At UFC 148, middleweight legend Anderson Silva defended his title for a second time against Chael Sonnen. It was one of the most amazing spectacles in UFC history.
From the prefight trash talk, to the action-packed weigh-in, to the spectacular knee that was the beginning of the end for Chael, it was a night to remember.
With Chael out of the picture, the UFC desperately needed a new contender to Silva's crown. Tonight, they found one in Chris Weidman.
The prospect squared off with Mark Munoz in San Jose, a bout between two proud athletes with much more than pride on the line—a title shot was also up for grabs for whoever could take their game to the next level.
With his TKO win, Weidman snatched it.
As great as he was, Weidman wasn't the only fighter on the card. There were other winners, and some checked the "loss" column.
Let's run down the card and pick out the fighters who truly made their mark, for good or ill, on this free television broadcast.
What more can you say about Chris Weidman after his vicious knockout of Mark Munoz? Weidman simply wrecked Munoz, a former NCAA champion, in every conceivable way.
He took him down with startling ease. He looked for submissions, and when Munoz escaped to his feet, he smacked him in the face with an elbow that stopped Munoz in his tracks.
Chris Weidman needed an impressive win to earn a shot at Anderson Silva. It doesn't get much more impressive.
Anderson Silva should be a little nervous right now.
Poor Mark Munoz. Chris Weidman knocked him down and then pounded him out. But referee Josh Rosenthal, apparently, needed to see more. And more. And more.
Weidman hit Munoz over and over again as blood pooled on the mat. Almost a dozen shots landed after Munoz was clearly out. Not a good showing from Rosenthal.
Joey Beltran might just be the toughest man in the world. Nothing seems to hurt him. James Te-Huna connected with more than 100 hard shots, and Beltran just kind of looked at him, appearing mildly annoyed, and went back to fighting.
Beltran is absolutely horrible. He has no redeeming qualities as a fighter except a chin that carries him through the worst his opponent can dish out.
But being a professional punching bag is no way to go through life. It may be time for the 30-year-old Beltran to find a new line of work—for his own safety.
Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg have been the voice of the UFC for more than a decade. With a handful of exceptions, they've broadcast every significant fight in the UFC's modern era. There are big shoes to fill, and then there are Rogan's and Goldie's enormous clown shoes.
Stepping up to the challenge on Fuel TV this year, Anik and Florian have attempted the impossible—matching the infectious energy and intelligent commentary that their counterparts have made synonymous with UFC broadcasts.
I was, admittedly, skeptical about whether they could get the job done. I'm a personal and professional admirer of both men, but this was a monumental task in front of them.
I'm proud to say it looks like they were up to the challenge. The two have settled into a nice groove and are a pleasure to listen to. The partnership, I believe, has been a big win for the UFC and Fuel.
Aaron Simpson is a great athlete. At 37, he cut down to 170 pounds and easily beat his opponent, Kenny Robertson. What a remarkable feat for a guy who wrestled at 177 pounds in college.
With that said, I think I fell asleep seven times during this fight. Simpson is so boring his most exciting technique is a knee to the buttocks.
I wish I was making this up.
Congratulations on your win, Aaron Simpson. Please never fight on television again.
With apologies to Richard Matheson, Karlos Vemola is truly the modern "Shrinking Man." The Czech wrestling star absolutely wrecked heavyweight competition in England, before coming to the UFC and falling immediately to Jon Madsen.
To some, the loss was a shock. After all, five of his fights in Europe had gone less than a minute. Many expected him to own the heavyweight division. But the truth reveals itself in the cage—and the truth was Vemola was just too small.
A move to light heavyweight soon followed. And then, earlier this year, Vemola dropped all the way down to middleweight. His UFC stats include four fights and three weight classes.
After his fight with Francis Carmont, it's not just Vemola's weight that is shrinking. His reputation seems to be getting continually smaller every time he competes. Carmont choked him out in the second round and once again exposed that big success on small shows only means so much.
Two shots, two kills for The Ultimate Fighter 14 runner-up T.J. Dillashaw. The former NCAA wrestler once again dominated in the Octagon, choking out Vaughan Lee with a rear-naked choke.
The Team Alpha Male product looks to be for real—I can't wait to see how he performs against some more established fighters at bantamweight. The announcers asked Dillashaw if he wanted to call anyone in particular out, something that probably had plenty of bantamweights holding their breath.
He didn't mention any specific names, but matchmaker Sean Shelby may have trouble finding 135-pounders willing to step into the cage with Dillashaw.
Anthony Njokuani earned a lot of good will, both from fans and the UFC brass, with his amazing knockout win over Chris Horodecki in 2009. It's legitimately one of the best highlights in the history of the sport.
Since that magical moment, however, Anthony has struggled, accumulating just a 3-4 record. As great as the kick was, 2009 was a long time ago. It's put-up-or-shut-up time for the 32-year-old fighter.
Unfortunately, his weakness in 2009 is his weakness today. He can't defend the takedown, and Rafael dos Anjos used that to his advantage, taking Anthony down over and over again on his way to a unanimous decision.
In the right fight, with a limited opponent, Njokuani is capable of having a fun fight, but nothing more. It's clear now, if it hasn't been for years, that he's never going to be a legitimate contender.
Every time Alex Caceres fights, win or lose, Bruce Leroy is the real winner. You remember Bruce Leroy, right?
Watch the amazing clip of The Last Dragon above and then come back and celebrate Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres. This time out, he choked out Damacio Page. Was it great?
Middleweight Andrew Craig was getting starched by Rafael Natal.
Most of two rounds were over, and Craig was almost certainly down on the scorecards. Natal wobbled him and seemed on the verge of finishing the bout. Although Craig survived, it was by heart and heart alone.
Craig was in trouble. He needed a knockout to win, and a knockout he got. A headkick landed flush and spelled the end for Natal.
Does this tell us much about Craig as a fighter? Not at all. But it does tell us he's ready and willing to put the stamp on opponents in a moment's notice.