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UFC: Fight Night 21 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on July 12, 2010, 4:45 AM

UFC: Fight Night 21

Charlotte, North Carolina

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They discuss the upcoming series of TUF 11, which follows after this show, then segue into talking about the debut of former PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi, facing Kenny Florian in the main event.

Lightweight Fight: Ross Pearson vs Dennis Siver

TUF 9’s winner Pearson had looked fantastic in his first post-TUF test against Aaron Riley, and here he was faced with German kickboxer Siver, who after a poor start to his UFC career, had reeled off three wins on the trot, including two via spinning back kick. I was expecting an exciting stand-up fight here, with Pearson probably coming out on top.

Fight begins and they circle with some feeler strikes, Siver throwing out a variety of kicks. Decent body kick from Siver, answered by a hard low kick from Pearson. Lunging left hook lands for Ross. He follows with a left head kick that Siver blocks. Exchange continues and Pearson lands another left hand. Couple of low kicks from Pearson are answered by a one-two from Siver. Good exchange follows with both men landing. Both men are putting together some nice combinations here. Siver looks cut under the left eye. Beautiful combo from Pearson snaps Siver’s head back. Good stiff jab into a right hand from the Brit and he shrugs off a clinch. Superman punch from Pearson. Another combo lands for the TUF winner as Siver looks to be struggling a little now. Clinch and Pearson spins around and takes the back with one hook, working to get the second in. He locks up a body triangle and lands some punches, before Siver rolls over into full mount. He takes some shots but reverses into Ross’s guard, and then they stand up and Siver opens up with a flurry! Pearson backs out and there’s a lot of blood coming from Siver’s eye now. Round ends on the feet. Excellent first round, 10-9 Pearson on my scorecard.

Round Two and Pearson’s timing looks down now as he lands with a couple of strikes early on, while avoiding Siver’s shots. Good overhand right wobbles Siver and he shoots for a takedown, but Pearson stuffs it nicely. Siver’s spinning back kick lands glancingly, but Pearson manages to deflect it and then tells Siver to bring it before throwing a combo. Siver’s sporting a bloody nose now. Jumping knee from Pearson lands nicely and he follows with another combo. Pearson’s feints and movement are really giving Siver problems. Single leg from Siver and this time he gets Ross onto his back in guard. The German moves into half-guard and shrugs off a triangle, and then off a scramble Siver gets the back, but Pearson shakes him off and they come back to their feet. Good jab into a right hand from Ross as he avoids some shots from Siver. They exchange jabs and Siver follows with a body kick. Good leg kick from Pearson. Spinning wheel kick misses for Siver as Pearson continues to largely outland him. Round ends on the feet again. 10-9 for Pearson and I think Siver needs a finish to win.

Third and final round and Pearson opens with a sharp leg kick. They exchange some jabs and then Siver throws out some kicks, but Pearson hits him with another combination. Good combo from Siver ending with a right to the body. Both men land jabs and Ross follows with a leg kick. Good right hand from Siver as they exchange. Three minutes to go. Few kicks from Siver miss and he eats a right hand. Big right hand lands hard for Pearson but Siver hits a double leg before he can follow up. Ross ends up in guard and looks to tie the German up as he tries to pass, then he uses an underhook to escape to his feet. Knee lands for Siver on the way out but he takes a pair of stiff jabs from Ross. Nice left hand into a leg kick from Pearson. Into a clinch and Pearson gets a rear waistlock and a takedown to side mount. Full mount from Ross but Siver shoots out the back door and gets to his feet. Spinning back kick misses for Siver. Nice body kick from Ross. Exchange continues with Ross landing another leg kick and avoiding the spinning back kick. Ten seconds to go and Pearson stuffs a takedown, and they trade shots until the buzzer. Excellent fight.

Judges have it unanimously for Ross Pearson, 30-27 all around. Very good striking-based fight but it looked like Pearson was just a little too crisp for Siver on the feet, as he put together the better combinations, landed the better shots and used his movement and feints to great effect. I don’t think there are many fighters at 155lbs who can hang with Ross standing, but on the ground is another issue and hopefully he’ll be tested there in his next fight against Cole Miller. Tons of potential, though.

-Goldberg is joined by BJ Penn via satellite, to discuss his upcoming title defense against Frankie Edgar. BJ tells us he’s in great shape, has trained hard, and puts Edgar over as having very fast hands, good ground-and-pound and good cardio. Pretty low-key stuff for BJ actually.

Middleweight Fight: Jorge Rivera vs Nate Quarry

This one looked like another stand-up war on paper, as both men usually just come out throwing bombs – particularly Quarry who’s really become a brawler since returning from spinal surgery. You could probably toss a coin to pick a winner here but I went with Nate.

