SEATTLE - You had the feeling this one wouldn’t go long and that presumption bore true at Key Arena Saturday night, when an Yves Edwards overhand right put Jeremy Stephens on the deck and an elbow put the naïve Iowan out cold at 1 minute 55 seconds in their UFC on FOX 5 prelim bout.
The ending unfolded as both lightweights stood in the pocket and traded right hands; Stephens’ punch missed its mark.
“I feel really good. Experience played a big part,” said the 36-year-old Edwards, who improved to 42-18-1. “Early in the fight he hit me with a good shot. I had my hands up and I could feel the power.”
The bout was originally scheduled for October 5th, but was scrapped on fight day after Stephens (20-9) encountered some well-publicized legal problems.
DARON CRUICKSHANK VS. HENRY MARTINEZ
Daron Cruickshank has plenty of swagger, but also the substance to back a lot of that flamboyance up. The “Detroit Superstar” rode his flashy Taekwondo kicks to a highlight reel knockout over Greg Jackson-trained Henry Martinez.
In defeat, however, Martinez stood out for his uncommon resilience. The New Mexican lightweight survived serious danger in round one, when Cruickshank battered and bloodied him before stunning him with a temporarily paralyzing kick to the midsection. Cruickshank (12-2) unloaded on the embattled fighter, even clobbering him with a hard high kick to the head that brought the crowd at Key Arena alive, but could not seal the deal. How rocked was Martinez? He didn’t know where his corner was when the round was over.
But to Martinez’s credit, he weathered spinning backfists, spinning heel kicks to the leg, combinations to the head, and a copious amount of hard kicks to his pudgy midsection. Cruickshank can be very awkward with his array of strikes and at times looked like a matador against Martinez, who tried in vain to take matters to the ground and seemed to have only a puncher’s chance standing.
The brutality to the body would come in handy for Cruickshank. Martinez was hurting, especially to the body. So when Cruickshank fired a certain kick midway in the second, no one could condemn Martinez (9-3) if he thought to protect his ailing midsection. But that would have been a mistake, because Cruickshank instead went upstairs to the chin –boom! – putting Martinez out at 2:57 of the second stanza.
“Henry is a tough guy,” Cruickshank said.
Watch Cruickshank's post-fight interview
RAMSEY NIJEM VS. JOE PROCTOR
Lightweight Ramsey Nijem won his third straight in the UFC, outworking Joe Proctor en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Nijem escaped several guillotine chokes and was hurt by a Proctor left hook in round one, but he controlled most of the contest. The Ultimate Fighter 13 finalist had gone toe-to-toe before being stunned by Proctor, then settled in and used his wrestling, top control and methodical standup as the blueprint to victory. Nijem also bloodied and dropped Proctor with a front kick to the face in round one.
Watch Nijem's post-fight interview
MIKE EASTON VS. RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO
In a battle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, Raphael Assuncao and Mike Easton engaged exclusively on their feet, with Assuncao winning a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
It was the third straight win for Assuncao since dropping to bantamweight. Easton, teammate and close friend of UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, lost for the first time in four UFC fights.
The contest was fought at a very methodical pace, with fans at times booing. Easton (13-2) marked up the Brazilian’s left leg with leg kicks but had trouble going upstairs against Assuncao, who occasionally switched from a conventional to southpaw stance. Both men attempted takedowns but were rebuffed.
Easton’s best moment in the second came via a body kick, with Assuncao scoring a right hand that caused Easton to retreat and apparently mouth the words, “you poked me in my eye.” Easton continued with his leg kicks and Assuncao landed a nice front kick to the face.
Assuncao (18-4) definitely seemed busier in the third, with his best moments coming on another front kick and hard kick to the body.
ABEL TRUJILLO VS. MARCUS LEVESSEUR
Stepping up for the injured Tim Means (who fell in a sauna and hurt himself before Friday’s weigh-in) after his own fight against Michael Chiesa was scrapped, Marcus LeVesseur ran into a buzzsaw in the form of the hard-charging and downright nasty Abel Trujillo, whose barrage of vicious knees and elbows eventually wore out the Minnesotan and prompted a TKO stoppage at 3:56 of round two.
