Charlie Brenneman made himself a factor in the welterweight division with the most important 15 minutes of work in his career.
A last-minute substitute for the suspended Nate Marquardt, Brenneman used a heavy dose of takedowns, grappling and scrambling to upset the world-ranked Rick Story in the co-main event of UFC Live 4 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Brenneman, a 30-year-old Hollidaysburg, Pa., native who has quietly won nine of his past 10 bouts.
Brenneman (14-2, 3-1 UFC) grounded Story repeatedly, frustrating the surging welterweight contender with a relentless pace. The AMA Fight Club standout struck for takedowns in all three rounds and powered out of repeated submission attempts from Story, including a second-round guillotine choke and a third-round triangle choke. Story (13-4, 6-2 UFC) mounted Brenneman with 1:19 left in the fight but failed to exact any damage and allowed the underdog to slip out the back door.
The defeat snapped Story's six-fight winning streak.
Improbable KO for Kongo
Cheick Kongo appeared to be out on his feet -- until he put Patrick Barry to sleep with a short right uppercut.
In what will undoubtedly go down as one of the most improbable comebacks in mixed martial arts history, Kongo survived nearly being stopped and flattened Barry with one punch in the UFC Live 4 main event. The dramatic finish came 2:39 into the opening round. Barry lay unconscious on the mat, his right leg bent beside him, his open eyes staring blankly into space.
"It was perfect," Kongo said, pointing to the uppercut that ended it.
The two heavyweights traded heavy leg kicks from the start, with Barry controlling the center of the cage and backing Kongo (16-6-2, 9-4-1 UFC) into the fence. He cracked the Frenchman with a sizzling overhand right that dropped Kongo where he stood and swarmed to finish. Referee Dan Miragliotta appeared close to stopping it and even made brief contact with the two fighters, but he gave Kongo, a proven 24-fight veteran, the benefit of the doubt.
With his back to the cage, a still wobbly Kongo unleashed a right hook that knocked Barry (6-3, 3-3 UFC) off balance, planted himself and followed it with the uppercut. Kongo followed his unconscious opponent to the mat, landed a few hammerfists before Miragliotta called him off.
"I had to win this fight," Kongo said. "I'm really happy."
Brown decisions Howard, ends slide
"The Ultimate Fighter" Season 7 alum Matt Brown halted a three-fight losing streak with a hard-fought unanimous decision over John Howard in a welterweight showcase. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Brown, who won for the first time in almost two years.
Howard scored effectively with low kicks but found himself largely outgunned on the feet. Brown (12-10, 5-4 UFC) wobbled him during a stout first-round exchange, punctuating a nice combination with a grazing head kick. Howard backpedaled in the face of superior firepower and abandoned a standup fight in favor of clinches and takedowns. However, Brown resisted his advances, and Howard expended valuable energy in a series of failed attempts to get the fight on the ground.
Brown scored with a trip takedown early in Round 2, landed in half guard and worked effectively from top position. Howard (14-7, 4-3 UFC) transitioned to a leg lock and swept into top position, only to be stonewalled and neutralized with an omoplata shoulder lock from his grounded opponent. The two welterweights traded takedowns in a largely uneventful third round, and Brown avoided Howard's late bid to hyperrotate his shoulder with a kimura.
Mitrione KOs Morecraft, moves to 5-0
Unbeaten and improving "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 10 alum Matt Mitrione blasted through the 6-foot-6, 261-pound Christian Morecraft and scored a decisive second-round knockout in a featured heavyweight matchup. Undone by a beautiful three-punch combination, Morecraft met his end 4:28 into round two.
Morecraft (7-2, 1-2 UFC) had no answer for the hand speed and power his opponent brought to bear. Straight left hands, set up by wicked inside low kicks, were at the heart of Mitrione's attack. He put Morecraft on the canvas twice in the first round and nearly finished it through a series of power shots with less than a minute to go in the period.
As Round 2 dawned, Morecraft was a spent force. Mitrione (5-0, 5-0 UFC) picked his spots and weathered two takedowns from his fading foe. A picture-perfect combination -- a right hook followed by a straight left hand and a straight right -- sent Morecraft's mouthpiece flying and left the Team Bombsquad representative staring at the lights.
Griffin takes majority decision over Gamburyan
In his first appearance as a featherweight in nearly six years, Tyson Griffin made a significant splash.
