Prelims from Philips Arena in Atlanta air on Facebook, FX
ATLANTA – HeavyMMA is at the Philips Arena in Atlanta for Saturday's UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans pay-per-view. We'll have live round-by-round and fight-by-fight coverage of each bout on the preliminary card right here starting at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Action on the preliminary card opens with the UFC debut of featherweight prospect Maximo Blanco, who meets TUF 14 veteran Marcus Brimage. A pair of TUF winners in big need of of victories, Mac Danzig and Efrain Escudero, meet in a lightweight bout. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson will try to build on his sensational first-round head kick knockout debut in February against Matt Brown. Plus, heavyweight Travis Browne meets Strikeforce crossover Chad Griggs.
The night's first two fights stream at the UFC's Facebook page at 7 p.m. Eastern, followed by a two-hour prelims special on the FX cable network at 8 p.m. leading into the pay-per-view.
Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco
Round 1: UFC debut for the highly touted Blanco. Brimage comes to us from TUF 14. And we're rolling with a really, really nice crowd here already for the first fight. High kick from Blanco gets Brimage's attention. Brimage fakes a couple jabs. Then again. Blanco tries to answer with a high kick again, but whiffs. Brimage backs Blanco up with a combination, then comes inside and clips him with a left. Front kick misses from Blanco, and Brimage answers with an outside leg kick .Brimage comes in and tags Blanco a couple times. They clinch briefly, and as Brimage backs out he just ducks away from a Blanco front kick. But it was Brimage getting the better of it. Blanco comes in and gets a mild takedown and lands a couple shots inside as Brimage gets back to his feet. Blanco lands a nice left hook as Brimage comes forward. Outside leg kick from Blanco lands. Then one from Brimage. Brimage again comes forward and again connects, but Blanco lands a decent shot on the break. Blanco looks for a body kick, and Brimage answers with a couple good punches. Brimage didn't do a ton of damage, but he landed a lot more. HeavyMMA gives the first round for Brimage 10-9.
Round 2: After a wild exchange, it's Brimage landing a couple nice shots that drop Blanco. Blanco tries to answer with a knee. But that was a big moment for Brimage. He's got power for sure and has Blanco's attention. Left from Blanco is answered with a bigger left from Brimage. Blanco kicks, but Brimage again counters wonderfully and backs his opponent up. Front kick from Blanco lands. Another good left from Brimage. With 90 seconds left, Blanco probably needs to do something to steal this round. Brimage again clips Blanco with a good straight left. Brimage tries a low outside leg kick and slips on it, but Blanco can't capitalize fast enough before Brimage is back up. HeavyMMA gives the second to Brimage, as well, 10-9.
Round 3: It'd be interesting to see what Blanco's corner told him. Round 2 was closer, but he still may be down two rounds and in need of a finish. He tries a flying knee, but it's not flush enough. He lands a body shot after Brimage comes forward. Big high kick from Blanco just misses and he hits the mat, but Brimage won't go down there after him. The action slows a little, and the crowd boos. But Blanco shoots and nearly gets a takedown. Brimage sprawls out of it, but then nearly pays with some good strikes from Blanco. Brimage lands a good combination that has Blanco stumbling back, then tries to go to the body. Blanco goes high with a kick, then Brimage lands some more. The crowd again gets a little restless with 45 seconds left, and Blanco tries to come inside to do something, anything at this point. But there's nothing there. With 10 seconds left he kicks again, but Brimage jabs him away. And then the most amazing thing – they start trading backflips in the center of the cage! I've never seen anything like it. Nonetheless, Heavy has Brimage 10-9 in the third and has the fight for him 30-27.
Result: Marcus Brimage def. Maximo Blanco, split decision, (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements
Round 1: Wisniewski asks Clements if they're going to touch gloves, and they will. Outside leg kick from Clements. Wisniewski takes the lead and keeps Clements outside. Couple overhand rights from Clements back Wisniewski up, but he answers with a right of his own, then clinches up and looks to take Clements down. He's successful and moves immediately to side control. Wisniewski looks for elbows, then passes to full mount briefly. He looks to take Clements' back. It's not there, and he gets back to half guard and starts landing some big elbows. Despite Wisniewski landing some good elbows, teh referee stands the fight back up. Wisniewski is bleeding around his right eye from a Clements shot on the ground. But he lands a good right hand. Then he backs Clements up with some jabs. Clements misses a right. Wisniewski lands some punches inside. Clements lands a nice right, then a spinning back kick that lands right in the body. It hurts Wisniewski and he goes to the ground. Once there, he thrwos up a triangle, but it doesn't stick. The shots from Clements make it a really close round. The damage to Wisniewski's eye is tough, and Clements' two big shots at the end are tough. HeavyMMA will lean toward Wisniewski 10-9.
