Hughes Dominates, Franca And Ludwig Surprise In Sunshine State
Hughes Dominates, Franca and Ludwig Surprise In Sunshine State
By Loretta Hunt
UFC 42: Sudden Impact will certainly not go down as one of the more dramatic evenings of MMA action. Held in Miami, Florida at the American Airlines Arena, the event drew a respectable yet far from sell-out crowd (Zuffa estimates attendance at somewhere between 6,500 and 7,000 spectators). Although there were a couple of surprise upsets on the card, it was not enough to overcome a lacking energy in the arena — contributed to a stilted pace and atmosphere.
Here’s a rundown of the night’s action:
It was a clear-cut domination by welterweight champion Matt Hughes this evening, as he easily displayed his superior strength and skills to best fellow wrestler Sean Sherk. With a sense of urgency, Hughes shot in for the takedown off the bat, pushing Sherk to the fence and down to the ground. The champ went on to dominate Sherk for the first two rounds, positioning his challenger against the cage for some punishment that opened various wounds on Sherk’s face. The Minnesotan rallied in the third, shooting in for his first takedown which Hughes amply defended. Another double led attempt had Hughes against the fence and eventually down, but Sherk was far less effective in the top position. Hughes even capitalized from below, almost catching Sherk in a tight Kimura. Hughes was able to achieve full mount by round four, but Sherk held on, all the while taking more damage with little chance to mount a counter. By round five, Hughes’ ground tactics were just too overwhelming, but to Sherk’s credit, he was able to go the distance. Hughes was awarded the unanimous decision (48-45, 48-47, 49-46).
For the co-main event, "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler suffered the first loss of his career against Pete "The Secret Weapon" Spratt, a former Golden Gloves boxer and expert kickboxer. Getting Spratt to the ground first via a takedown and then by a Hughes-like slam, Lawler looked promising, but Spratt’s damaging leg kicks soon took their toll. Spratt was able to get a takedown himself late in the round and maneuvered to mount just as the bell was sounding. In round two, Lawler worked his knees in the clinch and the bout was stopped briefly when a deep cut opened up over Spratt’s right eye. The action was continued with Spratt landing one more right high kick before Lawler, grasping his side, abruptly (verbally) submitted at 3:25 in. At the time of this writing, it is still unclear exactly what kind of damage Lawler took and when and how it was inflicted.
In the "swing bout" for the night, former King of The Cage welterweight champion Romie Aram dropped opponent Dave Strasser out of the gate with a clean right. Aram went in for the kill, but an experienced Strasser recovered nicely, settling Aram into his guard. Aram inched Strasser to the fence, but the fight would soon be back up on its feet. Dodging a shot by Aram, Strasser twisted behind his opponent and followed him down to the ground into the mount, but was unable to finish the job from there. Much of round two and three had Aram on the defensive, with the action split between the ground and standing at a fairly even pace. However, neither fighter was able to make much of an impression on the by-then disinterested crowd. Strasser via unanimous decision (30-27 all).
Hawaiian heavyweight Wesley "Cabbage Correira delivered exactly the performance fans came out to see him for. After weathering a mostly uneventful first round in which Renzo Gracie pupil Sean Alvarez tried time after time to take him down, Correira unloaded on Alvarez three minutes into the second after recovering quickly from the sole takedown of the bout. With Alvarez visibly stunned, referee John McCarthy stepped in along the cage to end the fight at 1:47 in round two.
In the second televised bout of the night, Meattruck Inc.’s Rich Franklin was able to beat the sizable odds against him by avoiding opponent Evan Tanner’s wrath on the ground. Tanner never shot in for the takedown, while Franklin quickly overcame his lack of Octagon experience, warming up into some crisp punching combos and kicks. The Team Quest fighter defended well at first, but Franklin soon got inside, stumbling the vet and then following up quickly with more strikes. Referee Larry Landless stopped the bout when Tanner, from his angle, fell to his knees and hunched over. Although it appeared Tanner could continue after the men were separated, he handled the somewhat questionable referee stoppage like the true professional he is, congratulating Franklin immediately for his impressive debut. Franklin gets the TKO via ref stoppage at 2:20.
