Bryan Alvarez's UFC on FOX live coverage from the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA: Fight of the Year, plus Velasquez vs. Dos Santos for the heavyweight title



By Bryan Alvarez
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Dave's Internet is not good so his updating will be hit or miss. I'll do my best here with the same connection.

I should note there is hardly anyone in the building at this point. The red carpet guests aren't scheduled to arrive until around 4 PM.

We're starting with round two of the second fight.

Aaron Rosa: "I was very happy to go out there and get the win in such a big show. When the people started cheering it made all the work worthwhile. My hands are feeling a little roughed up but I’m very excited to get back in the octagon as soon as possible."

Matt Lucas: "I was way too reluctant and I couldn’t seem to find my rhythm or put my strikes together the way that I planned to. I was stalling, I think being under the lights for the first time in an event like this had something to do with it. Hopefully I’ll be back to show the fans what I can do."

Mike Pierce vs. Paul Bradley. First round was mostly on the feet, lots of kickboxing. Both guys came out swinging again in the second. Clinch in the center with both guys throwing knees. Bradley actually had the Muay Thai clinch. Pierce with the takedown attempt, gets stuffed. More long clinching in the middle with both guys exchanging knees. This is a patient crowd. Flurry by Pierce, now he's bulled him into the fence. He tried a takedown and got stuffed. This fight is boring. These guys have stood in the same clinching position for so long right in the middle of the cage that I could have done a painting of them by now. Pierce with a flurry as the round ended, didn't land much, but he threw. 10-9 Pierce, I guess. In the third. It's the long mid-ring clinch. Where's my canvas. Bradley landed several shots, then went for a takedown. Because what better time to shoot for a takedown then when you are winning on the feet. The clinch is back. The ref actually separated them from the clinch, which, I should note, was taking place in the MIDDLE OF THE RING, and told them to work. Crowd cheered. They, of course, went right back to the clinch. Pierce threw a few shots to the ribs. OH MY GOD, A TAKEDOWN. You got him now, Paul Bradley. Or not. He hugged Pierce's legs. Pierce, meanwhile, was punching him. So to me, Pierce was winning this exchange. Bradley let him up, having accomplished nothing except getting hit a lot. Bradley's head was busted open. Went the distance. They trained months for this. Pierce's fight on my card. Scores were 29-29 Bradley, 30-27 Pierce and 29-28 Pierce. Yippee.

Mike Pierce: "I just want to thank all the fans for their support. I felt great tonight and I’m happy to get another win and continue moving up the ranks in this division."

Paul Bradley: "I’m very disappointed in my performance. I didn’t leave everything in the Octagon like I always plan to. I’ll go back to the drawing board and come back better."

Alex Caceres vs. Cole Escovedo. Alex of Bruce Leroy fame, that is. Bruce Leroy with a FRONT KICK early, then a superman punch. Crowd liked that. Good left by Alex. He tried a side kick. Bruce was landing shots and Cole was just backing up, not throwing anything or really even defending all that much. Hard leg kick by Alex. Spinning backfist by Alex that head everyone gasping in the arena. He was just too fast, getting in and out, landing shots and not taking any damage whatsoever. He tried a flying knee and Cole finally clinched and landed some shots. Cole tried a takedown but Alex landed on top, punched him and then stood up. Gonna be a long night for Cole at this Alex did this amazing kick where he threw a right round kick and as it connected he jumped up and threw a left round kick. He was basically landing everything they teach in a Tae Kwon Do class that people make fun of and say, "That shit doesn't work." They had a crazy moment near the finish. Alex threw a kick and it looked low, and Herb Dean stepped in like he was going to give Cole a time out to recover, and Cole SHOVED HIM OFF and then went after Alex with a flurry. Alex turned it around and clinched against the fence. Hell of a round for Alex, 10-9. More of the same in the second. Cole was at least moving forward a little more this time. Well, when he wasn't retreating from wild flurries. The difference here was the movement. Alex would get in and out. Cole would defend defend defend and then try to lunge in and hit something, usually failing. He finally got in there and pulled guard, but Alex stood up, punched him several times, got tripped, but then was back on his feet. He threw a high kick so high that it was higher than the cage. The worst trouble Alex had was when they clinched, and it wasn't much trouble. Another easy 10-9 for Alex. They ended up on the ground early in the third and Alex tried a triangle but didn't get it, then tried an armbar and came much closer. Then he just started wrapping his legs randomly around Cole's arms and that ultimately led to nothing, but the fans thought it was pretty cool. Back on the feet. Cole was getting tagged right and left and was giving Alex the attitude, like HOW DARE YOU HIT ME, HERE IN THIS FIGHT. Alex kept hitting him. Cole got another takedown. He tried to set up a triangle and armbar of his own but Alex slipped out. Third round was a little closer but Alex wins the round and the fight. Caceres got the win 30-27.

