By Thomas Gerbasi
LONDON, February 21 – Heavyweight up and comer Junior Dos Santos made it two for two when it comes to big knockout victories in the UFC, following up his win over Fabricio Werdum last October with a 54 second destruction of Octagon newcomer Stefan Struve in preliminary action at the O2 Arena.
After some tentative action in the early moments of the fight, Dos Santos (8-1) attacked and immediately hurt the 6 foot 11 Struve (20-3) with a left to the head. Struve tried to shake the shot off, but his legs weren’t under him and he sagged back into the cage. Dos Santos moved in for the kill and dropped the Netherlands fighter with a right hand. Struve gamely rose, but was sent back to the mat, prompting referee Dan Miragliotta’s stoppage of the bout.
Liverpool lightweight Terry Etim put together his most impressive UFC performance to date as he used a ferocious Muay Thai attack to halt Brian Cobb in the second round.
Etim’s striking and takedown defense were sharp in the early going, with only a caught kick by Cobb (15-5) leading to a trip to the mat. While on the ground, Etim (12-2) tried to keep Cobb locked up in order to force a stand-up from referee Kevin Mulhall, and the strategy worked as he and Cobb got re-started. While on the feet, Etim upped his workrate, tagging Cobb with hard kicks upstairs and downstairs. Cobb weathered the storm and got a much-needed takedown, but again, he was unable to capitalize, and the two were stood up with a little over a minute to go. Etim resumed his kick-based attack, and even scored a takedown of his own as the round neared its end.
Etim came out fast in the second, and after attacking Cobb’s leg again, he switched things up and shot off a lead left kick to the head. Cobb dropped immediately, and a big right hand on the mat finished things off, with Mulhall calling the bout off 10 seconds into the second stanza.
Unbeaten Evan Dunham made the most of his opportunity to step in for injured David Baron UFC 95 on short notice, knocking out Swedish veteran Per Eklund in the first round of their lightweight bout.
Dunham (8-0) struck first and fast, hurting Eklund (15-4, 1 NC) with a left to the head. Dunham pounced with a guillotine choke, but Eklund got loose and recovered, later pulling guard when the two stood. After the two stood, Eklund landed thudding shots to the head, but the Oregonian walked right through them, eventually getting his shot in, a straight left that dropped the Stockholm product hard to the mat. The follow-up barrage was a formality, with referee Marc Goddard halting the bout at the 2:14 mark.
Longtime MMA veteran Mike Ciesnolevicz finally got his shot to compete in the UFC Octagon, and even though he jumped up to heavyweight to do it, he was able to emerge victorious as he made short work of Essex’ Neil Grove via a 63 second submission.
“I’m just happy to get my shot,” said Ciesnolevicz, who upped his record to 18-3 with 1 NC; Grove falls to 7-2.
Cisenolevicz, giving up five inches in height and 28 pounds in weight, looked to even the playing field immediately with a takedown. It was a good call, as he fought through a dicey couple of seconds in terms of position to lock up Grove in a heel hook that forced a tap out at 1:03 of the first round.
Liverpool’s Paul Kelly got the local fans up and roaring immediately as he pounded out a three round unanimous decision over Troy Mandaloniz in the rousing welterweight opener.
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 30-28 for Kelly.
After eschewing a tap of the gloves to open the fight, Kelly got a tap of another kind, as Mandaloniz clipped him with a hard left hook that jarred him. In the midst of a follow-up exchange, Kelly slipped, and as he rose, Mandaloniz capitalized with a trip to the mat. Kelly found his way up and the two got right back to business. At the three minute mark, Kelly hurt Mandaloniz with a series of body shots, and moments later, he took the Hawaiian to the mat and proceeded to implement a ground and pound plan that cut Mandaloniz over the left eye and allowed the Brit to finish the round strongly.
Kelly sought for and got the takedown to open the second stanza, looking to re-open the cut over Mandaloniz’ eye. By the time referee Kevin Mulhall called for a standup, Mandaloniz was now bleeding from under the right eye as well. The standup was the break Mandaloniz needed, as he took Kelly down and got his back. Kelly fought his way free though and pounded away from inside his foe’s guard. Mandaloniz, refusing to go away quietly, almost got Kelly’s arm locked up, but “Tellys” broke loose and got back into Mandaloniz’ guard until the bell.
Two rounds of warfare prompted a touch of gloves for the final round, and Kelly shot off some crisp strikes as Mandaloniz stalked. The crowd started chanting “Kel-ly, Kel-ly” in response to the discipline being shown by their sometimes reckless favorite. A takedown by Mandaloniz with 2:20 left appeared to turn the tide as “Rude Boy” worked for a quick submission on the mat, but Kelly escaped and made it into the relative safety of Mandaloniz’ guard. With a minute left, Mulhall stood the two fighters up, and Mandaloniz moved forward with strikes and a takedown as he made his final run, one that fell short of victory, but not due to a lack of effort.
With the win, Kelly improves to 9-1; Mandoloniz falls to 3-2.
Dos Santos claims Another Victim and Etim Wins Big in UFC 95 Prelim Action
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Heavyweight up and comer Junior Dos Santos made it two for two when it comes to big knockout victories in the UFC, following up his win over Fabricio Werdum last October with a 54 second destruction of Octagon newcomer Stefan Struve in preliminary action at the O2 Arena.