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Articles of 2006

Belt? Belt? Calzaghe Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Belt

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LAS VEGAS (March 7, 2006) – A 33-year-old overnight sensation in his 19th world title fight reminded us of why sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Joe Calzaghe shook up the landscape with his plus-perfect demolition of Jeff Lacy, from the mythical “pound-for-pound” list to the very core of boxing. He’s helping to make “championships” meaningless.

I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, I hope. The late Pat Putnam used to tell me, and I paraphrase the great man, “We get paid to make picks, not to make them right.”

Thus, instead of apologizing for selecting Lacy to knock out Calzaghe, I take solace in the knowledge that one of the best things about all sports is that brilliant experts like myself are not always right. That’s what makes it so exciting, not knowing the ending. Go to a performance of “Hamlet.” I guarantee you that he and Ophelia will not live happily ever after.

Okay, Calzaghe took most of the drama out of what was supposed to be a two-sided battle, turning it into a brilliant solo performance more worthy of Carnegie Hall than the Manchester Evening News Arena. He also made poor Lacy look like the violinist about whom the critic said “he played Beethoven and Beethoven lost.”

The problem, as usual, is deciphering whether it was Lacy being terrible or Calzaghe making him look that way. The rush to judgment that led us to perhaps overvalue Lacy could compound the error by giving the Welshman too much credit for the magnificent cadenza he played upon the neophyte’s head.

Then, so what if we are wrong again, and allow the undefeated Calzaghe a place in the pantheon that could disappear in his next performance? But I don’t think so.

Yes, Lacy was boy against man. His trainer of the year, Dan Birmingham, would say there wasn’t much you can do when the fighter doesn’t follow either Plan A or Plan B. But it’s very difficult when the fighter doesn’t have a clue on how to break an arm-hold. Every time Lacy got within range, Calzaghe would grab Left Hook’s left arm and tie him up. Game, set and slaughter. Lacy would concede he could never find his “rhythm.” It was tattooed on his face, round after round after round and only his will kept him going back for more.

I was one of many who thought Lacy was “special.” Maybe that heart and his power will one day prove us correct. But at 28, it seems a little bit late to learn how to box and his previously unbeaten pro record now seems as manufactured as Calzaghe’s did before the Manchester Massacre.

Calzaghe, and not only Americans thought he was an underdog, his countrymen also had Lacy as favorite, was believed to be one of promoter Frank Warren’s “protected” fighters. He never wandered too far from home – the excuse was a fear of flying – and every time he seemed about to make a meaningful match, something happened.

Warren has done a magnificent job with his fighters in bringing them carefully to the top, then making a lot of money for them (and himself, of course) by matching them gingerly. But Calzaghe, finally given a chance to show his wares in a major contest, showed that protected or not, he flat-out knows how to fight – though the same Brits who made him an underdog on his home field are now saying he’s the greatest of the great.

He was brilliant in his geometry. He kept Lacy at jab’s length and rattled in combination after combination. Body, head, head, body. The American’s corner let it continue on the theory that just one punch could change things. At this level, I do not disagree. I do not feel Lacy will be “ruined” by the physical beating. Psychologically, the man who escaped the streets of St. Petersburg may face greater problems now that his confidence has been shattered.

Calzaghe, meanwhile, could go on to wipe out the rest of the state of the Florida. He immediately expressed an interest in fighting Antonio Tarver, who meets fellow “dinosaur” (as Bob Arum calls them) Bernard Hopkins on June 10. Tarver, who not long ago was musing about going up to heavyweight before taking on a 41-year-old middleweight, would not mind defending his light-heavyweight championship (the real one) against another smaller guy in the 168-pound Calzaghe.

I’m not sure the Tarver, who will be 38 in November and is in decline, gets by Hopkins, who has already declined. I’d make Calzaghe a big favorite over him. Then the Welshman could also call out someone smaller – the winner of the Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright middleweight title bout, which figures to be Wright (naturally, I could be wrong). Wright’s aptitude and skills, learned from Birmingham, are night and day compared to his Tampa Bay buddy Lacy, but pound-for-pound, he would be giving away too many pounds against Calzaghe.