Alex Caceres: “I feel great and I don’t think it has all registered yet. This was my third fight under the UFC banner and considering that I lost my first two I knew that tonight it was do or die. After my last loss I felt it was my conditioning that cost me the win. House, the cut-man, told me I needed to work on my endurance and he gave me a list with some different sprints to do. I think those definitely helped me get the victory tonight. It’s my dream to fight in the UFC and I want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.”

Cole Escovedo: “Nothing that Alex hit me with hurt me in the fight. He didn’t have any power on his punches and we knew that coming into the fight. I accidentally cut to 134 yesterday and I think that hurt my stamina in the fight and cost me the win. I’m extremely disappointed with my performance.”

Building starting to fill up. Still seven fights remaining.

Robbie Peralta vs. Mackens Semerzier. They must have felt pressed for time with two decisions in a row as these guys didn't get a ring entrance. Hard leg kick by Mackens early. Mackens bulled him up against the fence and they clinched. Mackens was trying to muscle him up into a throw but it wasn't working. Mackens dropped him with a shot but Robbie was right back up, and it was another clinch against the fence. Single leg by Mackens. Robbie actually did a good job defending from the bottom. Mackens couldn't pass his guard so he held his feet and was content to punch him in the stomach. He did land one good Dan Henderson lunging punch to the face but it was no KO, then the round ended. 10-9 Mackens. Mackens threw a kick but appeared to slip and Robbie pounced. Fans went nuts though, so I think they thought that Robbie knocked him down. Mackens took some shots but then was back on his feet and hit another single leg. Back up and clinching against the fence. Rest of the round was a stand-up battle. More of the same in the third. Robbie suddenly dropped him and hurt him. Mackens grabbed his leg but was more holding on for dear life than anything. Robbie from a vertical base, as they say in wrestling, landed shot after shot until John McCarthy stopped it. We then had quite the moment. They showed a replay, and the shot that dropped Mackens -- ready for this? -- COMPLETELY MISSED. Crowd booed like crazy. They showed a second replay in slow motion and the shot went right over his head, not even grazing him. I was aghast, thinking I had just seen a guy take a dive on the first-ever UFC on FOX. So they showed another replay, this time from a different angle, and in fact it was not the phantom shot that dropped him, but rather, a split-second before the swing, they bonked heads. It was actually a headbutt that dropped him. McCarthy didn't see it. So it wasn't a dive, it was just an illegal move that led to the end of the fight, meaning if Mackens was on the bubble, well, he should get another fight here.

Robert Peralta: “When I caught him I was just trying to throw everything I had to finish him as quickly as possible. I have a baby on the way at home so I’m excited to get back after a great performance.”

Mackens Semerzier: “Good Fight, I lost that’s it.”

I am adding post-fight quotes as they come in, so scroll up as we go on to see what everyone had to say about their BATTEL earlier in the evening.

