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UFC 125: Frankie Edgar & Gray Maynard Draw

David A. Avila

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UFC_125_Edgar_and_Maynard_fightTest Image CommentsUFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar kept his title with a draw after a five-round struggle with challenger Gray Maynard on Saturday.

Edgar may not have avenged his only loss but did manage to stave off Maynard’s attacks while maintaining composure under fire before 12,688 fans at the MGM Grand. Ultimate Fighting Championship 125 boomed out the New Year with a kaboom.

Despite two victories over legendary BJ Penn, the critics still weren’t convinced of Edgar’s abilities. Well some answers came and some questions remain unanswered.

The New Jersey lightweight took a pummeling in the first round as he attempted takedowns and instead was met with punches. It didn’t look good for the shorter Edgar who lost to Maynard several years ago.

Round two saw Edgar concentrate more on punching and moving than take downs and the results were more favorable. Maynard took some good blows from the shorter foe and his eye looked the worse for it.

Maynard found Edgar’s nose with a left hook that drew blood but both had their moments in a back and forth round three.

A takedown by Edgar didn’t draw a point as Maynard rebounded back to his feet quickly in round four. Maynard tried to fight blow for blow with Edgar but the steam had come off his punches. Edgar fired the sharper blows but by the end of the round the Jersey fighter was also tiring.

The final round saw Edgar explode on Maynard with a three-punch combination and followed up by a left hook to the body and right to the head. Maynard countered with a right and tried for multiple takedowns that proved ineffective. Edgar countered with left hooks and an uppercut. Maynard continued to press forward but neither fighter had a clear advantage.

The judges scored it 48-46, Edgar, 48-46 Maynard, 47-47 a draw.

Other bouts:

Brian Stann (10-3) knocked out Chris “The Crusher” Leben (21-7) at 3:37 of the first round of a middleweight fight. An overhand right was the beginning of the end for Leben whose sturdy chin could not absorb the big blows coming his way. Finally a knee and a flurry of blows forced the referee to halt the onslaught. Stann, a former US Marine, is finding more success at the lower weight class.

Brazil’s Thiago Silva (15-2) proved to Brandon Vera (11-6) that even dropping down in weight would not give him an advantage as he thoroughly and convincingly defeated the American now fighting at light heavyweight. All three judges gave the decision to Silva who simply out-fought Vera in every round. “I train everything from wrestling to Muay Thai and the whole fight I was trying to finish the fight. I let my hands go. I love the clinch and that’s the place I want to be,” said Silva. “He said he was going to knock me out and I felt like he was disrespecting me.”

South Korea’s Don Hyun Kim (14-0-1) won a unanimous decision over Nate Diaz (13-6) after three rounds of a welterweight fight. All three judges scored it 29-28 but many saw it the reverse. “I wasn’t able to charge my stun gun this time, but for sure next time I will charge my stun gun,” Kim said.

Clay Guida (28-8) tapped out Japan’s Takanori Gomi (32-7) at 4:27 of the second round of a lightweight battle. Guida used a guillotine choke to force the Japanese fighter to submit. “Before I was in the UFC I was known as a submission guy. So I know I can pull a submission off when I need it,” he said.

Jeremy Stephens (19-6) won a hard fought lightweight battle over Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-9) by knockout at 2:33 of the third and final round. Both had their moments with each displaying firepower and a willingness to exchange. “I knew with Marcus that he creates a lot of problems, but I had the solution. I knew I was younger, faster, stronger but I felt how strong he is and how well he moved with his boxing. You could tell he was a boxer,” said Stephens. “Third round I knew I had to go for the knockout. Either knock out or get knocked out.”

Dustin Poirier (9-1) won a unanimous decision victory over Josh Grispi (14-2) in a featherweight bout. All three judges gave Poirier all three rounds.

Hawaii’s Brad Tavares (6-1) won by technical knockout over Phil “The New York Badass” Baroni (13-13) in a free for all middleweight bash. Baroni was the early aggressor but ran into a right hand that forced the referee to stop the fight at 4:20 of the first round. “Phil Baroni usually comes out with guns blazing but he changed up his style a bit because he’s training at AKA,” Tavares said.

Diego Nunes (16-1) eked out a split decision victory over former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown (23-7) after three rounds. Brown opened up quick and had Nunes the recipient of a ground and pound but was unable to finish the job. “This is a great win. Of course I’m a little sore but it’s great to fight Mike Brown and great to be in the UFC,” Nunes said. “I’ve never had anything in my life and now I’m fighting on the biggest stage and I can only thank God.”

Daniel Roberts (12-1) used a Kimura hold on Greg Soto (8-2) to force a submission at 3:25 of the first round in a fast-pace welterweight clash. “I knew he was giving it to me and that’s my move right there. I just locked it up and I rolled with it. I have a couple of Kimura submissions. I hit it a lot,” Roberts said.

Jacob Volkman (12-2) won a split decision over Antonio Mckee (25-4-2) in a lightweight bout. The fight was fought at a deliberate pace and did not please the fans.  “I stuck to my game plan tonight but I didn’t let my hands go,” said Volkman.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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