As it turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir snapped a four-fight losing streak on Sunday, knocking out Antonio Silva less than two minutes into the UFC Fight Night main event in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The official time of the stoppage was the 1:40 mark.
Fighting for the first time in one year, Mir (17-9), traditionally a southpaw, came out in an orthodox stance. The unexpected switch might have thrown Silva for a loop, as he threw just three total strikes in the fight.
Mir, 35, credited the switch to his new Las Vegas-based boxing coach, Angelo Reyes. He said he took nearly one year off to heal from injuries -- and to re-learn how to box from a new stance.
"I came out looking for the jab," Mir said. "I knew he hits hard. There was no doubt about that. He has a long right hand. I wrestle left side forward and my head coach said, 'Switch back to orthodox.' So, I did. That's why I took extra time off. I learned how to box the correct way. The jab sets up everything. I've never had a dominant jab."
The victory marks the 13th finish of Mir's career, but only his fourth knockout. It is his 15th win inside the Octagon -- the most ever in the UFC's heavyweight division.
The jab was undoubtedly effective for Mir, as he set up both of his early combinations with it. A short flurry caught Silva against the fence in the opening moments of the fight.
After a feeling-out process between the two after that, Mir landed the left hook that dropped the big Brazilian.
Referee Mario Yamasaki gave Silva (18-7-1) every opportunity to recover. Mir stepped over his opponent and rained down punches with both hands. He then switched to a series of elbows, which knocked Silva out cold. It is the sixth knockout loss of Silva's career and third in his past four fights.
Mir earns his first victory a comeback submission victory against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in December 2011.
"This is me," Mir said. "I took time off. I rested. I was banged up. I've been facing top-five guys, four fights in a row, hindered, injured and not 100 percent. I have that 'never say die' attitude. I never turn down fights. I'd sit there and strap up, tape up and everybody would be looking at me saying, 'that's the worst training camp ever.' I said, 'I'll make it work.'
According to immediate cageside stats by Fightmetric, Mir landed a total of 10 strikes in the fight.
Silva, who missed time late last year to undergo surgery to remove a tumor near the base of his brain, landed one.
Johnson uses speed to overwhelm Barboza
Johnson (16-8) fought like a man possessed in his first appearance since March, constantly pressuring Barboza en route to a unanimous decision. It is Johnson's fourth consecutive win.
A former contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality television series, Johnson, 28, visibly made Barboza uncomfortable during the three-round bout. He did well cutting off the cage and prompting Barboza (15-3) to throw single counter punches, which he would slip and answer with combinations.
In his post-fight comments, Johnson called for a fight against former lightweight champion Ben Henderson.
"Edson is a great competitor but I wasn't going to stop for 15 minutes," Johnson said. "I wanted a finish, but he did a good job of coming in and out. I take back everything I said about his chin. He's got a hell of a chin. I'm here in this division and I'm coming for the belt this year.
"Ben, I know you don't have anybody. I'm ready for you. Let's ride."
Johnson missed most of last year due to a UFC-mandated suspension. The promotion revealed in December that Johnson had been arrested following an alleged domestic dispute.
There were no signs of ring rust in his first fight back, as he put a beating on an opponent who had won five of his past six bouts. Barboza landed several hard shots of his own, including a spinning back-kick to the body in the first round that got Johnson's attention -- but he struggled to back Johnson off.
A left hand opened a cut near Barboza's right eye in the initial frame. In the second round, Johnson hurt him with a straight left to the chin, which he followed up with a takedown moments later.
Knowing he was likely behind going into the third, Barboza attempted to mount some form of a comeback in the third, but Johnson dealt with his early aggressiveness well and resumed his role of stalking Barboza around the cage quickly. He scored another takedown with 30 seconds remaining in the round to leave no doubt.
Judges scored the lightweight bout for Johnson 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Johnson earns his eighth win inside the Octagon. He finished runner-up on the 12th season of TUF and holds notable wins over Melvin Guillard, Gleison Tibau and Tony Ferguson. Barboza falls to 9-3 in the UFC.
Alvey stuns Ferreira
Alvey (25-6), who donned a "Smile'n Sam" T-shirt during his post-fight interview, earned his 16th career knockout in a first-round finish over Ferreira. The end came at the 3:34 mark, shortly after Alvey dropped the Brazilian with a left hook to the jaw.
The finish was stunning in that Alvey had barely even attempted any offense to that point. He absorbed an up-elbow from Ferreira (8-4) in the pocket, before uncorking a right cross/left hook combination.
"This is going to sound kind of weird, but my game plan was to get kicked a bunch in the beginning and then knock him out somewhere along the line," Alvey said. "So, I think I followed my game plan to the bitter end. So, yeah."
Referee Mario Yamasaki closed in quickly to stop the fight, but not before a dazed Ferreira rolled over on to his back and ate two essentially unnecessary follow-up punches by Alvey.
