UFC 160 Superlatives: Best and Worst from the Entire Fight Card
At UFC 160, Cain Velasquez breezed through Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva for the second time in 12 months. In doing so, Velasquez successfully defended the UFC heavyweight title for the first time.
Already, though, Velasquez is one more victory away from tying the UFC heavyweight record for most consecutive title defenses. That second straight title defense could come in a rubber match with Junior dos Santos, who established himself as the top heavyweight contender with a victory over Mark Hunt on Saturday.
Dos Santos knocked Velasquez out to claim the heavyweight championship at UFC on Fox 1, while Velasquez exacted revenge to regain the belt at UFC 155. Now, the elite heavyweights are likely to meet again, and they could fight against one another many more times.
While the heavyweights stole the UFC 160 headlines, there were plenty of other great performances in Las Vegas. Let's take a look at the best and worst from the entire fight card.
Best Fighter: T.J. Grant
Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez may have had the most important win at UFC 160, but T.J. Grant scored the most impressive victory in stopping former lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard.
Grant dropped Maynard with a right hand early in the first round and kept the pressure on until his opponent ceased to fight back. Following an impressive victory over Matt Wiman, it was Grant's second straight first-round knockout win.
In beating Maynard, Grant earned a title shot and will likely meet lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the coming months. Since moving to the 155-pound division, Grant has gone undefeated in five straight appearances.
Worst Fighter: Gray Maynard
T.J. Grant looked great on Saturday, but part of his victory could also be attributed to poor game planning by opponent Gray Maynard. Although Grant came into the matchup only defending 37 percent of takedown attempts, three-time All-American Maynard did not opt to use his wrestling at all.
With a win over Grant, Maynard would have returned to the front of the race for a lightweight title shot. Now, the two-time title challenger has some ground to make up and not a lot of time to do so at 34 years old.
Since earning his first UFC title shot by beating Kenny Florian, Maynard has only won once in his past four bouts, and that victory came via controversial decision after a snoozer with Clay Guida.
Best Fight: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt
Knockout artists Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt are often finishing opponents too early to be considered for a Fight of the Night bonus, but they stood toe-to-toe nearly three full rounds at UFC 160.
Both Dos Santos and Hunt landed huge shots throughout the fight until the Brazilian ended the fight with an unexpected spinning heel kick and follow-up punches. Although Dos Santos was clearly ahead throughout the contest, Hunt continuously pressed forward and scored with some big punches.
With his victory over Hunt, Dos Santos earned a rematch with Cain Velasquez. Hunt, despite the loss, proved he's worthy of his top-10 ranking by hanging tough with a former UFC champion.
Worst Fight: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
Although Antonio Silva was the most deserving heavyweight title challenger after knocking out Alistair Overeem, he was given almost no chance of beating champion Cain Velasquez in a rematch.
There was good reason for Silva being a significant underdog, as he had been dominated by Velasquez only 12 months ago, and there was little reason the second meeting between the two heavyweights would play out any differently.
And it didn't.
Velasquez dropped Silva with a right hand and finished the Brazilian off in 81 seconds with punches on the ground. As expected, Silva posed little threat to the titleholder in any area. His title shot was essentially a waste of time for Velasquez and a telling sign that the heavyweight division is still lacking depth in terms of threats to the champion.
Best Knockout: Junior dos Santos
It's not every day you see a heavyweight even attempt a spinning heel kick. Junior dos Santos did and finished Mark Hunt with the strike in the UFC 160 co-main event.
Without digging into the details, Dos Santos' kick was spectacular even if it were thrown out of desperation. However, as Bleacher Report's own Jack Slack explained, Dos Santos threw the kick as an expert exploitation of an opening in Hunt's defense.
I mentioned prior to the bout that carrying the rear hand forward of the jaw is excellent for parrying jabs, but it does leave one vulnerable to long attacks around the side such as leaping left hooks, though those can be dealt with through good reactions because they are far slower than the jab which is being eliminated.
My example was the left hook because, frankly, who could have seen that wheel kick coming? The wheel kick, however, serves exactly the same purpose when used well.
Just watch Badr Hari knock out Stefan Leko with it. Just as dos Santos did, he gets Leko parrying and spins while his lead arm is still in the process of drawing Leko's parry. Leko's rear hand is kept away from his head, and he can't hope to get it back in time to place his full forearm in front of the force of the kick.
Here is dos Santos' rendition: He jabs, and as Hunt reaches to parry, Cigano spins and connects the kick.
Best Submission: Glover Teixeira
This was an easy one.
Glover Teixeira was the only fighter to score a submission win at UFC 160. Though he's become known as a brawler by many, Teixeira has a very solid ground game and took advantage of a significant edge he had over James Te-Huna in the grappling department.
Not long after taking Te-Huna to the ground, Teixeira secured a guillotine choke and forced his opponent to tap. With wins in his first five Octagon appearances, Teixeira is becoming a serious title threat in the light heavyweight division.