Heavy.com is live from cageside at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California for tonight’s UFC 104 event. We’ll be providing live updates from all preliminary and main card bouts tonight, so join us at 7pm ET for all the action.
The preliminary bouts for the evening will be starting shortly. I’ll be joined on this live blog by Jonathan Snowden, who will provide post-match commentary for each bout.
CHASE GORMLEY VS. STEFAN STRUVE
They stand and trade for a bit before Gormley gets the takedown. He lifts Struve up and powerbombs him, but doesn’t have much effect. Struve works for an armbar before transitioning to a leglock, but Gormley grabs a leglock as well. Struve gets out and ends up in the guard. He’s almost seven feet tall and is quite the sight. Struve with the takedown and starts raining down hammer fists on Gormley, but they don’t appear to be having much effect on him because the ref lets it go. Struve moves to side control and lands more hammer fists, but Gormley reverses it and goes for mount until Struve locks in a triangle choke, forcing the tap in the first round. Struve actually pulled the triangle from the mount.
Stefan Struve d. Chase Gormley (submission)
Jonathan Snowden: Struve made short work of the overmatched Chase Gormley. Struve is a dead ringer for former King of Pancrase Semmy Schilt. He’s an absolute giant of man, standing at a listed 6-11. Gormley wanted no part of Struve’s reach advantage and took him down quickly. But Struve was busy from the bottom, constantly searching out submissions and making his way to his feet. He shocked at least one member of the audience, this one, by taking Gormley down and eventually tapping him with a triangle choke. Gormley would have been absolutely murdered by Rothwell and Struve is ready for stiffer competition.
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan
Al Hassan gets a takedown and goes for a guillotine, but Kingsbury powers out and gets a full mount. And then he continues to lay on top of Al Hassan for the better part of two minutes before deciding to go to a side mount. And then he lays on him in side mount for another minute or so, inciting plenty of boos from the crowd. The ref finally stands them up with roughly one minute left, and the crowd is very thankful. They trade a few strikes before the round ends.
Kingsbury gets a takedown to start the second, but Al-Hassan powers out and works a clinch against the cage. Where the first round had a lot of laying on the ground, this one has a lot of clinching against the cage. The ref finally breaks it up and they go back to the center of the cage. They trade strikes before the round ends.
Third round stays on the feet to start, which is a good thing, except neither guy does much but land a few leg kicks here and there. Kingsbury clinches against the cage. Kingsbury gets a slow takedown but Al-Hassan gets right back to his feet. I will say one thing, this Los Angeles crowd is very patient, but that patience is starting to wear thin. The ref breaks it up. Al-Hassan is doing everything half-heartedly. This was not a good fight.
Kyle Kingsbury d. Razak Al-Hassan (split decision)
Jonathan Snowden: Kyle Kingsbury took a split decision from Razak Al-Hassan in a 205 pound bout. The pro Kingsbury crowd was rabid for the California kid. Everyone else was underwhelmed. The fight consisted mostly of awkward standup and the clinch game. I tell you this: if your name is Al-Hassan in post 9/11 America, you need to be more entertaining than that.
Jorge Rivera vs. Rob Kimmons
We’ve experienced some internet troubles here at the Staples Center, but Rivera defeated Kimmons by TKO in the third round. Kimmons was very bloody at the end.
Jorge Rivera d. Rob Kimmons (TKO, round three)
Jonathan Snowden: Rob Kimmons has “toughness” listed as one of his strengths in his bio. This is usually a pretty good sign that he is going to be the MMA equivalent of a baeball player labelled as “scrappy.” By which I mean “not good.”
Crowd was unsure whether to call Jorge Rivera “whore-hey” or “george.” See what Jorge Gurgel did to our discourse? Best part of the fight was when an official slipped when running up to the cage to let the seconds in. I am easily entertained.
Kimmons was as good as his word: beaten, bloodied, and stopped in the third round.
Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami
Sonnen presses forward with a few strikes and shoots, but Okami stuffs it. Sonnen gets a huge slam and takes Okami’s back. He’s working a guillotine, but Sonnen is avoiding it. Okami is able to avoid everything and finally gets separation. They trade strike attempts on the feet, with neither man hitting much of note. Sonnen gets a takedown and falls into the guard, but Okami is able to escape after a moment. Sonnen lands a nice left and then Okami lands a nice left as well.
