UFC Fight Night (Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz)
Date Time: January 11, 2010
Event Type: Free on Spike TV
Location: Patriot Center, Fairfax VA
FIGHT CARD (as of dated post)
Gray Maynard Vs. Nate Diaz
Efrain Escudero Vs. Evan Dunham
Tom Lawlor Vs. Aaron Simpson
Amir Sadollah Vs. Brad Blackburn
Chris Leben Vs. Jay Silva
Rick Story Vs. Jesse Lennox
Thiago Tavares Vs. Nik Lentz
Mike Guymon Vs. Rory MacDonald
Kyle Bradley Vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
Gerald Harris Vs. Mike Massenzio
Nick Catone Vs. Steve Steinbeiss
MAIN CARD RESULTS
Gray Maynard def. Nate Diaz via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Evan Dunham def. Efrain Escudero via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 1:59
Aaron Simpson def. Tom Lawlor via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Amir Sadollah def. Brad Blackburn via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
Chris Leben def. Jay Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rick Story def. Jesse Lennox via split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)
Thiago Tavares vs. Nick Lentz declared majority draw (28-28, 28-28, 29-27)
Rory MacDonald def. Mike “Joker” Guymon via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:27
Rafael dos Anjos def. Kyle Bradley via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Gerald Harris def. John Salter via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:24
Nick Catone def. Jesse Forbes via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Great recap by MMAJunkie.com:
FAIRFAX, Va. Once Gray Maynard got in the cage and looked his opponent in the eye, the game plan went out the window.
Luckily for the lightweight title hopeful, he beat opponent Nate Diaz at his own game albeit only barely to pick up a split-decision win in the main event of Monday’s UFC Fight Night 20 event.
The 11-bout event took place at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and the night’s main card aired on Spike TV.
Maynard, a former Michigan State University wrestler who’s no stranger to decision wins, strayed from his usual fighting style and elected to keep the fight standing with his jiu-jitsu-ace opponent. While it sometimes resulted in sloppy exchanges that were hard to score, and though a one wild exchange left him with a seemingly troublesome cut near his right eye early in the fight, Maynard avoided any major blows and won over two of the three judges to claim victory via scores of 29-28, 27-30 and 29-28.
“The game plan and technique went out the window,” said Maynard, who said he planned to display crisp boxing with a stick-and-move game plan. “I’m sorry about that. You won’t see that again.”
Maynard, of course, isn’t the first Diaz opponent to forget his game plan. With constant taunting and even audible trash-talking, the well-rounded Diaz has made more than a fair share of opponents fight his game, which is often involves unorthodox striking.
“I saw his face and wanted to fight,” Maynard said. “It was stupid, but I hope you guys enjoyed it a little bit.”
Maynard, of course, had a lot riding on the fight’s outcome. He and fellow lightweight contender Frankie Edgar are considered the most likely next options for champion B.J. Penn. And though Edgar is currently the favorite to get the fight, which is expected to take place in April at Abu Dhabi’s UFC 112 event, UFC officials stopped short of confirming the bout in recent weeks. The likely reason? To first see the outcome of the Maynard vs. Diaz fight.
Although Maynard avenged an earlier loss to Diaz from their time on “The Ultimate Fighter 5,” Maynard’s performance may not be enough to warrant a cut in line in front of Edgar. (Even though Maynard delivered Edgar his first career loss back in April 2008.)
Maynard, though, is ready if called upon.
“I ain’t going to make a cheesy pitch,” he said. “But if they want me, I’m here for them.”
The win moves Maynard to 9-0 overall and a perfect 7-0 in the UFC. Diaz falls to 11-5 (6-3 UFC).
For a young fighter hoping to gain some recognition, beating a “TUF” champion is a great start. Doing it in the co-headliner of a national televised event is even better. But picking up a $30,000 Submission of the Night bonus in the process is about is good as it gets.
And so goes the story of Evan Dunham‘s win over “TUF 8” champ Efrain Escudero.
