Brunson wraps up Leben early and trips him to the mat with the help of underhooks. Leben swings his legs up for a triangle and Brunson drops him back down, trying to advance from half-guard on the right, then the left, before settling into Leben’s closed guard. Leben looks for the triangle again but this time Brunson goes to the side, frames up an arm-triangle and briefly moves to mount. Leben stuffs him back but is greeted by some rough elbows to the face. Brunson is back in Leben’s closed guard now as he scoots him toward the fence. Once there, he breaks the posture and gets off some good ground-and-pound. As Leben stands, Brunson gets the waistlock and pins “The Crippler” on the fence for the final few seconds, save a final punch from Leben.
Leben fends off the first takedown attempt from Brunson, who finds success with the second effort and puts Leben on his back, right side flush to the cage. Leben pops his hips out, puts his back on the fence and stands, shoving Brunson away before a guillotine can get too deep. Brunson is landing his left cross but Leben is pressing forward and scoring with uppercuts. Leben turns down another shot and Brunson is looking very tired now, just covering up and moving backward to avoid Leben’s power punches. Brunson clinches him against the fence with underhooks, can’t find the takedown and releases. Leben comes forward throwing slow leg kicks and thwarts another shot before the round expires.
Brunson still can’t hit his takedown at the start of the third despite a strong try. A minute into the round, he goes after it again and puts Leben on his back near the fence. Leben posts and stands, taking a knee to the gut from Brunson as he staggers up. Leben’s best offense now seems to be his leg kicks as neither man looks to have anything left in their arms. Leben just strings together a few punches before he’s plowed to the ground with a big double-leg. Leben is warned for landing an illegal upkick to the face while Brunson was grounded, but the shot doesn’t seem to hurt the Strikeforce import and they’re allowed to finish out the round.
Official result: Derek Brunson def. Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) R3 5:00
Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher
Okami knocks Belcher to the ground with a short punch as Belcher slips on a high kick. When Belcher pops back up, it’s Okami muscling him against the fence. Not a lot going on as they clinch, Okami controlling the position with underhooks while Belcher tries to shoot knees up the middle. Belcher loops his arm around Okami’s head and pulls guard, but loses the choke and winds up with Okami in his closed guard. Short ground-and-pound from Okami as he works to extract his right leg from half-guard and move to side control. Okami gets the leg loose and now leans from Belcher’s right to left in full side control. Belcher gets to his knees and Okami goes to take the back, but can’t secure it before the end of the round.
Okami wastes no time in getting inside and dragging Belcher down with a waistlock. Belcher nearly takes top position in the scramble but it’s Okami who comes out on top in half-guard, pinning Belcher’s right leg down. Okami has control of Belcher’s right arm now, too, making it easier to drop punches, posture up and work to advange. Referee Chris Tognoni issues a baffling stand-up order from side control. No matter -- Okami has Belcher back on the ground in short order and is right back in the same position. Again, Tognoni orders the middleweights back to their feet with Okami in the dominant position, but this time there are only a few ticks remaining in the round.
Okami goes down from a Belcher right hand early in round three and it’s got Belcher on the hunt, stalking forward. Okami shoves him toward the fence, dodges a punch, clinches up and hits another takedown. Belcher lands on top in the scramble and this time maintains the position, moving into full mount. Okami stands up with Belcher on front of him and slips his head out of a threatened guillotine. Okami turns Belcher toward the fence and Belcher tries the guillotine again, basically losing any chance at the choke as they hit the ground. Okami moves to full mount but doesn’t really open up, staying close to Belcher and punching at the American’s body. Belcher bucks and shifts his hips, trying to make something happen as the last minute of the fight approaches. Belcher turns