The second half of the UFC on FOX 23 preliminary card is in the books, and apart from Li Jingliang’s big win over Bobby Nash, the majority of these four fights will not be remembered fondly, especially the Nate Marquardt vs. Sam Alvey matchup. Here’s how they played out.
Sam Alvey def. Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) - Middleweights
Almost nothing of consequence happened for the entire first round, and that’s not an exaggeration. It was that poor. Alvey had the best offense, which was a late flurry in the final ten seconds. Marquardt caught Alvey’s attention with a right hand while Sam was backed against the fence early in round 2. Alvey rushed forward but couldn’t land many clean shots. A straight left by Alvey staggered Marquardt momentarily, but he quickly got back to his feet. Alvey clearly got the better of Marquardt on the feet and had him hurt with a right hook. Marquardt took Alvey down briefly early in the 3rd and final round. He dragged Alvey to the mat and took his back. Alvey spun out of it and got back to his feet, firing away big shots at Nate. Not much of note occurred the rest of the way. Dreadful stuff, but a win for Alvey nevertheless.
Raphael Assuncao def. Aljamain Sterling by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) - Bantamweights
Sterling mixed up his body kicks and leg kicks in the opening minute of this pivotal fight between two top-10 ranked fighters. Assuncao landed a decent counter left hand, and then a flush groin kick that dropped Sterling. The fight resumed about a minute later after a painful illegal shot. Sterling was tagged by a big right hand. He responded with an outside leg kick. This was a slow-paced, tactical first round with Assuncao landing predominantly with his hands, while Sterling seldom threw any kicks.
A bizarre moment in round 2, as Sterling again got kicked in the groin, but the referee didn’t see it, and Assuncao didn’t pounce on a prone Sterling. Certainly a display of sportsmanship by the Brazilian. Assuncao put Sterling off balance with a good right hand. Sterling had a takedown attempt easily stuffed by Assuncao through a strong sprawl. Aljamain pushed forward with a right hand, then a leg kick was caught right after that. This was not a scintillating contest, to say the least.
Sterling upped the pressure in the final round and was able to connect with his right hand a few times. Assuncao snuffed out another Sterling takedown by controlling with a front headlock. The Brazilian scored with a stiff straight left hand that snapped Sterling’s head back. Sterling pumped out his jab and threw more punches in the final round than he did in the early stages of the fight. Long Island’s Sterling got in a nice 1-2 combination on Assuncao. Raphael absorbed a hard body kick but then threw a couple of right hands in retaliation. Close fight, but Assuncao was the victor by split decision, which means that Sterling has lost his last two fights by split decision.
Li Jingliang def. Bobby Nash via TKO (punches) at 4:45 of round 2 Welterweights
Jingliang tagged Nash with a nice right hand after the newcomer waded forward quite recklessly. Nash was able to score with a counter left hook in an exchange. Nash was rocked by a right hand and then Jingliang stuffed the ensuing takedown. Another hard right hand over the top backed Nash up. Jingliang attacked Nash’s legs with a steady diet of kicks. A counter left hand by Nash dropped the Chinese fighter, and pounced for the submission finish. He couldn’t get the rear-naked choke, but did advance to full mount and postured up with some ground-and-pound to close out a wild opening round.
A right hand and a left hook buzzed Jingliang straight away to start the second round. Another right hand rocked Li, as did a head kick. Nash continued to bombard Li with strikes but got caught with a counter right hand. The former Michigan State wrestler took Li down but he was quickly back to his feet. A stalemate ensued in the clinch that momentarily halted the action in what was otherwise a wild fight. Nash was clearly affected by the leg kicks and was moving gingerly. Jingliang hurt Nash with a right hand, then another one, and Nash crashed down. Hammerfists sealed the deal for Li Jingliang, who gets a big win on Chinese New Year.
Jordan Johnson def. Luis Henrique da Silva by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Light Heavyweights
Johnson used a foot sweep to take da Silva down. The two-time All-American wrestler from the University of Iowa went for an anaconda choke, but the Brazilian was able to get out of it. Da Silva scored a counter right hand after Johnson threw a jab. Johnson absorbed multiple leg kicks from Henrique, but answered back nicely with an uppercut. Da Silva was bothered by something with his eye, and Johnson drilled him with another uppercut and changed levels to get a takedown to finish the opening round.
Da Silva came out aggressively in the next round but found himself dumped on his back within seconds. Johnson went for a couple of chokes but was unable to get them. There was constant pressuring on top by Johnson, with da Silva unable to maneuver anything meaningful from his guard. Johnson went for some foot stomps as da Silva got back to standing. The Brazilian exited the clinch with a nice knee towards the end of round 2.
Jordan Johnson continued his domination of da Silva in round 3, completing a single-leg takedown and getting in some ground strikes. Da Silva was exhausted and completely outmatched. Johnson continued to beat up da Silva on his way to a very one-sided unanimous decision win in his UFC debut.