Good evening everyone and welcome to Inside Fights’ exclusive live coverage and play by play of UFC 134 (formerly UFC: Rio)
. Tonight’s event takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is chock full of Brazilian born, bred or based fighters throughout the card.
In the main event of the evening, UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva will face off against the last man to defeat him, Yushin Okami. Also, former UFC Light Heavyweight champions collide as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua seeks revenge against Forrest Griffin and Heavyweight prospect Brendan Schaub takes on PRIDE legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Bruce Buffer busts out the Portuguese for the opening remarks – always a nice touch! Huge reaction for the start of the main card with the fans chanting along with Buffer’s spiel. Its been said before, but you know an organization’s hot when the RING ANNOUNCER is over. Nedkov is of course booed, while Cane gets a positive reaction from the partisan home crowd.
Cagey opening minute as both keep the hands out in front, pawing away at their opponent. Leg kick from Cane is the first strike to land. Nedkov misses with an overhand right. Nedkov comes inside awkwardly and clips Cane with another overhand punch. Nedkov is pushing forward but moves without grace. Cane connects with another leg kick and sneaks in a short punch. Nedkov again going for the looping punches. Not much has happened in this first half. Nedkov again threatening with big overhand punches. Cane misses with a high kick but Nedkov can’t capitalise. Cane puts together a couple of short punches and starts pressing his advantage in technical boxing. Nedkov busted open above the right eye. Nedkov briefly dropped when clipped on his way in with another big overhand punch. Nedkov again throws the overhand right but for once follows it up with a left hook, that badly hurts Cane. Cane tries to bail but Nedkov shows good finishing skills to swarm all over him against the cage. Nedkov just unloads on an overwhelmed Cane who drops down and is quickly finished. Impressive killer instincts from Nedkov who while technically unsophisticated has raw power and aggression in spades.
Stanislav Nedkov defeated Luiz Cane at 4:13 of the first round via technical knock out
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub
Interesting match placement, one assumes that the UFC didn’t want to risk both Nogueira and Rua losing back to back. Chris Roberts in our preview column put it best – Vince McMahon couldn’t have better plotted Schaub’s ascension to the upper echelons of the UFC heavyweight division. A win over a Nogueira that has long battled health problems and has not fought in over eighteen months would incredibly put him on the cusp of a world heavyweight title fight. For Nogueira this is either a chance to retire in front of his Brazilian countrymen or an opportunity to kickstart a career that was seemingly derailed by Cain Velasquez in Sydney.
They clinch up early, with Schaub pressing Nogueira up against the cage. They break without any significant action. Back in the center of the ring and Nogueira again goes for a double leg. Schaub stays on his feet, pushed back against the cage and quickly gets off. Schaub winning the stand up exchanges, landing some big punches in the process. They wind up against the cage again but quickly get off. Some leg kicks from Schaub. Schaub misses with the superman punch. Nogueira lands a right-left combination to cheers from the Brazilian crowd. Schaub hurts Nogueira with an uppercut, the legend responds with another failed takedown attempt. They’re up against the cage and Nogueira lands a heavy straight right to the chin of Schaub. Another ones land. Schaub is badly hurt here. Nogueira is all over Schaub, and DROPS SCHAUB WITH A RIGHT HAND. Schaub is out before he its the mat, and Herb Dean stops it after Nogueira gets one more punch in for good measure.
Oh my god! That may have just topped Tito Ortiz vs Ryan Bader for heart warming upset of the year. Fantastic to see Nogueira get the victory and end the manufactured ascent of Brendan Schaub.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated Brendan Schaub via knockout at 3.09 of the first round
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza
Well this is all rather ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ isn’t it? Look for the leg kicks of Barboza as he’s already working Pearson over with them. Pearson responds well by pushing forward, putting Barboza under pressure and negating those kicks and the reach advantage of the Brazilian. Pearson trying to connect with heavy hands but doesn’t get in. Florian just compared Pearson to MIKE TYSON – what the hell!?! Pearson certainly the aggressor in this opening round as Barboza is content to use his speed to counter punch from range but can’t quite get his offense going because Pearson is coming inside so much. Great spinning back kick to the liver of Pearson. But somehow Pearson walks through it. Pearson comes in with a leg kick and follows up with a short punch. Barboza counters another Pearson punch, but Pearson quickly lands an uppercut. Pearson throws a superman punch. Pearson still on the front font but Barboza is landing good counter strikes. Pearson lands some more heavy punches but Barboza goes close with a front kick. Difficult round to score, very very close. I’d give the nod to Pearson because he had the right gameplan to neutralize Barboza’s advantages. 10-9 to Pearson.
Pearson lands a left hook but Barboza catches a kick. He follows up with one of his own and knocks him down with a big overhand right. Pearson straight back up but still looks hurt. Barboza connects to the body with a great switch kick. Pearson tries to stop the rot by taking the center of the ring and working the jab but he’s now at kicking range. Nice kick to the upper arm of Barboza. Pearson checks a leg kick but Barboza lands a right cleanly. Pearson lands a leg kick of his own. Pearson tries to come forward and once again put pressure on Barboza. A takedown attempt is blocked. Pearson is back in the same groove as the first round, smothering Barboza with constant aggression. Barboza lands a short right hand and some nasty shots to the body, including another spinning back kick. Pearson lands a left hook. Barboza lands a good kick to the ribs of Pearson. Pearson again shoots for a takedown towards the end of the round but for the second time fails. Again very close but the opening knockdown gives it to Barboza. 19-19.
