UFC on Fuel 8: 10 Memorable Moments from Japan
Returning to Japan for the second time in just over a year, 22 men went to battle at UFC on Fuel 8 in the Saitama Super Arena looking to impress the crowds.
Debuting fighters, divisional contenders and MMA legends alike filled out the free card, with most eyes set firmly on Brian Stann and former Pride FC champion Wanderlei Silva, better known as "The Axe Murderer" to many of his worldwide fans.
However, there were plenty of other notable names of the card, in a rather stacked lineup clearly pegged for the hardcore MMA audience.
In heavyweight action, Mark Hunt took on Stefan Struve, looking to extend his unlikely winning streak, while Takanori Gomi faced a tough task in a match with Diego Sanchez. Yushin Okami, Hector Lombard, Dong Hyun Kim and Siyar Bahadurzada also highlighted the event, all seeking to make an argument for a spot in their respective title hunts.
But what (and who) really stood out on Saturday's card?
Read along as we preserve some memories at Bleacher Report MMA, with an extensive recap of the night's most notable and exciting moments from UFC on Fuel 8 in Saitama, Japan.
Wanderlei Silva KOs Brian Stann in Round 2
Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa
Right hook. Left hook.
That was the beginning of the end, as Silva did, perhaps, the second-most improbable thing to happen during the UFC on Fuel 8 card.
Flooring Stann with a big two-punch combo, "The Axe Murderer" smelled blood and went in for the kill, putting Stann out of commission with a hailstorm of right hands.
Stann, visibly hurt, simply turtled up and waited for the end, giving Silva the finish and causing the Saitama Super Arena's crowd to erupt in applause for their adopted hero.
It was an amazing fight, from the staredown to the very end.
Should you ever introduce your friends to mixed martial arts, this is one of those matches that you put on the TV, hands down.
Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann Tear Each Other Open in Round 1
Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa
There simply aren't any appropriate words to describe the full destruction that Silva and Stann brought upon each other in the first round of this amazing brawl.
Somehow, both men physically committed to each other that "defense" had no place in the main event, and opened up the round throwing hook-after-hook-after-hook-after-hook-after-hook.
By the end of the flurry, Stann's nose was cut open, and Silva looked like he was on some shaky legs.
And yet, they still had more to give.
Closing out the final minute of the first round, Silva and Stann tore at each other again, ripping hooks into each other like the world was ending, and they only had 30 seconds to make a case for ascension into Valhalla—glorious stuff.
Mark Hunt TKOs Stefan Struve in Round 3
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Mark Hunt has fully turned things around.
Showing off a majorly improved ground game and the same KO power that carried him to a 3-0 streak in the UFC heavyweight division, Hunt pulled out an impressive win against a physical anomaly in Struve.
Heck, the "Super Samoan" even took the fight to the ground, which practically seemed like a death sentence considering Struve's ridiculously long limbs.
But instead of getting trapped in a triangle or kimura, Hunt actually battled out of every submission thrown his way, even turning over a dangerous leg lock.
For Struve, he sees a four-fight winning streak snapped, along with his jaw.
But for Hunt, he suddenly has a ton of options in the UFC's biggest division, as his 4-0 run now puts him just inside the elite ranks of the heavyweight division.
Mark Hunt Hilariously Disses Jon Anik's Post-Fight Interview
Photo Credit: UFC
The Super Samoan cares nothing for pencil-neck color commentators.
Fuel TV's Jon Anik only got to ask two questions in the post-fight interview, and Mark Hunt answered the first with a simple reply: "Yuh."
Anik attempted to recover with a second question, but Hunt, playing to his own drum, simply thanked God and his family, leaving the cage without giving any long spiel or canned statement.
And with as few words as possible, Hunt spells out why he's such an interesting man to watch.
Takanori Gomi Beats Up Diego Sanchez, Loses Split Decision
Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa
It's true that both fighters are well past their respective primes, but Takanori Gomi and Diego Sanchez put on a solid clash during the UFC on Fuel 8 card.
It wound up being the night's eighth straight decision, but amazingly, the judges' cards went to Sanchez.
