john lawrence looks at a hard-hitting free UFC event…
The UFC on Fuel 7 fight card did not have the star studded lineup of the last few free fight cards that the UFC has put on, but what it did have was a lot of great, hungry, up and coming fighters that put on one hell of a show for the fans. I cannot remember a fight card where almost every single fight went the distance. As a matter of fact, only three of the twelve fights were finished early. Normally, this would mean that the fights were not exciting and that the fighters just dragged them out. This was not the case with Fuel 7. These guys all fought their asses off.
The main event of the evening was for the interim Bantamweight title. In champion Dominick Cruz’s absence due to injury, it was left to Renan Barao and Michael McDonald to duke it out for the title. This fight was a phenomenal back and forth battle between two fighters that definitely had their eyes on the belt. Barao was able to take McDonald down early in the fight, but was not able to keep him down. McDonald was landing heavy hits against Barao, but Barao was able to weather the storm and keep coming. The second round saw more of the same, but in the third, it was Barao who was able to take down the contender and keep him there, forcing him to submit via arm triangle choke.
Winner via Submission (arm triangle), and Interim Bantamweight Champion: Renan Barao
Barao also took home “Submission of the Night” honors
In the featherweight division, we saw a dominant display by Cub Swanson, in his victory over Dustin Poirier. Swanson immediately went on the attack winning the standup exchanges with Poirier, and was damn near impossible to takedown. Poirier was able to get him on his back in the first, only for Swanson to get right back to his feet. It looked like Poirier was going to be able to turn the tide in the third round, but apparently Swanson was adamantly against it. He was able to stop Poirier’s barrage and take him down to the ground, where his grappling dominated the rest of the fight.
Winner via Unanimous Decision: Cub Swanson
Jimi Manuwa took on Cyrille Diabate in a light heavyweight battle. It took Manuwa less than a minute to get Diabate on his back and get in some nice ground and pound work. Diabate was able to fight back to his feet, but Jimi seemed just as content to beat him up standing up. Manuwa dominated the entire first round, capping it off with another takedown. Diabate was unable to come back for the second round, as he had sustained a calf injury and could no longer fight. I definitely look forward to seeing more of Jimi Manuwa, as I believe he will make huge strides up the light heavyweight ladder this year.
Winner via TKO: Jimi Manuwa
Gunnar Nelson had no problem asserting his dominance over Jorge Santiago in the welterweight divisioin. While Santiago showed promise in the first, stopping takedowns, and showcasing the better standup, it was all Nelson from there on out. Nelson took Santiago down early in the second, and was able to secure the mount. From there it was pretty much a beating for Santiago for the remainder of the round. In the third Santiago tried to put together an offensive plan, but it still proved to be Nelson that was the better striker. Landing hard shot after hard shot, he just proved to be too much for Santiago, who fought to the end, but it was Nelson’s hand that was raised in the end.
Winner via Unanimous Decision: Gunnar Nelson
Light heavyweights James Te Huna and Ryan Jimmo put on a striking clinic for us. Jimmo wasted no time in the first, landing a nice headkick, transitioning it to some beautiful ground and pound work. He busted Te Huna open with the viscious assault, and I thought the fight was all but over. Te Huna somehow, not only made it out of the first round, but was able to turn it around in the second. It was almost a mirror image of the first as Te Huna put Jimmo on his back and proceeded with his own ground and pound assault. In the third round Te Huna took control of the stand up battle, until he once again put Jimmo down, Ultimately it went to decision and the judges saw in favor of Te Huna.
Winner via Unanimous Decision: James Te Huna
Matthew Riddle def. Che Mills (unanimous decision)
Renee Forte def. Terry Etim (unanimous decision)
Danny Castillo def. Paul Sass (unanimous decision)
Andy Ogle def. Josh Grispi (unanimous decision)
Tom Watson def. Stanislav Nedkov (TKO, round two)
Vaughan Lee def. Motonobu Tezuka (unanimous decision)
Phil Harris def. Ulysses Gomez (unanimous decision)
Post Fight Honors:
Fight of the Night: Tom Watson vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Knockout of the Night: Tom Watson
Submission of the Night: Renan Barão