Sonnen furiously tries for a takedown, but Okami is able to avoid it and Sonnen ends up behind him. Sonnen strings together a series of spinning back kicks that miss. Sonnen is really pressing the action here while Okami is merely retaliating. Okami goes for a kick to the body but Sonnen catches it and punches him in the face before Okami can spin away. Okami is getting more and more tentative as this fight progresses. He’ll have to finish Sonnen in the third, because he’s down by two rounds at this point.
Third round starts off with more of the same. Sonnen is outworking Okami to a great degree here, and “Thunder” might be looking at the last round of his UFC career if he doesn’t finish the fight now. Sonnen scores a takedown and goes for Okami’s back again, trying to work a guillotine. Okami is able to get back to his feet but Sonnen stays behind him and lands continuous knees to the thigh. Okami is working a kimura but Sonnen avoids it. Sonnen on top, throwing bombs as the fight ends. This will be a big victory for Chael Sonnen and possibly the last time you’ll see Yushin Okami in the UFC.
Chael Sonnen d. Yushin Okami (unanimous decision)
Jonathan Snowden: Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami are two phenomenal fighters. Despite that, this fight was on the undercard; allegedly because of Okami’s reputation as a boring fighter. That was certainly not the case here. The two spend most of three rounds trading punches, with Sonnen consistently scoring more often with a crisp left hand. He also puncuated rounds with big takedowns, earning a unanimous decision. Good fight.
We won’t be doing detailed updates from the live Spike card, as most of you are probably watching it. But we’ll resume our detailed coverage with the PPV event starting in an hour.
Pat Barry d. Antonio Hardonk (KO, round two): Hardonk won the first round and hurt Barry’s right eye pretty badly. But in the second round, Barry switched to straight punches and started landing some nasty straights. One of them finally dropped Hardonk, who wanted out in the worst way and got his wish when the ref stopped it. The Staples Center crowd exploded for that one.
Jonathan Snowden: Pat Barry had something to prove to his former training partner Antoni Hardonk. He felt underappreciated when both trained with Ernesto Hoost and didn’t feel like they had confidence in his as anything but a sparring partner. He proved himself to Hoost and the world by beating Hardonk on his feet, eventually stopping him with hard right hands on the ground.
Barry was poked in the eye early, but persevered, eye swelling, to batter Hardonk, effortlessly landing straight punches, even posing in the center of the ring to make a point: he was better than Hardonk and had proved it.
Ryan Bader d. Eric Schafer (unanimous decision): Bader landed a lot of power punches in this bout and nearly finished Schafer in the first and third rounds. He still didn’t look technical enough to compete with the top light heavyweights in the UFC, but his stand-up game has improved by leaps and bounds. Mixed with his strong wrestling, Bader will be an interesting fighter to watch.
Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Johnson had a tough time making weight, as he detailed in my conversation with him earlier today. It will certainly be interesting to see how the tough cut will effect Johnson, if at all.
These two guys don’t look like they’re even in the same weight class. Well, they aren’t, at least tonight. Johnson is landing bombs. Yoshida is trying to clinch, but can’t. Johnson keeps landing power punches. Johnson connects with a strong right and knocks out Yoshida.
Anthony Johnson d. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (KO, round one)
Jonathan Snowden: All of Anthony Johnson’s extra six pounds are apparently in his right hand. Huge knockout. Celebrities in attendance include Anthony Kiedis, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and Mark Coleman and his beer.
Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher
Stevenson is all smiles coming to the cage. His move to Greg Jackson’s camp has rejuvenated his career, and he says it’s given him the right mindset. How will he fare against Spencer Fisher tonight? Both guys are near contention for the lightweight title and a victory by either guy will push them closer to a shot at BJ Penn.