Dunham survived some first-round trouble, including a knockdown and subsequent ground and pound, to take round two and tie up the bout. In the pivotal third round, Dunham knew he needed to win the round at the least. But early in the frame, he scored a takedown and capitalized when Escudero tried to roll free. Dunham used the opportunity to secure the mount position. And when Escudero rolled over again, Dunham took his back, locked the choke, but ultimately settled for an armbar after a scramble for position. Escudero initially fended off the submission, but when Dunham rolled to his side and torqued the hold, his opponent was finally forced to tap out.
The end came at the 1:59 mark of the round.
“I felt like once I had [the arm], it was over,” Dunham said. “Even as he moved it around a bit, I still had it secure. I was pretty confident.”
The victory moves Dunham to 10-0, including 3-0 in the UFC. With his first career loss, Escudero drops to 12-1 overall and 2-1 in the UFC.
In a hotly contested middleweight contest that left the crowd nearly on the verge of a protest, Aaron Simpson survived a first-round rattling and finally implemented some successful takedowns to edge fan favorite Tom Lawlor via split decision.
From the moment of his Hulk Hogan-inspired ring entrance set to the WWE classic “Real American,” the always entertaining Lawlor had the soldout crowd feeding out of his hand. A dominant first round had them downright giddy, though Simpson successfully managed to shake off the effects of a big right hand that landed behind his ear midway through the frame. Unable to secure a takedown, Simpson, the latest in a recent string of Arizona State wrestlers-turned-MMA fighters, couldn’t mount much of an offense.
“He came at me hard, and I slipped up a bit,” Simpson said. “He surprised me.”
However, Simpson found his range in the second, and with the constant threat of takedowns, Lawlor was forced into a more conservative game plan. It spelled disaster, though, since Simpson used the tentativeness against Lawlor and faked punches to set up the takedowns. After a close second round that split the judges, Simpson clearly took the third and earned the split-decision win via scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.
The decision was met with a flood of boos that drowned out the winning fighter’s post-fight press interview. Still, it was another winning performance for Simpson (7-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who avenged teammate C.B. Dollaway’s July 2009 submission loss to Lawlor (6-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC).
In the night’s first televised bout, “The Ultimate Fighter 7” winner Amir Sadollah (3-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) implemented what his corner called a perfect game plan and outlasted hard-hitting Brad Blackburn (17-10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) for a clear-cut unanimous decision win (via judges’ scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Sadollah largely kept Blackburn at bay with kicks and then dominated the ground action once he secured takedowns. However, it was Sadollah’s wobble-inducing shot early in the first round that eventually turned the back-and-forth welterweight bout in his favor.
Blackburn had his moments in the second round, but Sadollah dominated the third with early-round standup and a late-frame ground-and-pound assault that left Blackburn in a post-fight daze. The performance produced Sadollah’s second win in less than two months.
“He likes to control the pace of the fights, and I was trying to find a balance of respecting his power and being able being able to go on the offensive,” said Sadollah, who was a favorite of with the local crowd. “[The experience] was so cool. It was the first time in my life that I had a crowd chanting my name. I was so glad I can fight here in Virginia.”
After resurrecting his career in the UFC, Blackburn, a former IFL fighter, suffered his first career loss in four UFC bouts.
LEBEN’S DOMINANCE, ODD SCORES ON UN-AIRED PRELIMS
Headlining the night’s un-aired action and drawing one of the most surprisingly welcoming ovations of the night, noted striker Chris Leben (19-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) fed off a very friendly crowd and dominated fellow middleweight Jay Silva (5-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) with a shutout 30-27 unanimous-decision win. Leben nearly (and perhaps should have) ended the fight in the first round when he quickly checked a flying knee and took Silva to the mat. He spent the next four-plus minutes working a rear-naked choke with a tight body lock, but Silva survived and never tapped out. Leben was just as dominant in the following rounds, but Silva survived till the final horn.
“I thought I had the choke, but he’s a tough guy,” said Leben, who rebounded from back-to-back losses. “Any other guy would have tapped.”
Although he should have earned a unanimous-decision win, fast-rising youngster Rick Story (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) instead settled for a split-decision victory after a three-round war of attrition with Jesse Lennox (11-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC). The fighters kept a frantic pace to the fight, which continually moved from standup to grappling and back to the feet. Story, though, proved the more effective striker and had turned Lennox’s face into a bloody and bruised mess by the time the decisions were read. Although initially announced as a majority draw, the fight actually concluded with a split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29) in Story’s favor.