Naofumi Kid Yamamoto vs. Darren Uyenoyama. Lots of movement from Kid. Darren tried a shot early but couldn’t get it. Kid was doing a faster version of Bruce Leroy's strategy, trying to get in and out and avoid damage. Clinch against the fence. Awesome judo hip thrown by Kid, ending up in Darren's guard. Crowd went nuts for that throw. Darren was pushing off the fence. I love UFC rules. You can push off the fence but you can't grab the fence. Unless you use your toes. You can push off the fence with your hands or feet, and you can grab the fence with your toes, but if you grab the fence with your fingers you are breaking the RULES. Scramble on the ground and Kid looked in trouble for a moment. Darren got his back and went for a choke. There were some Darren fans about ten feet from me losing their shit here. Darren put on a choke with ten seconds left. Kid made a motion with his glove with 1 second left. It could have been interpreted as a tap but Kid said no, I didn't tap. For whatever it's worth, the choke wasn't under the chin and fully applied, although if you are good, you can still make a guy tap if it's not fully sunk in. Darren went for a takedown in the second. He fought for a long time and finally got it. Given Kid's wrestling pedigree, the number of times he's been taken down in his last few fights is kind of astonishing. Darren transitioned to the back again. He mostly fought for the choke for the next few minutes. Kid did a great job defending but was doing a poor job escaping. He eventually gave up on the choke and was pounding on him. 10-8 Darren. Did you know that the odds for this fight were 5-to-1 in some sportsbooks for Yamamoto? Oh yes. They ended up on the ground very early in the third and Darren was trying to set up an armbar from the bottom with a super high guard. Yamamoto stood up and tried to pass but ate an upkick. Back on the feet. Kid needs to finish this fight. By the way, you haven't lived until you've covered MMA next to BEN MILLER. Ben was trying to explain how it was preposterous to even THINK the second round was a 10-8. "Stop hating," Ben said upon reading that comment. "The man who doesn't even follow sports is trying to tell me, Ben Fucking Miller, how to judge. Jesus Christ. I'm trying to watch football up here and you're trying to tell me how to judge." So then the fight ended and he said, and I quote, "Well, there's my bet, down the shitter." Scores were 30-27, 30-26 and 30-27, meaning, in fact, one 10-8 score.

So apparently Todd Martin and I are heading down to investigate and report on something I have never heard of UFC doing before -- a RED CARPET arrival of fighters and celebrities. This I've got to see. So check out Dave's report on the front page while I'm gone. I should return no later than 4:30 PM Pacific or so.

Darren Uyenoyama: “I was walking to the Octagon and I still couldn’t believe I was about to compete in the UFC. I didn’t have an easy road to get here and I had the honor of fighting a legend and a personal hero of mine. I hope that the fight wasn’t boring because I tried to make it exciting for the fans. I had trouble with a cut during training and ‘Kid’ was able to open it up again in there. He hit me with some hard shots and I’m happy I was able to take them because I think that he is one of the hardest punchers in the division.”

Norifumi Yamamoto: “I’d like to apologize to the fans for putting on a boring fight. Darren is very good and much stronger on the ground than I expected. I tried very hard to get up but he was very good at controlling me from my back. The choke wasn’t tight and I did not tap. I was telling the ref that I was okay and when I waved to him the crowd must have thought it was a tap.”

So the red carpet deal was something else. I felt like I was working for E! There were both big-time celebs and UFC celebs there, everyone from former WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette to Bones Jones and GSP -- I even saw Jason Mayhem Miller in a tuxedo. That was a mind-blower. We got some brief video that may or may not see the light of day, and also a few photos. In all seriousness, this made UFC come off as super big time, and its stars really big deals.

Cub Swanson vs. Ricardo Lamas. A wild all-action fight early. Lamas got a takedown and worked to pass the guard. He was both working to pass and throwing shots at the same time. Cub, who was bleeding from the head, went for a guillotine. Place was going nuts. It was an arm-in guillotine, which is a lot harder to finish, and Lamas popped his head out. Big pop for that. Crowd is really picking up in here. Lamas tried some sort of wacky cartwheel kick, to which Cub responded something to the effect of, "You're not getting that on me!" So then Cub tried a spin kick. Swanson hit several shots and they ended up back on the ground. Swanson passed to side control. He sat on his face in north-south and the crowd responded in such a manner to indicate that they were appalled. Back to the feet. That was an exciting round. 10-9 Cub. Cub was taking him to school on the feet early in the second but then Lamas shot in and took him down. He got the mount and transitioned into a side choke. Lamas tried to climb up the cage and flip over but Lamas' base was too strong, and Cub was forced to tap. Great finish to an awesome fight. Lamas afterwards dedicated this fight to his grandmother who just passed away. That was very sad.

I now have an EXCLUSIVE photo of myself with former WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette up on my Facebook at facebook.com/officialbryanalvarez, so head up there and check it out! Become a fan of the page if you want more, and also click "LIKE" or whatever it is the kids do nowadays on social media.

