By Thomas Gerbasi
FAIRFAX, VA, January 11 – Following two straight Octagon losses, middleweight Chris Leben desperately needed a win in his UFC Fight Night bout Monday night against Jay Silva. And he got it, bringing his ground and pound game out of mothballs to drill out a clear-cut three round victory at the Patriot Center.
"Every time I go out there I look for the knockout, but the strategy was working so well and I needed this win so badly that I decided to stay with the ground game."
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Leben, who was coming off losses to Michael Bisping and Jake Rosholt.
Silva made his case for big finish of the night as he tried to land a flying knee, but when it missed, all it got him was a trip to the canvas courtesy of a Leben takedown. On the mat, Leben sprung into action, landing with strike after strike until he took Silva’s back and tried for a rear naked choke. Silva broke loose, which only subjected him to more punches before Leben again looked to sink the choke in. Silva escaped a second time, and with seconds left in the round he managed to spring to his feet and score with some strikes before the bell.
The second round saw Silva get back in the fight briefly with some good movement and quick striking, but Leben decided to again leverage his advantage on the ground as he took the Brazilian back to the canvas and unleashed a steady barrage of strikes. With under 90 seconds left, Leben got the full mount position and then took Silva’s back, but another rear naked choke attempt was unsuccessful. It was a big 2-0 on the scorecards for ‘The Crippler’ though.
The biggest roar from the crowd in the third round came for Leben’s foot stomps, but Silva refused to go away as he still kept the hope of landing a fight-changing haymaker. It never came, as Leben put another round – and the fight – in the bank with a steady, yet unspectacular ground attack.
With the win, Leben improves to 19-6; Silva falls to 5-3.
Story vs. Lennox
Vancouver, Washington’s Rick Story made it two in a row in the UFC’s welterweight division as he scored a three round split decision win over Jesse Lennox.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 28-29.
After a slow start, Story started to kick into gear in the second minute as he landed with hard strikes from all different angles, reddening Lennox’ face. Lennox wasn’t in the backing down mood, and he kept up his end of the bargain with a series of hard shots of his own. It was Story’s body punches that were paying the most dividends in a fast-paced first round though.
Story took the bout to the mat early in the second and wore his foe down with ground strikes. Lennox got back in the fight after the two stood up, but Story was visibly the fresher of the two, and in the final minute he started to pot shot a now bloodied Lennox consistently.
Lennox rebounded early in the last round with a nice double leg takedown, but Story came right back by rising to his feet with Lennox on his back and dropping backwards, igniting the crowd and putting the Washington product in the dominant top position, where he tried for a kimura. Lennox escaped and got back to his feet, trying to turn things around. He almost did in the final minute with a triangle choke attempt, but Story broke loose and then time ran out on the game Iowan.
With the win, Story improves to 9-3; Lennox falls to 15-2.
Tavares vs. Lentz
Nik Lentz had insult added to injury in his lightweight bout with Thiago Tavares, as two low blows and a bruised face were added to an unpopular three round majority draw that would have been a victory for Tavares if not for a third round point deduction from the Brazilian.
Scores were 28-28 twice and 29-27 Lentz.
Lentz had great success with his striking and takedowns in round one, not deterring Tavares’ forward motion, but at least getting his attention. Tavares got a little payback in the second half of the round when he sunk in a guillotine choke, but Lentz was able to slip free and resume his attack, despite getting clipped by a head kick just before the bell.
The Minnesotan continued to pile up the points in the second round, only getting stalled when he caught a low kick that momentarily stopped the action. And surprisingly, Lentz was doing all his damage on the feet, forcing Tavares to take the bout to the mat. And though Tavares got a few ground strikes in, there was nothing of serious consequence.
That wasn’t the case early in the third, when Tavares (18-3-1) landed a second low kick, sending Lentz (19-3-2) to the canvas in pain and costing the Brazilian a point on the scorecards. After a break in the action, Tavares moved in fast, looking to finish. Lentz stayed in the pocket until he had a chance to take his foe down, and he did, but Tavares got right back up and again moved forward aggressively as the tired and bloodied Lentz looked to tie things up in the closing stages of the fight.
Guymon vs. MacDonald
The UFC welterweight division may have found another star North of the Border, as 20-year old Rory MacDonald showed off an impressive ground game in his Octagon debut, submitting veteran (and fellow UFC newcomer) Mike Guymon in the first round.
Guymon took the fight to the youngster right from the start, but British Columbia’s MacDonald showed poise and solid technique throughout, even shaking off a straight right to the head that almost put him down to roar back and lock in an armbar that forced Guymon to tap out at the 4:27 mark.
With the win, MacDonald improves to 10-0; the 35-year old Guymon falls to 12-3-1.
Bradley vs. Dos Anjos
Lightweight up and comer Rafael Dos Anjos continued to impress in prelim action, as he pounded out a shutout three round decision win over game Louisiana native Kyle Bradley.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Dos Anjos, who improves to 13-4; Bradley falls to 14-7 with 1 NC.
Dos Anjos took a fast-paced first round behind solid ground work and strikes that got more accurate as the round wore on. By the end of the opening frame, Bradley got rocked by a right kick to the body followed by a left punch to the face, with only the bell keeping the Brazilian from pressing his advantage.
In the second, Dos Anjos took matters back to the mat, almost catching Bradley in a kimura and then an armbar. Bradley fought loose, drawing a roar from the crowd, and the two proceeded to trade power shots while standing before Dos Anjos got the fight to the canvas again, where he was able to ground and pound his way to another winning round.
With things going so well for him on the canvas, Dos Anjos slammed Bradley there early in the third, leaving him little breathing room as he rained down strikes. Amazingly, Bradley found an opening and got back to his feet, hoping to land an equalizing strike, but it didn’t come, and Dos Anjos again ended the round with ground control.
The Ultimate Fighter season seven’s Gerald Harris made his long-awaited UFC debut a successful one as he stopped previously unbeaten John Salter in the third round of a middleweight bout.
The action was tentative in the first round, with Salter – a late replacement for Mike Massenzio - perhaps holding a slight edge thanks to some solid strikes and busier groundwork. Harris’ counters started to land with more frequency in round two, bloodying Salter’s nose and forcing him to shoot for the takedown. Harris’ defense was solid though, and he continued to peck away at his foe, scoring points with each hard southpaw jab.
With the pattern continuing in the early stages of round three, Salter again tried to reverse his fortunes on the mat, but Harris was able to turn things in his favor by switching positions and firing away with ground strikes. After a re-start by referee Todd McGovern, Harris shot for and got the takedown and again opened up with strikes. This time, with no return fire from Salter, McGovern intervened, halting the bout at the 3:24 mark.
Harris improves to 14-2 with the win, Salter falls to 4-1.
Catone vs. Forbes
Middleweight prospect Nick Catone broke a two-fight losing streak in the opener, eking out a close split decision win over The Ultimate Fighter season three alum Jesse Forbes.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Catone, who improves to 8-2; Forbes falls to 13-5.
Forbes controlled the majority of the first two rounds behind a patient counterstriking attack that bloodied Catone’s nose, as well as strong takedown defense. Catone came back strong in the final minute of both rounds, letting the Arizonan know that he was still in the fight, but it was clear that he needed to up his work rate in the final stanza, and he did just that.
In the opening minute of the third he got his first takedown. Catone stayed busy with ground strikes, but referee Rick McCoy stood the fighters up. Undeterred, the New Jersey native got Forbes back to the mat, but this time Forbes was able to battle his way free and get back to his feet, where the fight remained until the final bell.