- GROVE AND MCCRORY IMPRESS AT UFC 96 PRELIMS

March 7, 2009
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by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The UFC opened its third show in Ohio’s capitol with a mix of veterans and up and comers on the preliminary card, including “Ultimate Fighter” season 3 winner Kendall Grove and welterweight Tamdan McCrory both picking up decisive wins in each of their respective bouts.

Tamdan McCrory looked to rebound after a submission loss to Dustin Hazelett, and he did so by way of Ohio native Ryan Madigan, who was making his UFC debut.

Knowing that his opponent was a former kickboxing champion, McCrory quickly took the fight to the ground where he proceeded to overwhelm Madigan at every move. Eventually, McCrory got the mount where he reigned down elbows and punches, forcing the referee to stop the punishment in the first round.

“After that last loss to Dustin (Hazelett), I hit the gym hard, did the right things,” McCrory stated after the win. “I had everything go wrong during training camp, but I rode in here on my thunder horse and handled business.”

If Kendall Grove had any question if his job was safe, he solidified his place with a devastating knockout performance over Jason Day at UFC 96. Day started out solid on the feet early, pressing Grove with his punches and making the Hawaiian work for position.

It was then Grove’s tremendous reach advantage that came into play as he threw a straight right hand down the middle that sent Day crashing to the mat. Grove followed up with a few more elbows before the referee stopped the fight, and the “Ultimate Fighter” season 3 winner paid tribute to his friend and former coach Tito Ortiz with his after fight “gravedigger” routine.

“I’m very happy,” Grove told UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “I thought I was going to lose my job. I guess not.”

Jason Brilz did a good job of recovering from a rough first round against Tim Boetsch to get a unanimous decision win in his second UFC fight. Boetsch opened up a strong stand-up attack early, bloodying his opponent’s nose and punishing him with a series of good uppercuts.

Brilz battled back in the 2nd and 3rd rounds by taking Boetsch to the ground, moving to side control and keeping the Pennsylvania based fighter on his back, left only to defend. As the fight wore on, Brilz landed his takedowns flawlessly as Boetsch started to fade. For a part-time fighter, Jason Brilz now stands 2-0 in the UFC.

“That (getting the takedown) is what we’ve been working on,” Brilz commented. “I’ve got a great corner.”

Brandon Vera got back on track in the light heavyweight division after a series of uninspired fights. The Californian came out aggressive in his fight against home state opponent Mike Patt, who could not stop Vera’s leg kicks all night.

After a first round where Vera fed Patt a steady diet of leg shots, he opened the second round with the exact same game plan. Patt had no answer and after two consecutive knockdowns at the hands of Vera’s brutal attack, the fight was stopped.

“I was taking for granted that I could get by without training hard,” Vera admitted after the win. “But now I’m back.”

Shane Nelson and Aaron Riley kicked the night off, but unfortunately when the fight was finished it left a lot to be desired with the crowd at the Nationwide Arena. Riley opened with some nice leg kicks early and tripped Nelson up early in the round, but the fighters decided to keep it standing instead.

As both fighters threw punches, it was Nelson who clipped Riley with a right hand that sent him down to the canvas. Nelson followed up with a few more shots and as Riley rolled, he began to pull guard, but referee Rick Fike stepped in and waived off the fight, stopping the action. The crowd in Columbus then booed heavily at the highly questionable stoppage.

“It wasn’t my call,” said Nelson after the stoppage. “It was out of my hands if the ref stopped it. We can do it again.”

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