In advance of the UFC on Versus 4 main card tonight, the Ultimate Fighting Championship streamed seven undercard fights from their Facebook page. Several UFC stars were dropping weight and making their debuts in new divisions tonight including former title contender Joe Stevenson as well as tough competitors Tyson Griffin and Rich Attonito.
Griffin fought former featherweight title challenger Manny Gamburyan in the final undercard bout in what was an extremely even and hotly contested match. Gamburyan slightly got the better of the grappling while Griffin barely got the edge in the striking department, landing several big leg kicks that turned the Armenian's lead left leg bright red.
When the judges turned in their scorecards, Griffin barely earned the slight edge with a majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-29). Gamburyan protested, but it was a very close fight and literally could have gone either way.
How did everyone else on the undercard fare? Our complete 'Kongo vs. Barry" undercard recap is after the jump.
Joe Stevenson was hoping that cutting to featherweight would revitalize his career but his performance certainly didn't do much to help him. Coming in after three consecutive losses, the UFC gave him one last chance and "Daddy" did nothing to convince them they made a good decision.
His opponent Javier Vazquez consistently beat him to the punch in the stand-up and was actually the superior grappler as well, scoring repeated takedowns and threatening with submission attempts.
Stevenson seemed content with mean-mugging Vazquez and doing a lot of bobbing and weaving despite his opponent tiring and standing directly in front of him. When it was all said and done, Vazquez easily took a unanimous decision and has likely sent Stevenson packing.
In lightweight action, Joe Lauzon put a hurting on Curt Warburton. Both men exchanged strikes early but Lauzon began to time Warburton's punches and landed a big 1-2 combination that dropped the Brit. After he wasn't able to score the TKO with ground and pound, he quickly transitioned to a Kimura shoulder lock. "J-Lau" really torqued on his stunned opponent's shoulder and forced the quick tap just two minutes into the first round.
Rich Attonito made his debut in the welterweight division and he showed some serious power and improvements in his striking against Daniel Roberts. Roberts started the first two rounds strong with an explosion of power but in each of the first two rounds, Attonito would fight back and overwhelm him with his strength in the clinch, in top position and standing.
By the third round, Roberts was completely gassed and "The Raging Bull" came very close to finishing the fight with some heavy strikes on the feet. Somehow, "Ninja" survived the assault from Attonito, perhaps all the time spent sparring with the Diaz brothers helped him in that area but when it was all said and done, the judges awarded Attonito a unanimous decision.
One of the more controversial fights of the undercard was a very entertaining contest between lightweights Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz. "Da Bronx" hurt Lentz repeatedly with big knees in the clinch as and dropped "The Carnie" with a short uppercut but Lentz, in typical Nik Lentz fashion, pushed forward and made it a scrappy fight. The Minnesota native pushed forward, landing some solid straight punches and used his strength advantage to try to control Oliveira on the ground.
Once on the canvas, Oliveira was extremely active with submission attempts. During a scramble, Lentz was on his way back to his feet and Oliveira landed a brutal knee to the face while he still had a knee on the ground. The referee somehow didn't notice it despite being just six feet away and allowed the fight to continue. As the crowd booed, Oliveira landed a legal knee and finished Lentz with a rear naked choke on the ground.
Joe Rogan announced afterwards that the commission will be reviewing the fight. The final result likely be overturned to a "no contest," but we'll have to wait and see.
Two fighters made their featherweight debuts in the UFC as Ricardo Lamas and Matt Grice squared off in the Octagon. In what happens often between two tough wrestlers, the fight turned into a stand up war. Both men engaged each other with punches and occasional clinches.
Grice was moving his head to the right to avoid much of Lamas' attacks and the Illinois fighter apparently caught on to the movement because he tagged Grice with a beautiful switch kick to the face that stunned the Oklahoman. Lamas pounced and finished the fight a quick flurry of strikes to earn his first UFC victory.
Michael Johnson and Edward Faaloloto got things started with a thrilling back-and-forth striking affair. The Hawaiian Faaloloto had Johnson in trouble early, landing some brutal leg kicks and surprising "The Menace" with his power but Johnson would fight back. At about the halfway mark of the first round, it appeared Faaloloto may have overextended himself with his early surge and Johnson started to make him pay.
The Ultimate Fighter season 12 finalist began to overwhelm Faaloloto with knees in the clinch and eventually dropped his opponent and finished him with ground and pound. It appears the work that Michael Johnson has put in with Imperial Athletics in Florida has really paid off.