UFC on Fuel TV 8 aired Saturday night from the famed and glorious Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Just that name evokes MMA's most majestic theater-in-the-round: reverently lit, Lenne Hardt ringing in the background, those near-fanatic fans and the home of some of the most magical and momentous moments the sport has ever conjured.
This event didn't conjure up a lot of magical moments Saturday night. Kind of a desert of magic, actually.
That is, until the final two fights.
Did you fall asleep? Don't worry, bro—no one blames you. In fact, we've got you covered. Here are the results, recaps and grades for every main-card fighter for UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Lead image courtesy of gazetaesportiva.net.
Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. Siyar Bahadurzada by Unanimous Decision
Dong Hyun Kim did a great job Dong Hyun Kimming it up out there in Saitama. Yes, it was a fully thorough and convincing win, but that control grappling didn't exactly bring the crowd to its feet.
It also doesn't help that it was the first main-card bout after what was a pretty doggone dull prelim card. After this, I started wondering if it was going to be One Of Those Nights.
He didn't fight well. You can't just not fight well. I personally thought he was going to knock Kim out in Round 2. I wasn't on target with that one.
Result: Rani Yahya def. Mizuto Hirota by Unanimous Decision
Rani Yahya seemed to mail in the third round, but was pretty dominant up to that point. It would have been highly amusing if Hirota had been able to finish that armbar in the third.
Hirota was completely and utterly controlled for much of the fight. In the second, he almost lost consciousness, until Yahya simply let go of his choke.
Hirota redeemed himself a bit in the third, when he took a round from the Bryan Carawaying Yahya, but it wasn't enough to convince anyone of anything beyond those five minutes.
Result: Yushin Okami def. Hector Lombard by Split Decision
It's pretty evident that Lombard has watched Okami's fight with Tim Boetsch.
In the first round, Okami scored two beautiful single-leg takedowns and scored with knees from a very strong clinch. In the second, Okami outboxed Lombard, scoring another single-leg and at one point gaining full mount on the judo black belt.
And then there was the third. Lombard attempted the Boetschesque comeback, complete with a few hockey-style uppercuts. Lombard rocked Okami multiple times and began to stuff Okami's takedowns. But unlike with Boetsch, this time Okami hung on (at times literally, to one of Lombard's legs) and picked up a big decision win.
(And for the record, I have no idea what the judge saw who scored the bout for Lombard.)
Lombard came out swinging and kept doing so. But he was outgrappled and just outfought by Okami in the first two rounds. He showed a good heart and gas tank, though, by sticking with his knockout plans and finally connecting in the third round.
Still, the highly touted (and relatively highly paid) Lombard is now 1-2 in the UFC. In this cut-happy UFC era, you have to wonder whether the Cuban knockout artist is safe.
Result: Diego Sanchez def. Takanori Gomi by Split Decision
Wow. I had the Takanori Gomi victory slide all written out. Then Bruce Buffer announced Diego Sanchez's name. Huh.
I mean, Sanchez landed some stuff, but he couldn't get his takedown working and couldn't launch any of those heavy exchanges that seem to fuel his fighting fire. Nothing against his effort, of course. I just don't believe the effort was, how do I put this, winning. But he did enough in the eyes of the judges, apparently, so there you go.
Gomi fought pretty darn well Saturday night. Simple as that. He stayed away from Sanchez's takedown, stayed elusive on the feet and kept a stiff jab in Sanchez's face. He landed some very hard right hands and some solid kicks, as well.
But he never got that big signature moment, and I guess that's what hurt him in the end. It was a very good fight, but perhaps more defensive than might have been expected. Maybe the judges didn't like that. In any case, the only ones who matter don't think Gomi did enough, and he leaves the arena as a loser.
Result: Mark Hunt def. Stefan Struve by TKO, 1:44 of Rd. 3
I've got to say it—this was an ugly and unexciting card, and this was an ugly and unexciting fight.*
*Big exception: the final 30 seconds or so of this fight, culminating with the nauseating left hook that caved in the side of Struve's face and referee Herb Dean's delayed call-off of the fight, which came about five full beats after Hunt landed the hook and simply walked away.
Struve was not ineffective Saturday night. He worked his jab. He grappled a bit. He got the mount and rained some ground-and-pound.
But at the end of the day, Struve didn't fight a very smart fight, and his head was just enough not made of granite to get itself caved in by Mark Hunt's left hook. Timber, and what not.
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Wanderlei Silva def. Brian Stann by TKO, 4:08 of Rd. 2
It doesn't get much more storybook than that. In front of the fan base that eyewitnessed Wanderlei Silva in his days as a true monster, Silva bloodied and then felled the favored Stann to deliver a lightning bolt of an exclamation point at the end of a run-on sentence of an evening.
Silva himself went down more than once, and probably lost a close first round, but late in the second, a straight right found a home right in the center of Stann's face. Stann fell backward, and a few final Silva nails closed it out.
Even after the win, part of me was expecting Silva to announce his retirement. But hey, after a fight like that, it's likely the Axe Murderer won't hear a lot of loud argument from anyone about his continuing to fight.
Stann didn't get the win, but he did get the job done. Stann's hands were as dangerous as they've ever been, and his ability to score damage in close range is almost illusory. He came close, but was just a beat slow to the final punch Saturday night.
Impressing everyone and surprising no one, Stann was as classy and gracious after the fight as was possible, congratulating and professing admiration for Silva while acknowledging a broken heart over the loss.
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