UFC 71: Undercard

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Post fight interview: Din Thomas beats Jeremy Stephens


LAS VEGAS – Houston Alexander staked his claim as the world's baddest disc jockey when he pummeled heavily favored Keith Jardine Saturday in a UFC 71 light heavyweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The UFC had been unable to find an opponent for Jardine, who was coming off a big win over Forrest Griffin. Alexander, a hip-hop DJ in Omaha, Neb., took the bout and needed just 48 seconds to knock out Jardine.

Alexander kneed Jardine in a clinch and then landed an overhand right that seemed to hurt "The Dean of Mean." But that was the least of Jardine's problems.

Alexander raked him with a blistering uppercut that sent Jardine to the canvas. He was in a semi-kneeling position when Alexander hit with another right uppercut that sent Jardine's mouthpiece flying and signaled the end of the bout.

"That's real punching power right there, baby," said an exultant Alexander, who was a 4-1 underdog.


Karo Parisyan only got off one of his famed judo throws – though that left him singing in the ring – but he still did enough to pull out a unanimous decision over Josh Burkman in the primary undercard bout.

Parisyan was quicker to the punch throughout, consistently landing a right hand.

He got off one throw late in the first round, when he flipped Burkman and then got on top of him, but he wasn't able to do much damage.

But in light of the win which he hopes will give him a shot at the welterweight title, currently held by Matt Serra, Parisyan was in a giddy mood.

"My judo throws are the best, the best throws in the world," Parisyan sang after his win. "All the other throws are done by little girls."

Burkman, a three-sport star in football, baseball and wrestling when he was in high school in Salt Lake City, had two slams but was never able to do significant damage to Parisyan.

After the bout, Parisyan asked UFC president Dana White to pair him with the winner of the match between Serra and former champion Matt Hughes.


Terry Martin walked to the ring to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," because he claimed his opponent, Ivan Salaverry, did little other than dance around the ring.

Salaverry did his best to dance, but Martin ended the party by slamming Salaverry on his head, knocking him out at 2:04 of the first round of their middleweight match.

After Martin spiked Salaverry, he fired a few shots to the head before referee Mario Yamasaki stopped it as Salaverry lay helpless.


Neither Chris Leben nor Kalib Starnes thought much about the scoring in their middleweight fight.

The judges gave Starnes a unanimous decision which Starnes said he didn't feel he deserved.

"I have nothing but respect for Chris because he has a huge heart," Starnes said. "I would have given him the nod in that fight myself."

Most of the bout was spent with the fighters on their feet, trading punches.

Starnes seemed to land the harder blows, though, and seemed to wobble Leben, who has now lost three of his last four, on several occasions.

But Leben said he was hardly concerned about the scoring. "Screw the judges. Screw the scoring," he said. "I only care what the fans think."


Leben took a loss, but he came out more fortunate than James Irvin, who was forced to submit at 1:06 of the first round of his light heavyweight fight with Thiago Silva when he suffered a partial ACL tear to his right knee during a takedown.

Silva had Irvin around the waist and tried to fling him to the mat. Irvin came down on his right leg and immediately screamed in pain. He tapped as Silva began to make his move on the ground and was escorted from the Octagon by paramedics.

Irvin probably won't require surgery.


Sean Salmon had a better ending in his fight with Alan Belcher than he did in his UFC debut in January when he was knocked unconscious from a Rashad Evans kick to the head.

But Salmon, a former wrestler at Ohio State, didn't make it out of the first round. He ducked his head while in front of Belcher and it was the mistake that cost him the fight.

Belcher slapped on a guillotine choke, maintained it when slammed by Salmon and won by tap at just 53 seconds.

"He put his head right there," said Belcher, who is known primarily as a striker.


Din Thomas nearly submitted Jeremy Stephens several times in the first round of their lightweight bout, but just missed on each occasion.

He might have missed in the second, as well, but still got a victory from an armbar at 2:44 of the middle frame. Stephens claimed he didn't tap to the armbar, but referee John McCarthy stopped it anyway.

Thomas said it didn't matter.

"He probably didn't tap, but I was going to break his arm and take it home with me," Thomas said.


Wilson Gouveia had little problem with Carmelo Marrero in the opening bout on the card. Gouveia landed low kicks early, took Marrero down and submitted him with a guillotine choke just 3:06 into the light heavyweight fight.

Marrero was moving down from heavyweight to compete in the light heavyweight division, but never managed any offense.

Gouveia was in Marrero's half guard and landed several hard shots to the face. Marrero tried to slide up, allowing Gouveia to jump on his neck and slip on the fight-ending choke.

"After I took him down, I tried to use my elbows to finish the fight, but I was worried that I had spent too much energy with my strikes, so I finished him with a submission," Gouveia said.

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