(Photo Courtesy of Getty)
By: Braeden Van Asperen
The UFC took a journey to Japan on Friday night, headlined by a heavyweight tilt that would have put Godzilla vs. Mothra to shame.
By now you may have heard the spoilers — if not, I have them all right here for you!
In case your social media feed hadn’t already made you aware, the samoan Mark Hunt finished Roy Nelson by KO, three minutes into the second round of the main event.
The rotund kickboxer improved his record to 10-8-1 with the huge stoppage, the first time Nelson has been stopped in six years. Nelson (20-10 MMA) was felled by a massive uppercut that left him slumped facefirst into the mat, a memorable end to the Fight Night.
In the co-main event, Myles Jury defeated Takanori Gomi via TKO with a minute thirty-two seconds remaining in the first round. Jury (15-0) should expect a top five opponent in his next outing. Looking nothing short of dynamic, the undefeated prospect will be moving into title contention by the end of the year.
Yoshihiro Akiyama scored his first UFC win since 2009, beating Amir Sadollah in one of the more lopsided beatdowns of the night. “Sexyama” (14-5-2) lived up to his nickname by stopping mid fight in top position to flirt with some cageside females. His unanimous decision will keep him from getting the UFC pink slip. Sadollah’s last fight was a loss to Dan Hardy in 2012, his inactivity possibly having something to do with his lack of success inside the octagon. Sadollah’s record now sits at 6 wins, 5 losses.
Meisha Tate gamely defeated Rin Nakai, outclassing her opponent in most facets of MMA on route to a unanimous decision. Meisha’s length and height seemed to give Nakai fits, and other than several swift transitions and back-takes, the Japanese star had nothing to offer the former StrikeForce champion. Tate (15-5) controlled the range and the pace of the fight, handing Nakai the first loss of her professional career.
Kiichi Kunimoto was given a split decision over Richard Walsh, in a fight he was largely outstruck and outgrappled. This fight is memorable only for the fact that it shows how bad MMa judging can be. Kunimoto’s record improves to 18-5. Walsh is now 8-2.
Kyoji Horguchi defeated Jon Delos Reyes with a fast TKO, barely two minutes into the bout, he landed some flush shots and folded his opponent. Horiguchi will move up in the rankings and expect bigger matchups from him in the future.
Masanori Kanehara scored a marquee win with a unanimous decision over Alex Caceres. Controlling much of the grappling portion of the fight, Masanori nearly finished Caceres with some big strikes that sent Bruce Leroy fleeing across the cage. Kanehara is now 24-11-5 in his professional career. Caceres gave a spirited fight, this being his second loss in a row, leaving him with a 10-7-1 record in his career. Usually three losses in a row spells doom for most UFC fighters, but Caceres is an exciting prospect and one that fans will tune in to see, so his job may be safe regardless of if he loses his next fight or not.
Katsunori Kikuno TKO’d Takenori Sato early in their bout, with just over a minute remaining, Hyn Hyu Lim scored big strikes that forced the ref to intervene. With the win, Lim bounced back from a defeat to Tarec Saffedeine earlier this year. This fight showed how Lim is a legitimate threat at WW, possibly a top ten talent. His next fight will determine his status in one of the UFC’s most stacked divisions.
Kyung Ho Kang took Michinori Tanaka by a split decision in a spirited affair that saw both fighters have their moments. The Fight Of The Night Performance netted both martial artists an additional fifty-thousand dollars. Kang now sports a 13-7 record, and added a nice feather in his cap by handing Tanaka (10-1) his first pro loss.
Johnny Case made a big statement tonight, similar to his teammate Myles Jury, when he scored a nasty stoppage with a guillotine against the cage in the second round of his fight with Kazuki Tokudome. In one of the more disturbing chokes in UFC history, Case left Tokudome with rolling eyes, slumped against the wall of the cage. Case walks away with a 19-4 record. Keep your eye on this electrifying prospec, whose crisp combinations led to the brutal highlight-reel finish. As a small side note, Buffer and the production team announced the finish as a TKO.
And finally, Maximo Blanco defeated Daniel Hooker via unanimous decision in the opening fight of the prelim card. Their fight kicked things off to a good start, as the back and forth bout got the crowd roaring early on. Both guys have a lot of work to do, but expect to see both make a future appearance in the Octagon. Maximo’s record improves to 11-6-1 overall.
The UFC’s event in Japan was overall a good one, with some exciting brawls and sensational stoppages. We leave this event having learned that Jury is a top 5 contender, and that Mark Hunt is as well. Expect to see both fighters appear in bouts with serious title implications by the end of the year.
Fight of the Night: Kang over Tanaka
Performance of the Night: Mark Hunt and Myles Jury