franca. Suddenly though, with 2:30 left, Franca sprung into action with an armbar that appeared to be locked in. Edgar showed the benefit of his recent training with Ricardo Almeida and was able to escape, and when the two stood, he held his own striking with the heavy-handed Brazilian before scoring another takedown before the end of the frame.

Franca came out for round two with a big knot between his eyes and plenty of urgency. Despite this, Edgar refused to back down, and after some crisp exchanges, he scored the takedown and resumed the ground and pound attack that worked so well for him in the opening stanza. With under two minutes to go, Edgar got Franca’s back and continued landing punches, and the onslaught continued even when Franca was able to roll back out of danger.

Trying to turn the tide, Franca – whose face was bruised and swollen – tried with all he had to take Edgar out, but even when he landed, the New Jersey native took each shot without flinching, except for a right knee that appeared to rock him momentarily. In the end though, it was too little, too late for the Brazilian, who saw his return for the first time in a year spoiled.

With the win, Edgar improves to 9-1; Franca falls to 19-7.

Heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez probably gained even more believers in his bout tonight as he pounded out fellow up and comer Jake O’Brien in just two minutes and two seconds.

There was no getting acquainted period for these old wrestling rivals, as they got after it immediately, with Velasquez (4-0) taking an early lead due to some solid striking on the mat. By the second minute though, Velasquez pulled away, pinning O’Brien (10-2) to the mat and firing away with a series of unanswered blows until referee Mario Yamasaki called a stop to the bout.

A competitive welterweight bout between up and comers Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson ended in controversial fashion when an inadvertent poke in the eye by Burns led to an unpopular third round TKO victory for the Iowan.

“It was extremely accidental,” said Burns, now 8-1. “I throw palm strikes because I broke my left hand three times in 16 months.”

“This is a fight,” said a classy Johnson, 5-2. “Anything can happen. He fought hard.”

Both fighters engaged immediately, trading knees while locked up. Burns showed no fear of trading with the Georgia knockout artist, but Johnson got more than his share of licks in. Two minutes in, Burns rushed Johnson, and was dumped on his back for his trouble. Both were busy on the mat, Johnson from the top, Burns from the bottom, with ‘Rumble’ holding the edge due to his heavier shots. With 30 seconds left, referee Steve Mazzagatti restarted the action, with Johnson finishing strong as both fighters went back to their corners bloodied.

Early in the second, a left knee to the head rocked Burns and sent him sprawling backwards into the fence. Johnson followed up immediately, but Burns got his wits back just as fast. The two remained standing, with Johnson landing hard shots but Burns hanging in with punches and kicks of his own as well as open handed strikes that visibly bothered Johnson because they were straying into his eyes. With under two minutes left, Johnson scored a takedown, but after a lull in the action the fight was restarted, only to see Johnson take it back to the mat at the bell.

Johnson went back to his wrestling in the third, taking Burns to the canvas a little less than a minute in. Burns did a good job of nullifying Johnson’s attack on the ground, forcing a restart, but once standing he was unable to stop the takedown. After another standup, both fighters engaged and Burns landed with a left hand to Johnson’s face that inadvertently poked him in the eye. A subsequent uppercut was thrown, but Johnson had already started falling to the mat face-first in pain. Mazzagatti didn’t halt the action, so Burns landed a follow-up on the mat, then forcing the stoppage at the 3:35 mark.

Ultimate Fighter cast member Jesse Taylor made his first appearance since being removed from the show due to an off-camera incident, but after a strong start, he was dismantled by fellow TUF fighter CB Dollaway, who submitted him in the first round of their middleweight contest.

“It’s one of my favorite moves, it was there for me, and I took it,” said Dollaway.

Taylor swarmed Dollaway, pinning him against the fence in the opening minute. By the second minute the fight hit the mat, but Dollaway wound up getting docked a point for a knee to Taylor’s head while he was down. When the fight was restarted, it went back to the mat, and this time Dollaway took control briefly, getting Taylor’s back before the Californian escaped and fought his way back into his foe’s guard. Taylor worked well there, but a momentary lapse of judgment gave Dollaway the opening he needed and he reversed position and locked in a Peruvian necktie, forcing Taylor to tap out at the 3:58 mark.

With the win, Dollaway improves to 8-2; Taylor falls to 7-3.