The Good, Bad and Strange from UFC 160
The premier promotion in mixed martial arts promised "heavy" things for UFC 160.
While the tag line typically doesn't define an event, the UFC nailed it on Saturday night. When the action got under way in Las Vegas, knockouts and canvas naps were handed out on the regular. From the blood-soaked opening bout between Jeremy Stephens and Estevan Payan to the main event clobbering champion Cain Velasquez put on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, the action came fast and furious throughout the entire card.
The leather and wheel kicks were flying at the MGM, and here is a look at the Good, Bad and Strange from UFC 160
It took Cain Velasquez one minute, 21 seconds to make his first successful title defense by snuffing out Antonio Silva. That's a great showing, and there isn't much more you can say about that.
Nothing means more to Junior dos Santos than holding the UFC heavyweight championship. And he took a thundering step back toward the title by knocking out Mark Hunt.
Following a brutal, lopsided beating at the hands of Cain Velasquez at UFC 155, "Cigano" was all business against the "Super Samoan." The brick-handed Brazilian dropped Hunt with a devastating overhand right in the first round, but the former K-1 Grand Prix champion recovered and survived the opening frame. The 39-year-old would also make it through the second round but not after absorbing more punishment from the former champion.
Being up two rounds on the cards, dos Santos certainly could have afforded to work out the final frame keeping his distance. But the No. 1 contender is known for being a dominant finisher, and that is exactly what he did via spinning wheel kick in the third round. Hunt's body collapsed to the canvas, dos Santos landed two big shots for good measure, and the fight was over.
A title shot was what he set out to earn, and dos Santos certainly made a strong case on Saturday night.
It took less than a round of work for Glover Teixeira to prove he's a force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division. After coming off a unanimous-decision victory over a listless Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, the Brazilian made short work out of James Te Huna. The John Hackleman -trained fighter wasted no time looking for the submission, and once he got locked on a guillotine choke, a Te Huna tap came in short order.
Now, the biggest question lingering around Teixeira will be what comes next? The victory on Saturday night was his fourth since coming into the UFC fold and his 19th consecutive overall. With champion Jon Jones jockeying for a bout with Alexander Gustafsson, a matchup between Teixeira and former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida would make good sense.
There was a lightweight title shot on the line, and T.J. Grant wasn't going to be stopped. Gray Maynard has been a perennial presence in the upper tier of the 155-pound division for the past three years, and Grant steamrolled through him.
After eating a few solid shots from "The Bully," the 29-year-old Canadian stepped up his forward pressure and landed a straight right hand that dropped Maynard to the canvas. Once the AKA-trained fighter was in trouble, Grant cranked up the thunder and pounded out the TKO stoppage. As the referee stepped in, the Nova Scotian notched his fifth consecutive victory since dropping down in the 155-pound division.
With the victory, Grant earns the opportunity to face champion Benson Henderson for the lightweight strap later this year.
I've said it time and time again: If Donald Cerrone has nothing on the line but a fight purse, he is an absolute monster. "Cowboy" showed in prime form ready to rock-n-roll, and he put a beating all over K.J. Noons to kick off the pay-per-view portion of the card.
The Jackson's MMA fighter has experienced psychological meltdowns when there is a title shot on the line, but when it is simply a matter of kicking up dust in a ruckus, Cerrone always shows up to throw down.
The fight many fans considered would be a runaway with Fight of the Night honors turned into a lopsided beating for K.J. Noons.
The former Elite XC champion took a drubbing at the hands, feet and elbows of the former WEC title contender, and "King Karl" appeared to have zero answers for anything Cerrone threw at him. Over the course of the three-round affair, Noons returned fire in minimal measures as "Cowboy" scored at will.
The loss furthered Noons' backslide where he's lost five out of his last six showings. With the current depth of the lightweight division in the UFC, it will be interesting to see if the Hawaiian-born fighter will keep his spot on the roster.
The same can be said for bantamweight Brian Bowles. After a nearly two-year absence from competing inside the Octagon, the former WEC champion made a disappointing return against George Roop.
The Georgia-based fighter had some early success in the opening round but wilted under Roop's pressure in the second frame. From being once considered the top 135-pound fighter in the world to getting pounded out on the canvas in Las Vegas and riding back-to-back losses, the former champion has to be toeing the line of unemployment.
Then again, the bantamweight division is not incredibly deep, and this will most likely save his job.
Easily the most obvious entry into this category came courtesy of Abel Trujillo on the FX portion of the card. The Blackzilians-trained fighter lost all will to fight while being rag-dolled by Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov. The AKA transplant put on a grappling clinic over the three-round affair, and all Trujillo could do was look to the referee in a desperate plea for help.
This is the sport's biggest stage "Killa," and you have to work yourself out of trouble. "The Eagle" racked up an impressive 20 takedowns over the course of the fight and progressively broke Trujillo's will with every one of them.
Getting all worked up over judging in MMA is pointless, but it's certainly fun to do. Two of the night's most entertaining scraps ended in strange split decisions where the consensus opinion went opposite of how the judge's scored the fight.
Former TUF finalist Dennis Bermudez kept his winning streak alive as he got the nod over 21-year-old Hawaiian Max Holloway. "Blessed" dominated the opening frame and appeared to do enough damage to earn the second round as well. Bermudez certainly did the lion's share of his work in the final round, but it seemed too little, too late.
The judges sitting cageside saw otherwise, and Holloway came out on the losing end of the bout.
While the decision was questionable in the fight between Rick Story and Mike Pyle, I ultimately feel the judges got this one right. After being flushed by a Story right hand in the opening round, the savvy veteran held on to survive.
In the opening minute of the second round, Story went back to work, but this time took the action to the canvas. Rather than take more punishment, Pyle went to work off his back and locked up a solid submission attempt. "Quicksand" continued to keep the guard work flowing and managed to change the tide of the round while on the mat.
In the third frame, not only did Story wilt from the pace of the fight, but Pyle also reached into his power-mullet reserves and began to put the work on Story's face. At the conclusion of the fight, Story seemed to be up two to one, but the judge's unbelievably did the correct thing and rewarded Pyle for the work he put in off his back.
Earning top honors for the event is Estevan Payan. While he was thoroughly dismantled by Jeremy Stephens in "Lil Heathen's" featherweight debut, buckets of Payan's blood graced the Octagon throughout the entire card.
Even the cageside spray paint crew couldn't put a damper on that crime scene, and those guys are professionals.
Last but not least, how could I write an article about strange happenings at UFC 160 without mentioning the constant presence of Mike Tyson. "Iron Mike" was standing with Dana White at the weigh-ins, taking in the pageantry and all over the pay-per-view broadcast as well. So much in fact, the camera crew decided to show the masses watching at home a five-second window of Tyson eating popcorn as he took in the action.
Between "Kid Dynamite" chomping down on some hot kernels and a very forced interview with a poker expert, I'm starting to feel like the UFC production crew is out to make sure I have something to enter in this category.
Well played, gents!
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