A Night of First in Japan (UFC Fight Night 52 Review)

ufc_fn52The UFC travelled to Japan once again as they brought the show to where MMA got its start. They would feature a fighter that had spent his fair share of time in Japan while fighting through the early days of the sport. In those days there were really no other places to fight other than Japan. The country brought MMA to a new level, one that made the fighters superstars and paid them well. In the USA at the time MMA was still a basement bawl type of sport that got little recognition in the public. So fighters moved to Japan and started their MMA careers where they could receive recognition. That is what Mark Hunt did in 2004 as he joined the biggest promotion of the time in PRIDE. PRIDE was based in Japan and was the premier promotion for fighters as they made heroes out of fighters and had some of the biggest names in the sport. It was by far the best competition in the world until it was eventually overtaken and bought by the UFC. Hunt would not find his way to the UFC immediately though staying in Japan with Dream until eventually receiving an invite to the UFC. That is where he made the transition to the USA in the new hub of MMA. Before then though it was all about Japan and the fighters and promotions in the country. The UFC recognizes this and they continue to honour that history with fights in the country. Fight Night 52 was just the latest fight to be hosted in Japan and this time it was all about a heavyweight matchup that marked the second heavyweight fight to highlight a fight card in as many weeks. At the centre of the main event was the former superstar in Japan, Hunt. Hunt returned the country where he started his long career and hoped that the familiar surroundings would help him to beat another top ranked heavyweight in Roy Nelson. Unlike for Hunt, this was the first time that Nelson had been in Japan after spending most of his career in the USA. While Hunt was working his way through PRIDE Nelson was slugging it out in the International Fight League (IFL) which was one of the larger promotions in the USA. Both fighters had been at it for a while and for their efforts were among the best fighters in the heavyweight division. After both putting together long winning streaks and falling just short of a title shot they would face off looking to get back to the very top of the rankings. A win at UFC Fight Night 52 could mean big things for either Hunt or Nelson as they have not been far off of the title shot since entering the UFC. A few losses have kept them from earning that title fight but putting a big name on their win list could put them up towards the top of the rankings and in line for that shot. The fight itself was a matchup of two very similar fighters and fighters that were built in the mold of heavyweights. Despite their fairly short stature for heavyweights, Nelson stands at 6’0” while Hunt is 5’10”, they have the power that has been the hallmark of the heavyweight division for years. Both fighters had no interest in fighting on the ground, although both have some wrestling capabilities, and were ready to stand and swing away. With knockout power in their hands that could be better than most in the division it was not question why they would prefer to stand, especially when you add the fact that the two fighters have stone chins and are almost impossible to knockout. So when the fight started it was a bit of a surprise when Nelson seemed to be more interested in taking the fight to the ground than standing with Hunt. Nelson remained standing with Hunt but it seemed like every big shot he took gave him a reason to try to take the fight to the ground. Hunt meanwhile was just looking to stand and trade with Nelson as he continued to get the advantage on the feet. In the second round the trend continued as Hunt took advantage on the feet while Nelson tried to fight on the mat. Eventually the stand-up game of Hunt wore Nelson down and eventually Hunt did want many thought to be impossible. With a big right uppercut Hunt ended the fight and knocked out Nelson for the first time in his career. Nelson will have to take some time to recover from this as he had never been knocked out before. When he returns he will have to climb back up the rankings and avoid becoming a fighter with plenty of talent although unable to earn a title. The win for Hunt will move him up the rankings and is sure to put him in the title conversation. He may only be one more win away from fighting for a title as he will likely fight someone in the top 5 to earn a title shot.