After Lacy, Tarver and Wright, Calzaghe could go after Glencoffe Johnson and, if he gets that far, maybe convince Roy Jones Jr. to finally fight him.

And he could leave all his belts at home. There seems no longer much intrinsic value to world championships. Proliferation of belts, and weight divisions, have diluted the very idea. Calzaghe doesn’t have a full claim to the super-middleweight title: there’s a couple of other belt-wearers out there, notably the undefeated Dane, Mikkel Kessler. Calzaghe is certainly not the “undisputed” 168-pound king, but who cares? At the highest levels, maybe only “pound-for-pound” should count.

I remember Pernell Whitaker, before fighting Julio Cesar Chavez, who was trying to become the first Mexican to win titles in four different weight classes, saying he didn’t even know where his WBC welterweight belt was, “probably in some closet.”

“If he wants it, I’ll give it to him,” he said. “I’m interested only in my ‘pound-for-pound’ title so I don’t even care about the judges. The whole world will see who the real ‘pound-for-pound’ champion is.”

(Thus, Whitaker didn’t mind so much that he was given only a “draw” against Chavez, certainly not as much as I did since I had bet real, undisputed money on him.)

It’s the same thing these days with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He doesn’t need any phony alphabet, or two-bit magazine, to dress him in belts and titles. He just needs to fight the best out there and keep winning.

Obviously, Calzaghe is too big for him. But he is now a player in the only ratings that seem to matter any more. I didn’t have him in my top 25 (not even 26th), which says more about me than about him. I had Lacy 16th. Calzaghe said he hoped us brilliant experts would move him into the top ten.

Considering the loss of Juan Manuel Marquez over the weekend, there is an opening. Marquez was No. 7 on my list, but I’m going to move Calzaghe even higher, ahead of Rafael Marquez into the sixth slot behind, in order, Mayweather, Wright, Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera and Jose Luis Castillo. I round out my top ten with No. 8 Diego Corrales, followed by Ricky Hatton and Erik Morales (I am quite lenient with losers when they are defeated by top opposition).

And frankly, as long as the top guys fight the top guys, who cares if there’s a belt on the line. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe some TV network gives a damn.

FOUL PLAY: It was an accident, but so are most headbutts and when unlucky Kirk Johnson, inadvertently tripped when Javier Mora stepped on his left foot, tore up his right knee upon falling, he should never have been declared loser by TKO in the seventh round on the Worst Damn Decision last Friday night in California. Johnson was ahead on two cards, even on the third and, in the seventh round, when the accident occurred was scored, he would have been ahead on all three. As in the case when an accidental butt causes a fight to be stopped because of a cut, it seems rather logical that this bout should have gone to the scorecards where Johnson would have won. But John Hornewer, Johnson’s attorney, said there seemed to be a rush to clear the way for the main event featuring Sam Soliman, and he said a protest had been filed with the California commission. At the very least, the bout should be changed to “no contest” or “no decision.” The worst news for Johnson, whose only losses were to John Ruiz and Vitali Klitschko, is that he’ll be on another extended injury leave – from six to nine months, said Hornewer, for the dislocated right knee. Johnson will be 34 in June….He had Mora almost out in the third round, but the Mexican rebounded and hurt the coasting Canadian in the fifth and also won the sixth. But Johnson seemed to have gained his second wind and was in charge….It didn’t help that the soles of his shoes were wet from all the water in the ring, especially in Mora’s corner. It’s about time commissions outlawed all the painted commercials on the canvas, a clear and present danger to fighters….Funny, it’s okay for promoters to make an extra buck by putting the boxers at risk, but when the pugs try to get a few extra shekels by tattooing ads on their backs, it’s unfair.