Dustin Poirier vs. Pablo Garza. The tide had turned for the fans in my area here. Now, if guys did no engage for 30 seconds, the booing started. And these guys took longer than 30 seconds to really engage. Garza threw a kick and Dustin caught it and landed a bunch of shots. Pablo had thrown the same kick like ten times, so no surprise it got caught. Same thing happened a second time. Pablo really wanted to throw this kick, because despite getting his foot caught twice he kept throwing it. But alas, Poirier then threw a kick and PABLO caught it. What psychology. Dustin got a kick to the pills. Poirier landed another flurry and as Pablo was ducking out of the way Poirier took him down. He landed elbows from the top in half guard. Dustin was all over him. Pablo was playing high guard but the round expired. 10-9 Dustin. Pablo tried a takedown but pretty much immediately gave up on it and ended up on his back. Suddenly the place went nuts. What the hell is going on? Someone showed up, someone hated. I couldn't see who it was but it appeared they were with a blonde so I'll take a wild guess and presume Brock Lesnar showed up. Regardless, whoever it was, the people in his area were booing like crazy. It sucked for Poirer because as nobody was paying any attention to him, he put on a sweet D'Arce choke and got the submission. He should have challenged Brock or whoever it was to a fight afterwards.

Dustin Poirier: “I use that choke all the time in the gym and I’m happy I could showcase it tonight. I’ve got a great jiu jitsu game; eventually someone will put me on my back and I’ll get a chance to prove it. I didn’t cut any corners during my camp for this fight and I think it showed through tonight. Hopefully, I’ll get another tough opponent next time out.”

Pablo Garza: “I’m not happy with the loss but I’ll be back stronger. Congrats to Dustin and to all the fans for coming out. I wish I could’ve came out with the win for them.”

Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson in a number-one contender's match for the UFC 155-pound championship. Place popped big for the announcement that this was starting, then went nuts for Clay during his entrance. Super reaction. Henderson was booed quite a bit during the ring intros. They announced Clay as a former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. That was back in 2006. LOUD "GUIDA!" chants. Good right hand by Clay. He threw a nother and slipped and Ben just threw shot after shot. Clay looked rocked. He dropped own and grabbed a single. Ben stuffed it and landed a knee. Ben with basically a front facelock and lots of shots. Clay tried a bodylock takedown. Now they were clinching against the fence. That was a crazy start to the round. "GUIDA!" Clay took him down and Benson was in the splits. They quickly stood up. That was nuts. Another long clinch against the fence. Ben was controlling him and landing knees. Clay went for a single and when he couldn't get it he hit a left hook and the place went nuts. More "GUIDA"! chants. Clay tried a wild flying knee and then hit a shot and tried a guillotine, but that wasn't about to happen., plus he wasn't even around the neck anyway. Henderson's gimmick is that he can't be submitted. Clay was now going for a kimura. Didn't get it and ended up against the fence. Super exciting round, 10-9 Henderson. Giant ovation. Clay fought and fought for the takedown in the second, got it, and the place went nuts. They were living and dying with this guy. He got another one and tried I think an arm-in guillotine but he was nowhere close. Now Henderson was going for singles. Hard knee to the gut by Henderson against the cage. Another. Clay caught his foot on a third attempt and took him down. That was like a wrestling spot. Both guys had slowed down considerably, not surprisingly given the pace. Clay with a spinning backfist and he spun so hard that he took this flying bump, crashing near the cage. People gasped and also laughed. It was hilarious. Clay tried a guillotine but this man can be submitted. Now he had Clay's back. He had 32 seconds to try to finish this choke. He didn't bother wasting his energy, he just landed shots until the horn expired. I'd give this 10-9 Henderson. Fans gave this round a standing ovation. They showed a replay of Clay's big bump. Huge ovation for the start of the third round. Clay was bouncing around and being all Clay Guida early. He jumped up and down, he jumps right and left, he shakes his head, he stomps his feet, and then BAM!, he tries to hit you. Sometimes he's successful and sometimes he's not, but that's Clay Guida. He was landing more often than not in this round. Ben bulled him up against the fence. Clay tried a takedown and actually bulled him all the way across the entire cage and Henderson didn't go down. Now Henderson was going for a double. They had a great flurry where Clay through two wild swings and a kick and Ben ducked through all three of them, grabbed his leg on the kick and took him down. He passed to side control and laid on him like a wet blanket. He tried to crucifix the arms but Clay wasn't laying down for that. In a scramble Ben got his back. He triangled the body and went for a choke. Clay slipped out, hit a double leg and put on a guillotine from the top. It was deep but Henderson gave the thumbs-up. In fact, he stopped trying to get out and was just punching Clay. He snuck out the back door, slipped his head out and was pounding on Clay from the top. He threw a shot and it hit the back of Clay's head, and the ref jumped in. I couldn't tell if he was stopping it due to the shot to the back of the head to dock a point or if the round ended. The reason I could not tell is because the fans were so goddamn loud that if the horn sounded, I didn't hear it. Well, the horn sounded and that was the end of the best fight of 2011. Even if you give Clay the third round, on my card Henderson wins, but given how competitive the fight was you really can't be upset no matter what the judges rule. Guida ran around the Octagon dancing after the horn sounded, then danced as they read the scores. They were 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, all for Henderson. Fans booed. Yeah. This was incredible, and if this fight had aired on FOX, these guys would have been superstars for the rest of their lives.