Round one: We go through a feeling out process for the first minute of the fight, with both guys testing their range without throwing for much power. Stevenson lands a left that opens a small cut on Fisher’s right eyebrow. Stevenson is smiling. Stevenson shoots but Fisher stuffs it. Stevenson walks Fisher to the cage for a clinch. Stevenson is still working a takedown without any luck. The Staples Center crowd starts booing the lack of action until ref Herb Dean breaks it up for a restart in the center of the cage. Fisher lands a right hook and then a left hook. Stevenson shoots but Fisher stuffs it until Stevenson moves to his back. Joe is looking for a guillotine but stands up and begins raining down punches on Fisher’s head until the bell rings to end the first round.
Round two: Fisher lands a left. Stevenson finally gets a takedown and lands in the guard. Stevenson postures up and lands a couple of shots, then goes for a leg lock but doesn’t get it. Stevenson moves to side control and throws a few glancing elbows. Joe is trying to pull a Brock Lesnar here but putting his right knee on Fisher’s left arm in order to throw open shots, but it’s not working quite as well as it did for Lesnar against Frank Mir at UFC 100. Stevenson lands a flurry of unanswered elbows that busts Fisher wide open, and Herb Dean stops the fight.
Joe Stevenson d. Spencer Fisher (TKO, round two)
Jonathan Snowden: Poor Spencer Fisher. He looked so sad after being outclassed by Joe Stevenson. Ringside you could see it was more than the usual disappointment. He looked near tears. He does everything he can to maximize his physical potential. And it was all for nothing. Stevenson is still exactly what we thought he was: just a step above most fighters at 155 and just a step below the very best like B.J. Penn. You can make a living that way for sure.
Michael Irvin in the house for all the Cowboys fans out there.
Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer
Round one: Neer advances but Tibau gets a big takedown. It doesn’t last long, however, as Neer gets to his feet quickly. Tibau gets another big takedown, this time against the cage, and lands in the butterfly guard. Neer gets back to his feet again. Neer’s mouthpiece falls out, so they stop the fight to retrieve it before starting it up again. And Tibau immediately gets another takedown, but Neer gets back to his feet again. Neer lands a few shots before Tibau takes him down again. Neer gets back to his feet. Tibau would probably be scoring points with these takedowns if he didn’t allow Neer to get back to his feet so quickly.
Round two: Tibau starts off the round with another takedown, but Neer is back up immediately. They exchange punches before Neer gets taken down again, but he’s back up immediately yet again. Tibau with yet another takedown. The crowd is starting to get restless. Tibau gets the full mount and then takes Neer’s back. They’re standing up now. Tibau moves it into a modified flying armbar and nearly gets it, but Neer reverses and gets back to his feet. That would have been one of the all-time classic submissions if Tibau had been able to finish it. Tibau is exhausted now, though.Tibau gets stuffed on a takedown attempt for the first time tonight.
Round three: Neer will probably need a finish in this round to take the fight. Tibau gets a takedown, but guess what? If you guessed “Neer gets back up”, you’ve won tonight’s prize. Neer lands a good right standing elbow. Neer stuffs a takedown. Neer wants to hit Tibau, but hasn’t been able to do that thus far. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying, and it’s not going to be enough. Tibau gets another takedown. The tape on Neer’s left hand glove comes undone, and they stop the bout to take it off. Neer finally lands a decent punch, but Tibau immediately takes him down. Is there a record for most takedowns in a UFC fight? I’d like to know what it is, because we may have surpassed it tonight. Neer gets back up, but Tibau takes him down again. The natives are getting restless here at the Staples Center as the fight ends.
Gleison Tibau d. Josh Neer (unanimous decision)
Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell
Round one: Both men standing and trading. Cain shoots for a takedown, Ben avoids it, but Cain trips him. Rothwell scrambles to get up, but Cain maintains control. Rothwell gets up, but Velasquez slams him, only to see Rothwell get up again. Cain tags Ben with a big right. Cain with a leg kick. Cain with a takedown and ends up in side control. He starts raining down bombs and then moves to a north-south position briefly. Rothwell gets to his feet and lands a big right. Cain gets another takedown and starts dropping big punches, but Ben survives. Ben does not want to be on the ground right now. Velasquez briefly gets a full mount before standing to his feet. Velasquez lands big hammer fists. Velasquez flips Rothwell to the mat and then lands continuous punches. He is overwhelming Rothwell here, but Ben gets back to his feet. The round ends.
