by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Sylvia Wins and the Ultimate Fighters Shine

Ultimate Fight Night 3 Review

By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly

The UFC has been hard pressed to find heavyweights to put up against the champion, Andrei Arlovski, so prior to the main event match-up of Tim Sylvia and Assuerio Silva it was announced the winner would get a title shot next. Sylvia isn’t far removed from his loss to Arlovski but with a depleted roster and former champion Frank Mir just making his comeback after more than a year on the injured list, these two had just as good a shot as anybody to take the next fight with the champion.

Sylvia’s last fight out was a highlight reel knockout of Ken Shamrock student, Tra Telligman, but in this match-up Sylvia, while dominant for the most part, didn’t take many chances on his way to a decision victory. The 6’8″ Miletich trained fighter was able to use his huge reach advantage to keep Silva off him throughout the bout, landing some good jabs and early on did go for some knees from the clinch.

Assuerio Silva did open a cut over Sylvia’s eye in the second round, but after a quick stream of blood disappeared, the Brazilian was unable to capitalize and never really gained much of an upper hand in the fight. Sylvia won a unanimous decision and a rematch with Andrei Arlovski in the near future.

Stephan Bonnar, who hadn’t fought since August due to a broken hand, came into his third official UFC fight to face off against heavy hitter James Irvin.

James Irvin, a former mainstay of the WEC, was touted as an extremely hard puncher who could knock anybody out at anytime. Bonnar has proven that he can take many shots during a fight, but in the opening minute of the fight it was pretty obvious that he knew his biggest advantage was on the ground.

Bonnar was able to secure a side mount early on, going for a straight armbar that was reversed, but within just a few seconds, the Chicago native had Irvin on his back again. This time Bonnar locked on a kimura, going as far as locking off Irvin’s head with his leg, so he couldn’t turn away from the hold. To Irvin’s credit he was able to withstand a very devastating move for longer than most fighters could, but eventually the torque was too much and he had to tap out and Bonnar walked out victorious once again.

In possibly the most surprising fight of the night, Chris Leben again proved his critics wrong when he was able to stop veteran fighter Jorge Rivera early in the first round. Much like his fight with Patrick Cote, Leben was the underdog and very few gave him a chance in this fight, with good reason because Rivera is a very seasoned fighter who was able to take Rich Franklin to the last seconds of their fight and holds a win over current top contender, David Loiseau.

Working from inside the clinch early on, Leben landed a few shots as did his opponent, but it was when the two pulled apart that the one time “Catsmasher” landed a quick left hook that floored Rivera. Leben was quick to jump on his opponent and reign down a barrage of punches, prompting referee John McCarthy to stop the fight. Leben sounded pretty confident after the fight in his comments made to Joe Rogan, and until someone hands him a loss, he has every right to keep on talking.

Another surprising result came in a welterweight fight between Ultimate Fighter season 2 participant, Josh Burkman and the very experienced Drew Fickett. Before the fight, Fickett sounded extremely confident and it may have been his downfall because Burkman looked to be the stronger and more focused of the two fighters, over powering his opponent in the opening and eventually tossing Fickett to the ground at one point. As Fickett tried to recover and go for a takedown, Burkman took advantage of his opponent’s mistake to leave his head exposed and locked on a guillotine choke. Burkman pulled down on Fickett’s head and within a few seconds made his opponent tap out. After the fight Burkman called out Ultimate Fighter season 1 winner Diego Sanchez, and with no named opponent right now for Diego for an upcoming event, the UFC may just make this fight happen.

Also in action on the card, Duane “Bang” Ludwig made a successful return to the UFC with a lightning quick knockout over up and coming Canadian fighter, Jonathan Goulet. Josh Neer made his second appearance in the UFC a successful one as he took out Ultimate Fighter season 2 participant Melvin Guillard by triangle choke. Spencer Fisher racked up another big win this time over veteran fighter Aaron Riley, when he apparently broke his jaw and stopped the fight. Jason Von Flue was able to make a good return to the UFC as he took out season 1 fighter Alex Karalexis by side choke in the third round.