In a much anticipated match-up of showman versus no nonsense competitor, Japan’s Genki Sudo and opponent Duane "Bang" Ludwig started off the live pay-per-view with, well, a bang. Sudo had dominated in his UFC premiere, but with world-class kickboxer Ludwig standing across from him this time around, it would be America’s chance to see if "the Neo Warrior" was more than just a court jester. With striking mastermind John Hackleman in tow, Bang made his way to the ring and quickly settled into his corner, probably knowing that his opponent’s entrance would be no ordinary one. Sudo garbed in a long black wig, white kabuki mask and kimono, resembled a dainty female as he danced down the ramp to the audience’s approval. He started the bout with his back to Ludwig, trying to taunt his opponent out into some kind of attack. Ludwig wasn’t biting. Sudo posed and preened, and got little resistance from Ludwig as he took him down to the mat. It looked like Ludwig was in trouble for Sudo had half mount by 2:50, side mount by 2:45, and full mount by 2:30. Thwarting an armbar, Ludwig managed to get to his feet and reversed Sudo on the cage. Ludwig landed his first shots in the second, and as suspected, the K-1 vet was too fast and too hard, forcing Sudo to shoot in for the takedown. Stalled action had both men brought back to their feet, where Ludwig began to expose Sudo’s weaknesses on his feet, and before long, the showman was dropping his shtick and doing more to defend. Round three was Sudo’s to take. He easily got Ludwig to the ground and pinned him against the fence while reigning down punches to end the bout. Big John McCarthy’s decision to halt the fight was the best thing to happen to Bang. Bleeding profusely from his face it looked like the doctors would stop it, but fans were about to witness the biggest rally of the night. Bang came alive with less than two minutes to go, gaining the key top position and turning the tables with some ground and pound of his own to garner the unanimous decision (29-28 all).
In Preliminary Action:
Two of the fastest rising teams in the business put forth the best they have to offer in tonight’s first lightweight match-up of the evening. Fans were treated to it all from devastating strikes to hairsplitting submission escapes in an explosive first round. American Kickboxing Academy’s Rich Crunkilton came in with a powerful right hook that he dispatched quickly and effectively. American Top Team’s Hermes Franca was ready though–much to the surprise of those that considered the Brazilian jiu-jitsu untested on his feet–countering well and landing a few punches of his own which Crunkilton ate at first with little emotion. With a beautiful judo throw, Crunkilton navigated the action to the ground, and Franca dug in with a reversed heel hook that "Cleat" narrowly escaped in the first of many close calls for the night. The crowd was eating it up, cheering on local boy Franca and applauding Cleat for his uncanny counter grappling. By round two, Crunkilton began to show the wear and tear of round one’s frenetic pace, while Franca began to pick up some steam with decent jabs and aggressive groundwork. Round three saw Franca work from a triangle choke to an armbar to a Kimura attempt, which torqued Crunkilton’s elbow out of its socket and back in again. An exhausted Crunkilton had just enough to defend, but not enough to get back on the offensive. Franca was handed the unanimous decision (29-28 all).
Those that were hoping for a stand-up war between England’s Mark Weir and Canada’s David "the Crow" Loiseau might have been surprised, but ultimately not disappointed, for their bout ended in dramatic fashion. After one weighing kick from Weir, middleweight Loiseau went in for the takedown, pushing the lanky against the cage. The action staled as both fighters tussled for position but finally Loiseau got Weir to the ground by switching to the single leg. In Weir’s guard, Loiseau played a patient game picking his shots when he could, as Weir threw some occasional leather up or maneuvered for a choke. At first glance, it seemed that Loiseau might be slowing, but with 1:10 left he unleashed an onslaught of shots that Weir could not defend. The Crow gets the win with a knockout 3:55 into the first round.
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