The most anticipated rematch in recent memory finally happened on July 7 as UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva again put his belt on the line against his toughest foe to date, Chael Sonnen.
The pair headlined the promotion's annual Fourth of July weekend event, UFC 148, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In the night's co-main event, former light heavyweight champions Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz settled their trilogy in what was Ortiz's final Octagon appearance.
UFC 148 aired live on pay-per-view, with a two-hour preliminary card special airing on FX and a single bout that streamed on Facebook.
The full results:
Anderson Silva def. Chael Sonnen by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:55 (retains middleweight title)
Forrest Griffin def. Tito Ortiz by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Cung Le def. Patrick Cote by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Demian Maia def. Dong Hyun Kim by TKO (rib injury). Round 1, 0:47
Chad Mendes def. Cody McKenzie by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 0:31
Mike Easton def. Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Melvin Guillard def. Fabricio Camoes by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Gleison Tibau by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Constantinos Philippou def. Riki Fukuda by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Shane Roller def. John Alessio by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Rafaello Oliveira def. Yoislandy Izquierdo by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Photo: Anderson Silva (L) faces off with Chael Sonnen (Josh Hedges/Zuffa, LLC)
The most dominant champion in UFC history, Anderson Silva, secured his 10th consecutive title defense by finishing off his toughest opponent, Chael Sonnen.
It was deja vu in the opening round as Sonnen took Silva down in the first five seconds and he controlled the champion for the entire round. Much like the first fight, Sonnen dominated positionally, but inflicted very little damage.
The second round was vintage Silva. He shrugged off multiple takedown attempts from Sonnen and connected with a devastating combination that rocked Sonnen. With Sonnen's back against the cage, Silva delivered a knee to the body that hurt the challenger. Silva showed his killer instinct and finished off Sonnen with a barrage of punches.
Surprisingly, Silva buried the hatchet with Sonnen. He asked the Brazilian fans to show respect and invited Sonnen to a barbeque. Sonnen thanked Silva and the UFC for the opportunity.
Official Result: Anderson Silva def. Chael Sonnen by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:55 (retains middleweight title)
In their trilogy bout former light heavyweight champions Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz once again dueled until the final bell.
Unlike their first two meetings which ended in split decisions, Griffin claimed a unanimous decision to claim their rubber match and send the newly-minted Hall of Famer Ortiz off to retirement.
Ortiz scored with takedown early in the bout and delivered some of his trademark ground and pound. Griffin used a butterfly sweep to get back to his feet and then began to pour it on with an onslaught of kick and jabs.
In the second round Ortiz rocked Griffin early with a right hand, but once more it was Griffin who scored the majority of the strikes during frame.
The final round saw Ortiz show his heart as he rocked Griffin midway through the round with a right hand. But it was too little, too late for the former champion.
Griffin immediately left the cage following the fight, but UFC President Dana White quickly reeled him in for the decision, which Griffin earned on the scorecards. Ortiz reaffirmed that this was his final UFC appearance.
Official Result: Forrest Griffin def. Tito Ortiz by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le picked up his first Octagon win by outworking Patrick Cote.
The 40-year-old scored early in the fight with a trip takedown that appeared to zap the confidence of Cote. Le delivered his usual mix of kicks from odd angles, clearly taking the opening frame.
In the middle stanza Cote was more aggressive, scoring with repeated combinations. Le suffered a cut over his left eye, while Cote had one opened on the top of his skull.
Despite clearly being exhausted in the final round, Le twice scored with takedowns, including one late in the fight that sealed the fight for the Sanshou specialist.
All three judges gave Le all three rounds on the scorecards.
Official Result: Cung Le def. Patrick Cote by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Submission ace Demian Maia needed less than a minute to secure his first win at welterweight.
Maia quickly took the back of Korean oppoent Dong Hyun Kim and looked to bring the fight to the ground. As the pair crashed to the mat Maia's lock around Kim's torso caused one of Kim's ribs to break. Maia quickly moved to the mount and looked to rain punches but saw the agony on Kim's face and stopped his assault.
Official Result: Demian Maia def. Dong Hyun Kim by TKO (rib injury). Round 1, 0:47
Chad Mendes wasted little time spoiling the featherweight debut of TUF alum Cody McKenzie.
