MINNEAPOLIS – Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva's fists did in Travis Browne. But a bum knee certainly didn't help matters.
With his opponent injured and clearly in trouble, Silva unloaded a big overhand right that set up in a first-round TKO victory in Friday's UFC on FX 5 heavyweight headliner.
The bout took place at Minneapolis' Target Center, and it aired on FX following preliminary-card bouts on FUEL TV.
The matchup featured two heavyweights headed in different directions. Browne looked to continue his undefeated run through the pro ranks and break into the division's elite. Silva simply hoped to avoid a third straight loss and a possible contract termination.
A confident Browne struck first with kicks but settled down and regrouped when Silva's big fists quickly countered him. "Bigfoot" then pushed his opponent into the cage, which resulted in the ref issuing a warning to Browne when he reached over the cage and used the illegal move to spin out of the clinch.
Then, when stepping forward with a punch, Browne clearly injured his left leg. Sensing an opportunity, Silva went on the offensive, walked the hobbled Browne into the cage, and then unloaded a big overhand right that scored an instant knockdown. Browne fell to his knees and never recovered, and Silva unloaded punches and hammerfists to force the referee's intervention.
The stoppage came at the 3:27 mark of the first round.
Man, that sounds like a wild west newspaper headline. But seriously, this card was a treat for folks who love finishes and comebacks (especially ones in the 2nd round). Onward!Silva vs Browne
- An evidently injured knee leading to a quick finish, Silva crushes Browne with a big right hand and follow-up shots midway through R1. Browne looked flashy and mobile at the start, but he looks to have tweaked his knee following an early overhand right. After that, Silva patiently waited for his opportunity, cutting off the cage to land a train of a punch that basically re-enacted Nogueira vs Schaub. On paper, this was a not the best fight for Silva, as he's struggled against more agile heavyweights who can outwork and outmaneuver him. One thing he's rarely lacked is killer instinct, and Browne's injured knee was a great big bullseye.Ellenberger vs Hieron
- A calculated standoff between 2 smart veterans, Ellenberger rides timely takedowns and a few stunning punches to a 2-1 decision. Definitely the most reserved we've seen from Ellenberger, who usually comes out looking for a headshot. He'll need to be more aggressive to get a title shot, though this may be the follow-up fight to a loss he needed. Adjustments are made, new tactics are folded in with the old strengths, and what we can see after is a more complete fighter. The most exciting thing was that athletic hop-and-sprawl by Ellenberger late in R1. I don't remember seeing TDD like that since GSP/Kos I. Perhaps a bit disappointing, overall, but it's important to note that Hieron's good enough to generally avoid being dominated without being so good as to overwhelm the best welterweights. He was active enough to keep it close, but most shots were blocked and little landed flush.Dodson vs Formiga
- A tentative start before an exciting finish, Dodson clowns Formiga with his hands late in R2. The first few minutes were anything but Dodson's finest, as he seemed tentative despite a clear striking advantage. It wasn't just his flat stance or measured movement, but his punches consistently came up short. Check the moment 2 mins into R2 - Formiga charges, and Dodson just backs away. The flyweight champ, on the other hand, looks for opportunities like that to step back, plant his feet, and redirect momentum into a straight right counter. That said, Dodson eventually loosened up, changing levels with body shots before setting up that clean punch to the face (which to his credit landed even though Formiga's hands were up) and a flurry of strikes on the ground. Dodson's earned a title shot for sure, but as I said after Johnson won the belt, the champ will likely have evolved too much to be dethroned.Edwards vs Neer
- A textbook demonstration in the efficacy of early submission attempts, Edwards puts Neer to sleep with a leaping guillotine just past the first minute of R1. Neer's one of those guys who comes in and out of the UFC - he's got the tools to be a threat, but he doesn't have the physical ability to compete with the freaks. It's too early to apply that to Edwards, but he did get it done quickly tonight. Great stoppage by Gamst - Neer's arms had gone limp, but it was hard to tell as they were pinned from the struggle.Johnson vs Castillo
