by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The preliminary bouts at UFC 107 brought plenty of excitement to the Memphis crowd as several fights from the early going could later contend for “Fight of the Night” or other bonuses. The fighters put on a show to the packed FedEx Forum.
Moving from a middleweight bout to a catchweight fight at the last moment, Alan Belcher still made the most of his first appearance in front of his hometown crowd. He battered and eventually stopped American Top Team fighter, Wilson Gouveia, in the first round of their fight at UFC 107.
Belcher came out with an ultra aggressive attack that had Gouviea back peddling a little bit, but still both fighters threw heavy shots at one another. It seemed Belcher’s straight punches were the difference early as he stunned Gouveia. After the fighters moved against the cage the Memphis native popped the Brazilian with a heavy shot that sent him crashing to the floor. Gouveia could only cover up as Belcher blasted away with a few more shots until the referee came in for the save.
“Handsome” Matt Wiman may have finally forced Shane Nelson to the 145-pound division after a unanimous decision handed the Hawaiian his second consecutive loss. Wiman looked confident with his stand-up as he continuously used his boxing to hurt Nelson on the feet before taking the fight to the ground where he opened his opponent up with some elbows.
To his credit, Nelson fought tough for all three rounds, but Wiman was better in the striking and ground games throughout to get the decision win.
Former WEC welterweight Johny Hendricks put on an absolutely dominant performance in victory over first time UFC fighter Ricardo Funch. Hendricks mixed together a bevy of slams, hard punches, and ground control to pick up his second UFC win.
A former NCAA wrestling champion, Hendricks picked up Funch at will and put him down on the mat, while also using his powerful striking to keep his opponent on the defensive all night. Hendricks takes a good step forward in a stacked welterweight division.
In a battle of Brazilians, Rousimar Palhares got the best of UFC newcomer Lucio Linhares after the two exchanged submissions for the better part of their fight. Palhares wasted no time getting the fight to the ground early, but after a heel hook failed, he resigned himself to working for top control and punching down on his opponent. Linhares did a good job in the second round of going for an omo plata, but when he couldn’t lock on the hold Palhares fell backwards securing a heel hook, causing a tap.
DeMarques Johnson had to work hard to earn his victory on Saturday night. The former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor got caught with a few good shots from Edgar Garcia before locking on a fight ending triangle choke for the win. Garcia looked powerful on the feet, putting his hands on Johnson several times in the first few minutes.
It looked like it was survival mode for Johnson after he got popped with a monstrous punch with just over a minute to go in the first round, but instead he seized the moment as Garcia charged in too quickly and found himself slammed with an upkick. Johnson transitioned beautifully from the upkick to a triangle choke, forcing the tap and picking up the first round win.
The first fight of the night opened up with some serious fireworks as both T.J. Grant and Kevin Burns were looking for the knockout early and often. Grant, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, tried a takedown early, but soon found himself on the bad end of a punch from Kevin Burns, who dropped him to the canvas.
Burns followed up quickly to finish, but Grant got his senses back and eventually made it back to his feet before landing the takedown he had been searching for earlier. A good backdoor escape got Burns back to his feet, but he was slammed with a huge right hook from Grant that sent him crashing down again. Grant followed up with a few more hammer fists to secure the first round TKO win with only three seconds remaining in the round.