Early in round one, LeVesseur scored with a leg kick and a beautiful and lightning-quick double leg takedown. He scored another brief takedown but also spent a ton of energy trying to put Trujillo on the deck. While LeVesseur was holding on to a leg in pursuit of a takedown, the fiery Floridian was firing away with nasty elbows that at times seemed close to the back of the head.
In the second round, with LeVesseur’s face already welting, Trujillo sunk in a deep guillotine choke, then transitioned to a north-south choke that LeVesseur was fortunate to scramble out of. As the action returned to the standup realm, the Blackzilians team member stormed and dropped LeVesseur with punches. A noticeably fatigued LeVesseur got up, only to be buckled by a straight right hand. With Trujillo (10-4) stalking evermore, LeVesseur (22-7) ended up in turtle position against the cage, obviously tired and with nothing little else to give -- just eating hard knees to the side until the referee intervened.
NAM PHAN VS. DENNIS SIVER
Quite succinctly, it was the Dennis Siver show from start to finish. The one-sided performance sent a loud-and-clear message to every other featherweight on the UFC roster: Keep an eye on Siver.
The 33-year-old German did whatever he wanted in this fight, with the exception of finishing a very game but physically and technically overwhelmed Nam Phan. The judges’ extraordinary scorecard totals – 30-24, 30-25 and 30-26 – reflect the kind of relentless beatdown Siver administered over their 15 minutes together inside the Octagon.
It almost seemed like a sparring session for Siver, an utter tank of a man (it could said of him that even his ears have muscles) who seemed to be north of 170 pounds and appeared to outweigh Phan by a good 15 to 20 pounds in the cage. Siver settled into an ultra-aggressive groove right out of the gate, punishing Phan every few seconds with hard leg kicks, hard right hands, a crisp jab, and memorable front kicks to the face and spinning backkicks to the midsection. Siver briefly dropped Phan (18-12) in the second round.
Siver (21-9, 2-0 at 145 pounds) spent nearly all of the second half of the fight taking down the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and ravaging him with a torrent of ground and pound. Unofficially, Siver landed in the neighborhood of 145 punches on the ground alone, which is an astounding volume of ground strikes landed when you consider they spent maybe seven minutes or so on the mat.
Watch Siver's post-fight interview
JOHN ALBERT VS. SCOTT JORGENSEN
The NBA has the famous “buzzer-beater” embedded in its lexicon. NFL has the “as-time-expires” win.
And with Scott Jorgensen’s rear-naked-choke of John Albert with literally 1 second left in the first round … perhaps we should introduce the phrase “horn-beater” to UFC? Just a thought, of course.
It was a rare submission so late in a UFC round – and it came courtesy of a tap from Albert (7-4), who had been immobilized belly-down after Jorgensen (14-6) flattened him. The dramatic finish snapped a two-fight losing streak for the Boise State University grad.
The former Division I wrestling standout leaned on his grappling roots early, taking down The Ultimate Fighter season 14 alum less than 30 seconds in. Albert, a Washington state product, executed a nice hip bump sweep from his closed guard but got greedy trying to take Jorgensen’s back, enabling Jorgensen to scramble and regain top control. The 30-year-old Idahoan, who fought for the UFC bantamweight title in 2010 but lost a decision to Dominick Cruz, landed some hard shots to Albert’s body and touched him up with some elbows.
Albert proved very crafty, taking advantage of Jorgensen’s aggression and trapping him in a triangle. Jorgensen was in some danger, but he stayed calm and did a good job of eventually regaining his upright posture and wiggling free. In the final 10 seconds, a scramble ensued and Jorgensen took Albert’s back with one hook in. It didn’t seem plausible that the end was near, but Jorgensen came up big in his race against the clock.
“I knew there was short time and I knew I had to squeeze my butt off,” Jorgensen said. “We drilled that because we knew we could take his back real easy, so…”
Jorgensen’s advanced scouting report was apparently right on point.
“He got the sweep early, I recovered,” Jorgensen said. “I was never in danger, I got a great jiu-jitsu coach. The triangle was very tight, but we knew he threw a lot of triangles and we drilled that every single day.”
Watch Jorgensen's post-fight interview here