Although he never hurt Alvey, Ferreira had dominated the round until the time of the knockout. He scored a few outside leg kicks from a distance and one pretty clean left hand. There was no recovering from the left hook, however, which resulted in the third knockout loss of Ferreira's career.
Alvey, 28, moves to 2-1 in the UFC. He signed with the promotion on the heels of a four-fight winning streak, but suffered a unanimous decision loss to Tom Watson in his promotional debut. He rebounded with a first-round knockout over Dylan Andrews in November.
Martins edges Khabilov
Martins (27-7) earned his third UFC win in the form of a split decision against Khabilov, who was favored nearly 4-to-1 to win the lightweight contest. Two judges had it 29-28 in favor of Martins, while a third saw it 29-28 for Khabilov.
The contest was a slow one, as both lightweights demonstrated a clear respect for the other's power. Martins was especially conservative, attempting just 44 total strikes the entire fight according to Fightmetric. Khabilov, by comparison, attempted 81.
Late in the first round, Martins drove in hard on a single-leg takedown and nearly caught Khabilov in a rear-naked during the ensuing scramble. Khabilov eventually ended up on his back, but hip escaped nicely to return to his feet with about 90 seconds left in the round. He landed one overhand right before the first break.
Khabilov started to find his rhythm on the feet in the second round, opening up more with left hooks and elbow strikes. He caught Martins flush with a right uppercut to the body.
With the result of the bout in the balance late, it was Martins who proved to have more in the tank. He picked at Khabilov from a distance with outside leg kicks and scored an easy takedown one minute into the final round. The Brazilian finished the round in top position, but not scoring much offense.
Martins has now collected wins over Khabilov, Juan Manuel Puig and Daron Cruickshank. His lone loss in the Octagon came at the hands of highly ranked contender Donald Cerrone in January 2014. Khabilov slips to 0-2 in his last two appearances. He suffered a fourth-round submission loss to former champion Ben Henderson in June.
Saenz navigates past Alcantara
Veteran bantamweight Frankie Saenz earned the biggest win of his career, upsetting a heavily favored Iuri Alcantara via unanimous decision.
A former collegiate wrestler, Saenz (10-2) took Alcantara down in several key moments and eventually wore the Brazilian down in enemy territory. All three judges had it for Saenz: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Saenz's first takedown came just moments into the fight, as he timed an Alcantara (31-6) body kick. Alcantara rose to his feet quickly though, and hurt Saenz with a front kick to the body moments later.
The first round saw several key scrambles, with each fighter searching for momentum. Saenz landed a few knees to Alcantara's body in tight, but gave up a takedown near the end of the round and nearly allowed Alcantara to climb onto his back.
Saenz seized control of the bout in the middle frame, however, taking Alcantra down in the center of the cage after knocking him off-balance with a leg kick. Alcantara, perhaps tired from the first round, seemed content to hang on his back and fish for submissions. The strategy didn't go well, as Saenz was free to rack up points from top position.
The final round looked similar to the second, as Saenz again took Alcantara down and worked short punches to the body while Alcantara worked, ineffectively, on a kimura attempt. With one minute left in the bout, Alcantara, after getting back to his feet, took Saenz down and briefly got into full mount -- but it was not enough to turn the tide.
Alcantara, who trained out of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for this fight, sees a three-fight win streak snapped.
Ponzinibbio strikes past Strickland
Ponzinibbio (20-2) improved to 2-1 in the Octagon, following a unanimous decision win over Strickland (15-1). All three judges scored the fight in favor of Ponzinibbio, 30-27.
Strickland, a former middleweight making his debut at 170 pounds, showcased inhuman-like durability, absorbing numerous crushing blows without so much as batting an eye. He was never knocked down in the 15-minute contest or even visibly staggered.
Immediately after the fight, Ponzinibbio claimed he fought with a broken arm.
"I knew he was going to be a tough fight," Ponzinibbio said. "He has good striking, good wrestling, good ground. I had a hard fight ahead of me but I fought with my heart."
Things went south for Strickland from the opening bell, as Ponzinibbio tagged him with a perfect straight right to the chin. Strickland wore the shot well though, and actually dropped Ponzinibbio with a jab a couple minutes later.
Ponzinibbio, who represents Team Nogueira and American Top Team, recovered from the knockdown quickly. Before the end of the round, he buzzed Strickland with a clean right head kick to the jaw.
The second round produced more measured action, as Ponzinibbio appeared to pace himself a bit after the busy first. Strickland started to bleed from the nose midway through the round and, despite scoring a takedown, failed to ever clearly establish consistent offense. He did open a cut over Ponzinibbio's left eye with the jab.
Ponzinibbio's versatile striking out-classed Strickland again in the final round, resulting in shutout scores. It marks the first loss of the 23-year-old Strickland's career. He falls to 2-1 in the UFC.