For the second time this year, Mauricio Rua will search for answers after being on the wrong end of a knockout punch.
Rua (22-10) suffered a first-round TKO loss to Ovince Saint Preux on Saturday, at UFC Fight Night 56 in Uberlandia, Brazil. The bout lasted just 34 seconds, with St. Preux (17-6) scoring the biggest win of his career.
A short counter left hook knocked Rua down in the first real exchange of the fight. Rua fell to a seated position against the fence, where Saint Preux dropped a series of unanswered left hands to finish the former champion. Referee Mario Yamasaki eventually stopped the contest, after about 10 consecutive punches from Saint Preux.
It was a perfect result for Saint Preux, who replaced Rua's original opponent, Jimi Manuwa, in the main event. Manuwa was forced to pull out late last month due to a broken foot.
"This fight meant a lot to me," Saint Preux said. "Shogun is a legend. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm still going to be a big Shogun fan. It's just one of those things: In order to become a legend you have to beat a legend."
Rua, 32, entered the fight already facing public debate over his durability. A professional fighter since 2002, the Brazilian is now 1-4 in his past five fights. In March, he suffered a third-round knockout loss to Dan Henderson and was forced to undergo surgery on a broken nose. It is the fourth time in his career Rua has been knocked out.
The counter left hook landed as Rua came roaring forward with one of his signature overhand rights. Not looking to waste time, Rua stepped aggressively forward as he backed St. Preux to the cage, but Saint Preux still had space behind him and measured the counter shot beautifully. It was a short, clean shot -- it actually looked initially as though Rua might have slipped due to his own forward momentum, but replays caught Saint Preux's left hand.
"I kind of wanted to bait him in the first minute," Saint Preux said. "Once he threw the overhand, that's the minute I knew it was open and I could finish him there.
"I don't know [who's next]. That's something I've got to discuss with my coaches. We have a couple people in mind."
Saint Preux earns his fifth win in the UFC, with just one loss. He suffered a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader in August in his first-ever five-round fight. The 31-year-old former collegiate football player has eight knockout finishes in his career and three total finishes in the UFC.
"I was really well-trained, and I always feel obligated to do my best," Rua said. "Fights in this division are like this, and he got the win. Now it's time to come back home and stay with my family."
Judges inexplicably side with Alves
A strong, comeback performance by welterweight Alan Jouban was marred by inept judging in the night's co-main event.
Jouban (10-3) weathered an early storm against Warlley Alves and dominated late in what appeared to be his second UFC win.
Judges Fernando Moura, Marco Aurelio Borges and Roy Silbert saw something different, however, and awarded Alves (8-0) unanimous 29-28 scores. ESPN.com scored the bout 29-28 for Jouban.
"I wasn't 100 percent [for this bout]," Alves said. "I felt my body and some injuries I had during my camp. I want to apologize for not performing the way I would like to, but I'm not ashamed of it. Next time I will give a show.
"Alan is a tough opponent and I would like to thank him for this fight. I will be back 100 percent."
Immediate cageside stats showed Jouban out-landing Alves 96-to-51. Jouban also threw 62 more total strikes than Alves, according to Fightmetric.
Alves clearly won the first round, as he dropped Jouban with punches inside the first minute of the fight. The Brazilian appeared on his way to a quick finish, swarming Jouban with right hands on the floor and then nearly locking in a guillotine choke. Jouban survived the early onslaught, however, eventually working back to his feet and clearing the cobwebs.
Late in the first round, Jouban hurt Alves with a left kick to the liver, followed by a straight left upstairs. Alves retreated to the fence and took several looks at the clock before the break.
Jouban continued to turn the tide in the second round, going to work with more left kicks to the body. Alves scored a takedown after catching a kick, but Jouban did more damage from the bottom, landing elbows before getting back to his feet with half the round remaining. He elevated a left kick to the head and again followed with a straight left hand that scored upstairs. Near the end of the round, Alves complained of an eye poke.
In the third round, Alves once again complained to referee Keith Peterson that he got poked in the eye, but Peterson allowed it to continue and Jouban scored good combinations to the head. Alves was visibly gassed and took long looks at the clock throughout the round. He managed to throw a few defensive right hands to temporarily back Jouban off at times, but Jouban would go right back to work with effective striking.
"Obviously I don't agree with the result," Jouban said. "He got the first round, I got the second round, and I dominated in the third. He couldn't even stand up for the decision. I'm a little heartbroken."
All three judges scored the final round for Jouban, but the first two for Alves.
Silva wins, but not in style
In a pretty ugly welterweight fight, Claudio Silva rallied late to secure a split decision against UFC newcomer Leon Edwards.