Benson Henderson: “I’m happy but I know that I can do a lot better than that. 30-27 was great but I always work to finish and I made a few mistakes that didn’t allow me to do that. I was stepping into my jab a little too deep and I felt like my timing was a little off. Still, I’m glad I was able to hold it together for the win.”

Clay Guida: “Ben set a fast pace from the get go. That fight was a rollercoaster and been is a hell of a warrior. Fifteen minutes goes by so quickly in there and I still don’t know what exactly happened. Ben was better tonight and this is just a speed bump for me, not a roadblock.”

And the MAIN EVENT is next -- Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos for the UFC Heavyweight Title.

They spent about 10 minutes trying to clean blood off the canvas.

Dana White is in a skybox. I have no idea what he's saying but I imagine he's pissing himself.

A Cain vs. Dos Santos video is playing in the building during commercial break.

#UFConFOX is trending worldwide. Alert WWE.

Well, I lost my bet to Nason about the fight going into the ring no later than 9:15 PM.

Some cool videos playing. Yeah. Sucks to be you guys who didn't see Henderson vs. Clay.

Many of the WWE guys on the UK tour just discovered the station playing UFC and they're all happy and watching it now.

Entrances starting at 6:31 PM. A five-rounder will take them past the top of the hour, so apparently FOX doesn't care. Cain BY FAR the favorite. When his traditional lucha music hit the place went absolutely nuts. Super over babyface.

Building on its feet for Cain.

Time for the biggest introduction of Bruce Buffer's career. Place went absolutely nuts. I hope they mic'd this place well. How apropos that on this, the 18th anniversary of the birth of UFC, John McCarthy is the referee. Although, truth be told, his first UFC was actually UFC 2, not the very first one.

Junior Dos Santos just got booed like crazy. Which is funny because he's such a ridiculously nice guy. But that's his role here. Cain is bigger and smoother than he's been in the past, and the rumor is that he suffered an injury recently. In fact, Dana White kind of acknowledged it, but in doing so also blew it off. I wish I could see Dana in the press box right now.

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title. Cain caught his foot early and tried a takedown, but Junior slipped out. Cain is in there swinging. Junior just tagged him hard and is trying to finish it on the ground. Oh my God, it's over. Kind of hard to see the reaction because I am surrounded, literally surrounded, by Brazilians, and they are going NUTS. So is Junior. They showed a replay and it was a right hook, close to the back of the head, and in the replay it's clear that, in fact, Cain tapped out due to strikes. Everyone is on their feet. Dos Santos is crying in his corner and Cain is very upset. Well, something had to give. Almost makes you wonder, based on the time they sent them into the ring, if maybe UFC knew this fight was unlikely to go five rounds. Or I could also just be bitter because I owe Josh Nason $25. And he was, in fact, the one person in the staff picks who also chose Dos Santos to win. So he had a good night. I'll get him next time.

Fight went one minute, four seconds.

Dos Santos just noted that he was scared to face Cain, he was hurt going in, very worried, and was really happy.

People actually booed poor Velasquez during his post-fight promo.

And we are out of here. Want to thank everyone for reading. Dave and I will be up later tonight with post-show audio, plus I'll have more coverage in this week's new Figure Four Weekly (have I mentioned, available in PDF?) on Wednesday morning. I'll also be up LIVE with Mike Sempervive at 3:00 PM Pacific/6 PM Eastern Sunday, Sports Byline USA radio network, Sirius Satellite Radio ch 94, XM Radio ch 208, plus streaming live on the front page of this website. Talk to everyone then!

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