Round 2: Big exchanges to open up, and after a brief clinch, Wisniewski gets the fight to the ground again and is on top in half guard. He starts landing some shots and looking to pass to side control or mount. He has Clements against the cage, and Clements is able to wall walk up Wisniewski keeps him on the cage and when they break, Clements comes with a spinning back fist that glances off, then another spinning back kick. Then a left hand that hits. But Wisniewski answers with a front kick that is on the button. But Clements stays standing. Good body shot from Clements. Then an overhand right is on the button. A spinning back kick misses. Then Wisniewski ties things up. The standup game is going Clements way, and Wisniewski will take it right back to the floor. A nice takedown leads to a quick taking of the back by Wisnkewsi and he has a rear naked choke. It's not under all the way yet. But he ties Clements up with a body triangle. He lets the choke go for a second, and Clements takes a big breath. Both guys will look to get some strikes in on the ground, and Wisniewski will continue working for the choke. But Clements lands some really big elbows down there. Wisniewski finishes the round in full moutn, tehn back mount. Its' another fantastically close round, and the crowd rises to its feet and gives a big ovation for what has turned into one hell of a fight. HeavyMMA will go with Wisniewski 10-9 again thanks to the takedown and the submission attempt, though there's no doubt Clements is winning the striking battle.
Round 3: The two exchange a quick hug before they start to go at it again – the kind that is meant to say, "We're in line for $65,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night!" They scramble against the cage, and Wisniewski looks for a single. Then Clements looks for it and can't get it while Wisniewski tries for a standing guillotine as they come out. Both fighters look pretty wiped out, and they should be. Both hi thooks, and Clements throws a spinning back elbow. Another spinning back kick from Clements lands to the body. Then a body shot from Clements followed by a good right hand. Then Wisniewski lands a right that nearly knocks Clements' mouthpiece out. Both land on the inside. Big right from Clements backs Wisniewski up, and Wisniewski answers. Then tie up with 90 seconds left and Wisniewski will look to tie things up again. Flying knee from Clements is nearly on the money. Right, then left, then a kick from Clements have Wisniewski on the ground, and Clements will try to finish him off there. But Wisniewski will hold on and survive. It's a 10-9 round for Clements, but HeavyMMA scores the really exciting fight 29-28 for Wisniewski. Could really go either way.
Result: Chris Clements def. Keith Wisniewski, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
Round 1: They touch gloves, and here we go. Danzig is about a 2-1 favorite. He pushes Escudero to the fence early. But Escudero is able to reverse it, then lands a nice right before Danzig gets a trip takedown. But he falls right into an Escudero heel hook that looks good. Danzig rolls out of it, then rolls out again. Then goes for Escudero's back, but he can't get it. They get back to their feet and trade a few punches inside. they again clinch up and Danzig takes his back looking for a throw takedown. But it's not there. Escudero looks for a single with 45 seconds left, but Danzig defends against the cage. It's a close first round, but HeavyMMA will go just barely with Escudero thanks to the submission attempt.
Round 2: A lot of early dancing and feinting, but Escudero lands a nice right. Danzig will clinche him up along the cage and look for a takedown. But Escudero, right in front of his corner, defends They break, and Escudero lands a few decent shots. Then a couple more here and there. They tie up and Escudero looks for a knee. Outside leg kick from Danzig leads right back to the clinch. Good left hand from Danzig with about a minute left. But the rest of the round creeps and crawls to a close without much action. It's a 10-9 round for Escudero on Heavy's card.
Round 3: Could be even going to the last, or Danzig could be down two rounds. So both guys come out gunning a little bit more. Danzig gets inside with a left hand. Then Escudero ties things up. Danzig lands the better shots before they break at about the three minute mark. Danzig looks to take Escudero's back and go for a takedown, but Escudero blocks it nicely. they trade knees. At 1:45, the ref breaks them up for stalled action. Couple good shots from Danzig. Then a body shot. Then they tie up again with a minute left. Danzig is leading in total strikes 117-80 according to the stat tracker. Good knee from Escudero as the 10-second clapper goes off. HeavyMMA has Round 3 for Danzig 10-9, but the fight for Escudero 29-28 in what could be another split.
Result: Mac Danzig def. Efrain Escudero, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
Round 1: They touch 'em up and we're off and running. Karate-style kicks from each to open. Then a nice left kick from Njokuani. Then another. Then one to the body. Makdessi is the one pushing the action around the cage, and he's trying for kicks of his own. Good outside leg kick from Njokuani. Then a high kick is blocked. Good punch-to-kick combo from Njokuani, and then he comes back with another body kick. Good left from Njokuani has Makdessi looking hurt and backing up, but Njokuani can't quite get him hurt enough to capitalize. Good knee from Njokuani, and Makdessi answers with a couple nice kicks that sneak through. Njokuani just misses a head kick. He landed a few more than Makdessi this round. HeavyMMA scores it 10-9 for Njokuani.
