By Thomas Gerbasi
OKLAHOMA CITY, September 16 – Lightweight prospect Nate Diaz wanted someone to fight him, someone to go to war with. He got a willing participant in Melvin Guillard Wednesday night, and after Diaz was dropped and cut in the first round, he could have rethought that request. But not this Stockton, California native, who roared back in round two to turn things around with a submission win that punctuated a memorable UFC Fight Night card at the Cox Convention Center.
With the victory, Diaz improves to 11-4; Guillard falls to 41-9-3 with 1 NC.
The action almost started before the opening bell as the two combatants got in each other’s faces, and Guillard wasted no time introducing himself more formally after the bell rang, dropping Diaz with the first right hand he landed. Diaz quickly cleared his head and got back to his feet, and with a minute gone he shot for a takedown and got it. Guillard immediately got up and returned the favor with a throw of Diaz to the mat before standing and resuming the standup battle. Diaz looked to change up tactics though, and he took Guillard down a second time. Guillard was able to stand and break loose, and he swung for the fences as Diaz, bleeding from a cut over his right eye, tried to find openings for his strikes before getting tagged by Guillard. The pace dipped in the final minute, with Guillard’s solid defense keeping Diaz from scoring, but a late scramble got the crowd back into it just before the bell.
Diaz, cocky as ever, mugged for the crowd before round two, but Guillard kept his cool, drilling his foe with a thudding kick to the body. Diaz kept the pressure on, trying to make something happen standing and on the ground, but it was Guillard who was still landing the harder shots. But after getting caught with a jab and playing possum as if he were hurt, Guillard rushed Diaz and got caught in a guillotine. Seconds later, Guillard tapped out at the 2:13 mark, giving Diaz one of the biggest wins of his career.
If this was Roger Huerta’s last mixed martial arts fight, ‘El Matador’ may not have won, but he certainly went down fighting in a closely contested bout with Gray Maynard. But when the scores were tallied, it was the unbeaten Maynard who emerged victorious, using his takedowns, more accurate punching, and a third round kimura attempt to earn a three round split decision victory in the lightweight matchup.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 28-29 for Maynard, who ups his record to 9-0 with 1 NC. Huerta, who is expected to pursue an acting career after fulfilling the last fight of his UFC contract, falls to 22-3-1 with 1 NC.
Huerta had the crowd in his corner at the start, but the fight itself was punctuated by only sporadic bursts of action as the two circled and looked for openings. Maynard’s strikes appeared to be sharper, with Huerta’s year-long layoff perhaps contributing to his lack of accuracy. In the final 90 seconds, Huerta was able to catch Maynard with a quick flurry, drawing a rise from his fans, but Maynard wasn’t rattled, as evidenced by his return fire and a late takedown attempt that was turned back by ‘El Matador.’
Attacking with his kicks to start the second round, Huerta looked relaxed as he stood in the pocket. Maynard, not as aggressive as he usually is, still hadn’t found his rhythm, and he needed to find it soon. Midway through the round, he was able to knock Huerta off balance with a couple of hard shots, and with Huerta starting to miss wildly more and more, those clean, accurate shots were paying dividends for ‘The Bully’.
With the fight still perilously close, the third round became a war of nerves, as the two looked to establish control. In the second minute, Maynard did just that with his first takedown of the fight. Midway through the round, Huerta was able to make it to his feet, only to be sent right back down. Soon, Maynard locked in a kimura, but Huerta wouldn’t tap, and he was able to reverse position and get on top of Maynard as the crowd erupted in cheers. With under a minute later, Huerta got to his feet, but it was Maynard’s takedown attack that built up the points in this pivotal round and ended the bout.
Rising welterweight star Carlos Condit saw stars for much of the first round against Octagon debutant Jake Ellenberger, but the Albuquerque native weathered the early storm and got stronger as the fight progressed, eventually eking out a hard-fought and entertaining split decision win over Ellenberger.
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 28-29 for Condit.
