by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Many fans said that the hype around the competitors from the Ultimate Fighter reality show would die down as soon as they got knocked around by a few crafty veterans. That opinion has changed quite a bit with the success many of the fighters from the show have had. None more so than the still undefeated New Mexico native, Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez, who took one more step towards a welterweight title shot with a dominant performance over Joe Riggs at UFC Fight Night on Wednesday night.
At just over a minute into the first round of their bout, Sanchez landed a big shot that floored Riggs and seeing his opponent hit the mat, the Jackson submission student jumped in for the kill. A devastating knee strike landed flush on Riggs’ face putting him back down after staggering up to try to get a hold of Diego’s legs, but it was all for not when the #4 ranked welterweight followed up with strikes on the ground forcing referee John McCarthy to stop the fight. With the win, Sanchez gets a big win over a game opponent and with such a dominant performance he lands on the short list of potential opponents for current champion, Georges St. Pierre.
Karo “The Heat” Parisyan, ranked #5 in MMAWeekly’s welterweight top ten, returned to action on Wednesday night for the first time since his decision loss to the afore mentioned Diego Sanchez at a UFC Fight Night event some months ago to face off against a very tough Drew Fickett. While nothing can be taken away from Fickett’s experience and skill, the popular opinion was that this was Karo’s fight to lose, but a back and forth battle spawned the fight of the night for this card. Fickett was supposed to be the better stand-up fighter between the two competitors, but throughout all three rounds it was Parisyan who took much more of an advantage when on the feet. Landing good jabs and combinations, Karo looked much improved with his boxing and setting Fickett back to look for a ground fight.
When the fight did hit the ground in the 2nd round, a short elbow from Fickett opened a huge gash under Karo’s right eye that almost seemed to anger the Armenian Judo expert who then unleashed a barrage of elbow strikes of his own that actually opened a good size cut on Fickett’s forehead. The referee did stop the action at one point to have the cut on Parisyan checked, but luckily the wound was under the eye, which didn’t cause any immediate loss of vision or real danger to the fighter and the match was allowed to continue.
For the remainder of the fight, Karo Parisyan handled Fickett on both the feet and the ground. To the credit of Drew Fickett, who showed the heart of a warrior, he kept coming back at Karo during every point of the fight and never gave up. After three rounds, Karo Parisyan earned a hard fought decision win over a very tough and impressive Drew Fickett.
Josh Koscheck kept up with his winning ways after a unanimous decision over Canadian fighter Jeff Joslin. The former NCAA wrestling champion had to revert to much of his natural skill to continuously take Joslin down through all three rounds, because he was unable to really open up any strikes on the ground. Jeff Joslin did display a solid guard game avoiding any major damage from Koscheck, but unfortunately defend was just about all he did for the entirety of the fight. After three rounds, Josh Koscheck picks up another win and, currently ranked #10, looks to keep climbing up the welterweight division rankings.
“The Irish Hand Grenade” Marcus Davis looked very impressive in a unanimous decision win over the very experienced former Marine, Shonie Carter. In the 1st round, Davis secured position on Shonie’s back and almost forced a rear naked choke, but the crafty veteran was able to withstand and towards the end of the round did reverse positions but was unable to capitalize in the closing seconds. The 2nd round saw Davis separate himself as the much better striker when he landed jab after jab on Carter’s jaw. One big shot staggered Shonie, but Davis didn’t jump in quick enough to finish the fight and his opponent was able to recover.
Davis’ continued this game plan for much of the rest of the bout. Combinations of punches almost looked to put Shonie on his heels a number of times and when it was all said and done, the competitor from season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter, Marcus Davis, picked up a big win over one of the toughest fighters in the world with Shonie Carter.
With all 3 undercard bouts going to decision, it was Diego Sanchez who saved the show with a huge KO over Joe Riggs in the main event. Karo Parisyan and Drew Fickett definitely had the fight of the night with their bout and there is no doubt that Diego Sanchez gets fighter of the night after looking flat out flawless in his win over Joe Riggs. A solid show with lots of potential that unfortunately did not lend to many finishes but still a good card from top to bottom.
In non-televised action, three of five bouts went to a decision. Logan Clark used his reach advantage to earn a unanimous decision over Steve Byrnes. Hot Midwestern prospect Brock Larson was victorious, also by unanimous decision, over a very tough and previously undefeated Keita Nakamura. Former Marine Luigi Fioravanti used several solid right hands to score a TKO and hand Dave Menne his fourth loss in his last five bouts. Gaining his first UFC win, Alan Belcher dropped Jorge Santiago with a big right hand and landed one for good measure on the ground before the referee stopped to the fight. David Heath and Victor Valimaki battled back and forth for three rounds, each landing a variety of strikes, before the judges awarded a split decision to Heath.
-Diego Sanchez def. Joe Riggs by KO at 1:45, Round 1
-Josh Koscheck def. Jeff Joslin by Unanimous Decision
-Karo Parisyan def. Drew Fickett by Unanimous Decision
-Marcus Davis def. Shonie Carter by Unanimous Decision
-David Heath def. Victor Valimaki by Split Decision
-Alan Belcher def. Jorge Santiago by KO at 2:45, Round 3
-Luigi Fioravanti def. Dave Menne by TKO at 4:44, Round 1
-Brock Larson def. Keita Nakamura by Unanimous Decision
-Logan Clark def. Steve Byrnes by Unanimous Decision