‘UFC on FUEL TV 1: Ellenberger vs. Sanchez’ event review
By Steve Davies – mmabay.co.uk
Ellenberger ousts Sanchez in thrilling main event, both win ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses
Omaha’s own Jake ‘The Juggernaut’ Ellenberger made a successful return home in the main event of the evening as he and fellow welterweight contender, Diego ‘The Dream’ Sanchez, put on a real barnburner that went the distance. While it was Ellenberger who emerged victorious, the outcome did not reflect the entire story and had the fight been a five-rounder, the result may have been very different indeed.
It was all Ellenberger in round one, as the heavy-handed welterweight stayed one step ahead of a wild Sanchez and dropped him with a hard right hand, landing some more important blows standing that left ‘The Dream’s nose cut on the bridge as he took the stool. Things went from bad to worse for Sanchez, who couldn’t find Ellenberger in the stand-up again in round two and after being taken down cleanly, ate some vicious elbows from guard to close the frame and leave him two rounds in the hole.
But in the third round, the mood changed – a clearly tired Ellenberger had slowed down and Sanchez not only landed some solid shots but after shaking ‘The Juggernaut’ to the mat, landed a berzerker-style barrage of shots that threatened to end the fight. Alas, Ellenberger was able to survive and stand, losing the round but taking the 29-28 unanimous decision from all three judges. It was a main event to remember, and a fitting way to close a belter of a first UFC card on FUEL TV.
Next for Ellenberger: ‘The Juggernaut’ started brilliantly last night but not for the first time, Ellenberger’s cardio faded badly and he was in danger of losing that fight. Nonetheless, the Nebraskan banger keeps his winning streak alive and has now knocked out Jake Shields and taken a great decision over Diego Sanchez – this man is ready for a title shot. However, it’s not going to be that simple – Dana White has already stated that he wants Carlos Condit to wait for GSP to return from injury. Unless Jake wants to sit it out until early 2013, expect to see the exciting welterweight clash with the winner of next month’s bout between Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann – the winner of that cannot be denied a title shot, surely.
Next for Sanchez: Think what you like about ‘The Dream’, he is a tough, tough out for even the best welterweights in the world and can beat anyone on his night. Who knows what weight-class the Greg Jackson fighter will return at, but we could potentially see a rearranged fight with ‘Hall of Famer’, Matt Hughes.
Struve chops down Herman, picks up impressive second round stoppage of ‘Pee Wee’
Heavyweights went to war in the co-main event and it’s hard to say what was more surprising – Dave ‘Pee Wee’ Herman’s incredibly hairiness or the vicious manner in which Stefan ‘Skyscraper’ Struve dispatched of the blue-chip prospect.
Walking to the cage to the immense campness of ‘Macho Man’, Herman and his pink scarf seemed confident enough as the 6ft 5in striker squared up with the 6ft 11in Dutchman and the first round went in his favour. Herman stuck to a solid gameplan, staying on the outside with kicks and landing better shots than Struve.
But in round two, Struve began finding Herman’s chin – dropping him once and chasing him across the cage before a right uppercut to the chin dropped ‘Pee Wee’ to his rear, then his back. Struve’s gangly legs stepped into mount and this time Herman could not escape as he had at the start of the round – ‘Skyscraper’ unloaded with both hands as Herman, badly moused up on his left eye, could only cover up, forcing the stoppage at 3:52 of the second round.
Next for Struve: The young Dutchman continues to improve and has now won back-to-back fights. Say what you will about Dave Herman, but he is a serious prospect in the heavyweight ranks and ‘Skyscraper’ just earned himself some bragging rights. The towering submission specialist has never had a boring UFC fight and a pay-per-view card fight is in Struve’s near future – give him Mike Russow, another surging prospect who is also ready to show his ugly mug on the main cards.
