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Leites, Fisher Use the Ground Game to Sail to UFC 90 Victories

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - The UFC 90 prelim bout between middleweights Thales Leites and Drew McFedries was destined to end in one of two ways – Leites by submission or McFedries by knockout. And at Allstate Arena Saturday night, it was Leites who survived an early bombing run by McFedries to submit the Iowan in 78 seconds.
By Thomas Gerbasi

ROSEMONT, IL, October 25 – The UFC 90 prelim bout between middleweights Thales Leites and Drew McFedries was destined to end in one of two ways – Leites by submission or McFedries by knockout. And at Allstate Arena Saturday night, it was Leites who survived an early bombing run by McFedries to submit the Iowan in 78 seconds.

McFedries (7-5) hurt Leites (14-1) with his first flurry, landing with a right hand that jarred the Brazilian. Leites quickly recovered and went for the takedown, opting to get matters with over with quickly. He succeeded, getting McFedries’ back and ending the fight with a rear naked choke just 1:18 into the bout.

Going into the lightweight clash between Spencer Fisher and Shannon Gugerty, conventional wisdom would be that if someone scored a submission win, it would be the Dean Lister-trained Gugerty. But in an exciting turn of events, it was Fisher pulling off a triangle choke submission win late in the third round.

30 seconds into the fight, Gugerty (11-3) drew first blood with a solid takedown. Fisher (23-4) tried to keep his opponent close to force the standup, but after a quick scramble, ‘The King’ got up on his own power, even though Gugerty kept him pinned to the fence. Eventually, Fisher broke free, and scored with a few strikes, one cutting Gugerty over the left eye. Moments later, Fisher dropped Gugerty with a right hook, drawing a roar from the crowd, but despite the strong finish, he was unable to finish the UFC rookie.

After a visit from the doctor to check out the two cuts on his face, Gugerty gamely came out for round two, and after he missed a high kick, the two locked up against the fence. The pace dipped once the fighters separated, but picked up again when Fisher went for the takedown with a little over two minutes left and got caught in a guillotine from Gugerty. Fisher eventually escaped but got caught with a couple of head kicks for his trouble. The fight again went to the mat, but Fisher was unable to do anything from inside Gugerty’s guard.

Told by trainer Matt Hume to keep it standing, Fisher instead found himself on the mat in the final round, but the versatile Iowan locked in a tight triangle choke. Gugerty wouldn’t give in, repeatedly giving referee David Smith the thumbs up sign to say that he was all right. But finally, Fisher pulled down on Gugerty’s head, and it was game over for the game Californian, who was forced to tap out at the 3:56 mark.

New Jersey middleweight Dan Miller showed heart and stellar submission defense in his three round decision win over Matt Horwich, surviving a series of dicey situations in the second frame to grab his second UFC victory in as many months.

All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Miller, who ups his record to 10-1 with 1 NC; Horwich falls to 24-10-1 in his UFC debut.

Miler wasted no time going on the attack, taking Horwich down and opening up with a series of ground strikes. Horwich stayed cool under pressure, almost getting an omoplata, but Miller escaped, and the two stood briefly, trading punches before the fight hit the mat again. After a stalemate on the ground, the two stood and Miller was able to score with some solid shots. But it was Horwich who controlled matters on the ground in the round’s final seconds.

After a brief exchange to start the second, the fight went to the mat, and both fighters were having their moments of success. With a little over three minutes left, Horwich locked the shoulder up again, but Miller rolled out of trouble. Horwich stayed in control though, staying busy as Miller fired off strikes from the bottom. As the final minute approached, Horwich locked in a tight rear naked choke, but Miller gamely escaped. Horwich was relentless in his attack though, and he sunk in the same choke, with only the bell saving Miller.

Miller got an immediate takedown to start the final round, and Horwich responded like he had previously by going for a shoulder lock. Miller pulled loose and pushed Horwich to the fence while throwing punches to the body and head until the end of the fight, bloodying Horwich’s face in the process.

Hermes Franca entered the Octagon for his grudge match with Marcus Aurelio by bumping his former teacher, but for the next three rounds it was Franca who put on a Muay Thai clinic as he fired off continuous volleys of leg kicks en route to a three round unanimous decision win.

Scores were 30-27, and 29-28 twice for Franca.

Franca came out looking for the KO immediately, sloppily missing Aurelio with a charge at the opening bell. Aurelio calmly stood in the pocket for much of the round and jabbed at Franca, who responded with hard leg kicks, and by the end of the round, Aurelio’s left leg was turning purple from the sustained kicking attack.

The leg attack didn’t let up in the second round, and Aurelio was visibly bothered by each shot that landed. With 3:30 left, Aurelio shot for his first takedown, but was rebuffed by Franca, who didn’t deviate from his brutally effective strategy. To his credit, Aurelio remained game and continued to fire punches back at his foe, even though it looked to be just a matter of time before Franca lowered the boom.

There was no change to the pattern in the final round, but with 3:46 remaining, Aurelio did get his first takedown. He tried to make something happen on the mat, but it wasn’t to be, as Franca fought his way back up. Both men got a brief respite when referee Todd Frederickson warned Aurelio for a knee to a grounded opponent, a call that replays showed to be an incorrect one, but it wasn’t enough to rejuvenate Aurelio for a final finishing run, and Franca ended the fight showboating, drawing boos from the crowd.

As for the bad blood with Aurelio, Franca said, “It’s over. That’s what real men do, they fight and they shake hands.”

With the win, Franca, improves to 20-7; Aurelio falls to 16-7.

In a must-win bout for both welterweights, Pete Sell recovered from a slow start to win a close three round unanimous decision over Josh Burkman in the UFC 90 opener.

Scores were 29-28 across the board for Sell, who improves to 8-5. Burkman falls to 20-7.

After a fairly uneventful first minute, Burkman struck with the first telling blow of the fight, a right hand to the head that jarred Sell. Burkman followed up with a takedown and some ferocious elbows from the top as Sell tried to work for a submission from the bottom. After a brief standup, Burkman took Sell down again and continued to ground and pound his foe. With 90 seconds left, the two stood up, and Sell, undeterred by what had transpired earlier in the round, marched forward. Burkman again scored the takedown though, and when they stood, he punctuated the round with a kick to the head.

Burkman, who needed two tries to make weight on Friday, looked fatigued at the start of the second round as Sell stalked him and tried to counter the Utah native’s power shots. The counters eventually forced Burkman into defensive mode as Sell started to land with quick combinations on the inside. Just when it appeared that Sell was going to move in for the kill, Burkman would swing back, eventually getting a takedown just before the round ended, apparently 12 seconds early.

A confident Sell kept moving forward as the final round commenced, and his striking accuracy was on the upswing as well. And while Burkman was stuffing Sell’s takedown attempts, there wasn’t enough offense coming back from ‘The People’s Warrior’. A hard left by Sell jolted Burkman with under two minutes to go, and the Long Islander was beginning to pull away, finishing the round off with a late takedown and guillotine attempt.
Saturday, October 25
10PM/7PM
ETPT
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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