- An impressive comeback on the feet, Johnson hangs tough and fights tall for a clear KO early in R2. It's okay to call Castillo a gatekeeper, because we need these guys in the business - skilled, hard-nosed, reliable, but with enough of a ceiling on their ability to properly pace a prospect. Johnson showed me more than the talent displayed in his last couple fights, and that's heart - I say this whenever I can about fighters because it's important, and it's one of the hardest things to coach. Johnson was hurt in R1, and he managed to stay alert and mobile enough to get out of a decent arm triangle (which is one of the worst submissions you can fall into against a strong wrestler). In R2, he stayed at range, using his superior reach to plant some doubt in Castillo's mind. You can see it to where Johnson doesn't land super hard early on, but it's enough to get Danny's attention - whereas Danny comes up just a bit short when trying to return fire. That first counter from Johnson was well-timed, hitting Castillo when he was off balance and more vulnerable to any kind of strike, and the follow-up punches left Castillo in a bloody zen-like state. Since they both won on the same card, I'd be okay with Johnson against Volkmann - good test for each of them, and Volkmann's repeatedly shown he should never be counted out.Pierce vs Simpson
- Another comeback through clean standup, Pierce makes Simpson pay for punching wild with a vicious KO early in R2. Pierce is one of the real puzzles in the UFC, as he hits hard, weathers storms, and saps cardio with clinch work. So why is he in so many close splits? It's easy - he usually isn't aggressive enough. He's skilled and durable enough to feel like he can take anything, so urgency isn't a priority in his gameplans. That said, he showed off that toughness and heart tonight after getting clocked and thrown around in R1. More importantly, he showed why he deserved the win tonight by capitalizing on a stunned opponent. When Simpson had Pierce rocked, he landed some more shots but not enough of them in a row to finish. On the other hand, Pierce kept his boxing tight, even during the finish - no wild winging hooks, like the one Simpson whiffed at the end. Memo to all wrestlers: open up like that only when your opponent can't hit you back, and especially not when they know how to box. Both Munoz and Simpson have recently shown the downside in windmills (if UFC-era Wanderlei wasn't enough already). But yes, this was easily Pierce's most impressive UFC fight. Whatever his coaches told him in between the rounds, he needs to hear it before the first bell. He'd be scary as hell with just a bit more aggression.Levesseur vs Prater
- Clinch work often makes for a close decision, as Levesseur edges Prater in a 3R split. I feel like Prater had the more dangerous positions, especially with the guillotine in R3, but Levesseur generally controlled the action and (more importantly) remained patient through the submission attempts. I feel he could've been more active, breaking away harder for more standup along with making Prater pay for the failed submissions, but to his credit, he was smart and relaxed the whole time. Didn't see much from either that we didn't know before, but perhaps a more interesting fight than some would call. Hey, at least it wasn't Kongo/Jordan.Volkmann vs Roller
- A grappler's delight as expected, Volkmann at last stops an opponent with a raw rear naked choke midway through R1. At this point, it's not easy to separate Volkmann the fighter from the personality - he certainly gets attention, but it's through awkwardness as opposed to the incisive wit of one Chael P. Sonnen. This is a really good win for Volkmann, however, tapping out a game and credible Roller through pressure on the jaw more than the threat of a nap. Both of these guys are late in their careers, but that doesn't mean they can't get paid and put on some good fights for a while.Nunes vs Palaszewski
- Another fun fight between two guys who get after it, Nunes finally marries his skill with confident aggression for a clear 3R decision. Nunes has shown resilience and potential in his prior fights, but he's tried to counter a bit too much while fading after the early rounds. Great win for him here, as he showed us a complete set of tools. No shame for Palaszewski - he just got beat by the better fighter tonight, but he stayed in it the entire time and actually landed some nice shots of his own.Uyenoyama vs Harris
- A fun back-and-forth fight, with Uyenoyama sinking in a rear naked choke late in R2. Nice opportunity for Darren, who was brutalized by Benavidez in his octagon debut. He was able to show off sneaky ground skills against a willing but overmatched Harris. I'd like to see other flyweights the UFC signs before making any calls for future matchups, because the pool's currently a work in progress.