UFC Fight Night Pounds the Erwin Center
Edgar dominates, but it's a mixed night for Texas fighters
By Mac McCann,
3:02PM, Mon. Nov. 24, 2014
With over 10,131 people in attendance, UFC Fight Night 57 on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center proved entertaining from start to finish. In the very first fight of the night, lightweight Dooho “The Korean Superboy” Choi knocked out Juan Puig in 18 seconds, the third fastest KO in featherweight history.
Of course, fans were most excited to see former lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar take on Cub Swanson for the main event – and they weren’t disappointed. Improving to 18-4-1 overall, Edgar dominated Swanson in a record-breaking performance that ended with Edgar submitting Swanson via a neck crank with four seconds left in the fight, the latest finish in UFC history. Edgar earned one of the “Performance of the Night” awards and went home with a $50k bonus for it.
Going into the fight, Swanson told the Chronicle what to expect: Edgar would want to box a bit then look for the takedown. That’s exactly what happened, and, for basically the entire fight, Swanson couldn’t do anything about it. The first round was the only one that wasn’t completely one-sided, with two of the three judges awarding it to Swanson. Unfortunately for him, his luck soon ran out.
Before the fight, Edgar told the Chronicle that, having moved down to 145 lbs from 155, he’s a stronger fighter who can now “take guys down and keep them down a little more, maybe do a little more damage.” Showing off ground-and-pound perfection, Edgar completed seven takedowns and earned 16 passes on the ground, setting his personal record and tying for fourth most ground passes in a UFC fight. Edgar also landed 259 total strikes, the most in featherweight history, with 235 of those coming on the ground. On the other hand, Swanson only managed 62 total strikes.
Dave Sholler, UFC Senior Director of Public Relations, told me during Edgar’s masterpiece performance that he believes that Edgar will go down as one of the greatest lighter-weight fighters of all time. You could argue that he's an MMA version of the San Antonio Spurs; he’s not the flashiest or the most exciting fighter, but he operates with technical precision that’s unquestionably dominant.
After Saturday’s five round fight, Edgar has now spent 5 hours, 10 minutes and 21 seconds in the Octagon – the third most total fight time in the UFC, behind only Georges St-Pierre and B.J. Penn, whom Edgar defeated three times. During the post-fight press conference, Edgar made the case that he deserves another title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. “It should be me. Based on my performance, based on what I’ve done in my career, it should be me,” he said.
Paige VanZant: A Rising Star
The $50k “Fight of the Night” bonuses were awarded to “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant and Kailin Curran. The two straw weights (115 lbs), both making their UFC debuts, displayed much of what makes MMA such a beautiful, complex sport – showing off a variety of techniques, from exchanging strikes to landing knees from the clinch to completing takedowns and grappling on the ground.
In just the third bout in the history of UFC’s newly-formed women’s straw weight division, and only her fifth professional bout, 20 year old VanZant captured the first finish of any kind in the division with her TKO victory over Curran at the 2:54 mark in the third round.
VanZant was ecstatic about her victory, immediately shedding tears of joy before gleefully dancing and smiling her way out of the octagon. “My heart is still pounding,” VanZant said, grinning through the entire post-fight press conference. “It’s an unreal experience. I worked so hard for this.”
Best of the Rest
In the co-main event of the night, lightweight Bobby Green squared off against Brazil’s Edson Barboza. Despite Barboza consistently landing strikes, including an impressive spinning back kick, Green continually motioned ‘brushing off’ the shots and taunted Barboza. Still, trash talking doesn’t win you points, so Barboza won a convincing and unanimous decision victory.
The second ‘Performance of the Night’ award went to heavyweight Oleksiy Oliynyk, who improved to 50-9-1 with his KO victory over Jared Rosholt. Early on, the 37 year-old from Moscow fighter seemed to be losing to Arlington, Texas’ Rosholt, a former three-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State. However, with 3:21 in the first round, Oliynyk clobbered the wrestler with a left to the jaw and a follow-up shot that put Rosholt to sleep.
Rosholt wasn't the only fighter with Texas connections. San Antonio native Joseph Benavidez, the #2 contender in the 125lb flyweight division, earned a solid victory via unanimous decision over Dustin Ortiz. Corpus Christi middleweight Roger Narvaez defeated England’s Luke “The Bigslow” Barnatt via a split decision, largely thanks to his impressive third round.
Despite occasional chants of “Texas Fight” during the event, the crowd wasn’t completely supportive of all the Texans fighting at the event. Fort Worth’s James “The Texecutioner” Vick won a unanimous (but extremely boring) decision victory over Germany’s Nick Hein, only to be greeted with painfully loud boos from his home state crowd.
And not all Texans left the Frank Erwin Center with victories, either. Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland, a 265 lbs. heavyweight with Fort Worth connections, lost a unanimous decision to Russia’s Ruslan Magomedov. In his 66th professional bout, Austin’s own Yves Edwards put on what was perhaps the most disappointing performance of the night. The 38-year-old was submitted via an armbar by Akbarh Arreola at 1:52 in the first round. The loss marks Edwards’ third fight in a row to be finished, and he’s only won two of his last nine fights. Even if his career seems to be crawling to a conclusion, Edwards has had an impressive MMA career that’s lasted over a decade and a half, with a record of 42-22-1.
Frankie Edgar def. Cub Swanson by Submission (rear-naked choke) at (4:56) of Round Five
Edson Barboza def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Chico Camus def. Brad Pickett by split decision (29-28 x2, 27-30)
Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Jared Rosholt by KO (punches) at 3:21 of Round One
Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Matt Wiman def. Isaac Vallie-Flagg by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
Ruslan Magomedov def. Josh Copeland by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
Roger Narvaez def. Luke Barnatt by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
James Vick def. Nick Hein by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Akbarh Arreola def. Yves Edwards by submission (armbar) at 1:52 of Round One
Paige VanZant def. Kailin Curran by TKO (punches) at 2:54 of Round Three
Doo Ho Choi def. Juan Puig by TKO (punches) at 0:18 of Round One