First round gets underway and Quarry pushes forward with an early combo. Both men land low kicks. Neither man landing anything major yet. Good right hand from Rivera. Quarry fires right back though and lands a leg kick. Right hand lands again for Rivera. Two minutes to go and Rivera rushes in with a right and drops Quarry, following with a flurry, but Nate bounces back up and lands a pair of solid elbows. He backs out and Rivera continues to push forward. Good body kick from Quarry. Big combo from Rivera stuns Quarry and backs him into the fence, and Rivera breaks a clinch and decks him with the right again. Quarry looks in trouble now as Rivera bombs on him next to the fence, bloodying his nose. Quarry manages to hang on and gets back to his feet, but he eats some more bombs and looks on very wobbly legs. Finally he buckles and Rivera pounds at the head as Nate goes into survival mode, and there’s blood EVERYWHERE now. Rivera continues to land, but not quite enough to finish things and the round comes to an end. That was a bad round for Nate Quarry. 10-8 Rivera.

Second round and Quarry wades in with strikes, but he’s clearly leaving himself open and Rivera drops him with another pair of vicious rights, and this time he follows up by pounding away for the stoppage.

Great win for Jorge Rivera as he stopped Quarry in brutal fashion. Basically Quarry’s just degenerated into a crude brawler at this stage and Rivera knew that and picked him apart on the feet. That’s three in a row for Rivera now and he’s probably worth another shot at the upper echelon again, as he isn’t getting any younger these days. Fun fight if only for the fact that it was a vicious beating.

-Fucking Dana White joins Joe Rogan and promises great fights for TUF 11. Man, that show ended up being really disappointing in my opinion.

Heavyweight Fight: Roy Nelson vs Stefan Struve

This was Nelson’s first fight following his successful stint on TUF 10, and he really seems to have garnered a cult following with the fans thanks to his vile gut. I still don’t like him, sue me. Struve had been on a good run of his own, beating Denis Stojnic, Chase Gormley and Paul Buentello, but this looked like a bad match on paper for him as I figured Nelson would take him down and stifle him for a decision win.

So the fighters are in the Octagon for the ring introductions when....the lights go out. OH MY GOD, IT’S THE UNDERTAKER!~!

Actually it’s not. Just some power failure in the Bojangles Coliseum. Ha, talk about bad timing! Thankfully the Zuffa production crew are smart as hell and they cut to a shot of Kenny Florian relaxing in his locker room...before he spots the cameras and promptly starts shadow-boxing. Hah. And then we go to a prelim...

Lightweight Fight: Gleison Tibau vs Caol Uno

Uno’s return to the UFC had been one of disappointment, as he’d lost to Spencer Fisher and then narrowly scraped a draw against Fabricio Camoes after the Brazilian was deducted a point. Tibau on the other hand probably should’ve been 4-0 in 2009, but lost a controversial decision to Melvin Guillard in his third fight of the year. I figured Tibau would have too much power and strength for Uno here and would grind out a decision. Sure enough, the fighters look two weight classes apart as Tibau is HUGE for 155lbs.

Uno comes out with a low stance and circles around, but Tibau puts him on the back foot with a straight left. Low kick from Uno catches Tibau in the groin and the Japanese fighter apologises, but Tibau’s fine and they restart. Low kick from Uno is caught and Tibau trips him down and grabs a rear waistlock, looking to club at the head with some punches. They come back to their feet and Tibau releases and lands a left hand. Uno continues to press with strikes, but he hasn’t landed anything yet. Couple of Tibau’s punches land glancingly. Uno throws a combo but Tibau shoves him halfway across the cage. Ha, this guy is such a meathead. Big straight left stuns Uno and Tibau follows with another one, and a hard uppercut that brings the Japanese star crashing to the ground. Tibau grabs a waistlock and ragdolls him down, landing more heavy blows, but Uno manages to regain his wits. Another big shot drops him to his back and Tibau stands over him before pouncing into the guard. Uno manages to control the wrists to slow him down, but Tibau opens up with some CRUSHING LEFT HANDS and Uno flattens out onto his stomach and takes some more punishment until the ref calls it.

Wow, that was easily the most impressive performance of Gleison Tibau’s UFC career. Uno is notoriously hard to finish (unless you’re BJ Penn) regardless of the size difference, and yet Tibau came in and blew him away with some crushing power in his strikes. If he has really refined his stand-up then he’s going to be a title contender for sure as his ground game is already one of the best at 155lbs. To me this was one of those American Top Team breakout performances that they tend to have – like Thiago Alves against Hironaka, or Jorge Santiago in the Strike Force tournament – and as a fan of Tibau’s I hope he continues this sort of form.

Heavyweight Fight: Roy Nelson vs Stefan Struve

And now the power is back on so we’re back for this fight. Bruce Buffer announces Nelson as a “Kung-Fu Fighter”. Yeah, right!

Fight begins and Nelson’s permed mullet is almost as horrific as his gut. Fight looks like a cartoon as Nelson is short and fat and Struve is ridiculously tall and lanky. Nelson closes in swinging punches and Struve doesn’t look comfortable. Big overhand right drops Struve like a ton of bricks and Nelson pounds away for the stoppage. Crowd go mental as I shake my head in horror.