Silva (11-1) won the fight with a strong third round, during which he managed to take Edwards down and dominate him on the floor despite being visibly exhausted. Judges Roy Silbert and Derek Clearly scored the bout 29-28 for Silva, while judge Guilherme Bravo had it 29-28 for Edwards. ESPN.com saw it 29-28 in favor of Edwards.
The Brazilian made no effort to hide his strategy, shooting in on Edwards from the opening bell. He took Edwards down multiple times in the first round, but struggled to keep him there. On the feet, both fighters had their moments, as they each showed a willingness to throw (and eat) punches in the pocket.
Edwards (8-2) got into a solid groove in the second round, taking full advantage of the too-often sloppy striking of Silva. He started to land the counter left hook at will and opened a cut under Silva's left eye with a right cross. Silva, through virtually willpower alone, forced a takedown late in the frame and went into the second break in full mount, dropping wild punches.
The late push seemed to wake up Silva, as he scored an easy takedown early in the third round and spent the majority of the next five minutes alternating between full mount and taking Edward's back. He attempted an arm triangle choke after isolating Edwards' left arm, but did allow the Brit to reverse position and get back to his feet. With very little time left, Silva basically circled away from Edwards the rest of the fight.
Silva, 32, is now 2-0 in the UFC with two decision victories. Edwards suffers his first loss since February 2012.
Lima hands Oliveira first loss
Lima (10-2) outclassed Oliveira on the ground and attempted several submissions, before eventually settling for a shutout on the scorecards. All three judges scored the 170-pound contest 30-27 for Lima. The bout made the UFC Fight Night main card after a co-main event between John Lineker and Ian McCall fell through the day before.
"My opponent was changed only a week before the fight, so if I wasn't so prepared for this, I would have lost this fight, since he had nothing to lose," Lima said.
"He got a knockdown in the first round and I had to change my strategy. If you can't win standing up, then you have to win on the ground."
The fight got off to somewhat of a slow start, as Lima peppered Oliveira (7-1) with the jab but little else. Oliveira stunned him in the first round with a right hand, but Lima tied him up in the clinch and spent the next minute recovering, holding Oliveira along the fence.
With referee Wernei Cardoso encouraging action, Lima scored a takedown and moved into Oliveira's half-guard. He moved to full mount moments later and, with 30 seconds left in the round, attempted an arm triangle choke.
Oliveira survived to see the second round, only to be taken down in the first 30 seconds and again surrender full mount. A former lightweight, Oliveira forfeited size to Lima and it showed, as he had a nightmare of a time escaping poor positions on the floor. He gave up his back with just over a minute left in the frame and nearly tapped to a rear-naked choke, but somehow turned into his opponent and got back to his feet.
Neither fighter did much in the third round, as fatigue settled in. After a slow two minutes, Lima scored a takedown and eventually finished the fight in full mount, raining down shots but coming up short on a finish. The 25-year-old rebounds from a first-round knockout loss to Eddie Gordon at the TUF 19 Finale in July. Oliveira, 34, suffers his first pro loss.
Lima holds on for win over Ansaroff
Lima (7-2) faded late in the 115-pound contest but did enough early to earn her first UFC win. All three judges scored it for the Brazilian, 29-28.
"She is a really tough opponent," Lima said. "She surprised me in the jiu-jitsu [department], but my jiu-jitsu was sharp and ready for this fight.
"I don't even know how to describe what it is like to win a UFC fight in Minas Gerais. It hasn't sunk in yet."
Opportunistic takedowns was the name of the game for Lima, as she pounced on Ansaroff (6-4) early after the American fighter fell backward trying to break out of a Thai clinch. Lima's offense was limited from the top and she was forced to deal with Ansaroff upkicks and a brief triangle attempt, but her control and short punches from top position were enough to win the round.
Ansaroff landed an illegal upkick to a downed opponent prior to the first break, but Lima recovered and referee Keith Peterson did not take a point.
In the middle frame, Ansaroff got off a few spinning back kicks to Lima's midsection, but could not defend an early single leg takedown in the center of the cage. Ansaroff once again proved to have an active guard, attacking Lima's left arm with an armbar. After a long scramble, Lima wound up back on top and sealed another round, despite being stood up by Peterson for lack of offense.
Both strawweights battled fatigue in the final round. The spinning back kick continued to hit its mark for Ansaroff, but she never hurt Lima, and failed to fight off long clinches against the fence. She did enough to avoid a sweep on the scorecards but ultimately dropped her UFC debut. Lima improved to 1-1 in the Octagon.