It was clear early there was no way the Wanderlei Silva-Brian Stann bout atop the UFC on Fuel TV 8 card in Japan would last the scheduled five rounds on Sunday.
A mammoth left hook by Silva put an end to the frenetic light heavyweight bout, one that included constant flurries as the two combatants traded punch after punch.
“My corner said all I needed to throw was a straight punch,” Silva said in the post-fight interview. “I am so happy the game plan worked.”
Silva used a straight right that found Stann’s chin and staggered him. Silva followed immediately with a left hook that sent Stann to the mat. The fight was stopped with 52 seconds left in the second round after Silva landed a few more right hands to the fallen Stann.
“Wanderlei has always been one of my favorite fighters ever,” Stann said. “He’s one of the fighters that impressed me and made me want to get into the sport. I’m very proud to be part of his career. As much as this hurts right now, and my heart is broken, I’m proud I put my name on the line.”
The two fighters attempted 200 strikes during the bout, according to fightmetric.com. Silva landed 49 of his 97 attempts; Stann hit on 64 of his 103 attempts.
The only time the action stopped — outside the break between the first and second round — was when Silva was caught twice with kicks to the crotch.
“He’s a tough guy,” Silva told Fuel TV. “He put in a great performance. It’s the kind of fight I love to do. We’re there to fight. I am not there to run. I like to fight like that. Thanks a lot to Brian Stann for fighting me. It was a great show for the fans.”
The co-main event didn’t lack excitement either as Mark Hunt broke Stefan Struve’s four-fight winning streak — and apparently his jaw — with a third-round knockout.
Hunt, who had a 14-inch height disadvantage and was in trouble at times in the heavyweight bout, set up the KO with a right jab he followed with a massive left hook to drop Struve. Referee Herb Dean paused a moment as Struve was flat on the mat before he called the stoppage.
“My timing was off and I couldn’t put things together, but I was glad to take the win,” said Hunt, who won his fourth fight in a row. “It’s hard to fight a guy like Struve. He’s a big kid."
The card wasn’t without controversy as the fight between Diego Sanchez and Takanori Gomi ended in a baffling decision.
Sanchez, a winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, weighed in at 158, two pounds over the limit for the lightweight cutoff. (He forfeited 20 percent of the purse as a result.) Sanchez was active in the first round, but appeared to be outworked much of the fight as Gomi controlled things with his boxing.
No matter. Sanchez won via a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in his first fight in more than a year after he underwent shoulder surgery.
“How the (expletive) did Diego win that fight!?” UFC president Dana White wrote on Twitter. “Crazy (expletive).”
Yushin Okami also won via a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) as he beat Hector Lombard, another setback for the much-hyped middleweight. It was Lombard’s second loss over his first three UFC fights.