By Thomas Gerbasi
CHARLOTTE, March 31 – For two rounds Wedenesday night at the Bojangles Coliseum, Kenny Florian looked like a southpaw Larry Holmes as he peppered former PRIDE star Takanori Gomi with jab after jab. But in the third, the lightweight contender took the fight to the mat and finished it there, spoiling Gomi’s long-awaited UFC debut via submission.
“I just felt like he was open for it,” said Florian of the finish. “I wanted to mix it up and I had to get him a little bit desperate.”
The two southpaws circled each other warily as the fight opened, with early strikes from both men coming up short. In the second minute, Florian began landing his punches and getting Gomi’s attention, and the New Englander’s tight defense deflected any return fire. As the round progressed, Florian’s jab began landing with increasing frequency, and the sporadic kick thrown in was scoring as well, capping off a dominant first five minutes.
Florian continued to pepper Gomi with jabs in the second round, with the Japanese star’s lack of head movement making him an easy target. For his part, Gomi tried opening up more frequently in an effort to force Florian into a firefight, but his successes were few and far between, and his frustration was evident as he missed with a wide haymaker in the final minute.
With two rounds apparently in the bank, Florian looked for a takedown to start the final frame, but was stopped in his tracks by Gomi. A minute in, Gomi landed with a solid combination, but was met with a successful takedown moments later for his trouble. Soon, Florian got the mount, and when Gomi gave up his back, Florian sunk in a rear naked choke that produced a tap out at the 2:52 mark of the third round.
With the win, Florian improves to 15-4; Gomi falls to 31-6 with 1 NC.
It’s two UFC fights and two decisive knockouts for The Ultimate Fighter season ten winner Roy Nelson, who quickly cut down Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve in the first round of their heavyweight bout.
After a power outage in the arena stalled the opening of the bout, Nelson and Struve went right to work when the lights came back on, with Nelson aggressively closing the distance. Once in range, Nelson struck, dropping his foe with a right hand. Struve was unable to recover, with a follow-up barrage of strikes bringing in referee Dan Miragliotta to halt the bout at the 39 second mark.
“I think the win over Stefan puts me right in the title hunt,” said Nelson, who improves to 16-4; Struve falls to 23-4.
Veteran middleweight Jorge Rivera scored his third straight UFC victory in devastating fashion, stopping Nate Quarry in the second round with a blistering striking attack.
The two were respectful of each other’s power early on, but after circling each other at close range, Rivera started landing with his right hand 90 seconds in, eventually dropping Quarry at the midway point of the round. Rivera moved in for the finish, but Quarry cleared his head and got back to his feet. Rivera rocked him again with 1:35 left though, and he continued to press the action against the fence. With under a minute left, Rivera opened up with both hands on the bloodied Quarry, but before he could force the stoppage, the bell intervened.
Quarry went on the attack to open round two to let Rivera know that he was still in the fight, but Rivera continued to tag him with hard shots, eventually dropping him to the canvas again. This time, the follow-up barrage prompted referee Mario Yamasaki to halt the bout at the 29 second mark of the second round.
With the win, Rivera ups his record to 18-7; Quarry falls to 18-4.
The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner Ross Pearson continued to impress as he pounded out an exciting three round unanimous decision win over always tough Dennis Siver in the lightweight opener.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Pearson.
There was no shortage of leather being thrown by both fighters in the first round, with Pearson’s speed and Siver’s strength both paying off at close range. By the midway point of the round though, the effect of Pearson’s strikes were showing on Siver’s face, and the Brit knew it, as he upped his pace, took Siver down, and then took his back, bloodying him in the process. Siver, not ready to go home yet, fought back to his feet and went back to work before the bell intervened.
Siver fired off his patented spinning back kick in round two, but Pearson avoided getting nailed with. Instead, he landed with a flashy flying knee that got a roar out of the crowd. Midway through the round, Siver scored with a takedown, but Pearson got free and back to his feet, continuing to sit in the pocket with his foe for the rest of the round.
The pace dipped a bit in the final round, but Pearson’s striking game remained sharp as he peppered Siver and even fought well while on the mat. In response, Siver kept coming, but was unable to get close enough to mount a consistent offense against the battling Brit.
With the win, Pearson improves to 13-3; Siver falls to 15-7.