UFC on Fuel 8: Wanderlei Silva KOs Brian Stann
Something strange was in the water for UFC on Fuel 8 in Japan. It starts with the crowds there in the Saitama Super Arena. They sit on their hands compared with North American crowds. There were a few chants running through the stands, though, especially for the Japanese fighters like Takanori Gomi and Yushin Okami.
The fight that didn’t interest me beforehand---Wanderlei 'The Axe Murderer' Silva v. 'All American' Brian Stann---was a war and in my mind fight of the night and of the year so far. Both men were knocked down in vicious flurries. One exchange looked like a hockey fight, with both fighters clutching the other’s shoulder and swinging for the fences.
Stann actually looked to get the better of the exchanges overall, as Silva was aggressive but looked to counterpunch. Late in the first blood began streaming from Stann’s nose, particularly when he was on top of Silva as the bell rang.
When Stann started the second his nose was already bleeding, his mouth open, and it appeared the nose was broken. after a gutsy four minutes, Stann caved to a right-left combo that floored him at 4:08 of round 2.
Wanderlei Silva is a legend in Japan from his championship years at PRIDE. He celebrated by traipsing through the crowd.
Stefan 'Skyscraper' Struve seemed to have some of the funny water coursing through his veins. He pulled Mark 'Super Samoan' Hunt to guard and then swept into mount, and through the fight seemed to keep Hunt at bay standing and was able to get the fight to the ground, where in spite of mounts and solid control and many submission attempts, looked lackluster.
On the feet Struve used none of his 6' 11" height to his advantage. The 5' 10" Hunt had no problem getting inside or landing leaping hooks. At the beginning of the third both men were tired, but it was Struve that seemed to goad Hunt by dropping his hands. Hunt quickly put Struve to sleep.
Struve had been ranked in the top ten and was improving. This loss to Hunt may drop Struve from the top ten. Until he learns to use his height and reach to his advantage, like champion Jon Jones at light heavyweight, he’ll get nowhere in the division.
Mark Hunt, on the other hand, held his own on the mat simply by surviving to notch the KO, but did not demonstrate he could hang with fighters like Junior dos Santos or Cain Velasquez, who each have oodles of cardio as well as sophisticated movement compared with cement-shoed kickboxers.
Yushin 'Thunder' Okami fought two spirited rounds by nullifying Hector 'Lightening' Lombard’s quick-twitch power using distance, footwork and takedowns, but despite having top position more than once and landing more shots, Okami was the tired one in round three. It was as if someone slipped him a roufie between rounds.
Okami won the split decision, proving as Tim Boetsch did that Lombard---who is a great athletic fighter---will wilt against high-level strikers in the division.
It should have been a unanimous 29-28 score in Okami's favour, which again brings us to the funny water. In a similarly bizarre score card, Diego Sanchez was given the split decision win over Takanori Gomi. On Twitter, even Dana White couldn’t believe the judge’s decision.
Sanchez also looked inexplicably and uncharacteristically lethargic, relative to his usual break-neck speed. Next time the UFC goes to Japan, the fighters had better bring their own bottled water.
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