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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Updated: April 29, 11:53 AM ET
Jones stops Sonnen, remains champ

By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- It didn't last long. It wasn't expected to.

Jon Jones retained his UFC light-heavyweight title Saturday night with a first-round TKO of Chael Sonnen at Prudential Center.

The end came at 4:33 of the first round.

Jones (18-1) dominated by taking Sonnen to the ground and unloading. Sonnen repeatedly did his best to scramble to his feet. But after what likely was the fourth takedown of the round for Jones, he didn't allow Sonnen to escape.

Jones began delivering his patented elbows, each one connecting on Sonnen's face with more force. The repeated blows forced referee Keith Peterson to end the assault.

After the result was made official, Jones discovered he had suffered a broken left toe during the fight. He was unaware of the injury during the action.

The win was extra sweet for Jones, who often found himself the target of harsh comments from Sonnen.

"I wasn't planning on breaking my big toe," said Jones, who successfully defended his title for the fifth consecutive time, equalling the UFC light-heavyweight record of Tito Ortiz. "I was just trying to get back at Chael Sonnen. I really wanted to silence Chael Sonnen and I think I did the job.

"I wanted to outwrestle Chael Sonnen."

Though Sonnen failed to make it out of the first round, he has no reason to hang his head. During his brief stint in the cage against Jones, Sonnen fought hard.

"He's an excellent fighter," said Sonnen, who fell to 27-13-1. "I have no issue with the stoppage."

Sonnen hit Jones to the body and head a few times with hard punches, but he simply was overmatched. Jones was too big and too strong for Sonnen, who hinted at possible retirement.

"I have to look at things," Sonnen said. "If I'm not in position to fight for a title, then this sport might no longer be for me."

Bisping beats Belcher, then apologizes for accidental foul

The prefight dislike middleweights Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher exhibited toward each other was not intended to boost interest in their bout. It was real.
Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher
Michael Bisping, right, took the fight to Alan Belcher before the fight was stopped due to an eye injury.

They weren't looking to play nice inside the cage, and they didn't. There were no smiles, no gestures of respect. The plan was to beat the other guy up.

And that's what Bisping did, putting on a boxing clinic in the final two rounds of the three-round contest. Bisping was hitting and not being hit. He was in charge throughout the fight and would walk away with a unanimous decision.

The fight was scored 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. ESPN.com also scored the fight in Bisping's favor, 29-28. It was a solid performance from Bisping, but the bout didn't quite put a smile on his face.

Near the end of the final round, Bisping threw a left hand but his thumb scraped Belcher's right eye. Belcher fell to the canvas and rolled around while covering his face. Shortly thereafter, blood began flowing from the area around his eye.

Referee Herb Dean jumped in and stopped the action as a result of the accidental foul. Afterward, Bisping buried the hatchet with Belcher.

"First off I want to apologize to Alan," Bisping said. "It was an accident. These things happen sometime in this sport. Before the fight Alan and I said a lot of things to each other, but he is a good guy."

"Without sounding arrogant, that was exactly what I was planning to do tonight. He's a big middleweight but I knew I had the speed on him going into the fight."

Bisping improved to 25-5. Belcher suffered his second loss in a row and slipped to 17-7.

Nelson states case for title shot with first-round KO

Roy Nelson stated his case for a title shot, knocking out Cheick Kongo in the first round of their heavyweight fight.

Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo
A hard right hand by Roy Nelson found Cheick Kongo's chin early in Round 1.

It was an overhand right to the jaw that did the damage. As soon as the punch landed, Kongo slumped to the canvas. His body immediately went limp. There was no way he was going to recover from that shot.

Nelson would land one more right hand while Kongo was on the ground, but he didn't deliver it with full force. Before he could throw another punch, referee Kevin Mulhall jumped in and waved the fight over at the 2:03 mark.

"I did this for the fans," Nelson said. "All they do is set them up and I knock them down. I want that gold."

"I'm ready for the title if that's what's next for me. I know I can give Cain [Velasquez] fits and if it's Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, then I'm ready for that too."

Nelson also tried to explain why he threw the punch that appeared to land after Kongo was already out.

"I knew when I hit him [the first time] that he was out, but he also recovers very fast as we saw in the Pat Barry fight. I went in and hit him again then looked to the ref to let him know I was prepared to keep going if necessary.

If he continues to level the opposition, UFC officials will find it difficult not to offer Nelson (20-7) a title shot. Nelson, who trains boxing under Jeff Mayweather, has won three fights in a row -- all by knockout.

Kongo fell to 28-8-2.

Davis turns to boxing to silence Magalhaes

Vinny Magalhaes requested to fight light heavyweight contender Phil Davis. The way Magalhaes saw it, Davis was not in his league standing and his wrestling was overrated.