Hornewer, watching Lacy struggle under Dan Birmingham, the man who trains Winky Wright, was reminded by something hall of famer Mickey Duff once said: “I’ve known more great fighters who’ve made great trainers than great trainers who’ve made great fighters.”…Maybe not as funny as what Duff said about his height-challenged countryman, Frank Maloney – “He’s so suspicious he’d walk under a black cat” – but with a bit more wisdom.

PENTHOUSE: Joe Calzaghe, who when his father and trainer, Enzo, suggested maybe keeping away the last couple of rounds, felt compelled to try and close the show. He very much is a real fighter.

OUTHOUSE: HBO, and its spokesperson, Jim Lampley, for letting the cat out of the bag Saturday night in the second round of that ugly matchup between Miguel Cotto and Gianluca Branco. During the second round, Lampley reported that Calzaghe had beaten Lacy, thereby spoiling the ending for West Coast viewers who were to get Showtime’s tape delay of the Manchester fight later. You can’t tell me that this wasn’t a blatant attempt to hurt Showtime’s ratings, though I doubt if that would have been Lampley’s intent. He is a house man, though….The 35-year-old light-hitting Branco did not deserve a fight with Cotto – I don’t care if his only previous loss was to Arturo Gatti. It was also his only previous fight outside Europe. Of course, HBO wouldn’t allow Mayweather to fight Branco when the Italian was No. 1 in the WBC….Cotto seems to be on an Italian diet. He next faces Paul Malignaggi in the Garden on June 10 in a pay-per-view show that goes up against the sickly Tarver-Hopkins p-p-viewer. Then he could face the winner of the Carlos Baldomir-Gatti 147-pound welterweight title bout, and if I’m not wrong, that should be Gatti….This shows exactly why “titles” are so meaningless. Gatti was battered by Mayweather worse than Lacy was by Calzaghe, yet he can be the “real” champion if he gets past Baldomir while his conqueror must be content facing Zab Judah. At the end of the day, who’s the best welterweight of this group? HBO apparently only allows C-plus fighters in its tournaments….Lou DiBella turned down a shot at 154-pound titleholder Roman Karmazin for Ike Quartey, preferring to wait for the oft-injured Vernon Forrest to heal.

So they’re going to take the Tarver-Hopkins show on the road and one of the places the press tour will visit is St. Petersburg/Tampa. The contestants will fit in real well with the shuffleboard set….Hopkins began his career getting decisioned as a light-heavyweight, then kept to the middleweight division until now. Bookends, anyone?…Of course, Tarver will have been off eight months by the time of the old-timers day festivities. He was off seven months from his second-round knockout of Roy Jones Jr. until he lost to Glencoffe Johnson….Tarver chose Hopkins instead of Lacy. Wonder what he’s thinking about that decision now….This is one of those rare times when I’ll be rooting for Bob Arum, well not so much for him, but for his Cotto-Malignaggi show.

DIS AND THAT: Yoel Judah is saying his baby, Zab, doesn’t have to do any interviews before his unearned April 8 with Floyd Mayweather Jr. “Let Floyd do it all, he’s making all the money.” So whose fault is that? Who lost to Carlos Baldomir?…Judah’s side, which includes Don King, is getting $1 million for the bout. Guess Judah will be making somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000….Wonder if King is going to dock Ricardo Mayorga for the promoter’s doctors’ bill. Mayorga began the pushing match on the Oscar De La Hoya tour that resulted in King being shoved off the stage and suffering a painful rib injury. As he said years ago when Mitch Green chased him into the kitchen at Madison Square Garden, “This is getting to be a rough business.”…Victor Darchinyan, one of those 112-pound champions, can obviously punch, but I’d keep him away from Jorge Arce, who not only can hit, but can duck….Adrian Monk caught the bad guy, but we knew that before the show started, didn’t we? Still, Tony Shaloub is a lot more entertaining than listening to the just-as-predictable Brian Kenny or the repetitive Teddy Atlas.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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