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Wanderlei whirlwind in Japan, Hunt breaks Struve's jaw

ESPN staff
March 3, 2013
Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann trade punches © Getty Images

If the UFC was sending a message with its recent glut of big-name cuts, it was heard loud and clear in Saitama, Japan. Wanderlei Silva, the man who always comes to fight, turned on one of his most memorable performances to knock out Brian Stann - igniting the Saitama Super Arena in a Fight of the Night firecracker.

Back in the home of Pride, where Wanderlei once became arguably the most feared fighter on the planet, the Brazilian seemed reinvigorated. He stood, swung and swung some more, and appeared to smile his way through the entire tear-up.

Stann contributed every bit as much. Both men brought the same game plan: plant the feet, swing as hard and fast as possible, and hope the other man drops first. Both men hit the mat in the first round alone, but it was at 4.08 in the second that Wanderlei won the raffle.

At first it looked like the Axe Murderer's fading chin would fail him again, with Stann dropping his man on two occasions. Wanderlei was thirsty for a dust-up though, and his trademark whirlwind action caught Stann close to the end of round one - the crowd roaring them back to their stools.

In the second Stann attempted to be more measured but Wanderlei beckoned him in, desperate to get the blender going again. It worked, a hook landed to drop the American, before a series of follow-up blows turned out the lights. For just a moment it seemed the clock had rewound half a decade, and it was wonderful from Wanderlei.

"I'm so proud. Thanks to the UFC for giving me this wonderful opportunity to fight for my brothers here in Japan. I'm proud to fight for you," Silva said. "I'm so happy that the game plan worked, and I'm glad to [get a win] back here in my home - in Japan."

In the co-main event, Stefan Struve continued to prove himself a poor decision maker as Mark Hunt delivered the Knockout of the Night at 1.44 of the third round. Typically, Hunt nonchalantly walked away from his opponent after landing the big left hook - resisting the temptation to follow up.

Struve made bad decisions all night. Clearly the better man on the ground, he stood and traded too often with a man who was always going to win the kickboxing battle. When Struve did pull guard in the first, he schooled his rival with a sweep followed by some heavy ground-and-pound, but then let Hunt off by attempting a sloppy armbar.

Every time the pair were on their feet Hunt landed hefty blows to body and head, but once again when it hit the mat Struve dominated before gifting his rival escape routes. By the start of the third, both were shattered, and Struve stood directly in front of the Super Samoan, who landed a huge fight-ending left hook that broke Struve's jaw.

In the middleweight division, Hector Lombard again failed to live up to the hype, dropping a split decision 29-28 28-29 29-28 to Yushin Okami. In truth, Lombard was lucky to have one judge in his favour as he found himself outjabbed and outwrestled for two rounds, only letting himself off the leash in the third when he rocked Okami but could not find the finish.

UFC Japan results

Wanderlei Silva def Brian Stann via KO at 4.08 of Round 2
Mark Hunt def Stefan Struve via TKO at 1.44 of Round 3
Diego Sanchez def Takanori Gomi via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28)
Yushin Okami def Hector Lombard via split decision (28-29 29-28 29-28)
Rani Yahya def Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def Siyar Bahadurzada via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Brad Tavares def Riki Fukuda Decision via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 30-27)
Takeya Mizugaki def Bryan Caraway via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28)
Kazuki Tokudome def Cristiano Marcello via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Alex Caceres def Kyung Ho Kang via split decision (28-29 29-28 29-28)
Hyun Gyu Lim def Marcelo Guimaraes via KO at 4.00 of Round 2

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