Newark, N.J. — One of the best, but also scariest moments of UFC 128 came just 21/2 minutes after the bell rang on the first fight of the preliminaries.
Erik (New Breed)” Koch and fellow featherweight Raphael Assuncao were going toe-to-toe until the 22-year-old landed a right hook on Assuncao’s jaw.
The 28-year-old Brazilian laid on his back motionless for about a minute after the blow.
“Words can’t describe, that’s the perfect UFC debut for me,” Koch said to UFC commentator Joe Rogan after winning his third fight in a row.
The KO was the first of several in an action-packed night at the Prudential Center.
In the last undercard fight, heavyweights Luiz Cane dropped Eliot Marshall with a powerful punch that led to a TKO.
Between the KO and TKO, local fighter Nick (The Jersey Devil) Catone beat Constantinos Philippou by unanimous decision, Bantamweight Joseph Benavidez scored a unanimous decision over Ian Loveland, Gleison Tibau beat Kurt Pellegrino by split decision, Mike Pyle scored a unanimous decision over Ricardo Almeida and Edson Barboza beat Anthony Njokuani.
Barboza, who won by a narrow unanimous decision, let loose an awesome roundhouse that landed with a loud smack on The Assassin’s cheek just before the final bell.
Although Njokuani didn’t go down, the beautiful kick may have been the difference-maker for the judges in this close fight.
The first fight on the main card saw a UFC legend dropped by a big bomb.
Fan favourite Mirko Cro Cop, who has 27 wins in his career, was attempting a low kick in the third round when Brendan Schaub landed a punch that left the Croatian in a crumpled heap.
Shaub landed one more punch with Cro Cop was on his back before the bout was stopped.
Cro Cop battled valiantly, but the former Arena Footbal League player was just too powerful.
“I had to bring my best because Mirko is so dangerous,” Schaub said afterward.
Nate Marquardt beat local fighter Dan Miller by unanimous decision.
But Miller held his own against one of the top middleweights in the world. He even came close to choking Marquardt out just before the round ended.
Not bad for a guy who was moved up from the undercard as a last-minute replacement for Yoshihiro Akiyama, who pulled out because of the Japan disaster.
New Jersey’s own Jim Miller made up for his brother’s loss earlier on the card by beating Kamal “The Prince of Persia” Shalorus, yet another TKO on the night.
Millers hit Shalorus in the face with a solid left uppercut, followed by a hard knee, then he worked the ground and pound until ref stopped the fight.
“That’s seven in a row in arguably the toughest division in the UFC,” Miller said after, alluding to a title shot. “I’m ready for it.”