Struve has the oddest chin in MMA in that he can no-sell shots right on the button from Paul Buentello and yet he goes down right away off this one and against Junior Dos Santos. Impressive showing from Nelson though, even I have to admit that. Still not a fan until he loses that ridiculous gut, but it looks like he could be a legit contender, although post-fight he says he’d like to fight James Toney and I’d be supporting him in that one! I doubt he beats Junior Dos Santos in August, but stranger things have happened.

Lightweight Fight: Kenny Florian vs Takanori Gomi

When the UFC first bought out PRIDE in 2007, regardless of his loss to Nick Diaz, Gomi was one of the fighters I was hoping to see most inside the Octagon, as he’d been a favourite of mine in his PRIDE days and fights with the UFC’s talent like Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, etc, seemed mouthwatering. Of course, he ended up signing with Sengoku, going on a mediocre run with losses to Sergey Golyaev and Satoru Kitaoka in between four largely uninspiring wins. When Affliction signed him and subsequently crashed though, the hope of a UFC run opened up again, and I was still hyped to hear around New Year that he’d finally inked with Zuffa. I actually figured they’d give him more of a tune-up fight to push him into a rematch with BJ Penn, but instead he was pitted against arguably the #2 155lber in the company these days in Florian. With Kenny’s very impressive run of late (7-1 since his 2006 loss to Sean Sherk) most fans had him down as the favourite, but personally after seeing Gomi look in the best shape of his life at the weigh-ins, I had high hopes of the 2005 Demon Mode Gomi entering the cage and smashing Ken-Flo. Not that I’m biased or anything...

Fight begins and both men come out southpaw, looking to keep low stances. Florian immediately starts to pump out the right jab to keep his distance. Leg kick lands for Florian. Both men look pretty tentative here. Leg kick by Florian is countered by a right hook from Gomi but it doesn’t land cleanly. Couple more jabs land for Kenny and he connects with a straight left that wobbles Gomi’s legs slightly. Clinch but Gomi avoids a knee on the way out, and Florian goes back to working the jab. Good left to the body from Gomi. Florian is using the jab tremendously here, just snapping Gomi’s head back over and over. Body kick lands for Kenny. Gomi looks flustered here, like he can’t do anything about this jab. A takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Florian. Gomi connects with a left hand but can’t follow it up. Round ends with Kenny connecting with a right hand. Great round for Kenny Florian.

Second round and Gomi is looking to set up his left hand, but Florian continues to eat him up with the jab. Big flurry from Gomi misses as he’s winding up his punches, and Florian continues to get in and out while using the jab. Good left uppercut from Florian after ducking under a shot. Stiff jab and a knee to the body land for Florian. Never expected to see Florian just shutting Gomi down on the feet like this. More jabs from Florian but Gomi catches him with a left to the body. Head kick misses for Florian. Gomi is really pushing forward now but he can’t seem to catch KenFlo. Combo is blocked by Florian and he continues to work the jab. Wild uppercut misses for Gomi. Not as good a round for Florian as the first, but I still have him up 20-18 here.

Third round begins with Gomi swinging a wild right. Clinch by Florian and they muscle into the fence. Florian looks to land some knees inside and then they break. More jabs from Florian but Gomi finally lands with the big left and the American looks a little hurt. Before Gomi can follow it up though, Kenny ducks under and hits a big double leg to guard. Kenny begins to pepper the body with punches and Gomi does not look comfortable from the bottom. Elbow lands for Florian and he passes into half-guard and looks to be setting up for an arm triangle. Kenny works into full mount and Gomi gives his back, allowing Florian to soften him up with some more punches. Plenty of time left too, just over two minutes. Finally Kenny secures the rear naked choke, slaps it on tight, and Gomi has to tap out.

Wow. Florian was faced with arguably his most dangerous opponent yet here outside of BJ Penn and he came out with a career-best performance, picking Gomi apart with surgical precision standing and then absolutely taking him to school on the ground. If you’d have told me in 2005 that in 2010, Kenny Florian would dismantle Takanori Gomi in one-sided fashion then I probably would’ve laughed in your face, but there it is. Unbelievable. I mean, Gomi was always recognized as one of the guys with really good boxing in MMA, and yet he had no answer whatsoever for Kenny’s jab. Though to be fair to him, he was against probably the second-best 155lber in the world here, so whether he is a shot fighter or just faced someone plain better is unclear right now. We’ll see when he faces Tyson Griffin next month I guess. Not the most exciting fight per say, but a real eye-opening performance from Kenny Florian.

-And from there we segue into TUF 11, rather than showing any highlights.

Final Thoughts....

Even though some of the recent PPVs haven’t quite been stellar, UFC’s free shows almost always deliver and this was no exception, as we got five excellent fights, with Pearson-Siver being the pick of the bunch. Rivera-Quarry, Nelson-Struve and Tibau-Uno all ended in dramatic, brutal fashion and even though the main event was one-sided, it was still really engaging. UFN 21 is up there with the better free shows the UFC has put on. Highly recommended.

Best Fight: Pearson-Siver
Worst Fight: Rivera-Quarry

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Coming Soon....

UFC: 112-116
Strike Force: Fedor vs. Werdum
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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