Griffin (15-5, 8-5 UFC) blitzed the world-ranked Manny Gamburyan with repeated low kicks en route to a majority decision over the former WEC title contender. Two of the three cageside judges saw it 29-28 for Griffin. A third scored it a 29-29 draw.
Based at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, Griffin overcame a slow start and gained a foothold in the match with stinging kicks to the Armenian's thigh. Still, Gamburyan (12-5, 2-4 UFC) did not go away. He scored with multiple takedowns in the third round despite the obvious damage to his leg. Griffin won a majority of the striking exchanges between the two featherweights, as he fought well in close quarters and scored effectively to the head and body. The narrow victory brought an end to Griffin's three-fight losing streak.
Vazquez sends Stevenson to fourth straight loss
WEC import Javier Vazquez handed former lightweight title contender Joe Stevenson his fourth consecutive defeat and left "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 2 winner's career inside the UFC in doubt, as he notched a unanimous decision in an undercard bout at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges ruled in Vazquez's favor: 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.
Vazquez (16-5, 1-0 UFC), a former King of the Cage champion, out-struck, outwrestled and out-grappled the Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts representative, warding off exhaustion in the latter stages of the fight. Vazquez established his jab, countered effectively, scored with a single-leg takedown in the first round and threatened his opponent with a tight guillotine choke in the second.
With desperation settling in, Stevenson (31-14, 8-8 UFC) was the aggressor in Round 3, as he attacked early with sharp punches and leg kicks. However, Vazquez held firm despite visible fatigue and racked up points with standing combinations and clean counter punches.
Lauzon kimura taps Warburton
Lauzon zapped Warburton (7-3, 1-2 UFC) with a two-punch combination, stacked him against the fence and wrenched the kimura. The 27-year-old Massachusetts native cut off any hope of an escape route by throwing up a triangle choke for good measure, torquing Warburton's arm in grotesque fashion until the submission came. Lauzon (20-6, 7-3 UFC) still has never lost back-to-back fights as a professional.
ATT's Attonito outpoints 'Ninja'
Superior standup, coupled with a heavy and punishing top game, carried American Top Team's Rich Attonito to a unanimous decision over Daniel Roberts in an undercard tilt at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Attonito: 29-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Attonito (10-4, 3-1 UFC) nearly finished it in the third round, when he folded his foe with a perfectly placed head kick and followed him to the canvas with punches. Roberts somehow survived but had nothing left to offer. A knee and a pair of right hands only strengthened Attonito's cause, as "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 11 alum closed the match inside the Roberts guard.
A 34-year-old Elizabeth, N.J., native, Attonito utilized superior defensive grappling in Rounds 1 and 2, as he avoided numerous submission attempts from Roberts (12-3, 3-3 UFC). Whenever the fight spilled onto the ground, Attonito managed to wind up in an advantageous position, grinding down his opponent with punches to the head and body. He has won five of his last six fights.
Oliveira fouls, submits Lentz
Highly regarded Brazilian prospect Charles Oliveira submitted Nik Lentz with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary lightweight duel. Lentz asked out of the fight 1:48 into Round 2, as he tasted defeat for the first time since March 2007.
Oliveira (15-1, 3-1 UFC) established his dominance in a crackling first five minutes. The once-beaten 21-year-old neutralized Lentz with his potent guard, dropped him with a crisp right hand while the two were upright and threatened to finish him with an anaconda choke. Lentz ultimately broke free and locked in a guillotine choke of his own. That, too, failed to end the fight. Oliveira finished the first period in top position after he dropped the Minnesotan with a knee.
In the second round, Oliveira turned the tide on what appeared to be an illegal knee to his downed foe. Referee Chip Snider did not acknowledge the foul, however, and the Brazilian teed off with punches. Lentz (21-4-2, 5-1-1 UFC) surrendered his back and soon succumbed to the choke. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission will likely review the outcome of the fight due to the apparent foul.
Lamas head kick dooms Grice
WEC import Ricardo Lamas made the most of his promotional debut, as he stopped Matt Grice on first-round punches in an undercard bout at 145 pounds. Referee Keith Peterson stepped in on Grice's behalf 4:41 into Round 1.
Lamas (10-2, 1-0 UFC) controlled much of the encounter, landing a takedown and passing to side mount before the two resumed their standup exchanges. Later, the 29-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt wobbled Grice (13-4, 1-4 UFC) with a head kick, swarmed him on the fence and polished him off as he tried to regain his bearings, sending him to the canvas and forcing the stoppage. The defeat snapped Grice's four-fight winning streak.