Junior dos Santos
Given that he's 11-1 and a two-time UFC heavyweight champ, it's hard to believe Cain Velasquez has never successfully defended the belt.
But the odds were with him Saturday night when, exactly one year to the day after their first fight, Velasquez and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva waged a rematch, with Silva hoping to even the score after dropping a bloody TKO to Velasquez in 2012.
This entire main card, though, is what you might call armed and dangerous. Dynamite was inserted into every possible nook and cranny of these bouts. To wit, the 10 main-card fighters boasted a combined 77 knockout wins coming into the weekend.
So how did they perform? Here are grades for every main-card fighter.
Result: Donald Cerrone def. K.J. Noons by unanimous decision
I don't worry too much about Cerrone in fights like this. He was the clear favorite in everyone's head (including his own) and executed accordingly.
There was the heavy knee and the gorgeous one-two-head-kick combination in the first. The heavy ground-and-pound in the second. The full matt control and flesh-slicing elbows in the third.
Yep, it was a pretty thorough whooping dished out by "Cowboy." Cerrone loses the full "A" for gassing a bit and for beating a game but diminished fighter in Noons. But a win is a win, and Cerrone is once again on his way back up. We'll see what he does this time when he gets there.
Remember when K.J. Noons was considered one of the best boxers in all of MMA? I don't know what happened to that guy, but he doesn't appear to have made the leap to the UFC.
Perhaps it was just the Octagon jitters or (ultimately well-founded) concerns over ground deficiencies. There was probably an adrenaline dump in there, given that Noons hit exhaustion as the fight hit its halfway point.
Then again, it was his fifth loss in his last six contests. So maybe the UFC jitters are just a red herring.
Noons is pretty well-known and has plenty of good wins on his resume. But if he cares about a real UFC tenure, he'll need to do better next time.
Result: T.J. Grant def. Gray Maynard by TKO, 2:07 of Round 1
An underdog coming in, not the case going out. Let there be no misunderstanding: T.J. Grant is a terrific UFC fighter.
Grant and Maynard exchanged punches, but Grant quickly found chinks in Maynard's armor. A straight right put Maynard on his backside, and Grant swarmed. Referee Chris Tognoni was apparently in a laissez-faire kind of mood Saturday and as such gave Maynard plenty of chances. But every time Gray got up, Grant put him right back down and recommenced to swarming.
Despite its duration, this was not a flash knockout or lucky punch. Grant beat Maynard to the shot every time and earned his title tilt with Benson Henderson.
It's hard to fault Gray Maynard too much; he was simply overwhelmed. But at the same time, it's clear he's in serious need of the oil can, as he is 1-2-1 in his last four, which were spaced out over three years.
If Maynard has another run to contendership left in him, it might be a longer distance than he anticipated.
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Glover Teixeira def. James Te-Huna by submission, 2:38 of Round 1
This little MMA thing here, sometimes it is not brain surgery. Te-Huna doesn't have a highly developed ground game. Teixeira's a jiu-jitsu black belt. Teixeira took Te-Huna down with no resistance. He met a similar level of resistance when he tried a guillotine choke.
Despite the glaring weaknesses, though, it never comes easy. But Teixeira sure made it look easy Saturday night.
Yes, Teixeira made it look easy. But Te-Huna helped him make it look easy. He was immensely helpful. He was the Florence Nightingale of helping Glover Teixeira make that submission win look easy Saturday night.
After UFC 160, five of Te-Huna's six pro losses (including both his UFC defeats) came by submission. If he's going to be taken seriously at this level, he's got to put the first "M" in his MMA game.
Result: Junior dos Santos def. Mark Hunt by KO, 4:18 of Round 3
In Round 1, there was an overhand right along the lines of the one dos Santos used to finish Cain Velasquez and take the heavyweight strap. Hunt shot back to his feet like he was spring loaded.
In Round 2, dos Santos worked his jab. Was Hunt's chin deterring dos Santos from attacking full bore?
And then there was the third. JDS could have cruised on points, and that appeared to be the plan. But then a right hand stunned Hunt. And then came that spinning wheel kick. That crazy, crazy, Edson Barboza-style spinning wheel kick. Hunt stiffened like an ironing board and hit the mat and that was that.
I don't even know what to say. JDS is the man. I guess this is our fate as fans, just watching JDS and Cain Velasquez trade the belt for the next 10 years. There are worse things, I suppose.
Mark Hunt had his opportunity. With 1:45 remaining in the second round, Hunt backed dos Santos against the fence. He fired a couple of those bunker busters, looking for one of those single-tap knockouts of his. The crowd almost held its breath.
Hunt never quite closed the distance enough to make anything really count. That spinning kick as the third round ticked away was just one too many. A bloodied Hunt fell back to the canvas and back to Earth, human after all. But he should still be proud, as most elephants and many sanitation trucks would have topped over long before that.
Result: Cain Velasquez def. Antonio Silva by TKO, 1:21 of Round 1
Welp. At least it wasn't bloody.
Silva thwarted a couple of early takedown attempts. Good sign for Silva fans. Perhaps Silva was feeling the effects of those particular oats, as he charged in on Velasquez, seemingly to wind up on a right hand.
Unfortunately for Silva, Velasquez was ready. That's what machines do, after all. They remain ready. A left jab and then a right hook put Silva down. Velasquez swarmed, and that was it. Silva and some fans protested the stoppage, but it looked good to me.
Just another victim. Next up surely has to be a third match with dos Santos. I believe I'll watch that.
Now that he's back in his hotel room, kicking back, eating bonbons or whatever it is he enjoys eating, the stoppage is probably looking a lot better. At least in comparison to the last one, after which he probably would have been tethered to an IV drip right about now.
I'll give Silva some points here for stuffing those two takedowns and for just stepping in there again with Velasquez. He was slower than Velasquez on the feet, and that's what led to the end. Sure, the end came faster this time, but at least Silva won't have all those bandages to deal with. He gets half a letter grade for that, too.
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