Young Guns Roar as Neer, Velasquez, and Johnson Win Big
Lightweight Josh Neer scored the biggest win of his UFC career Saturday night at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida, impressively disregarding a badly cut eye to submit Mac Danzig in the second round of their UFC Fight Night bout.
“I came to this fight ready to die,” said Neer. “I wasn’t going to leave without getting the win.”
A missed kick to the head followed by a right hand by Neer (25-7-1) put Danzig on the canvas early. Danzig got up immediately, but ate some hard shots against the fence before getting free. Neer continued to push the action, but Danzig (19-6-1) didn’t back down, briefly jarring his foe with a right to the head. By the two minute mark, the two were fighting at close range along the fence, and by the time they emerged, Neer was bleeding from over the left eye. Back to the center of the Octagon, the pace settled down as Danzig pecked away from long range until a missed Neer kick brought the bout to the mat. While there, Neer almost pulled off a submission, but Danzig fought free and the two stood and battled it out until the bell.
Neer walked forward with no regard for defense to open the second, and he didn’t let up once the fight hit the mat as he drilled Danzig with a series of thudding elbows before getting Danzig’s back. The Ultimate Fighter season six winner hung tough though, working his way free and into the top position. While in Neer’s guard, Danzig tried to work his ground and pound, but Neer’s defense was solid, and soon he locked in a tight triangle choke. Moments later, Danzig was forced to tap out at 3:36 of the second frame.
Unbeaten heavyweight Cain Velasquez was in control from the opening bell against Octagon newcomer Denis Stojnic, showing off his standup attack before finishing the bout on the mat in the second round.
Both fighters came out throwing bombs, with Velasquez (5-0) eventually locking Stojnic up against the fence. After a stalemate, they broke, with Velasquez closing the distance again with a clinch and some hard knees. Just when Stojnic (12-2) seemed to be on his way out, he would show signs of life that kept him in the fight. Velasquez’ attack was relentless though, and his striking seemed sharper than ever. With one minute left, a right hand stunned Stojnic, and follow up kicks to the leg softened his foe up even further as the bell sounded.
In the second round for the first time in his career, Velasquez looked as fresh as he did in the first round, and he continued his assault on the game Stojnic, taking him down and pounding away with both hands. With no retaliation coming from Stojnic, referee Jorge Ortiz halted the bout at the 2:34 mark.
Despite the victory, Velasquez wasn’t satisfied.
“Today I felt like I wasn’t so relaxed,” he said. “I’m sorry for that. I could have finished him a lot better. I didn’t. I’ve got to learn how to relax out here.”
In the main card opener, Anthony Johnson continued to build his rep as the most explosive striker at 170 pounds as he stopped Luigi Fioravanti in the first round.
Johnson (7-2) kept Fioravanti at bay in the first, pecking away with kicks and quick jabs. Fioravanti (13-5) was able to land with a hard right hand and some kicks of his own as he looked to close the distance on his taller foe. There was a brief halt to the action with under 1:30 left when Fioravanti caught Johnson with a low knee, and when the fight resumed, a right to the head dropped Fioravanti. Johnson immediately pounced, and after a barrage of shots left the Floridian unable to recover, referee Troy Waugh halted the bout at the 4:39 mark.
“I’m happy I got the win, but my performance could have been so much better,” said Johnson. “I came out sloppy, but I’ll get better. I’m only 24 years old and I’ve got a lot of improving to do.”