The UFC’s first trip to China may have started early—for those in the US at least—and slowly, but in the end, it delivered fireworks for the Chinese crowd at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China.

After a constant flow of decisions over the preliminary card and the better portion of the main card, the main event between former champions Rich Franklin and Cung Le capped off the action with a big knockout, while the co-main event between Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov delivered the only submission.

The six-fight main card aired live on Fuel TV beginning at 9 a.m. ET, with the preliminary card streaming free on YouTube at 7:40 a.m ET.

Le Ends Franklin’s Night with One Punch

It only lasted one round and it made up for a night of mostly decisions. After Rich Franklin got comfortable striking with Cung Le, he would throw a leg kick and left hand that Le countered with a huge punch that had Franklin out cold before he hit the ground. It was a highlight-reel knockout that will easily earn Le a fight-night bonus.

The amazing win will likely put Le into contention in the middleweight division. He has looked good in his last two fights after dropping his debut to Wanderlei Silva. Don’t be surprised to see him headline another card in the near future.

Silva Strangles Nedkov with Arm-Triangle Choke

In the opening round, the fighters engaged in a lot of clinching and some brawling. Nedkov did not do damage, but he did pin Silva against the cage for most of the round. Silva landed some knees from the Thai clinch and landed some good power shots. Silva should have earned the round because he actually did damage, but the judges may have given it to Nedkov because of his control.

The second round was a lot of the same. Nedkov put Silva against the cage, but could not secure the takedown. Silva landed more strikes, but eventually Nedkov landed a big overhand right that rocked Silva. The round ended, but Nedkov likely took it from the knock down.

In the final frame, Silva finally got comfortable and landed a takedown. He quickly got mount and would lock in an arm-triangle choke to earn the tap. It is the first loss in Nedkov’s career and a big win for Silva.

Kim Grinds Thiago, Humiliates Him on Ground

The first round of this welterweight affair was all Dong Hyun Kim. He got the takedown early and took Thiago’s back quickly. There was not much action, even though Kim occasionally looked for the rear-naked choke, but the closest he came to finishing was with a neck crank that had to be released at the bell. It was an easy 10-9 round for the South Korean.

In the second round, it was almost the same thing as the first. Thiago threatened with a kimura early, but Kim escaped and rode Thiago for a majority of the round. At the end, Kim locked in a D’arce choke, but the bell likely saved Thiago from submission. Another 10-9 round for Kim.

In the final frame, Kim continued to frustrate Thiago with his takedowns and ground game. He rode Thiago’s back for a majority of the round. In the last 90 seconds, Kim dropped some good ground and pound in what I deemed a sweep on the scorecards. The judges agree, giving Kim the unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).

Gomi Edges Danzig

Former Pride champion Takanori Gomi looked relaxed and comfortable in a decision win over Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig.

In the opening frame, Gomi got off to an unusually fast start, as he is a reputed slow starter. He used good combinations and a takedown to earn the upperhand. Danzig snagged a takedown at the end of the round in hopes to steal it, but Gomi had the slight 10-9 edge from his whole round of work.

In the second, Gomi used a stiff jab and some power shots to keep Danzig at bay. Eventually, Danzig hit a beautiful power takedown to get Gomi on his back. After threatening with a guillotine choke, Gomi survived to the bell, but Danzig likely earned the 10-9 nod from the judges.

In the final frame, Gomi opened the round stunning Danzig with a sneaky right hand. He then got on top of Danzig on the ground. At one point, they exchanged leg submission attempts, as Danzig looked for a kneebar and Gomi looking for an ankle lock simultaneously. After they got off the ground, there were some interesting exchanges. In the end, Gomi earned the fight 29-28. The judges were split, but Gomi walked away with the decision.

Tuck Ruins Homecoming for Zhang

Guam’s Jon Tuck kept his undefeated record intact by spoiling the homecoming the UFC’s only Chinese fighter, Tiequan Zhang.

The first round saw an amazing grappling display full of transitions and submission attempts. Tuck had Zhang mounted and had his back at points in the round, as well as threatening with an armbar and rear-naked choke attempt. It was a fun, close round, but clear enough to give to Tuck, 10-9.

In the second frame, the round started with a couple great exchanges on the feet. Zhang would get a takedown, but Tuck would reverse. Like the first round, he would gain mount on Zhang, as well as control his back for a long time. As with the first, a 10-9 round for Tuck.

The final round saw Tuck and Zhang strike the entire round and the pace noticeably slowed. Both guys landed some shots, but Zhang was the aggressor for the most of the round. Zhang likely earned a 10-9 round, which made the fight a 29-28 unanimous decision for Tuck. The judges agreed and gave Tuck a unanimous nod (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Mizugaki Blanks Hougland

Bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki put on a dominant performance against a submission-minded Jeff Hougland.

In the first round, Mizugaki showed his superiority on the feet before Hougland looked to get the fight down. Mizugaki turned the takedown on him and gained top position. For a majority of the round, Hougland looked for the occasional submission while Mizugaki threw brutal ground and pound from the top. First round 10-9 for Mizugaki.

The second round saw more of the same. After some brief striking, Hougland had his takedown defended and turned into a takedown for Mizugaki again. The Japanese fighter used more ground and pound to win another 10-9 round.

In the final round, it was wash, rinse and repeat. Mizugaki showed he was the superior fighter throughout the entire fight, using better striking and a top-notch top game. He opened a huge cut on Hougland’s forehead, which was the most notable part of the round. The judges saw a clean sweep for the Japanese bantamweight, who won by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27).

Preliminary Card Summary

Alex Caceres and Motonobu Tezuka looked like your classic striker vs. grappler match-up. Tezuka scored early with takedowns and superior grappling, but it was Caceres’ striking and takedown defense that really took over a majority of the fight. In a surprising judging call, Tezuka earned the nod on one scorecard, but Caceres would take the split decision.

In the only flyweight bout of the night, John Lineker and Yasuhiro Urushitani put on a show for three rounds. Both men used their skilled striking to throw in volumes. Urushitani was the quicker, more technical guy, while Lineker was throwing power shots in bunches. Both showed great chins, but it was ultimately Lineker who earned the decision with a couple knockdowns and more damaging shots.

An exciting middleweight affair kicked off the Facebook prelims, as Riki Fukada edged Tom DeBlass via unanimous decision. DeBlass showed to be the faster, better striker in the beginning, but takedowns, clinch work and debilitating body shots eventually turned the tide for Fukuda in a good performance for both men.

Cung Le def. Rich Franklin via KO (punch) at 2:17 of Round 1
Thiago Silva def. Stanislav Nedkov via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 1:45 of Round 3
Dong Hyun Kim def. Paulo Thiago via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Takanori Gomi def. Mac Danzig via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jon Tuck def. Tiequan Zhang via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Takeya Mizugaki def. Jeff Hougland via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
Alex Caceres def. Motonobu Tezuka via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
John Lineker def. Yasuhiro Urushitani via unanimous decision(29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Riki Fukuda def. Tom DeBlass via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Photo: Rich Franklin (L) battled Cung Le in the main event (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.