The Severe Spotlight: Elves Brener

A comeback in MMA is one of the most exhilarating things the sport has to offer. It epitomises the gladiatorial spirit that most identify with as an MMA fan. An athlete against all odds turning around a fight, a performance and managing to find a way to win – we speak of the ethereal scream of Darren Elkins after stopping Mirsad Bektić at UFC 209.

Elves Brener completed a comeback of the highest order on Saturday evening in his win over Guram Kutateladze.

The fight started tough for Brener. Kutateladze settled into his rhythms fast – his array of thudding kicks peppering the arms, legs, and ribs of Brener. Mixed in with the body work and straight punching. His counter right straight over the top of the leaping left hook of Brener a stinging blow.

Smartly Brener closes the distance inside the first minute, pummelling to the bodylock and taking Kutateladze down away from the fence. Kutateladze, however showed off an impressive and active guard from the bottom, showing off some butterfly off balances, and continuous offensive looks. Brener stayed discipl9ined with his head position until Kutateladze forced his way back to the fence and up to his feet.

A separation with 2:18 left in the first round began the tale of woe. A right teep to the jaw slightly wobbles Brener before mere beats later he finds himself on the canvas, being off balanced with a left hook that lands at the same time as he throws a right kick. He wrestles up wonderfully, reversing the position. An elbow off the clinch as Kutateladze rises, a roaring body hook proceed a mistake by Brener. He looks to step in and hit a foot sweep that is read by Guram, who rounds the corner and forces a clinch exchange against the fence.

With 20 seconds left Kutateladze lands a vicious elbow. Brener is controlling the right wrist of Kutateladze with a stiff-arm c-post. Guram uses this stiff arm to extend his own arm away and sneak a knee up the middle – this causes Brener to turn toward his right, this creates a bend in the arm of Brener making it easier to strip the grip. Rotating his right arm toward the inside of the grip of Brener, Kutateladze frees the grip and slams an elbow that stuns him. Following the elbow is a knee that bumps the chin. Panic ensues.

18 seconds left in the round, a duo of plum clinch elbows. A five-piece combination ending in a clean right hand that sends Brener to the canvas. Surviving brilliantly, he is back up and swinging as the Georgian rain continues to pour. Time is called and Brener survives.

Round two begins at a frenetic pace. Brener trying to stamp a level of authority back into the fight, to prove that he is here and willing. Kutateladze trying to build on the momentum of the final 20 seconds of round 1. It is Kutateladze that strikes first with a big knee inside the first 30 seconds. He uses his whizzer well to defend the immediate takedown of Brener and forces him to play supine guard with a left javelin through the jaw. Elbow shaped hail railed through the guard of Brener, a lashing cut opened on the middle forehead – leaving a blood stain through the blonde hair that Deus da Guerra would be proud of.

Brener is now in full survival mode – he wears it well, but every time Kutateladze lands, the reeling effect, the wobbling effect, the off balance is increasingly evident.

But there is an intangible, and that intangible can be framed by many words; heart, grit, determination, toughness. They all amount to a similar outpouring of action, it’s a “you know it when you see it” feeling. Elves Brener has all of it in spades. Not once has the thought of accepting the overbearing weight of momentum crossed his mind. At every chance he is firing back, looking for his own offence, regathering himself.

At 3:36 of the second round, blood stained. The momentum begins to shift. An orthodox shuffle step gets Brener into range. A right body kick to the arms of Kutateladze draws a 1-2. The right-hand thudding into the jaw, turning the Georgians head away and turning the treadmill backwards. Kutateladze shoots, Brener circles away fantastically.

If you’re Kutateladze, you must question what you must do here. The man stalking you, hunting you down, is mouth wide open – painted in his own blood and yet the momentum is in his favour – you’re becoming more and more tired.

He just cannot seem to miss, finding his way out of the chaos coming forward from Guram and landing inside elbows, jamming the kicks with shots. Finding a home for his left hooks as Kutateladze exits the pocket, Brener is a man possessed.

A late flurry from Kutateladze see’s Brener back on the canvas via general off balance and a tip of a foot sweep. But off his back, Brener slammed elbows and up kicks into any piece of skin he could find.

The third round begins and Brener just pours the forward pressure on. High kicks, high punch combination driving Kutateladze into the fence. Sapping into the body was lacerating shots from Brener, stamps to the legs, check left hooks slowly draining Kutateladze, who for his part did his absolute best to turn the tide back in his favour.

Brener finds the perfect shot with 1:49 left to go. He throws a right stamp to the thigh, drawing out a swing from Kutateladze. Brener closes the distance, head-to-head, shoulder to shoulder he rifles a left hook in first, perfectly places between the under ear and behind the jaw, and Kutateladze sags, arms heavy drooping back toward the cage. The expression on the face of Brener emotionless, he takes a deep breath, places a palm on the back of Kutateladze and rips shots into the Georgian, reduced to the fetal position.

Togoni calls it off. The comeback was complete. Incredible, incredible scenes.

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