Two huge heavyweights made their promotional debuts at UFC 131 last night (June 11, 2011) in Vancouver, Canada.
Both Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo left the cage winners after making an exhilarating first impression with the fans in a "Fight of the Night"-winning performance that allowed each man to leave the arena $70,000 richer.
Despite being hurt multiple times throughout the fight from Einemo punches and being put in precarious positions on the ground, it was "Pee Wee" Herman who left the Octagon with a stoppage victory.
We'll dissect how he was able to overcome Einemo's aggression after the jump:
From the early onset of the fight, it was Herman looking to land leg and body kicks. He connected several times, but eventually Einemo got wise to Herman's early gameplan and started countering with big overhand rights while "Pee Wee" was mid-kick.
Herman looked to be in major trouble after the 2003 Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission wrestling champion caught a body kick and took him down with authority with plenty of time to work his legendary jiu-jitsu skills on the ground. Einemo passed through Herman's guard into side control like butter and quickly put Herman in serious trouble by putting him in twisting arm control similar to what Amir Sadollah used to defeat DaMarques Johnson earlier this year.
But the American wisely pushed off of the fence to backwards somersault himself to safety.
The second round is what made these guys stars. Einemo got off to a great start, landing big right hands while Herman countered with flashy strikes, even throwing in an axe kick for good measure. "The Viking" was not impressed and blasted Herman with a huge knee in the clinch that hurt the Team Quest fighter. But when he pressed the action, "Pee Wee" took his feet out from under him with a crushing leg kick.
When the fighters got to their feet, Einemo again hurt Herman badly with a knee and started teeing off on Herman with punches as he continued to back up straight with his hands down.
Just when it looked like Herman might be done, he put Einemo in the Muay Thai plum and blasted him with a thunderous knee followed by a left hook that dropped the Golden Glory fighter. Herman pounced, but the submission master recovered and defended himself on the ground.
Once the fight was reset, Herman pressed forward with a plethora of huge knees that put Einemo on Queer Street then dropping the Norwegian with another left hook, this time finishing the fight with ground and pound.
This fight was truly a sight to see.
For Einemo, he's likely crushed that he couldn't finish Herman when he had him hurt, but he can't be disappointed with his performance. The 6'6" fighter had obviously been bulking up in preparation for taking on Shane Carwin in his UFC debut and he simply wasn't ready for someone with the speed and quickness of the smaller Herman inside the Octagon.
He's definitely earned another fight in the promotion and expect him to show up considerably slimmer, potentially even 20 pounds lighter. A fight with fellow gigantic European Stefan Struve would be very fun or perhaps the loser of the upcoming Matt Mitrione vs. Christian Morecraft fight later this month. He showed pretty solid technique in this fight and no signs of rust.
It was his bulk that likely cost him a victory.
For Herman, this kid is a breath of fresh air. Just 26 years old and now holding a 21-2 record in MMA, he possesses freak athleticism for a heavyweight. His striking technique was solid, but his defense has a very long way to go. Time and time again he allowed Einemo to blast him with overhand rights because he backed away straight with his hands too low to defend his exposed face.
He's got tremendous potential, now it all depends on whether he can harness it at Team Quest and fix his bad habits. He's got a great chin and a very diverse array of attacks to go along with a great attitude that the fans seem to embrace.
Herman had a smile on his face for the whole fight, even when he was getting punched in the face repeatedly. There's no question, this kid needs a fight with fellow UFC 131 winner Joey Beltran. With their cardio and ridiculous chins, that bout would have the potential to be the heavyweight version of Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia number one.
Were you as impressed by Herman and Einemo's debut in the UFC as this author was? Do either of these heavyweights have the potential to someday contend?
Speak up, Maniacs!