Saturday, June 26, 2010 | 3:51 p.m.
SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Brazilian fighter Fabricio Werdum pulled off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history Saturday, submitting Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko in the first round of their heavyweight fight at the HP Pavilion.
Emelianenko (31-2) appeared to be in control early in the fight, knocking Werdum (14-4-1) down with a hard right hook in the opening 30 seconds.
As Emelianenko swarmed in for the finish, however, Werdum regained his composure and locked in a triangle choke. Emelianenko did his best to survive the hold, but was forced to tap out at the 1:09 mark.
“I feel very happy,” said Werdum, who was a 5-to-1 underdog. “I believed in this victory because I put in hard training. Tonight, I beat Fedor — but Fedor is still the best in the world.”
Leading up to the fight, there had been speculation that Emelianenko was considering retirement in the near future. A Russian outlet recently reported that the 33-year-old fighter had entered a primary election for a seat in Parliament.
If Emelianenko needed a boost in motivation, he certainly received one Saturday night — a fact he hinted at immediately after the fight.
“I made a mistake. I will make analysis and try to figure out why it happened,” Emelianenko said. “The one who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up.”
For Werdum, the win could mean a title shot at current champion Allistair Overeem.
In the co-main event, middleweight Cung Le avenged the only loss of his professional career with a TKO win over Scott Smith.
Using a series of jabs and feints to set up his notorious spinning back kicks, Le (7-1) put Smith (18-7) in trouble multiple times during the second round before getting the finish at the 1:46 mark.
It was a tough fight for Smith, who had defeated Le in a miraculous comeback in their last fight in December.
“The last time was his night, this time was my night,” Le said. “He came to fight and I came to fight. When the smoke cleared, I happened to be standing here.”
Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)
Round One: Werdum throws a leg kick to break the ice, checked by Emelianenko. Emelianenko throws a hard right hook that drops Werdum immediately. Werdum finds his composure and locks in a triangle choke. It looks very tight. Emelianenko fighting it, somehow not out yet and now he has to tap. Huge upset. Werdum wins via submission at 1:09 of first round.
Cung Le (7-1) vs. Scott Smith (18-7)
Round One: Smith bringing the fight straight to Le here early. He chases Le from one end of the cage to the other before Le just ties him up in the clinch. Small portion of the arena starts chanting ‘Scott Smith’ immediately drowned out by chants of ‘Cung Le.’ Fighters break and Smith continues his straight forward approach. He lets loose a huge overhand right that misses. Le answers with short, straight punches that hit their mark. Big overhand left this time from Smith, followed by a head kick. Looked like Le blocked them both. Smith shoots, Le defends and Smith ends up stuck on his knees hanging on to Le’s midsection. Smith back to his feet with 90 seconds to go. Smith loads up for another haymaker and Le punches straight forward and hurts him. Smith back down to his knees against the fence with 40 seconds to go. Hard body shots land for Le as Smith is curled up on his knees the rest of the round.
Round Two: Smith trying to move his head around but Le finds it with three consecutive hooks. Spinning back kick lands hard to Smith’s midsection and he looks hurt. He goes down again and covers up. Le on his back and throwing hard lefts. Now a hard knee to the midsection. Smith forced to do something to prolong the fight. He gets back to his feet with Le smothering his back. Le backs off and it’s back to the center of the cage. Another feint punch from Le into the spinning back kick and Smith is down again. This time for good. Le wins via TKO at 1:46 of second round.
Josh Thomson (17-3) vs. Pat Healy (23-16)
Round One: Thomson lands first shot of the night, a left jab under the chin of Healy. Thomson shoots in and body slams Healy to the mat but Healy works immediately back to his feet and pins Thomson against the fence. Healy tries hard for a single leg takedown, Thomson shoves him down and actually steps over his body and takes his back. Thomson transitions into armbar attempt. He wrenches hard on it but Healy breaks the arm free. Thomson works to his feet only to be suplexed by Healy back to the mat. Now it’s Healy who takes the back of Thomson, but Thomson works his way out of the position with no harm done and both fighters end up back on their feet.
Round Two: Healy looks for the early takedown in round number two and gets it, body slamming Thomson to the ground in the opening seconds. He quickly takes his back again with Thomson still on his feet. Thomson goes to the floor and trying to work Healy off his back. He turns into Healy and eventually works him into his guard. Healy very active from the top though, working effective ground and pound. Thomson again looks for the armbar attempt and gets into terrific position before Healy breaks free. The crowd is really cheering for those submission attempts but Healy doesn’t really seem all that concerned about them up to this point. Round ends with Thomson on his back.
Round Three: Nice straight right lands for Healy, answered with a right hook from Thomson. Another good straight right for Thomson and then a left jab. Healy catches a front kick and tries to rush him but Thomson ties him up. Good jab lands for Healy this time. Healy lets his hands go and then shoots for a takedown. Thomson backs up to the cage and defends it at first, but Healy is persistent and ends up taking him down. Thomson looks like the more tired of the two, but he reverses the position with a terrific move and ends up taking Healy’s back. Healy stands up with Thomson on his back. Not sure why he did that, with his arms down on the mat pushing himself up he left his neck wide open. Thomson puts in the rear naked and it’s tight. Healy rolling around trying to hang on but he’s forced to tap. Thomson wins via submission at 4:27 of third round.
