The all-heavyweight main card of UFC 146 caused some controversy when it was first announced. Some believed that the sometimes laboring pace of the 205+ pounders could get boring.
Were those doubters ever wrong.
The heavyweights delivered on this night, delivering five finishes in five main card fights, including four knockouts and a submission. All five fights combined lasted under 23 minutes!
There were quite a few memories made during the main card as well as during the undercard. Let’s take a look back at them. Here are the top 10 most memorable moments of UFC 146.
One of the most highly touted international fighters finally made his return to the states on Saturday night as Glover Teixeira made his UFC debut.
The hype was well-deserved as Teixeira destroyed a very credible opponent in Kyle Kingsbury, picking him apart on the feet before bringing the fight to the ground where he applied a nice arm-triangle choke for the victory.
The Brazilian had Visa problems in the past, but things appear to finally be covered as far as that goes and the light heavyweight division now has a new contender.
It had been nearly six years since Jamie Varner last competed in the Octagon and on paper, it appeared as if his return to the UFC would be short-lived. He was put up against the undefeated Edson Barboza who has been called one of the top up-and-coming lightweights in the world for quite some time.
But sometimes experience pays off and it did tonight as Varner shocked the world with a second-round TKO over the Brazilian.
A former WEC lightweight champion, Varner was once considered one of the top 155-pounders in the world and although this one fight won’t get him back to that level, it certainly goes a long way to regaining the credibility he once had.
“I’m back” he mouthed into the camera after the fight.
Congratulations to Jamie Varner in his triumphant UFC return.
Always one of the most entertaining fighters on the card, Dan Hardy’s style has made him a fan favorite but hasn’t always translated into a great record. This has been especially common lately as Hardy had been on a four fight losing streak that spanned all the way back to his UFC 111 loss to Georges St-Pierre in March 2010.
But tonight, “The Outlaw” got back in the win column with an impressive knockout against another impressive stand-up fighter in Duane “Bang” Ludwig.
We knew it’d be a “stand-and-bang” bout and most figured that’d favor Ludwig, but Hardy caught him with his trademark left hook which landed right on the button. Hardy celebrated momentarily, but quickly scrapped that idea and decided to finish the fight for certain with a series of elbows to the face.
After the bout, Hardy spoke of the bittersweet victory.
“Duane’s been kind of a hero to me,” he told Joe Rogan in the post-fight in-cage interview.
A five fight losing streak would’ve almost certainly been the nail in Hardy’s coffin with the UFC, so it’s great to see him finally put a “W” in the record book, especially against a quality opponent like Ludwig.
Known for having some of the longest limbs in the entire sport, the 6’11” Stefan Struve is a threat both on the feet with his tremendous reach, but also on the ground.
At UFC 146, it was his submission game which made all the difference in a fight against one of the most punishing strikers in the heavyweight division, the red-hot Lavar Johnson.
Struve was on his back early in the contest, but caught Johnson’s arm and was able to finish the fight with an armbar in just over one minute. It was the Dutch fighter’s third straight victory inside the Octagon and his next fight will likely be against someone in or near the top-10.
After reports circulated through the internet on Saturday afternoon that UFC ring card girl and Playboy Playmate Arianny Celeste had been arrested for domestic battery that morning, many believed that the promotion would be down one ring card girl at UFC 146.
That wasn’t the case, though, as Celeste showed up to work as always.
Celeste was ordered to pay a $3,000 bond to get out of jail and will still have to appear before a judge, but for this night, it appeared as if nothing has changed regarding her employment.
One of the most intriguing on-paper fights at UFC 146 had to be the undefeated-vs-undefeated bout between heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Shane del Rosario.
Stipe Miocic took some brutal punishment on the feet with some liver kicks in round one, but battled back in the second round, punishing a bloodied Del Rosario with a series of thunderous elbows which caused the stoppage.
Miocic has now improved to 9-0 while Del Rosario suffered the first loss of his professional career, knocking him down to a still-impressive 11-1 record.
To his credit, Del Rosario came back from a car accident and looked good, but the level of competition he faced in this fight was greater than anything he had faced before the injury.
“Big Country” is one of the biggest fan-favorites that there has ever been in the sport of mixed martial arts. He can take an unbelievable amount punishment and whether it’s win, lose or draw, Nelson always delivers.
At UFC 146, Nelson lived up to his reputation, delivering an incredible one-punch knockout punch to Dave Herman’s jaw. The massive overhand right from Big Country knocked out Herman in just 51 seconds.
“When [Herman] sat down on his ass, he had no idea where he was,” Joe Rogan said on the live broadcast.
If you’re a fan of the blood baths that can sometimes be the result of mixed martial arts bouts, then the UFC 146 sub-main event between Cain Velasquez and Antonio “Big Foot” Silva is for you.
Just seconds into the bout, Silva went for a leg kick which allowed Velasquez to take him down. From there, it was all Velasquez, as the former champion completely destroyed “Big Foot” with some of the most violent ground-and-pound we have ever seen.
Velasquez’s elbow cut Silva early and the fight was nearly stopped as blood poured from Silva’s head like a faucet. It was so bad, it looked like a Ric Flair 1980’s pro wrestling match.
Though the bloodbath will be the picture that sticks in everyone’s head, what will be most important going forward will be the emphatic “W” that Velasquez put in the record book.
Antonio Silva is a borderline top-10 heavyweight fighter and Cain Velasquez gave him a violent beatdown that could earn him the next UFC title shot. His teammate, Daniel Cormier, may be the only man in his way.
Junior dos Santos doesn’t try to hide what he is. He’s a standup fighter who possesses unbelievable technical boxing skills for a mixed martial artist.
At UFC 146, the gameplans were obvious. Dos Santos would try to keep the fight on the feet, Mir would try to bring the fight to the ground.
We saw that play out early as Mir shot in for a takedown, giving everything he had to try to bring the champion down. In the scramble, Dos Santos showed that the 13 seconds he had spent on his back during his entire UFC career up to this fight was not a fluke. He wasn’t going down...and Frank Mir was in for a world of hurt.
Utilizing impressive combinations that included both shots to the body and the head, dos Santos nearly KO’d Mir at the end of the first round. Then after rocking Mir numerous times in the second, he finally got the knockout win at 3:04 in Round 2.
Can anyone stop “Cigano?” At the moment, it sure doesn’t look like it.
One of the most unexpected moments of the night had to be when the camera panned to the crowd during the heavyweight title bout. We’re used to seeing UFC fighters in the crowd, but the face that showed up was shocking.
That’s right, the former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar was sitting cageside for the main event!
Now it’s not uncommon for former UFC fighters to attend events, but for Brock Lesnar, this was completely uncharacteristic. While he was one of the best in the world for a time, it is well-documented that Lesnar rarely watched the events from his home and almost never attended the events in-person, even while he was a member of the active UFC roster.
UFC President Dana White hinted that there may be more to Lesnar’s appearance than meets the eye, but stopped short of confirming that we’d be seeing him in the cage again anytime soon.
Nevertheless, even after a great event, don’t be surprised of Brock Lesnar is the talk of the internet following UFC 146.