Round 1 - Referee Marcos Rosales in the cage for the evening's first fight. Hallman moves forward quickly. Saunders scores a knee inside, but Hallman pushes forward and into the clinch. Saunders with his back to the cage as he tries to remain upright. Hallman lands a few knees to the chin. Saunders tries to break free and spin away, but Hallman has a firm bodylock. Hallman finally trips Saunders to the floor and takes half-mount. Hallman postures with a few short punches and elbows. Saunders tying things up underneath, but it's a bit slow and the crowd boos halfway through the round. Hallman comfortable on top but not working to advance. A few elbows score from the top, but Saunders remains in half-guard. Less than a minute. Hallman start to open up the top and Saunders' face shows the wear. FIght stays there until the bell. Not fast-paced, but a clear round for Hallman on the MMAjunkie.com card, 10-9.
Round 2 - Saunders smiles as round two opens. Hallman rushes forward again, and a right hand scores\s. Saunders takes it, moves away and fires a high kick. Hallman kicks low, and Saunders kicks to the body. Straight right from Saunders. Another body kick scores. Hallman moves into the clinch and immediately dumps Saunders to the floor. Saunders sits up against the cage, and his left leg is in a butterfly position. Hallman moves in further and tries to pass to mount. Saunders does a solid job of maintaining guard, and he threatens with an armbar. Hallman pulls out of it easily and passes out to side control. Two minutes remain. Hallman tries to step over the arm and move into a crucufix, but Saunders keeps out. Hallman lands a few punches from the top and steps over into mount. Hallman really controlling the action on the floor, and Saunders defending but not working actively to get back on his feet. Hallman in half-mount and raining down short right elbows. Round ends there, and it's another frame for Hallman on the MMAjunkie.com card, 10-9.
Round 3 - Saunders breathing heavily as the third opens, and he needs to stay on his feet. Hallman kicks low. Saunders lands a left hand then a right. High kick from Saunders. Hallman pushes in, and it's another left-right combo up the pipe for Saunders. Hallman wisely shoots in. Saunders sprawls, but Hallman grabs the right leg and holds a high single. Saunders bounces on his left leg momentarily, but Hallman trips him up. Saunders to a knee as Hallman pushes in. Saunders uses the cage to stand, but Hallman continues to push into a clinch. Saunders lands a few knees inside, and the crowd wants a break. Rosales watching as Hallman holds the bodylock. Few more knees from Saunders, and Rosales finally does reset the action. Saunders opens with his hands again and finds the mark. Hallman moves in, but Saunders lands a knee.Two minutes left. Hallman backing away as Saunders tries to land. Saunders attacking, but Hallman closes in and gets him to the floor again. One minute left. Hallman in half-mount. Hallman bleeding under his left eye. Saunders face also showing wear. Hallman throws left hands from the top position and maintains his control on the floor. Saunders throws Leben-esque double punches from the bottom, but it's not enough. MMAjunkie.com sees the final round for Saunders, 10-9, but awards the fight to Hallman, 29-28. Dennis Hallman def. Ben Saunders via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
The tipping point for me in betting on Hallman was a hunch. Back in the old days he had great technique but his gas tank was so awful. I mean he subbed Matt Hughes twice, but unfortunately tended to lose when it went to deep waters.
However, I read an interview a couple months back when he said he had finally identified a gluten allergy he'd had his whole life and after changing his diet, had much more energy. Guess maybe he was right! Saunders is no slouch in the cardio department.
His helmet was stifling, it narrowed his vision. And he must see far. His shield was heavy. It threw him off balance. And his target is far away.