Phil Davis and Vinny Magalhaes
Phil Davis displayed improved hands and feet in taking the fight to Vinny Magalhaes.

In fairness to Magalhaes, many have raised questions about Davis' skills on his feet. But Davis answered those questions with an impressive display of footwork and punching skills.

Davis controlled the distance and pace of the fight to earn a unanimous decision. Two judges scored the fight 30-27, while the third had it 29-28. ESPN.com scored it 30-27 for Davis.

"I've been working on a lot of things for this fight," Davis said after improving to 11-1. "I want to thank Vinny for helping me improve my game."

"My striking is coming along but it's not quite there yet. To me I'm brand new in this sport and I'm still young. I'm just going to keep practicing hard every day because that's what I love to do."

Davis hit Magalhaes flush on the jaw with right hands throughout their three-round affair. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but Davis proved that he can no longer be considered a pushover in the standup department.

As the fight progressed Davis grew more confident in his boxing skills, allowing Magalhaes to stand each time he was on his back.

Magalhaes was not expecting Davis to show such improved boxing ability. He could not slow Davis, who was the superior athlete -- possessing faster hands and better cardio.

As a result, Magalhaes dropped to 11-6. He is 1-3 in UFC.

Healy submits Miller in third round in Octagon return

It seems as if Jim Miller just can't get over the hump to earn a title shot. Miller would go on extended win streaks, only to fall short when it appeared he was a fight or two from a shot at the lightweight belt.

Jim Miller and Pat Healy
Pat Healy survived Jim Miller's best shots before taking Miller's back and locking down a submission.

But Miller was intent on making another serious run at the title with a win in front of his home crowd. But it was not to be, and for the second time in a row Miller was submitted in his native New Jersey.

Pat Healy applied a rear-naked choke that forced Miller to submit at 4:02 of the third round. It was Healy's first appearance inside the Octagon since August 2006.

Miller got the local fans excited early as he landed several left hands that found Healy's chin. The momentum shifted in the second round as Healy was able to take Miller to the ground where he controlled the action.

Once Healy, who was the physically stronger fighter, gained the edge he never let it go.

"I feel so good. You can't break me down out there," Healy said. "I know I look a little beat up and my eye is swollen but I feel incredible. I know how to use my weight and strength and that was the difference tonight. I was able to wear him down in the clinch and tire him out. That's what led to the submission.

"I've been working so hard for this return to the UFC. It's been seven years since I've been here and I've gone through so much since I've been gone. The only thing that kept me going is my love for fighting."

Healy extended his win streak to seven and improved his professional record to 32-15. Miller fell to 22-5. He has lost two of his three most recent fights.

Thumb injury results in Medeiros' first loss

Lightweight Yancy Medeiros had never felt defeat as a professional mixed martial artist, and he didn't plan to do so against Rustam Khabilov.

But Medeiros suffered his first professional loss in unforeseen fashion. During an action-packed first round, Medeiros injured the thumb on his right hand and could not continue fighting.

Yancy Medeiros
An awkward landing resulted in a broken thumb and short night for Yancy Medeiros.

Referee Dan Miragliotta waved the fight over at 2:32 of the first.

Medeiros' thumb was badly disfigured, causing fans inside the arena to gasp when it was shown on the large screens. Medeiros (9-1) was visibly angry that he could not continue fighting in hopes of remaining unbeaten.

Khabilov was disappointed with the stoppage.

"There isn't much to say; like I've said, my business is to throw him down and it's his business how he lands," Khabilov said of Medeiros' awkward landing. "Honestly I walked out to the Octagon to put on a good show. You saw what happened out there. I'm upset with the way it ended."

Khabilov, a disciplined Sambo standout, improves to 16-1.

St. Preux earns decision over Villante

Former Stikeforce light heavyweights Ovince St. Preux and Gian Villante made their UFC debuts. But if either was hoping to make a lasting first impression he failed.

Gian Villante and Ovince St. Preux
A poke to the eye by Ovince St. Preux, facing, cost Gian Villante a chance to end matters in the third round.

Lack of activity by the second round brought boos from the crowd.

St. Preux started strong, landing a hard left hand in the opening round. One left caught Villante on the chin and briefly wobbled him.

But St. Preux appeared to lose steam in the second round. He was breathing heavy and threw fewer punches and kicks, none of which had the same sting as those on the first round.

Villante (10-4) stubbornly refused to throw many strikes. He did attempt a few takedowns, but St. Preux stuffed each of them.

The end came after Villante told referee Mulhall that he was poked in the eye and could not see. But Mulhall took the request as indication Villante could no longer compete due to an accidental eye poke.

Villante argued vehemently that he could continue fighting but Mulhall had made up his mind and the judges' scorecards were read.