Round two: Rothwell tries a head kick. Velasquez takes him down again and lands more big shots. Velasquez lands several big shots to the unprotected face of Rothwell, and the ref steps in. Rothwell is furious, protesting that it’s an early stoppage.
It was probably an early stoppage, but Rothwell was taking tons of shots to the face. Cain is not happy with the win, but he dominated from the beginning of the bout to the end. This definitely makes him a contender.
Cain Velasquez d. Ben Rothwell (TKO, round two)
UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Lyoto Machida (champion) vs. Shogun Rua
A Rua victory here would be a gigantic upset. People talk all the time about the “PRIDE Shogun”, and while that version of Shogun was a great fighter, I believe that today’s Lyoto Machida would have still beaten that Shogun handily. Machida is simply on a different level than everyone else in his division except for training partner Anderson Silva, and I believe it will take a lucky strike tonight from Rua to win the championship from The Dragon.
Round one: Shogun misses with a kick. Shogun moves in and gets kneed four times for his trouble. The crowd is very much behind Machida. Shogun already has a welt under his left eye. Shogun with a clinch against the cage. Rua with an knee to Machida’s inner thigh. Machida gets away. Machida with a running knee to Shogun, but Rua clinches against the cage again. Machida gets away. Rua with a kick to Machida’s body. Both men have bright red marks on their ribcages from kicks. Rua misses with a big kick. Machida lands a big left and a big leg kick. Shogun nails Machida with a nice hook. Rua with a leg kick. That might have been the first round that Lyoto Machida ever lost in the UFC, but it was a close one.
Round two: Rua lands a good straight left. Machida sends Shogun reeling with a punch combo. Machida is trying to bait Shogun into something with a feint, but it’s not working thus far. Shogun goes for a takedown, but Machida stuffs it. Rua lands two rib kicks. Machida with his own body kick. He’s being very cautious to stay away from Rua’s strikes. Rua runs in with a stutter step but Lyoto catches him with a counter, and then Shogun tries it again and gets countered again. Shogun clinches him against the cage and they exchange knees as the round ends.
Round three: Shogun lands a big right followed by a body kick, and then dodges a Rua counter body kick. Machida has a big bruise on his stomach. Shogun shoots for a takedown but it’s stuffed. Shogun is certainly the aggressor in this fight, though that should be no surprise given Machida’s history. The crowd is now chanting for Shogun, and he answers by pressing forward and landing a combo of leg kicks. Machida moves forward and they exchange punches wildly, and the crowd erupts. Both men landed great shots in that one. The round is over, and we’re going to the championship rounds.
Round four: The crowd is alternating chanting between Shogun and Machida. Shogun lands a leg kick. Not entirely sure what Machida is waiting on here, but he may be waiting too long. Shogun with a body kick. Machida lands a head kick that is partially blocked. Machida trips and falls and Shogun shoots for the takedown but gets stuffed. Shogun hits a left standing elbow. Rua hits a great knee to the body.
I would honestly score this bout 3-1 in favor of Shogun right now. Lyoto needs a knockout or submission, or he’s in danger of losing the fight.
Round five: Shogun lands a big body kick and a leg kick that nearly takes Machida off his feet. Shogun comes in with his trademark wild swinging punches, but Machida dodges them all. Lyoto looks pretty lethargic tonight, definitely not as sharp as I’ve seen him. Machida is bleeding from the mouth. Machida clinches against the cage, but Herb Dean breaks them up quickly. Shogun with a body kick. Shogun with a leg kick. Shogun clinches against the cage, but separates and lands a combo of punches. The crowd is firmly behind Shogun now as he’s on the verge of a gigantic upset. Shogun lands two more punches. Machida is nearly lifeless right now. Just no energy, no fire, no nothing. They trade punches and the fight is over.
Lyoto Machida d. Shogun Rua (unanimous decision)
The crowd is not happy about this one. I’m in disbelief. I guess we are scoring inactivity now.
That concludes our live coverage.