Round 2: They trade jabs and kicks the first minute, but nothing of major consequence. Makdessi looks for a spinning back kick, but it's mostly blocked to the body. They continue trading in this all-kickboxing fight. The crowd is buzzing, and not the good kind where it's an action-filled fight. The bad kind, like people are talking about what they're gonna do later. Good high kick from Njokuani and a front kick. But Makdessi lands a body kick and Njokuani catches it and sends him off balance and looks to move in. They both land a few strikes near the bell. HeavyMMA will give it to Njokuani 10-9 in a closer round.
Round 3: A lot more booing as the crowd really wants one of these guys to land a giant bomb if this is going to be how they're going to do it. They're content to trade kicks. Spinning back elbow from Makdessi isn't quite there. Halfway through, the crowd is letting them know. Good body kick by Makdessi. And he just misses a head kick. Njokuani answers. A spinning back kick from Makdessi lands to the body. But a good combo from Njokuani follows. More spinning stuff from Makdessi. HeavyMMA will give this last round to Makdessi 10-9, but the fight to Njokuani 29-28 as the crowd boos its disapproval.
Result: Anthony Njokuani def. John Makdessi, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
Round 1: High kick early from Thompson. Brown makes him pay with a straight right jab. Brown goes down to a hand on the ground, then tries to wrap Thompson up with a heel hook. But Thompson scrambles out. Brown may have been intentionally grounding himself to make Thompson's head kicks illegal. Brown gets the fight to the ground and looks to work in some ground and pound. Thompson is defending for now. But Brown peppers in some good shots down there. Halfway through the round, Thompson is able to get back to his feet. They tie up along the cage. Thompson looks for knees, but Brown gets another slam takedown. Then another takedown, and he just keeps holding on. Back on the ground, he's going to look for ground and pound and to possibly take Thompson's back. He again goes for a heel hook with a minute left. But Thompson rolls out of it and nearly into mount. But he settles for half guard. But Brown rolls him back over. It's a 10-9 first round for Brown on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Early jabs and a spinning kick from Thompson. High kick from Brown, who misses, but then shoots. He gets the fight to the ground for a second, but Thompson is right back up. Another shot by Brown is an easy takedown. Thompson pops back up, is clinched by Brown, but then the break. And Thopmson just misses a giant head kick. Then he starts connecting with his fists. The crowd goes bananas for this development, but Brown keeps coming. Spinning back kick from Thopmson is good to the body. A spinning back kick just grazes the top of Brown's head. Brown is clearly hurting. But he lands a good right of his own. Both fighters sulk away for a moment, tired. But a Brown right elbow drops Thompson, and Brown moves in looking for ground and pound. It's an odd turn of events since Thompson was winning the standup. Brown looks for elbows on the ground and lands some good ones. He rolls Thompson's legs up and lands just some giant bombs to his forehead and cuts him open big time. He stays on top as the round ends. HeavyMMA is going to lean toward Brown because of the late damage, but it was close.
Round 3: Brown comes forward early looking for the kill. He has Thompson backing up right away. Thompson is hobbling on his left leg. But he gets some shots in. Brown throws a couple high kicks that just miss. Both fighters just miss some uppercuts and hooks. Brown is swinging wildly at thsi point. But Thompson comes with some pinpiont striking and Brown just smiles at him. Great fight. Brown misses a right hand, but uses it to take Thompson down with a single. Thompson is back up right away and again looks to land. Brown gets a Thai clinch on and lands a good knee. Then drops Thompson, gets to side control and starts looking to finish it. He's working for an arm triangle, but it's not there so he answers with punches to the legs and body. Thompson looks exhausted. With Brown in side mount, there's not much he can do to get up. He locks up a reverse triangle and starts battering Thompson with punches. It's a bad look for Thompson to end the round. The crowd cheers wildly for Brown, even though Thompson is from just one state away. It's a 10-9 round for Brown on our card, and we have the fight to him 30-27.
Result: Matt Brown def. Stephen Thompson, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-27)
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
Round 1: All finishes so far on the prelims. This crowd wants a finish, and it's a good bet it might come with these two heavyweights. Griggs is making his UFC debut after coming over from Strikeforce, and he he throws a leg kick, then tries to push Browne back with some jabs. Browne catches him, though, and lands some nice knees, then clinches him up and gets a slam. He goes into half guard on the ground. Then to full mount, where he tries to work something out of the positition. He gets an arm triangle and he locks it up. Griggs is flailing, and he has to tap. That's it. Beautiful submission from Browne.
Result: Travis Browne def. Chad Griggs, submission (arm triangle), 2:29 Round 1