Our decision streak has ended, and we could easily finish the night with another early stoppage, as Wanderlei Silva (34-12-1) returns to Japan to take on Brian Stann (12-5) in the main event at light heavyweight. Marc Goddard serves as the referee in charge of the action.
Round 1: Stann fires off several shots, but slips, and Silva gains control. Again, Stann unloading with rights, and this has been one intense and exciting opening minute. Stann misses, and Silva tells him to come. Stann nearly floors Silva with a right in response, and they are just standing and trading right now - old school MMA. Stann comes in, lands a right, but catches Silva with a low blow and the action is stopped. After way too much of Silva "fixing" himself, we are back to action. Silva counters a kick with a huge right, which he is loading up constantly. Silva floors Stann with a serious of shots, Stann jumps up and starts firing off lefts and rights. Blood from the face of both fighters, but more from Stann than Silva.
Round 2: The crowd greets them to start the round, and both fighters smile. A big cut on the bridge of Stann's nose, and it will likely be open again with one landed punch. Counter right and the blood is pouring. Silva just misses with a right and Stann lands. We have another low shot by Stann and a break in the action. Stann with an overhand right, and Silva throws a switch kick. Silva catches Stann and drops him, following up with some ground-and-pound and this one is all over. The Saitama Super Arena is overjoyed for "The Axe Murderer."
Wanderlei Silva def. Brian Stann via KO (strikes) at 4:08 of Round 2
Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve
Will our string of eight consecutive decisions end with the co-main event? Heavyweights Mark Hunt (8-7) and Stefan Struve (25-5) both have plenty of finishes, so it could. The referee will be Herb Dean.
Round 1: Just such an interesting dynamic in the Octagon, with Struve having a foot-advantage in terms of height. Struve also with his typical slap marks on his chest and back from his corner to "hype" him up before the fight. Hunt unloads with a huge left that misses, and now he goes to the body. Struve pulls guard and is looking to secure his 17th career submission victory. Struve flips over to the mount with a butterfly guard sweep. Hunt escapes an arm-triangle attempt, but is now mounted and being hammered with lefts and rights. Hunt rolls and Struve goes from his back to a possible armbar attempt with 90 seconds left in the round. Hunt avoids it, but could be getting flipped again with a sweep. Big right by Hunt gets through, and he gets side control and does some damage before the round ends.
Round 2: Hunt unloads, landing a left hook to the chin of Struve, but he doesn't go down. Hunt tees off again with a left, but his corner wants him to go to the body. Struve fires off an elbow to the face instead of a jab, a nasty strike if he continues to use it. Hunt is unloading again with several lefts that are getting through the defense. Hunt loses control after taking Struve down, and now he is being mounted and pounded. Struve tries for an armbar, but is unable to secure it and Hunt is on top of him.
Round 3: Hunt goes to the body, and lands a big left hook, as well. Neither fighter appears to have much left in the tank, but they are standing and trading still. Hunt answers a left jab with a combo, and Struve fires off a kick right to the chin. Big right from Struve lands, but Hunt hurts him with a shot. Left gets through from Hunt, as does another and Struve is floored. Hunt walked away from a downed Struve, but the ref did not step in right away to call it. It was a flying left hook, and it appears Struve was out, only to be woken up when he slammed off the fence.
Mark Hunt def. Stefan Struve via TKO (strikes) at 1:44 of Round 3
Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanche
A catch-weight bout is up next, as Takanori Gomi (34-8) seeks a third consecutive victory against Diego Sanchez (23-5). Sanchez missed the 155-pound lightweight mark, and will forfeit 20-percent of his fight purse to Gomi. The referee will be Marc Goddard.
Round 1: Gomi cutting off Sanchez, trying to catch him early. Sanchez goes to work with the kicks. Gomi times the kick attempts this time and lands a right. Sanchez scores with a takedown, but is unable to execute much ground-and-pound, and Gomi gets up. Sanchez nearly locks in a kneebar, but Gomi remains calm and gets out of it. Body shot lands by the Japanese fighter, as does a kick to the midsection.
Round 2: Gomi fends off a Sanchez takedown attempt, and continues to pepper him with jabs, especially to the body. Sanchez has found his rhythm a little more this round, coming in with power strikes. Gomi continues to work the lead leg. Sanchez is countering each time Gomi comes in, but he's unable to score with a takedown attempt. Liver kick connects from "The Dream," as Gomi fires back with several lefts and rights. A flying knee misses, but Sanchez hits a body shot.
Round 3: Sanchez storms out of the corner to start the round, but quickly gets pushed near the fence by Gomi. Sanchez lands a jab and a kick, and if you missed it, Greg Jackson made sure to announce it loud enough for the judges to hear, I am sure. There has been enough action from both fighters, but not a lot of flurries or combos from either one. Quick right jab by Gomi lands. Kick to the body stops Gomi for a brief moment, but Sanchez still cannot convert with a takedown. A minute left, and it will be interesting to see how this one is scored overall and individually. Both go for kicks at the same time, and Sanchez finishes strong with a flurry of lefts and rights.