“I was pretty satisfied with the win,” he said. “That’s the way I wanted it to go. … I wanted the fight to be at a high pace. I wanted it to be exciting.”
In lightweight action, a scrappy Nick Lentz proved a handful for octagon regular Thiago Tavares, but a crucial mistake by the veteran cost him a win. Lentz’s takedown and hyper-aggressive style earned him the first round, but Tavares’ well-balanced attack and crisp striking allowed him to rebound to take the final two frames on two of the three judges’ scorecards. However, a costly and gruesome low blow sent Lentz careening to the mat in the final frame, and Tavares was given a crucial point deduction. After a few minutes of agony in the fetal position, Lentz miraculously got back to his feet and continued the fight. But what should have been a decision victory for Tavares turned into a majority decision draw. Two of the judges scored the fight 28-28 for Tavares (14-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) while a third surprisingly had it 29-28 scored for Lentz (17-3-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC).
After the fight, Lentz said the blow broke his metal cup and suggested Tavares had malicious intentions.
“He kicked me the first time (in the groin), and I shook it off,” Lentz said. “The second time, it was a full-blown Muay Thai kick to my groin. I have a metal cup on, and there’s a crack down the middle of it. There’s no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose. I would fight him again, but I know he’d never do it.”
In a welterweight clash of UFC newcomers and King of the Cage champions, youth prevailed over experience as 20-year-old Rory MacDonald (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) topped 35-year-old Mike Guymon (11-3-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) with a slick first-round armbar submission. MacDonald scored a quick early takedown, and after getting wobbled on his feet, he quickly scored another. Once there, he first worked for the crucifix position before focusing on one arm and eventually securing a deep armbar. Guymon was forced to tap out at the 4:28 mark of the first round.
“I went for the Americana (kimura), then I changed my grip to the nearside arm, and I knew I had it,” MacDonald said. “I’m a little disappointed with my performance but happy I got the win.”
In a must-win bout for both fighters, Rafael dos Anjos (13-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) used a well-balanced attack to outlast a game Kyle Bradley (14-7 MMA, 1-3 UFC) for a unanimous decision win. In fact, if it weren’t the final few seconds of the first round, Dos Anjos likely would have ended the fight after a front kick and left hand landed flush and dropped Bradley to a knee. Dos Anjos, though, ultimately settled for a shutout decision win (30-27 on all three judges’ cards) and has now won two straight in the UFC.
“I’m a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but I have hard hands, and I’ve been working my Muay Thai,” dos Anjos said. “I felt like I had everything going for me this fight.”
After fighting his way back into the UFC as a late replacement for Tim Credeur, “TUF 7” cast member Gerald Harris (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made the most of it and stopped fellow UFC newcomer John Salter (4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) via third-round TKO. While the pace of the fight sometimes bordered on boring, Harris came alive in the final frame and scored takedowns on Salter, who replaced Mike Massenzio on less than a week’s notice. A ground-and-pound assault wasn’t the most technical of displays, but it earned Harris the TKO stoppage at the 3:24 mark of the third round.
“I heard him say ‘ugh’ like he was hurt, so I kept punching,” said Harris, who called into MMAjunkie.com Radio while Dana White was a guest to campaign for a second chance in the UFC. “I ended up with a TKO in my first UFC fight, so I can’t complain too much.”
In the night’s opening bout, middleweight Nick Catone (7-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) rebounded from back-to-back UFC losses and likely saved his career in the organization with a close split-decision win over Jesse Forbes (12-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC). Forbes, a late replacement for injured Steve Steinbeiss, appeared on “TUF 3” but was dropped in 2006 after a loss to Matt Hamill at the show’s live finale. In his long-awaited return, Forbes kept the fight close and stuffed most of his opponent’s takedown attempts, but Catone scored enough of them to control the ground action and grind out the win via scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28.
“Jesse was stuffing my shots in the first two rounds, but I felt like I was able to get into the groove in the third round,” Catone said. “I didn’t work a lot of grappling for this fight, so it took me a while to get going.”