Mark Hunt with a crushing right uppercut knocked out Roy Nelson in the second round, staking his claim to the UFC heavyweight title shot conversation at UFC Fight Night 52 in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
Nelson was knocked out for the first time in his UFC career.
Michinori Tanaka and Kyung Ho Kang earned Fight-of-the-Night honours, while Hunt and Johnny Case earned performance-of-the-night. Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.
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#14 KYOJI HORIGUCHI vs “THE HEAT” JON DELOS REYES
WISEMAN PREDICTION: JON DELOS REYES VIA SUBMISSION
WINNER: KYOJI HORIGUCHI VIA TKO
Andrews: Horiguchi went in there like he had a plane to catch and got down to business, countering a Reyes strike with a counter left and swarming a crumpled Reyes. Impressive win.
Wiseman: I underestimated the young skills of Horiguchi. There, I admit it. He was wild against Reyes, showing incredible speed, movement, and power. Nothing but business as Horiguchi was able to rock Reyes early in the very first round and get the TKO win. Incredible!
KIICHI “STRASSER” KUNIOTO VS “FILTHY” RICHARD WALSH
WISEMAN PREDICTION: KIICHI KUNIOTO VIA SUBMISSION
WINNER: KIICHI KUNIOTO VIA SPLIT-DECISION
Andrews: Richard Walsh should have won this fight. That is all.
Wiseman: Walsh started very aggressively and rocked Kunimoto several times. Experience certainly helped Kunimoto recover as he would immediately go for the clinch. The first round easily Walsh’s. The problem for Walsh is that he allowed Kunimoto to force the clinch game too much and took his foot off the gas a little. The second round could have gone either way, but the final round Kunimoto was able to score the only takedown of the match. Still a close fight, but certainly one that Walsh could have won had he performed like he did in the first round. Kunimoto showed good cardio as he was able to grind out a win.
#2 MIESHA “CUPCAKE” TATE VS RIN NAKAI
WISEMAN PREDICTION: MIESHA TATE VIA TKO
WINNER: MIESHA TATE VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Nakai valiantly went the distance, but was unable to land a clean takedown and take advatage of the few times she climbed on Tate’s back. Meanwhile, Tate showed improved takedown defence, while using her striking to pile up the points. I thought Nakai did better than I thought she would, but you need to be a threat on the feet in the UFC, not just on the ground.
Wiseman: I really thought that Tate would get the TKO finish, but I was still impressed with the growth that Tate showed. Her boxing and takedown defence prevented Nakai from getting things to the mat like she wanted. Tate’s awareness when Nakai had her back and was threatening, fantastic. The biggest improvement was Tate’s technique. Usually rushing in and seeming like wrestling is the only skill setting she has, this Tate version seemed calculated, controlled, and just a completely different league than Nakai. Considering Nakai’s size, I personally wonder if dropping to Strawweight would be an option. She is extremely muscular, but it may be a move that would definitely put her against people more her size.
YOSHISHIRO “SEXYAMA” AKIYAMA VS AMIR SADOLLAH
WISEMAN PREDICTION: AMIR SADOLLAH VIA SUBMISSION
WINNER: YOSHISHIRO AKIYAMA VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
Andrews: Sadollah was a replacement and was coming off a layoff, but this was easily the best UFC Sexyama. He landed beautiful jufo throws and spin kicks. Powerful right hands and jabs that floored Amir. He even brutalized Amir on the mat. Sadollah didn’t have an answer for him. Great win for the veteran Akiyama.
Wiseman: Given the 39-year-old Akiyama was debuting at 170, he has been out of the octagon for over two years, I certainly didn’t see this fight going the way it did. Akiyama was the best version of himself against Sadollah. His cardio was on point, his combinations, movement, and ability to dictate where the fight went really gave him all the advantages. Sadollah, a very talented fighter, just seemed out-classed. Truly the best performance we’ve seen from Sexy-Yama.
#9 MYLES “FURY” JURY VS TAKANORI “THE FIREBALL KID” GOMI
WISEMAN PREDICTION: MYLES JURY VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
WINNER: MYLES JURY VIA TKO
Andrews: 92 seconds. Fantastic movement combined with picture-perfect precision won this fight in the first round for Myles. He caught Gomi with a right hand that dropped the former PRIDE champion. Gomi tried to make it a brawl, but Myles had other plans.
#6 MARK “SUPER SAMOAN” HUNT VS #8 ROY “BIG COUNTRY” NELSON
WISEMAN PREDICTION: ROY NELSON VIA TKO
WINNER: MARK HUNT VIA KNOCKOUT
Andrews: Wow! Give some props to Hunt’s corner for identifying Nelson ducking his head down. Mark planted a a crushing uppercut when Nelson ducked his head down and did what no man has been able to do: Knock out Big Country. Nelson was winning the fight prior, landing more shots and leg kicks. But Hunt landed the equalizer.
Wiseman: Everyone knew there was going to be a KO finish, but I personally didn’t see it being Nelson with his iron chin. Nelson showed better head movement while in the pocket, but Hunt showed that he is quick to pick up on timing and movements. He set Nelson up perfectly for an uppercut which is how he ended the night. The first person to ever knock out Nelson. A great performance by Hunt.