Diego Sanchez def. Takanori Gomi via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard
Former UFC middleweight No. 1 contender Yushin Okami (28-7) seeks a third straight victory as he takes on ex-Bellator champion Hector Lombard (32-3-1). Herb Dean is set to be the third man inside the cage.
Round 1: Lombard quickly cutting off Okami, coming forward and throwing big shots. Lombard lands a kick, but it allows Okami a takedown, which he gets. Lombard gets back to his feet and is looking to strike. Big right lands by Lombard, but he misses on a left uppercut. Right hook, followed by a left hook, and Okami scores another takedown. Lombard gets back up as we go under a minute, but not getting away from "Thunder."
Round 2: Lombard appears very hesitant to get too close, as he wants to avoid the takedown. Okami throws a knee to the body, and follows it up with a jab. Okami lands a left that backs up "Lightning." Quick left jab by Okami gets through, as does another, and two rights. Lombard looks more like his fight with Tim Boetsch than Rousimar Palhares right now - frustrated and swinging wildly. Okami scores with another single-leg takedown, moving to top position and into half-guard. Okami into the mount with 40-plus seconds left, and lands an elbow that glances off the forehead of Lombard.
Round 3: Lombard knows he needs a finish, and he attacks. Lombard has Okami wobbled for a brief moment thanks to some serious body shots. Now, he is throwing everything at his head, including a big left that sneaks through the defense. Okami answers with a knee, but misses a takedown and Lombard is on top of him with just under four minutes to go. Okami trying to reverse things, but Lombard sprawls and takes the back, hammering down with just under three minutes to go. Lombard attempting to pass and move to a dominant position as we go under two minutes. Now, Lombard asks for Okami to stand, and they clinch. Lombard sprawls to avoid the takedown and pops into the guard with a minute remaining.
Yushin Okami def. Hector Lombard via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani YahyaWe head to the featherweight ranks next, asStrikeforce import Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1) takes on Rani Yahya (17-7). Marc Goddard is the referee in charge of the action.
Round 1: Hirota looking to cut off the cage, but Yahya throws a huge right that connects, shoots and scores a quick takedown. Yahya falls over Hirota, but grabs hold of the arm. Hirota escapes and is now in the top position. Yahya, the stronger wrestler, reverses things and is in control now, possibly looking for a submission. Hirota works to his feet, only to be taken right back to the canvas. Kenny Florian brings up the Shinya Aoki fight for Hirota in which Aoki snapped his arm. Yahya working the kimura, but is unable to lock it in and moves to the back. The round ends, though, before he can lock in a submission.
Round 2: Yahya gets another takedown right at the start, keeping Hirota from doing anything with his advanced striking game. Yahya with a submission locked in, calmly working to choke Hirota out with over two minutes to go. Yahya moves a bit, but is unable to finish off Hirota with the choke. Completely controlling performance by Yahya, though he has been unable to finish Hirota
Round 3: So far, this round, Hirota has remained upright longer than the second. Yahya shoots, but is unable to get the takedown. Again, Hirota fends off the takedown attempt. Yahya goes for a single-leg this time, and gets it, but Hirota transitions to the back for a brief time before locking in a triangle and a possible armbar. Things just got interesting, as Hirota has the arm locked up tightly, but Yahya is able to reverse things and move to the back. Hirota looking to use some ground-and-pound, hammering away and getting out. Hirota throws a huge knee that misses, as Yahya is fatigued. Hirota pounding away with 30 seconds left.
Rani Yahya def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
We begin the main card with a welterweight showdown between Dong Hyun Kim (16-2-1) and Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1), who has not lost since 2008. Bahadurzada is on a seven-fight win streak, which includes a 42-second knockout of Paulo Thiago last year. The referee will be Herb Dean.
Round 1: No touch of gloves, as Bahadurzada has had a lot to say through Twitter concerning "Stun Gun." Quick right catches Kim, but he keeps coming and tries for a takedown to no avail. Big head kick thrown by Kim, but gets blocked. Kim with another high kick that gets through, but just a gracing blow, and Bahadurzada throws another right. Kim with some swelling forming under his right eye already. Kim gets a left through the defense, landing flush and scoring with a takedown. Kim in the mount, landing shots to the head, but the ref is warning him to work. The round ends with Kim in control.
Round 2: Kim with some intense swelling on his face already, but is standing and trading with Bahadurzada. Nice sprawl, and Bahadurzada avoids the takedown attempt. This time, Kim powers his way to the takedown. Kim in side control and looking to advance. Not much action, as Kim is controlling the tempo with his wrestling. Now, Kim takes the back, but Bahadurzada slips to the side and winds up mounted. Kim with a big elbow, and several short, quick ones, as well. Kim looking for a possible head-and-arm choke, but is unable to lock it up.
Round 3: And, Kim shoots and scores with a takedown right at the start of the round, working to control Bahadurzada. Kim going for a submission with plenty of time to work and in the mount. Kim throwing knees to the body to loosen him up, and he nearly has the head-and-arm choke locked in. Kim gives up on the submission and starts to pound away, throwing his double-hammerfists. Kim lets Bahadurzada throw some shots from the bottom, shakes his head and reigns down with more shots.
Dong Hyun Kim def. Siyar Bahadurzada via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)