Even UFC president Dana White was stunned by the split decision, as Gomi had been the far more effective fighter for all three rounds, out-landing the struggling Sanchez while controlling both the pace and range of the match.
That's a shameful look for the judging panel, and most damning, a bad way to hand Gomi an undeserved loss in his home country.
Hector Lombard Rocks Yushin Okami, Doesn't Finish Him
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
After spending a good two rounds on his back against Yushin Okami, the third round finally produced some fireworks for Hector Lombard.
As the enormous Japanese fighter started to tire in the final round, Lombard finally started finding a home for his wild hooks, catching Okami on the feet and wobbling him in a hard flurry.
Unfortunately, Lombard's own fatigue (and his relatively short reach) couldn't get the job done.
Not only did Lombard fail to find the knockout finish, but the former Bellator champion curiously continued to take the remaining minutes to the ground where Okami could stall for time as his opponent failed from inside full guard.
Mizuto Hirota Tries, Fails a Hail Mary Armbar vs. Rani Yahya
Photo Credit: UFC
Japanese veteran Mizuto Hirota fought gamely against Rani Yahya in a clear losing effort, but the most impressive thing about the fight may be the fact that it went to a decision.
Aside from having a clear grappling advantage, Yahya even sneaked in a tight arm triangle choke that looked like a finisher.
But Hirota survived nonetheless, and at one point in the match, even managed a surprising armbar attempt.
It didn't work—and wasn't anywhere close to being locked in—but it was a spot that momentarily had the crowd stirring as Hirota fought to complete the maneuver.
Dong Hyun Kim Goes 'Beast Mode' on Siyar Bahadurzada's Face
Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa
There was no home-run knockout to be found for "Siyar the Great" on Saturday night.
Showing a great awareness of Siyar's punching power, Korean star Dong Hyun Kim feinted and ducked several hooks as he dominantly took his foe to the mat and ground out a decision.
It wasn't anything close to a stoppage (and there were some boos), but it sure looked fun in the third round.
After two rounds of chipping away at Siyar to no avail, an impatient Kim suddenly flipped a mental switch and started throwing some hammerfists like a deranged gorilla.
Sure, it was silly and risky, which nearly let Siyar get to his feet.
But it was simply the exclamation point on a heavily one-sided decision, as Kim punched, thrashed and screamed en route to his eighth UFC victory in 11 fights with the promotion.
Mizugaki Gets His First UFC Win in Japan, Beats Mr. Miesha Tate
December 2008 was the last time that Takeya Mizugaki had won a professional MMA bout in Japan.
After debuting in the WEC as a stepping stone for then-bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, the Japanese fighter would struggle abroad, notching a 3-4 record before suffering another loss in his return home at UFC 144.
But at UFC on Fuel 8, Mizugaki gritted his way to a decision against Bryan Caraway, finally netting his first hometown win in over four years.
In fact, Caraway's best attempt came during the second round, where he locked in an extremely deep guillotine choke that nearly finished a desperate Mizugaki from top position.
But in 25 matches, Mizugaki has only been submitted once, and he apparently wasn't going to tap out in his home country.
It was an emotional victory for Mizugaki, as the veteran fighter collapsed to the Octagon mat in tears, openly sobbing as color commentator Jon Anik tried to prompt him for an interview.
With his countrymen applauding in earnest, it was a truly great moment.
And as another neat perk for Mizugaki, he finally got his first set of back-to-back career wins since leaving Japan to fight the 135-pound division's true elites.
Alex Caceres Gets a Gift Split Decision Against Kyung Ho Kang
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Even though Kyung Ho Kang seemed to decisively win the first two rounds of his UFC debut, Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres managed just enough offense to score his second straight split-decision win.
However, did Caceres really show much improvement?
That's debatable, as the newly recruited MMA Lab member seemed to show little-to-no urgency during most the fight, content to go all three rounds with a physically stronger grappler and wrestler in Kang.
Luckily for Caceres, several submission attempts, quick grappling reversals and some late-but-dominant third-round striking rushes sealed a win on two of the judges' scorecards, putting him at a healthy 4-1 in his five fights at 135 pounds.