Ron Keslar (5-2) vs. Chris Cope (4-1)
Round One: Nice combination lands early for Keslar before shooting on the single leg and getting the takedown. Fight only 30 seconds old and Keslar already moves into mount. Now he takes Cope’s back and looking for the finish. Keslar puts Cope in a body triangle and is really looking for the rear naked but Cope doing an excellent job of turning into Keslar and keeping his neck out of trouble. Cope ends up spending nearly the entire round stuck in a body triangle but lives to fight another round.
Round Two: Keslar ducks under a punch and takes Cope down immediately to start the second round. Again, less than 30 seconds into the round, Keslar takes Cope’s back. This time Cope is able to get out of it and eventually back to his feet. He quickly lands an accidental low shot to Keslar, which he’ll get a warning for. Keslar takes his time, but looks like he’s had a little taken out of him after the break. Cope lands a series of hooks and then just misses high on a spinning back kick. He throws another one though and that one looks like it went straight through Keslar’s defense. Keslar down and latched onto Cope’s left leg. He’s just hanging on while Keslar throws one punch after another. Referee Kim Winslow paying very close attention, probably telling Keslar he needs to do something. He does nothing and that forces Winslow to stop the fight. Cope wins via TKO at 4:32 of second round.
Vagner Rocha (5-1) vs. Brett Bergmark (6-1-1)
Round One: Rocha catches a leg kick right off the bat and looks to land a counter. Bergmark ducks under a straight and lands a flush left hook that catches the attention of Rocha. Rocha shoots and Rocha sprawls, defends it at first, but is eventually dragged to the ground. Bergmark creates separation with his legs and gets back to his feet with two minutes left in the round. Rocha shoots again right as Bergmark kicks and ends up taking one to the body. He stays with the takedown attempt though and ends up slamming Bergmark back to the mat. Bergmark, however, unable to create much offense from top position.
Round Two: Bergmark catches a leg kick from Rocha this time in a near mirror image to how the first round started. Huge leg kick lands for Bergmark that nearly sweeps Rocha off his feet. Rocha looks to take the fight to the ground but Bergmark shows good defense and stays on his feet. Rocha looking more hesitant on his feet now than before. Bergmark lands another effective right hook before sprawling on a takedown attempt. The two clinch for awhile before Bergmark hip tosses Rocha to his back and stands over him. Rocha gets back to his feet with minute left in the round and puts his hands on his hips. Bergmark lands a nice jab, upperhook combination to finish round.
Round Three: Rocha looks for a knee to start the round. Bergmark catches it easily and slams him down to the mat before letting him back up. Rocha abandoning the takedown at least for now in the final round. There he tries for one two minutes into the round and Rocha defends it easily. Bergmark badgering Rocha on the feet now, landing a hard straight right. Rocha resorting to backing up and trying to survive the round. Bergmark lands combination of hooks and Rocha looks in a daze. He falls down on his back and just hopes Bergmark follows him there, but Bergmark says no. Again Rocha falls down and invites Bergmark to follow. Nope. Referee forces Rocha up and he’s in real danger now. He’s circling away from Bergmark, just trying to defend as well as possible. Round mercifully comes to an end. Bergmark wins via unanimous decision.
Yancey Medeiros (9-0) vs. Gareth Joseph (4-3)
Round One: Joseph lets his hands go early and lands consecutive hooks. Medeiros not afraid to exchange though, he backs Joseph to the fence and lands a hard right. They work into the clinch with Joseph landing several hard right hooks while Medeiros hands are wrapped around him. They break and Medeiros continues to stalk Joseph around the cage. He lands another flurry and Joseph looks wobbled by it. Big spinning back kick misses for Medeiros. Joseph looks for a late takedown to steal the round but Medeiros sprawls and finishes the first five on his feet.
Round Two: Joseph comes forward early in the second round but Medeiros counters it beautifully with a left hook that drops him to a knee. Joseph tries to latch onto him but Medeiros goes after him and finishes the fight quickly. Medeiros wins via TKO at 1:19 of second round.
Bobby Stack (7-1) vs. Derrick Burnsed (5-1)
Round One: Burnsed leads with the jab and lands the first punch of the night. Stack shoots for a takeown but Burnsed defends it well. Burnsed comes forward with a counter right hook that lands. Stack answers with a hard body kick. He looks to double it up but Burnsed catches it and takes him down. Stack immediately back to his feet and they wrestle into a clinch against the fence. Referee Kim Winslow eventually separates the fighters and Stack lands a nice left hook after the break. Burnsed tries to come forward with a flurry but Stack gets low and takes him down. Burnsed able to kick Stack off and get back to his feet but Stack shoots again almost immediately and takes him right back down to finish the round.
Round Two: Stack comes out looking to land a jab and Burnsed lands a huge counter right that buckles his legs. Stack trying to recover, latches on to a single leg and gets the takedown. Big takedown for Stack as he gets into top position and looks to posture up with Burnsed shoved up against the cage. Burnsed works back to his feet, Stack desperate to keep it on the ground, hangs on to the single leg and takes him down again. Burnsed gets back to his feet again. Stack looks tired, still latched on to Burnsed’s single leg and Burnsed pivots around him and looks to take his back. Stack rolls over, giving Burnsed full mount who starts dropping shots. Arm triangle attempt by Burnsed can’t finish it and we’ll go to a final round.
Round Three: Stack shoots early in the round but Burnsed looks fresh and ends up hip tossing Stack to his back. Burnsed passes guard quickly, takes Stack’s back but gets thrown off when he looks for the choke. Stack now in top position. Burnsed works back to his feet and lands a nice left hook that snaps Stack’s head back. Stack gets another takedown but he’s unable to score much damage from top position. Stack wins via split decision.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].