After some hit or miss, though often victorious, performances in the Octagon, middleweight up and comer Brad Tavares put it all together in his UFC on FUEL TV 8 prelim bout at Saitama Super Arena in Japan, winning a gritty three round unanimous decision over Riki Fukuda.
The judges saw it 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Tavares, now 10-2; Fukuda falls to 19-7.
A hard left hand counter caught Tavares off balance in the opening minute and got Fukuda on the board first, and moments later the Tokyo fighter caught a kick and put the Hawaiian on his back a second time, getting himself off to a strong start. Tavares was undeterred by the early mishaps, continuing to get to his feet, stand in the pocket, and throw hard. In the final 90 seconds of the opening round, Tavares landed with a kick to the head and some punches upstairs as well, showing little regard for any incoming fire as he opened a cut on the bridge of his opponent’s nose.
By round two, Tavares was bloodied under his left eye, but his standup game was dominating the action, as Fukuda was always seemingly a half-step behind his younger foe throughout. An apparent injury to his left hand didn’t appear to help matters either for the Japanese veteran.
There would be no questioning Fukuda’s heart and determination though, as he continued to press the action in the third round, landing some hard punches and two flush kicks to the body in the process. Tavares kept his work rate going at a solid clip, capping off the impressive victory.
MIZUGAKI vs. CARAWAY
Kanagawa’s Takeya Mizugaki scored an emotional three round split decision victory over Bryan Caraway in bantamweight action, breaking into tears after the verdict – which gave him his first two fight win streak since 2008 - was announced,.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Mizugaki, who ups his record to 17-7-2; Caraway falls to 17-7.
While not scoring with any fight altering offensive attacks in the first round, Mizugaki was able to keep Caraway at bay for the most part, at least until the end of the opening stanza, when the American got him to the mat and looked to lock in a submission before the bell intervened.
Mizugaki’s defense remained tight in the second, and with the addition of hard punches to the body, he looked to be finding his range. But with two minutes left, the two traded right hands, and it was Caraway’s doing the most damage, as Mizugaki fell to the canvas. Caraway tried to finish with a guillotine choke, but Mizugaki fought loose, only to then land in a rear naked choke. Mizugaki again found daylight and made it out of the round, but it was Caraway now with momentum on his side.
A minute into the final round, a hard left hurt and dropped Caraway, putting the ball right back in Mizugaki’s court. A Caraway takedown attempt after he got back to his feet was tossed aside with ease, and Mizugaki’s confidence was evident as he tagged his foe. Caraway wouldn’t go away though, as he fired back and looked for the takedown, finally getting it with under two minutes remaining. Mizugaki got upright immediately, but couldn’t escape his opponent’s clutches against the fence as the final 60 seconds approached. With 30 seconds left, the two broke free and traded punches until the final bell, garnering a well-deserved roar from the crowd.
Watch Mizugaki's post-fight interview
TOKUDOME vs. MARCELLO
Japan’s Kazuki Tokudome impressed in his UFC debut, pounding out a three round unanimous decision victory over Brazilian vet Cristiano Marcello.
All three judges saw it 30-27 for Tokudome, now 12-3-1.
It looked like it was going to be an easy night’s work for Marcello (13-5), as he hurt Tokudome with a couple right hands early in the opening round, but after a missed kick landed the Brazilian on his back, Tokudome was able to use his solid ground defense to set up plenty of hard strikes in the second half of the round.
A wild barrage by Marcello early in round two was designed to get a takedown, but it was Tokudome who used his opponent’s momentum to get the trip to the canvas himself, and he resumed his ground and pound attack on the bloodied Brazilian. With less than two minutes left, referee Thomas Fan restarted the action, and Marcello subsequently hit the takedown he was looking for earlier in the round. Tokudome rose back to his feet quickly, and the fatigue was evident on Marcello’s face, especially when the Tokyo newcomer landed a quick 1-2 before the bell ended the frame.
Going right hand crazy again in the third, Marcello paid for the wild swings when he ate a right hand from Tokudome that put him on the canvas. Tokudome pounced, and while he wasn’t able to finish, he did regain the dominant position on the mat. With under three minutes left, the two took the fight back to the feet, and after a standup stalemate, the two locked up, with Tokudome landing the takedown and sealing the victory on the scorecards.
CACERES vs. KANG
Bantamweight prospect Alex Caceres made it three straight wins, using a late surge to eke out a three round split decision win over South Korean newcomer Kyung Ho Kang.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Caceres, who improves to 9-5; Kang falls to 11-7.
Kang showed no sign of the first time UFC jitters in the opening round, repeatedly putting Caceres on his back and even landing a hard right to the head late in the frame. Caceres tried to stay busy from the bottom and even reversed position on his opponent a couple times, but didn’t do enough to take the round.
There was more of the same from Kang in the second round, but this time Caceres was able to parlay his ground escapes into a more significant offensive attack. Kang remained committed to his game plan though, with his takedowns continuing to pile up the points.
Caceres came out with a sense of urgency in the final frame, taking advantage of a stumble by his opponent to get into the top position and unleash a series of ground strikes. After weathering the storm, Kang escaped and found himself in Caceres’ guard, where he fired off his own strikes on the American. After the two rose, Kang surprisingly pulled guard, allowing Caceres the advantage position wise, as he moved into the mount briefly with under a minute left, but the former Ultimate Fighter competitor was unable to capitalize.
LIM vs. GUIMARAES
South Korean welterweight Hyun Gyu Lim removed Marcelo Guimaraes from the ranks of the unbeaten in the opener, stopping the Brazilian with a flush knee to the head in the second round.
Looking like a middleweight fighting a welterweight, Seoul’s Lim used his size and strength advantages to keep Guimaraes at bay for much of the first round, getting off the occasional 1-2 as the Brazilian missed on several takedown attempts. Guimaraes did land the most telling blows of the round though, with an uppercut and overhand right landing flush before he was able to use his foe’s aggression against him and finally hit a takedown with 30 seconds left.
Gaining more confidence with each passing moment, Guimaraes bloodied Lim’s nose in the second and also made good on a takedown attempt, even though the South Korean got back to his feet quickly. Lim began to show signs of fatigue as the round progressed, with his mouth opening wider and his hands dropping, but seconds later, with a single left knee to the head, it was over, as Guimaraes fell hard to the mat, with a follow up barrage bringing in referee Thomas Fan to halt the bout at the four minute mark.
With the win, Lim improves to 11-3-1; Guimaraes falls to 8-1-1.
Watch Lim's post-fight interview
Tavares Top Notch in Win over Fukuda - UFC on FUEL TV 8 Prelim Results
By Thomas Gerbasi March 02, 2013