Next for Herman: The odd but affable prospect falls to 21-3 and although he’s 1-1 in the UFC, Herman is hardly in the promotion’s good books. Cutting ‘Pee Wee’ would be petulant, but it’s not out of the question. If the entertaining and unpredictable Herman sticks around, which he should, we might see him tackle the loser of UFC 145’s fight between Travis Browne and Chad Griggs.
Markes limps to decision over Simpson, wins middleweight debut
In what proved to be a tepid middleweight affair on the main card, Brazilian prospect Ronny Markes moved to 13-1 in his professional career but he hardly set the arena on fire with a sluggish victory over Aaron ‘A-Train’ Simpson.
Simpson floored the Nova Uniao man in round one with an uppercut but couldn’t put him away and as the fight crawled on, Markes’ huge frame and strength allowed him to constantly cage and control the Arizona native. The fight regularly drew boos from the crowd but Markes did enough and squeezed by ‘A-Train’ by split decision.
Next for Markes: While Markes has underwhelmed in his two UFC appearances, he’s beating some solid competition and the news that he broke his hand in round one not only explains his game-plan, it redeems him. The Brazilian is a real powerhouse and revealed he’d been offered a fight in Brazil in June – expect to see Markes duke it out with in-form veteran, Ed Herman, to see who deserves a top contender fight.
Next for Simpson: The former NCAA wrestling sensation is getting no younger but has voiced a desire to move to welterweight, which could be very interesting but is not likely really. Instead, we could see him fight for his employment against fellow wrestling crossover, Dan Miller.
Miocic blitzes De Fries, scores ‘Knockout of the Night’ after just 43 seconds
Unbeaten heavyweights met on the main card and it was not a happy night for British prospect, Phil De Fries. The 6ft 5in grappler made his debut on American soil against Croatian-American banger, Stipe Miocic, and if you blinked, you probably missed it.
Surprisingly, a nervous looking De Fries came out bombing, rocking Miocic with a few shots but the former Golden Gloves boxer fired back a stiff right to the chin that wobbled the Brit and sent him scurrying to the cage. A flurry from Miocic, ending with a right hand to the ear area, floored De Fries face-down where he took a few more half-shots that left him unconscious just 43 seconds into round one.
Next for Miocic: The laid-back Miocic is now 8-0 and while he’s 2-0 in the UFC, there are clear flaws to his game that need ironing out if he wants to hang with the big dogs of the division. Bring him along slowly, give him the winner of next month’s fight between Oli Thompson and Shawn Jordan.
Next for De Fries: The Sunderland-born heavyweight suffers his first career loss, falling to 8-1, and he looked extremely nervous before the fight began. He showed though that he has some power in his hands to compliment his ground game and training at Alliance MMA, De Fries has time and the right environment, to improve. He’ll face the loser of the Thompson vs. Jordan scrap, probably for his place on the roster.
Dillashaw unleashes the beast on Watson – the most dominant decision in UFC history?
Former finalist on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, T.J Dillashaw proved why he’s considered perhaps the best prospect in the bantamweight division with a complete shutdown of Walel ‘The Gazelle’ Watson on the main card. The explosive Team Alpha Male wrestler slammed Watson around the cage for fun – chaining submission attempts and hammering him on the ground for three straight rounds.
Watson simply had no answer for the unstoppable Dillashaw who must have had ten or more chances to finish the fight, it was that one-sided. Two judges saw the fight 30-25, the other 30-26, handing Dillashaw a no-brainer of a unanimous decision.
Next for Dillashaw: The prospect moves to 5-1 and while his record needs padding, this isn’t the place to do it – throw him in there with another rising star such as Reuben Duran for another exciting scrap.
Next for Watson: The Texan falls to 1-2 in the UFC but has proven his toughness in both of his losses and to his credit, Watson’s an entertaining fighter if he can stay upright. Expect ‘The Gazelle’ to get a final chance to impress against Alex ‘Bruce Leroy’ Caceres.
