Saturday, April 7, 2007

Japanese middleweight Okami defeats Mike (Quick) Swick at UFC 69: Shootout

By Neil Davidson

HOUSTON (CP) - Japanese middleweight Yushin Okami spoiled Mike (Quick) Swick's return home Saturday night, defeating the Houston native by unanimous decision at UFC 69: Shootout.

The mixed martial arts card at the Toyota Center marked the UFC's first foray in Texas. UFC president Dana White used the occasion to introduce former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo (Minotauro) Nogueira of Brazil as the newest addition to the UFC.

In the cage, Swick pushed the opening pace but Okami put him down later in the first round, a position new to Swick in the UFC. The round ended with Okami looking for an armbar.

The Japanese fighter took Swick down two more times in the second but failed to do damage and the round ended with Swick swinging - and connecting - at the fence.

Swick (10-2) came out punching in the third, but Okami (21-3) took him down, mounted him and punched away for a prolonged period albeit without being able to finish him off. Swick eventually turned the tables but Okami defended from below.

Prior to earning a three-round decision over Montreal's David Loiseau in September. Swick had won his four previous UFC fights in a total of five minutes 10 seconds.

The fight was on the undercard of the welterweight title fight between champion Georges St. Pierre of Montreal and Matt Serra.

Serra, 32, earned the title shot by winning Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, which featured veteran fighters making a comeback.

St. Pierre, 25, won the title in November, dethroning longtime champion Matt Hughes. The Canadian was greeted with thunderous applause from the Toyota Center when he appeared in a taped promo at the beginning of the pay-per-view portion of the card.

Earlier, middleweight Kendall Grove (10-3) looked slick in having his way with Alan Belcher (9-3) before choking him out at 4:42 of the second round. The six-foot-six Grove got Belcher's attention with kicks, knees and foot stomps in the first round and then carved open his face with elbows in the second before submitting him via D'Arce choke.

Grove, a member of Tito Ortiz's Team Punishment, celebrated in the ring by doing Ortiz's grave digger routine. Doctors, meanwhile, tended to a prone Belcher.

Heath (The Texas Crazy Horse) Herring won a decision over a game Brad Imes in an ungainly heavyweight fight that saw the six-foot-seven Imes floored in the first round with a left to the chin. Imes seemed a goner at that point but kept fighting.

The six-foot-four Herring needed a win after his much-hyped entry into the UFC from Pride was followed by a bad loss to Jake O'Brien in January. Herring is still making the transition. He was warned by the referee in the third round Saturday for kneeing his downed opponent in the head, a move that is legal in Pride but not in the UFC.

Imes showed guts, but left the ring with his face a bloody, swollen lump.

In other undercard action, welterweight Luke Cummo scored a TKO when he crumpled Josh Haynes with a sledgehammer right to the head at 2:45 of the second round. Haynes tried to keep going from the ground, but was so disoriented he grabbed hold of the referee's leg as the official moved in to end the fight.

Welterweight Marcus Davis survived a cut to submit Pete Spratt via a nasty ankle lock at 2:57 of the second round. Spratt limped out of the cage after having his leg bent at a painfully unnatural angle.

Brazilian middleweight Thales Leites gave Pete Sell a comprehensive beating, dominating him on the ground and administering plenty of pain. Sell briefly had Leites in a guillotine choke in the second and third rounds but the Brazilian escaped both times and made Sell pay by feeding him a stream of elbows to the head and then mounting him.

Notes: UFC 70 is slated for April 21 in Manchester, England, with Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic versus Gabriel Gonzaga as the main event. The card also features Edmonton light-heavyweight Victor (The Matrix) Valimaki against Alessio Sakara.


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