Pearson comes forward again, pushing up against the cage but Barboza spins out. Barboza lands some good kicks but Pearson again just keeps coming forward. Barboza misses with a flying knee but Pearson fails to capitalize on the takedown opportunity. More kicks from Barboza but Pearson bulls through looking for a single-leg. They’re up against the cage and again Pearson fails to get the fight to the ground. Barboza landing more right hands – his counter striking really has been very slick showing great handspeed and shot selection. Pearson attempts his own flying knee but misses. He does however connect with a leg kick-right hand combination. Another takedown is stuffed by Barboza. Leg kick from Barboza. Pearson lands a couple of lead hooks but Barboza comes back with a leg kick. Up against the cage they exchange, with Barboza getting the better with a nice right hand. Pearson is bleeding above his right eye. Pearson goes for another flying knee. I have it 29-28 to Barboza but it was very, very close. That’s reflected in the scores with one judge giving it to Pearson 29-28 while the other two have it by the same score to the winner Edson Barboza. Regardless of the result this was a really good fight. Great striking exchange as both came in with gameplans that made the most of their physical attributes. Very impressive.
Edson Barboza defeated Ross Pearson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
We start this eagerly anticipated rematch with Griffin connecting first with a kick to the mid-section. Shogun rushes in but misses. Griffin lands another kick. Shogun lands a hard uppercut and quickly afterwards clips Griffin with a right. Griffin comes out with more kicks. Shogun clips him with a right-left combination as Griffin lunges in, and Griffin’s legs buckle. Shogun swarms all over him a la the second Machida fight and its all over! Impressive performance from Shogun who looked back to his best after a lethargic performance against Shogun.
Shogun Rua defeated Forrest Griffin via knockout at 1:53 in the first round
This on course to be one of the best UFC cards of all time – here’s hoping Anderson Silva turns up in the mood to fight and gives the show the headliner it deserves.
World Middleweight Championship
Anderson Silva (c) vs. Yushin Okami
Well this is it. The main event. A huge match in terms of what it means for the fighters. For Okami its the chance to become the first ever UFC Champion from Japan and most likely earn himself a headline spot on the organization’s return to his homeland next year. For the Silva a win secures him an unprecedented five-year title reign and would position him at the head of what is becoming a real boom in Brazilian MMA. Everything is on the line in what is a rematch of a controversial fight from 2006.
The key to the fight will be whether Okami can get Silva down. I have for one have my doubts – Okami’s wrestling does not have the freestyle base of say a Sonnen, and is too reliant on first clinching up with his opponent. That is not a good position to be in against Silva. He also lacks the bull-headed aggression and raw striking power of Sonnen, indeed Okami has for much of his career been overly passive. That passivity will hurt him against a champion that can finish a fight at any second.
Leg kick from Silva to start. Okami stalking Silva, taking the center of the ring. Okami comes forward with his hands but Silva spins away. Okami tries to initiate a takedown but has to go for the clinch and Silva gets out. Silva connects with a left-ring connection. Silva moving around the Octagon but Okami grabs him. Clinches up against the cage against Silva. Battle for position up against the cage. Silva lands a couple of hard knees to the mid-section. Okami responds with some of his own. Silva gets an uppercut in but is happy to stay within the clinch. More knees from Silva. Okami looks for the single but Silva defends. Okami moves to a greco-roman clinch but Silva stays standing. Okami breaks. Silva misses with a overhand right. Silva busts out the matrix head movement. Okami misses with a straight punch and Silva finishes strong with a couple of punches and a high kick. 10-9 Silva.
A round that made your reporter just stop typing and watch. Silva looked like he was loosening up at the end of the first and from the start of the second he had picked up the intensity. Blitzed Okami from the opening moments of the fight and the Japanese challenger was clearly struggling. He then starts dropping his hands, daring Okami to come forward. Okami obliges and gets dropped with a southpaw jab. Silva lets Okami back up but it is merely a delay to the inevitable. A tense stand off as Silva keeps his hands low…he again counters with a pinpoint right although more a hook now. Okami is dropped again and this time Silva swarms all over him. Pinpoint ground strikes with a mixtures of short punches, knees and elbows. And its all over at 2:04 of the second round. That man is the greatest fighter in the history of the sport. Incredible performance.
Anderson Silva defeated Yushin Okami via technical knockout at 2:04 of the second round
Tags: anderson silva, Brendan Schaub, dan miller, Edson Barboza, forrest griffin, luiz cane, Mixed Martial Arts, Ross Pearson, Rousimar Palhares, shogun rua, Stanislav Nedkov, Thiago Tavares, UFC, UFC 134, UFC Rio, UFC.com, Yushin Okami