Menjivar comes from the brink to tap Albert in storming main card opener
The first fight of the night was a screamer, as bantamweights Ivan Menjivar and John Albert wowed the crowd in a short but sweet battle. After some early exchanges, Menjivar had a spell of raining down shots on ‘Prince’ who constantly worked for submissions and when he stood, a dubious knee to the head dropped ‘The Pride of El Salvador’ sending Albert into kill mode.
The Washington native threw everything but the kitchen sink on Menjivar who refused to fold and after shaking off a guillotine attempt, took the back of an exhausted Albert and tapped him with a rear-naked choke at 3:45 of round one.
Next for Menjivar: The veteran is really sizzling at the moment and is almost guaranteed a main card slot next time out – look for Menjivar to face former champion Brian Bowles or in-form prospect, Edwin Figueroa.
Next for Albert: The rookie is now 7-2 but Albert has both talent and balls, he will definitely be back and hopefully better equipped to pace himself this time. ‘Prince’ could face Byron Bloodworth for a place in the division.
Preliminary Card round-up
Rounding up the prelims, broadcasted on Facebook, was ‘The Ultimate Fighter 12? winner, Jonathan Brookins, who was robbed of ‘Knockout of the Night’ bonuses for his stunning starching of Vagner Rocha. Brookins simply stuffed a takedown, pushed Rocha to full guard and when the BJJ sensation tried for a leg, Brookins simply unloaded with right hands that left Rocha stiff as a board just 1:32 into the first round.
Next for Brookins: The Floridian is now 2-1 in the UFC and will be over the moon with such an emphatic win, putting him in contention for a televised fight on an upcoming FUEL or FX card. Brookins could face wrestler Darren Elkins who is also due a step-up in competition.
Next for Rocha: To put it kindly, Rocha – now 1-2 in the UFC – has seemed more like a coach than a mixed martial artist, if that makes sense? A BJJ coach at Team Pablo Popovitch, Rocha’s game is one-dimensional at best and it’s time he was trimmed from the roster.
An entertaining, back-and-forth scrap between lightweight newcomers Anton Kuivanen and Justin Salas perked up the stragglers in attendance as both had their moments with Kuivanen losing two rounds to the takedown prowess of Salas. The wrestler started shakily but improved as the fight advanced, taking the unanimous decision and showing why he was considered the best 155lb prospect outside of the UFC.
Next for Salas: The Colorado-based prospect moves to 9-3 and that was a hard-earned but impressive win for Salas, who could be paired with a fellow wrestler in Michael Johnson, later this year.
Next for Kuivanen: The Finn was impressive, even in defeat. Kuivanen is in great condition and very well-rounded, and although his record falls to 16-5, the lightweight will certainly get a second bite at the cherry. If the UFC returns to Scandinavia later in the year, we could see a Sweden vs. Finland clash with Kuivanen facing fellow newcomer, Reza Madadi.
A terrible first preliminary card bout was not the fault of lightweight newcomer, Tim Means, who certainly came to fight but found his opponent, Bernardo Magalhaes, suffering from stage-fright. Magalhaes, who did show guts to keep going despite being embarassed and bloodied, constantly backed up as a frustrated Means stalked him down with punches and knees. Means took the lopsided unanimous decision, marking a successful UFC debut.
Next for Means: ‘The Dirty Bird’ can’t be blamed for the fiasco that was this fight but he did his bit and deserves the plaudits. The New Mexican wants to bang – give him British firebrand, Paul Taylor, and we’ll see some banging.
Next for Magalhaes: The Australian-based Brazilian looked terrible, and drops to 11-2. ‘Trekko’ will be extremely lucky to get another fight inside the Octagon, but he did damage his foot badly in round two and with the UFC going to Australia in the summer, could face fellow BJJ stylist George Sotiropoulos.
That’s all for ‘UFC on FUEL TV 1: Ellenberger vs. Sanchez‘, we only have just over a week to wait until the UFC returns to Japan with the blockbuster ‘UFC 144? fight card. Stay tuned to MMABay for more on the aftermatch of last night’s action.
By Steve Davies