by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Neither Rashad Evans nor Michael Bisping wanted to go the distance in their Ultimate Fighting Championship main event debut, but that’s what happened on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
The fight went the way most expected, Evans scoring with several takedowns and Bisping arguably getting the better of the stand-up game. After three rounds of back-and-forth action that slowed as the fight wore on, it was Rashad Evans that saw his hand raised in victory, albeit due to a split decision. Two judges scored the bout 29-28 for Evans, the third scoring it 29-28 for Bisping.
Both fighters talked a lot leading up to this bout and they had a heated exchange at the weigh-ins on Thursday afternoon, but as is usually the case, they showed much respect for each other after beating each other up for three rounds.
“I felt it went in my favor, but you’ve got to give credit to Michael Bisping,” said Evans following the bout. “My hat is off to him.”
He felt that it was his wrestling that edged the decision his way. “When it came down to it, I controlled the pace of the fight by being able to take him down.”
Asked his assessment of the fight, Bisping said, “I thought it was a very close fight. A lot of people thought I didn’t belong in here with him. I think I proved that I do belong here tonight.”
Like Evans, he thought his opponent’s takedowns were what made it decisive in the judges’ eyes. “Obviously the takedowns were the deciding factor. I’m not taking anything away from him; he did take me down. But I am happy with my wrestling and my takedown defense.”
Houston Alexander, who had spent less than a combined total of two minutes in the Octagon in winning his first two UFC bouts, had to go more than three minutes on Saturday night. It was three minutes that he’d surely like to have back though. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Thiago Silva made it a rough night for Alexander, mounting him and putting an end to his UFC unbeaten streak with a barrage of punches.
Silva upped his professional record to 12-0 with the TKO stoppage. He was grateful for the win afterwards saying, “My strategy going in was to fight him for three rounds, but thanks to God I was able to finish him.”
Karo Parisyan had to go all three rounds with a debuting Ryo Chonan, but he continually took the Japanese fighter down throughout and grounded and pounded him. No one will vote it fight of the night, but it was a dominating performance once again for the Armenian welterweight.
“I got the win, but it wasn’t my best showing,” said Parisyan of his performance. “I’m sorry, next time I will do better. He’s a tough guy.”
It took Ed Herman until the opening moments of the third round – after nearly succumbing to an armbar at the end of round two – but he knocked out Joe Doerksen with a left hook at the 39-second mark to capture his first win by knockout.
“That was beautiful to win like that,” said Herman after the fight. “That’s the first KO of my career … there it is baby!”
It wasn’t the most exciting fight of the night, but New Jersey native Frankie Edgar dominated Spencer Fisher before his home crowd. He took Fisher down at will and although he didn’t accumulate much damage, he was active with his ground and pound attack throughout, scoring a unanimous decision.
In a close fight that went back-and-forth, Thiago Alves came out on top as officials ruled that Chris Lytle could not continue after the second round. Lytle suffered a cut over his left eye in the first round and it gave rise to further concern in between rounds two and three as the fight was stopped.
A member of B.J. Penn’s team on season five of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Joe Lauzon made the move to Hilo, Hawaii to permanently join Penn’s team and it appears to be paying off. In little more than one minute into the first round, Lauzon tapped out the previously undefeated Jason Reinhardt with a rear naked choke.
After losing to Clay Guida in his first Octagon debut, Pride veteran Marcus Aurelio returned in impressive fashion, finishing off UFC veteran Luke Caudillo by TKO in the opening round.
In the night’s opening preliminary bout, Akihiro Gono did his best to shuck the perception that former Pride fighters can’t win in the UFC, defeating Tamdan McCrory via armbar midway through the second round.
UFC 78 RESULTS:
–Rashad Evans def. Michael Bisping by Split Decision, R3
–Thiago Silva def. Houston Alexander by TKO (Strikes) at 3:25, R1
–Karo Parisyan def. Ryo Chonan by Unanimous Decision, R3
–Ed Herman def. Joe Doerksen by KO (Punch) at 0:39, R3
–Frankie Edgar def. Spencer Fisher by Unanimous Decision, R3
–Thiago Alves def. Chris Lytle by TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 5:00, R2
–Joe Lauzon def. Jason Reinhardt by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:14, R1
–Marcus Aurelio def. Luke Caudillo by TKO (Strikes) at 4:29, R1
–Akihiro Gono def. Tamdan McCrory by Submission (Armbar) at 3:19, R2