The heavyweights were the highlights but as is usual in the UFC lately the lightweights took plenty of focus. It has been said often that the lightweight division is the most talented in the UFC and that makes it tough to get noticed. Myles Jury and Takanori Gomi were looking to do just that s they faced off in the hopes of showing the UFC that they belong in the talent heavy division. The fight for Gomi had some added pressure of being at home and looking to impress the fans that came out to see him. For Jury it also had plenty of pressure as he walked into a country that was almost entirely against him. He would represent the enemy for many fans as he was the American taking on a Japanese fighter in Japan. It was also a big opportunity for Jury who ranked 9th heading into the fight and was riding a 14-0 professional record and a 20 fight win streak. There was a lot on the line for Jury as he hoped to continue his streak and show that he is one of the hottest fighters in the lightweight division. By continuing his streak he could move into the top of the division and show that he belongs in the title conversation. The fight itself would be a matchup of well-rounded fighters that have made much of their recent careers through the knockout. That is what both seemed to be aiming for at the start of the fight with Jury attempting on takedown that was stuffed by Gomi. Instead of the mat Jury took the edge in the striking by throwing out kicks that left Gomi on the outside. Eventually Jury landed a big right cross that ended the fight with Gomi on the ground covering up. It was the first time Gomi had been knocked out and it will not mean great things for the Japanese fighter. It was his second loss in three fights and although being cut is not likely he is close to getting there if he cannot put together more wins. For Jury it was another in his long streak that reached 21 while his professional record moved to 15-0. Another win on the record is sure to give more momentum for Jury as he continues to move up the rankings and closes in on a title fight that is sure to come soon if he keeps winning.


Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
The main event was expected to be in one of the bonus spots as two heavyweights with heavy hands clashed and they did not disappoint as Mark Hunt earned an extra payday by knocking out Roy Nelson for the first time ever

Performance of the Night
In a night of first some of the most durable fighters in the UFC faced-off but some fell and Takanori Gomi was one of them as Myles Jury earned his own bonus for knocking out the Japanese fighter and becoming the first fighter to do so

Fight of the Night
Although there were some great performances on the main card it was a fight on the preliminary card that impressed the most as Kyung Ho Kang and Michinori Tanaka put on a show to earn the Fight of the Night


Fight Results

Main Event:
Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt def. Roy “Big Country” Nelson
(KO; Rd. 2)

Main Card:
Myles “The Fury” Jury def. “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi
(TKO; Rd.1)

“Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama def. Amir Sadollah
(Unanimous Decision)

Miesha “Cupcake” Tate def. Rin Nakai
(Unanimous Decision)

Kiichi “Strasser” Kunimoto def. “Filthy” Richard Walsh
(Split Decision)

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Jon “The Heat” Delos Reyes
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Masanori Kanehara def. Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres
(Unanimous Decision)

Katsunori Kikuno def. Sam Sicilia
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 2)

Hyun Gyu “The Ace” Lim def. Takenori Sato
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Kyung Ho “Mr. Perfect” Kang def. Michinori Tanaka
(Split Decision)

John “Hollywood” Case def. Kazuki Tokudome
(Submission; Guillotine Choke, 2)

Maximo “Maxi” Blanco def. Daniel “The Hangman” Hooker
(Unanimous Decision)


Upcoming Events
UFC 178: Johnson vs. Cariaso (Saturday September 27th; 10:00 pm ET)
Las Vegas, Nevada (MGM Grand Garden Arena)
Main Event: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson vs. Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso [Flyweight Title]
Notable: Eddie “The Silent Assassin” Alvarez vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Notable: “Notorious” Conor McGregor vs. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier

UFC Fight Night 53: Nelson vs. Story (Saturday October 4th; 12:00 pm ET)
Stockholm, Sweden (Ericsson Globe Arena)
Main Event: Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson vs. Rick “The Horror” Story
Notable: Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. Akira Corassani
Notable: Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi vs. Jan “Książę Cieszyński” Błachowicz

UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald vs. Saffeidine (Saturday October 4th; 10:00 pm ET)
Halifax, Nova Scotia (Halifax Metro Centre)
Main Event: Rory “The Canadian Psycho” MacDonald vs. Tarec “Sponge” Saffeidine
Notable: Raphael Assunção vs. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway
Notable: Yosdenis “Pink Panther” Cedeno vs. Chad Laprise

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