The pace was fast from the opening bell, with Ellenberger (21-5) catching Condit (24-5) with a right hand that sent him to the mat. Condit recovered quickly, but then had to deal with Ellenberger’s attack from the top position. No problem for Condit, who soon made it back to his feet. Again Ellenberger struck gold with his right hand, seemingly hurting Condit worse the second time around. But the former WEC welterweight champ showed resilience a second time, landing with some knees before Ellenberger attacked with a guillotine choke attempt. If Condit was a cat, he would have already been down three lives, but he kept battling and made it out of the round.
“I saw stars for a second and I knew I needed to come back,” said Condit of his rough opening round.
Having had success on the feet in round one, Ellenberger tried his luck on the mat, and the two battled it out on even terms on the ground, with Condit working for submissions that kept Ellenberger guessing. With less than two minutes left, he reversed position and got into the mount, pounding away until Ellenberger was able to get some daylight. With under a minute left, Ellenberger now moved to the top spot, and the two active welters ended the round on their feet, surely earning a 60 second break.
Ellenberger opened the final round with a nice throw to the mat, but Condit was far from idle while on his back, and though he was now cut over his left eye, he was still pushing the action. So was Ellenberger though, and the UFC newcomer went for another guillotine choke that Condit was able to pull free from en route to the top position and some solid ground and pound. With less than two minutes left, it looked like Condit was moving in for the finish with ground strikes. Ellenberger escaped though, and after the two stood, he shot for a takedown that Condit was able to deny, and it was ‘The Natural Born Killer’ who finished the bout with a flurry of punishing ground strikes.
“There are a lot of tough up and comers in the welterweight division,” said Condit, who earned his first UFC win. “Any one of them would be a good fight for me.”
Among diehard fight fans, the Nate Quarry-Tim Credeur match was widely recognized as the one bout on the UFC Fight Night card that was likely to steal the show. Well, it did. Both Quarry and Credeur lived up to expectations with a memorable middleweight war, and in the end, it was Quarry emerging with the victory via a close unanimous decision.
“The gameplan was simple so I wouldn’t forget it - go and fight,” said Quarry. “I actually forgot that and was taking punches. I’ve had three round wars and first round knockouts – don’t let anybody tell you different – first round knockouts are way better. They’re not as painful.”
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 29-27, for Quarry, who improves to 18-3; Credeur falls to 13-5.
Credeur took the early stages of the standup battle behind a busy attack that kept Quarry from getting his timing right. When he did land, it was evident that he had the greater punching power, but until he was able to catch the quicker Credeur consistently, he was going to have to keep eating punches and kicks. With 1:20 left, Credeur caught Quarry and stunned him. Quarry fell to the mat and Credeur tried to finish him with a rear naked choke, but the now bloodied Quarry fought loose and got to his feet, only to take more punishment before the bell sounded.
Quarry came out for round two recklessly in an effort to get back into the fight, but again it was Credeur who was the more accurate puncher. That changed seconds later though, when Quarry rocked and dropped Credeur. With the crowd rising to its feet, Quarry moved in for the kill, but he was unable to finish the gutsy Credeur, who was now sporting some blood on his face as well. As the round progressed, Quarry continued to rain down shots from the top position as Credeur fired back with punches of his own. It made for compelling action and set the stage for the final five minutes.
Early in the third, it was Credeur pushing the action now, and again, he landed with flurries of shots on the granite-chinned Quarry, who swung back with one flush shot to the jaw that dropped Credeur again. Seemingly out of it, referee Herb Dean moved in, but Credeur again weathered the storm. After a brief stay for both fighters on the mat, the two stood and again tagged each other with power shots, Quarry holding the edge despite the fact that his right eye was closing under Credeur’s attack. With under two minutes left, the fighters hit the mat, Quarry controlling matters from the top. Credeur wouldn’t give in though, and with 30 seconds left, Dean stood the fighters, leaving them to give the fans what they wanted one more time with a furious assault of strikes until the bell ended the war.
“A lot of people call me a jiu-jitsu guy,” said Credeur. “I needed to show that I’m much more than that. Crazy Tim will be back, and I’ll always fight like that for the fans.”