by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
It was said after his introduction by way of The Ultimate Fighter Season Two that Rashad Evans’ style didn’t lend itself to winning his fights by KO or submission. After pounding out Jason Lambert a few months ago, he got that monkey off his back, but by decimating Sean Salmon with one of the biggest knockouts in UFC history on Thursday night, Rashad Evans can now finish with devastating power.

Before the fight ever started, the tension between Rashad Evans and his opponent, UFC newcomer Sean Salmon, was present even at the weigh-ins where the two stared each other down with dangerous intent. In the opening moments of the fight, it looked like Evans decided to stand up with Salmon instead of working his normal ground and pound attack. Salmon defended well and even took Evans to the ground, but he could not hold the former Michigan State wrestler down and the fight ended up back on the feet. To Salmon’s credit, his takedowns and ability to avoid any big shots, most likely earned him the first round on the judges scorecards. However, That was the last win that Salmon would have for the night.

As the 2nd round opened, Evans pursued his opponent with a ferocious stand-up game that included a good set of jabs and at 1:06 into the round an absolutely devastating right high kick that floored Salmon and left him completely unconscious. Evans had been throwing high kicks all night but had yet to land one before knocking his opponent out. Salmon laid motionless on the canvas for several minutes after the fight and as of yet no word has come back regarding his condition. The UFC did not acknowledge Salmon’s status or condition on the air.

(UPDATE: One of Sean Salmon’s sponsors, UFCjunkie.com, is reporting that Salmon was taken to a local hospital and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later tonight.)

Rashad Evans picks up another huge win in dominant fashion and takes another step towards the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

Hermes Franca solidified himself as the true #1 contender to Sean Sherk’s UFC Lightweight Title with a very impressive win over Spencer Fisher. From the onset, Franca was very aggressive, throwing huge looping punches trying to catch Fisher. Eventually, the Florida based fighter took Fisher to the ground where his skills were much superior. After losing control on a heel hook, Franca stood back up with Fisher, who never really let his hands go at any point in the bout.

The 2nd round saw more of the same from Franca. A solid takedown followed up by punches kept Fisher on his back but after a moment or two, referee Jorge Alonzo stood the fighters up. Franca again threw an unorthodox punch, this time connecting flush with Fisher’s head, stunning the Miletich trained student. After realizing his opponent was stunned, Franca rushed in with more right hands causing the referee to step in and call a stop to the action handing the TKO victory to the Brazilian born fighter.

After the bout was over, Hermes Franca got down on his knees and begged UFC president Dana White for a title shot and after an undefeated 2006. With this win over Spencer Fisher, he has to be next in line when Sherk returns from his injury to defend the lightweight title.

Heath Herring’s debut in the UFC became very anticlimactic after Herring was unable to stop “Irish” Jake O’Brien from spending the better part of three rounds taking Herring down and displaying superior wrestling skills. In the opening minutes, it was clear the Herring wanted to stand up and after connecting with a big shot that put O’Brien back on his heels, it seemed like a KO win was just seconds away. To his credit, O’Brien recovered quickly then transitioned to a single leg takedown that put Herring on his back. Herring left his guard wide open for pretty much the entire fight, inviting O’Brien to improve his position which he continuously did.

While the takedowns were plenty, O’Brien didn’t do much else on the ground considering he spent the better part of 3 rounds in either mount or taking Herring’s back but he did dominate the ground position. Late in the 3rd round, Herring unleashed his hands, which seemed to rock the still undefeated O’Brien, but O’Brien regained the top position just before the final bell to end the fight. Jake O’Brien now moves to 10-0 with a unanimous decision win, crushing the much hyped debut of Heath Herring. Now the UFC will hold their collective breaths hoping that Eddie Sanchez doesn’t find the kryptonite to defeat the #2 heavyweight in the world, Mirko Cro Cop, at UFC 67.

Ed Herman returned to his winning ways after submitting Chris “7 Pounds” Price in their middleweight bout. With this fight originally being slated to take place at 185lbs, it was to just about everyone’s surprise when Herman’s opponent, Chris Price, came in a whopping 7 pounds over weight. Herman agreed to take the fight regardless and showed why Price may have wanted to get out of the bout because he was dominated and finished in the first round. Herman showed great overall skill eventually taking Price’s back and then transitioning into a tight armbar that forced the tap and handed the Team Quest member his first win since leaving the Ultimate Fighter show. This fight took place before the event went on the air, and it aired on Spike TV right before the main event.

UFC Fight Night again impressed with a great selection of both new and previous UFC fighters that put on a great show. Fighter of the Night definitely goes to Rashad Evans for the 2nd time (also was MMAWeekly’s Fighter of the Night at UFC 63) with his brutal knockout win over Sean Salmon. Evans and Salmon’s fight also pulled Fight of the Night honors, as Salmon won an impressive first round before being knocked out via Evans’ right high kick.

Hermes Franca should now earn a shot against Sean Sherk in the near future for the lightweight title after putting on a clinic against Spencer Fisher. The low point of the night was the disappointing performance from Heath Herring in his UFC debut, but much credit needs to go to Jake O’Brien for showing that his undefeated record is no joke and that he is the real deal.

Full Results:

-Rashad Evans def. Sean Salmon by KO in Round 2

-Jake O’Brien def. Heath Herring by unanimous decision

-Hermes Franca def. Spencer Fisher by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) in Round 2

-Ed Herman def. Chris Price by submission (armbar) in Round 1

-Rich Clementi def. Ross Pointon by submission (rear naked choke) in Round 2

-Nathan Marquardt def. Dean Lister by unanimous decision

-Din Thomas def. Clay Guida by unanimous decision

-Josh Burkman def. Chad Reiner by unanimous decision