inside and eats a knee. The next takedown attempt comes against the cage and Pearson keeps his balance to defend this as well. Assuncao is playing defense, looking to counter as he circles in a wide open stance. Inside the final minute now and the featherweights exchange combinations. Pearson gets off a few good punches in the last seconds, but Assuncao’s constant movement is making it tough to land hard.
Assuncao gets Pearson down with a single-leg in the center of the cage, but Pearson is soon back to his feet and striking. He manages only a couple shots before Assuncao charges in and grinds him into the fence again. Pearson exits with a hard shot and sprawls all over the next takedown attempt, then asks ref Mario Yamasaki for a standup when Assuncao pulls guard. Assuncao clinches up, can’t get the takedown and bolts before Pearson can throw from the Thai clinch. Pearson rips a hook to Assuncao’s body, doubles up on a jab and keeps the punches coming as Assuncao tries to circle out. It’s Pearson pressing the matter on the fence now, using a left underhook and short right hands inside. Pearson drills a knee, a hook and eats an elbow as Assuncao exits. They jockey for position on the fence, Pearson trips Assuncao down and lets him back up. Assuncao takes advantage and takes Pearson down, but it’s Pearson elbowing from his back as the round winds down.
Pearson lands some low kicks before Assuncao comes inside for a takedown, eating a jab on his way. Nonetheless, the Brazilian ground specialist stays busy once they hit the floor, moving to Pearson’s back and looking for a choke. Assuncao doesn’t have it and loses his hooks as Pearson powers back to his feet, then loses waist control when they stand. Assuncao gets another waistlock on the fence, knees the leaning Pearson in the face and keeps digging for a double-leg. Pearson keeps a good stance on the fence, gets taken down and pops back up. Assuncao rushes back in to clinch, disengages with a level elbow and takes a chopping low kick from Pearson after they split. Assuncao, bleeding and swollen beneath his right eye, goes to a single-leg on the cage and Pearson, dripping blood from his nose, fends it off. The “Real Deal” scores with a solid head kick and a step-in knee before being clinched into the cage again. Assuncao gets reversed and takes a right hand on the chin. He misses with a sloppy punch and leaves Pearson an opening to rush with punches and knees. Assuncao finishes the fight doubled over, trying for a single-leg against the fence.
Official result: The three judges’ scorecards read 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27, all in favor of the winner by unanimous decision, Ross Pearson.
Nam Phan vs. Jim Hettes
Hettes goes high with a head kick, then low for a successful takedown in the center of the cage. Phan escapes to his feet and moves toward the fence, only to be dragged back down seconds later. The sequence repeats with Hettes slapping on a guillotine the next time Phan stands. They roll to the floor and Hettes goes wild, posturing up with nasty ground-and-pound in Phan’s full guard. Phan seems to be in real danger, turning over and giving up his back as ref Herb Dean hovers nearby. Phan survives and shoves Hettes away, then scrambles to his feet. Hettes has Phan against the fence and lands an uppercut, a knee. Phan drills his man with a lead uppercut of his own before being bullied into the cage again. A hip toss from Hettes puts Phan back on the floor with 90 seconds to go. Almost effortlessly, Hettes assumes full mount and falls off to Phan’s right side for an armbar. Phan locks up his hands as Hettes slugs with hammerfist rights and keeps trying for the submission. Down to the last 20 seconds, Phan seems to have weathered the worst of it, but Hettes gets to mount before the horn to blast away with more big punches.
Hettes tries a low single-leg, can’t get it and settles for pressing Phan against the cage. Forty seconds in, Hettes spins Phan down, then stands, allowing Phan to grab for a leglock. Hettes sits down and takes mount again, then tries for a rear-naked from the side. Phan guts it out and flips Hettes over, standing up to try and blast through the guard of “The Kid.” Hettes gets to his feet, digs a right underhook and shoves Phan into the cage, using his free left hand to punch in addition to shooting knees up the middle. Phan breaks away, but Hettes catches up and trips him straight back down. Phan stands again, and this time Hettes opts to strike, replying to a right hand from Phan with half a dozen punches of his own. Hettes ties up and hurls Phan down with ease. Phan is on his feet when the horn sounds, but it will certainly take a finish from him in the third to win this fight.
Phan is beginning to string together strikes at the top of the third, but after a minute Hettes times an uppercut and floors the veteran again. The exhausted Phan, now sliced open on the outside of his right eyebrow, twice gets back to his feet, only to be met with a double-leg and knees to the face. Phan gets away on the second escape and digs a hook to Hettes’ body before Hettes brings the fight down again. Hettes is nearly on Phan’s back now, pounding away from half-guard with left hands. Hettes switches to an arm-triangle choke, defended well by Phan. Back to full mount for Hettes, where he drops elbows, hammerfists and punches to the last horn.
Official result: The judges turn in lopsided scorecards of 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26, awarding Jim Hettes the clear-cut unanimous decision victory.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Gustafsson twitches and feints, threatening to jump in on the smaller Matyushenko as both men circle in the orthodox stance. Matyushenko slips while throwing a hard punch but Gustafsson can’t capitalize and they stay standing. Matyushenko grabs... (Continues on next page)