The pair exchanged knees early, but when McKenzie attempted to utilize his reach and kick to the body, Mendes caught the kick and returned fire with a vicious body shot.
McKenzie crashed to mat and Mendes followed with a barrage of hammerfists that forced the referee to halt the bout.
Official Result: Chad Mendes def. Cody McKenzie by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 0:31
Bantamweight Mike Easton marched forward for the entire 15 minutes to out duel veteran Ivan Menjivar.
The pair traded a variety of kicks throughout the bout, with Easton getting the better of the exchanges. In the opening frame a left kick from Easton rocked Menjivar, but the transplanted Canadian quickly recovered.
Easton battered Menjivar's right leg throughout the bout as Menjivar continually circled into Easton's power side. A flying knee at the end of the second stanza scored big for Easton.
In the final frame the pace slowed, but Easton kept coming forward and Menjivar simply had no answer. No one was surprised when Easton was rewarded on the scorecards for his efforts.
Official Result: Mike Easton def. Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Lightweight Melvin Guiillard showcased a more patient attack to snap a two-fight losing streak and defeat Brazilian Fabricio Camoes by unanimous decision.
In a back-and-forth opening frame both fighters looked to the end the fight. Guillard scored with a takedown, but Camoes reversed the position and moved into mount. He looked to soften up and Guillard and look for a submission, but Guillard escaped and rained punches until the bell.
The final two rounds saw Camoes desperate for a takedown, but Guillard managed to stuff the attempts. Guillard continued to land the cleaner shots and he was rewarded on the scorecards.
Official Result: Melvin Guillard def. Fabricio Camoes by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Russian lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov kept his undefeated record intact by taking a controversial decision over Brazilian veteran Gleison Tibau.
Tibau stuffed every takedown attempt from the 23-year-old fighter across the course of the three rounds. The Brazilian mixed in a few takedowns of his own in both the second and third rounds of the fight. However, Nurmagomedov kept a relentless pace for the entire 15 minutes.
It appeared as if Tibau would take the fight on the scorecards, but surprisingly it was Nurmagomedov who's name was announced as the victor.
Official Result: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Gleison Tibau by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Middleweight Costa Philippou stuffed most of Riki Fukuda's repeated takedown attempts and survived a number of fouls to take a unanimous decision.
Fukuda came forward looking for takedowns from the opening bell, but Philippou kept the fight standing and scored with his striking from inside the clinch. Fukuda scored with kicks to the body, but it was Philippou's uppercuts that proved to the be the most effective strike from either fighter.
Philippou suffered both an illegal groin strike in the second round and an eye poke in the third that made it seem like the fight would be stopped with about two minutes remaining. However the New York native toughed it out and handed his Japanese foe the loss on the scorecards.
Official Result: Constantinos Philippou def. Riki Fukuda by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Former All-American wrestler Shane Roller used his top control and strength to get the better of grizzled veteran John Alessio.
The first round saw both fighters tentative early. Roller connected with a few haymakers, but failed to find a rhythm. As the round neared its close Alessio landed a short right hand that dropped Roller that earned him the round.
In the second stanza it was Roller who came alive. He slammed Alessio to the mat and then took his back along the cage. Although he could not secure a rear-naked choke, Roller pounded Alessio with a barrage of elbows to take the round.
The pivotal final round saw Alessio connect with a combo early that backed up Roller along the fence. Roller responded with a takedown. He again moved to Alessio's back and pounded away. Alessio was frustrated, but clearly lost the bout.
Official Result: Shane Roller def. John Alessio by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
In a battle of lightweights fighting for a roster spot, Brazilian Rafaello Oliveira used his grappling to get the better of Cuban striker Yoislandy Izquierdo
The opening frame saw Izquierdo score repeatedly with body kicks from his southpaw stance, prompting Oliveira to take the fight to the mat. The jiu-jitsu black belt passed to side control and looked for to mount, but Izquierdo used his hips to return the fight to the feet and take the round.
However, in the final two rounds Oliveira's control from the top position proved to be too much for the relatively inexperienced Cuban. The Brazilian repeatedly attacked with Americana attempts and eventually gained the mounted crucifix in the last stanza. Izquierdo survived to the final bell, but his efforts were in vain as Oliveira took home the decision on all three scorecards.
Official Result: Rafaello Oliveira def. Yoislandy Izquierdo by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)