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Evans KO’s Salmon, O’Brien Upsets Herring
at Ultimate Fight Night
By Dustin Lee DePue
It was a bittersweet night of primetime MMA at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida Thursday night. The eighth installment of Ultimate Fight Night had something for everyone; a thrilling KO victory, a crafty submission and the emergence of a clear lightweight title contender. However, there was a distinct feeling of despair that lingered in the wake of Heath Herring’s less than inspiring return to American MMA.
In the main event, Rashad Evans added a vicious KO highlight for Zuffa’s next installment of Ultimate Knockouts, landing a beautiful roundhouse kick to the side of Sean Salmon’s head. Through the first round, Evans looked content to patiently test his stand-up skills, flicking out jabs and crisp looking right straights as Salmon circled outside, staying mostly out of range. Salmon managed a takedown but couldn’t capitalize and the fighters were soon back on their feet. Although noticeably improved in his striking, Evans missed with a majority of his punches and ate a nice right hand near the end of the first round.
Evans opened up the second round putting Salmon down with a solid knee to the midsection. As Salmon stood up, Evans pounced on him, landing a flurry of punches to the body, effectively softening Salmon up for the aforementioned roundhouse that landed flush on his head and sent Salmon crashing to the mat like soup cans at the supermarket. Evans followed up with a couple of groan-inducing shots before the ref could step in and call the bout at 1:08 of round two. While Evans was disatisfied with eating a good punch from his opponent, he couldn’t have hoped for a more convincing finish. Looks like we can finally lay those recurring TUF season 2 nightmares to rest.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell "Irish" Jake O’Brien that he was ceremonial chum for Heath Herring’s arrival as a major force in the newly upgraded UFC heavyweight division. The "mountain" of experience that Herring was supposed to represent turned out to be little more than a dirt mound for the relentless wrestler from Indiana who outmaneuvered his favored opponent at nearly every turn en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Herring, whose leg kicks turned Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s legs into jelly in their first fight, were noticeably absent from this performance. Herring came in crouching low in anticipation of the takedown. This stance left Herring with a flimsy looking jab and the occasional awkward right cross that O’Brien was able avoid without difficulty.
Aside from a sneaky left hook that dropped O’Brien early, Herring was unable to land any convincing blows throughout the majority of the three rounds. After the knockdown, O’Brien took over the fight, scoring takedowns at will and opening up a cut near Herring’s left eye with an elbow. Nowhere to be seen was the fire Herring characteristically brings to his fights. He seemed to gas out too early for that, leaving his jab flaccid and his high kicks telegraphed. Herring did hurt O’Brien in the final minute of the third round, dropping him to the mat with a punch, however, Herring’s attempted gator roll afterwards was unsuccessful and O’Brien ended up on top. Congratulations to Jake O’Brien who wins by unanimous decision.
Sporting Technicolor-purple hair, Hermes Franca moved himself into title contention with an unexpected TKO finish over Spencer Fisher. The first round saw Franca scoring several takedowns with Fisher defending himself well enough to avoid any major damage. On the feet, it was all Fisher as he avoided Franca’s looping punches and picked him apart with straight rights to the head and knees and kicks to the body.
With the fight close going into the second, Franca opened up with another takedown and several minutes of ground control. After a referee standup Fisher started to throw power shots and opened himself up to a big right hook that hurt him. Smelling blood, Franca ran in with a flying knee that struck Fisher dead on. Fisher began to wobble and Franca jumped on him like a wild dog, landing many unanswered blows as Fisher stumbled around the ring, forcing the referee stoppage due to strikes at 4:03 of the second round. After the fight, Franco literally dropped to his knees and begged Dana White for a title shot.
TUF season 3 finalist Ed Herman avoided several kimura attempts from opponent Chris Price, maneuvering his way to Price’s back where he transitioned smoothly into an armbar that forced Price to tap out at 2:58 of round one.
Results for Televised Bouts
Rashad Evans def. Sean Salmon by KO 1:06 R2