By: Shawn Ennis, MMATorch Senior Columnist
Darren Uyenoyama vs. Phil Harris saw two flyweights take to the cage who prefer to keep the action on the floor. The first round was close, with Uyenoyama almost locking up a triangle choke and probably taking it by virtue of that and not much else. The second round remained very close until the fight once again hit the mat, at which point Uyenoyama showed off a clearly superior transition and top game, taking Harris's back and ultimately securing a very tight rear naked choke, which prompted Harris to tap with just under a minute and a half left in the fight.
When featherweights Bart Palaszewski met Diego Nunes, it was assumed that "Bartimus" would attempt to keep the fight in a phone booth while Nunes would try to stay on the outside and look for kicks and the occasional takedown. But it was Nunes who pushed the pace early, hurting and cutting Palaszewski, and backing him up against the cage before securing a takedown. That proved to work in Palaszewski's favor as he transitioned from a guillotine attempt to a triangle attempt. It also gave the veteran banger time to recover. His recovery would be short-lived, as Nunes worked some nasty ground and pound before the fight worked its way back to the feet. Nunes then pounded Palaszewski with an overhand right that almost ended the fight and continued with ground and pound until the round ended.
Nunes continued to dominate the fight through the second round, hitting Palaszewski with everything he chose to throw, from leg kicks to spinning back fists. Palaszewski's seemingly only offense came from a few stinging leg kicks to the same area of Nunes's lead leg. In the third, Palaszewski was able to score with some power shots of his own, putting Nunes on roller skates for about two minutes following a couple of powerful short hooks. In the end though, Nunes scored again with more power punches, almost finishing Palaszewski again with ten seconds left. The judges scored the fight 30-27 twice and 29-28 in favor of Nunes. Nunes showed a ferocity in a fantastic fight that we haven't seen from him to this point in his UFC tenure. If this is the new standard, "The Gun" can really start anew to take his claim for a title shot.
Much has been made by Jacob Volkmann in the past week or so of how he does not appreciate being labeled by some as a boring fighter. He shed that label for at least one fight in this case, securing an early takedown against Shane Roller and cinching either a rear naked choke or a facelock (didn't look like it was completely under the chin,) and inducing the tap. This was Volkmann's first finish in six wins at lightweight.
The first round of Carlo Prater vs. Marcus LeVesseur took place mostly in the clinch with neither fighter able to gain much of an advantage. In a strange sequence, Prater jumped guard, potentially looking for a flying submission, but when he didn't secure it, a still-upright LeVesseur simply leaned Prater against the cage as Prater used the video screens to attempt to advance his position. The second round saw more of the same, with a lot of work coming in the clinch and not much happening in the way of either man taking the lead, other than perhaps Prater attempting submissions when the fight briefly went to the ground. LeVesseur started to land a bit in the third round, sitting down on his punches and going Leonard Garcia-style (for you newcomers, that means he was throwing bombs and missing more than he landed.) Apparently that was enough for two of three judges, who saw the fight 29-28 in favor of LeVesseur. I probably would have scored it for Prater as LeVesseur spent more time fending off guillotines than landing strikes, but this wouldn't count as a robbery. I did find it entertaining that the "Move of the Fight" showed LeVesseur landing two uppercuts and whiffing on four or five.
The clinch was on full display during the prelims, as welterweights Aaron Simpson and Mike Pierce went directly into the clinch from the opening bell. Three rounds of clinch work was not to be, however, as Simpson was able to hurt Pierce with a nice right hand with two minutes left in the first round. He followed it up with nice knees from the Thai plumb as they separated and continued to punish Pierce until the round ended. If Simpson's confidence was bolstered by the end of the first round, it was short-lived. Pierce caught him with a brutal short right hook as Simpson looked for an overhand right, and that convinced the referee to wisely intervene and save Simpson from unnecessary punishment.
Michael Johnson promised to bring the thunder against fellow lightweight Danny Castillo in their bout, but it was Castillo who would get off first and put Johnson down with a big right hand. Castillo followed by almost cinching an arm triangle, but he couldn't finish it and was content to control Johnson on the ground for the rest of the round. Johnson apparently watched the Simpson-Pierce fight, though, as he caught Castillo with a hard short left hand that Castillo never saw coming, and put him out with the first of a series of brutal grounded punches. Johnson has looked better each time out since losing to Paul Sass.