Busy night for mixed martial arts

SEATTLE — The lights went down at 6:55 on Saturday night, the eight-sided cage in the middle of KeyArena bathed in blue lights as the televised portion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's fight card was about to start.

"Ladies and gentleman, we are live!" shouted ring announcer Bruce Buffer.

The other side of the country watched on cable television while Seattle roared. The attendance: 14,212. The live gate: $1,182,850 for a card that included a "Bad Boy" (Leonard Garcia) losing to "The Korean Zombie" (Chan Sung Jung) and one fighter who was truly pounded into submission. Welterweight Amir Sadollah elbowed DaMarques Johnson in the head for 40 seconds uninterrupted until Johnson tapped out, indicating surrender.

The final two fights went to decision, a disappointing conclusion in a sport highlighted by knockouts and submissions. Phil Davis outwrestled Rogerio Nogueira in the main event, winning a unanimous decision in a light-heavyweight bout. That was the final of the 12 bouts spread over six hours in a day that included a little blood and a few boos during bout between Dan Hardy and Anthony Johnson that was supposed to be a slugfest but turned out to be three rounds of wrestling.

The final tally: Four chokehold submissions, a grotesquely swollen left eye belonging to heavyweight Jon Madsen that forced a second-round stoppage of one fight and a Northwest crowd that showed itself to be as educated as it was enthusiastic for the world's top mixed-martial arts promotion.

When bantamweight Edwin Figueroa was wobbled by a big punch at the end of the first round of the night's fifth fight, fans "Ooooohed." In the second round, they roared when Figueroa escaped three different chokeholds and they rose to their feet when Figueroa survived the round. Figueroa lost a unanimous decision to Michael McDonald and the two fighters congratulated each other after the fight while the crowd applauded both.

That bout was deemed the fight of the night, each fighter receiving a $55,000 bonus.

In the first of the televised bouts, the crowd cheered as Jung forced Garcia to submit with a twister, which is a lot more painful than it sounds. Jung essentially torqued Garcia's body while cinching a vicious headlock. Garcia gave up with 1 second left in the second round. Jung received a $55,000 bonus for the top submission of the night, and afterward, reporters addressed Jung as "the zombie."

This was the highest attendance for any of the 24 "Ultimate Fight Night" events it has put on. President Dana White was unequivocal that the UFC would return to Seattle in the future, likely for one of the pay-per-view cards.

Of Saturday's 12 fights, five were carried on Facebook. The final four bouts were televised by Spike-TV, carried live on the East Coast and delayed in other time zones.

For those not familiar with mixed-martial arts, there was probably more wrestling than expected and one jaw-dropping knockout as Johnny Hendricks flattened T.J. Waldburger to end the third fight, earning the $55,000 bonus for knockout of the night.

"That's as solid as I'll hit someone right there," Hendricks said.

It was the biggest punch of a night in which the UFC proved to be quite a hit in Seattle.

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