They scored the fight for St. Preux 30-28, 30-29 and 29-29. Afterward, St. Preux admitted he felt confident he had done enough in the first two rounds to earn the judges' approval -- and that he wasn't to blame for the early stoppage.

"I definitely felt comfortable in there and I knew I was winning," St Preux said. "I didn't feel like I poked him. I got poked too. Stuff happens but I don't think they should've stopped the fight. I would've won the third round because I felt great and I was coming on stronger, but still it's unfortunate it had to end like that."

Villante expressed confusion and frustration over the stoppage.

"I couldn't see ... [Mulhall] said the fight was over and I didn't expect that because I was just reacting to his question," Villante said. "I got poked and my eye was closed up so I thought he would stop it but he didn't he just kind of looked at me. I don't understand how you score 30 seconds of a round and that's how I lost? We were just getting going and I got poked in the eye. I don't know what to say."

It goes down as a win for St. Preux, who improved to 13-5, but the fight is one he might not want to recall any time soon.

McMann wins Octagon debut over Gaff with TKO in first

The expectations are very high for rising women's bantamweight Sara McMann and she offered a glimpse as to why -- registering a first-round TKO in her UFC debut.

Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff
Sara McMann became just the third woman to earn a victory in the UFC Octagon by stopping Sheila Gaff inside the first round.

McGann showed off her advanced wrestling skills by taking Sheila Gaff to the ground seconds after the horn sounded to start the bout. But Graf displayed solid defense and McMann was unable to land any strikes.

But the action quickly picked up after referee Gasper Oliver had the fighters return to their feet.

Both fighters started throwing punches and kicks. They eventually entered into a clinch against the cage and that's when McMann took over.

She took Gaff to the ground, got side control and began landing hard right hands repeatedly to Gaff's face. Gaff was unable to defend herself and Oliver stopped the assault at the 4:06 mark.

"I kept telling myself this was going to be like my world championships," said McMann, who improved to 7-0. "I competed in seven world championships. I was trying to get elbows but I couldn't find the range."

McMann explained her game plan -- "to get matters to the ground."

"Her strongest threat was on the feet so I took her down," McMann said. "I'm a wrestler. I can take people down whenever I want to. I put myself in the captain's seat where I could do the most damage and I plan to keep doing that."

Gaff falls to 10-5-1. McMann becomes just the third woman to earn a victory inside the Octagon.

Caraway submits ex-TUF teammate Bedford in third

Other than a brief acknowledgement before being introduced to the crowd, there was no sign that Bryan Caraway and Johnny Bedford were TUF 14 teammates as they prepared to meet in a bantamweight bout.

Bryan Caraway and Johnny Bedford
Bryan Caraway's more refined striking proved to be the difference against Johnny Bedford.

Friendship was the last thing on either fighter's mind, especially in the third round when Caraway applied a guillotine choke that forced Bedford to tap at the 4:44 mark.

Neither fighter dominated the action during the first two rounds. Bedford was able to get the fight on the ground early in the opening round, but Caraway displayed solid defense from his back.

Bedford threw several looping punches, a few hit the mark. But Caraway appeared to be the more technically sound striker, delivering straight right hands that found Bedford's chin in the second and third rounds.

The loss was Bedford's first inside the Octagon. He'd won his first two bouts inside the UFC cage, but thanks to Caraway his professional record slips to 19-11-1.

Caraway rebounded from a split-decision loss to veteran Takeya Mizugaki in March. This win put him at 18-7 as a mixed martial artist.

McKenzie beats Garcia in must-win matchup for both

Leonard Garcia and Cody McKenzie entered this featherweight fight knowing exactly what was at stake -- their UFC careers.

Leonard Garcia and Cody McKenzie
Cody McKenzie earned a much-needed win inside the Octagon by keeping the pressure on Leonard Garcia for three full rounds.

Garcia had dropped four fights in a row; McKenzie came up short in three of his most recent four.

McKenzie would win 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 by controlling Garcia on the ground while attempting rear-naked chokes during the first two rounds.

"Leonard is a really tough, scrappy guy and he's very hard to choke," McKenzie said. "This is the second decision of my career out of 30-some fights so it's a testament to his durability. He's been around a long time and I respect him a lot. I'm happy I got the win."

Trailing on the scorecards, Garcia came out aggressively in the third, seeking a knockout. He charged McKenzie while throwing wild punches and kicks, most missed their marks.

Garcia (19-11-1) has been a very popular fighter who almost always puts on exciting fights, but a five-fight losing streak will make it difficult for him to remain on the promotion's roster.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed," Garcia said. "The fight didn't got the way I planned. I don't know what else to say."

McKenzie (14-3) made a case for himself to get at least one more fight inside the UFC fold. But his performance against Garcia didn't deliver much in the excitement department. It will be interesting to see what UFC officials decide to do with both men.