UFC 168 Results: Most Impressive Performances from Las Vegas
UFC 168 featured a number of quick stoppages and a quirky end to the main event.
Dustin Poirier, Jim Miller and Travis Browne all picked up first-round victories in their bouts. Poirier and Browne ended their fights by thunderous knockouts, while Miller pulled off a slick armbar submission for the win.
In the co-main event, Miesha Tate pushed Ronda Rousey to her limits but was unsuccessful in avoiding Rousey's armbar. The two earned Fight of the Night awards, but people have been talking more about Rousey's post-fight antics than they have about anything that happened during the bout.
In the main event, Anderson Silva suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced the fight to come to an end in the second round. Chris Weidman won the first round, but Silva stayed true to his word that his bout at UFC 168 would be different, as he didn't look to taunt once.
At an event with so many early stoppages, it was hard for a fighter to stand out above the rest. Still, there's no denying that the following four fighters left a lasting impression in fans' minds after UFC 168.
Michael Johnson looked like a different fighter once again at UFC 168.
After entering the UFC with quite a bit of hype surrounding him, despite a failed run on The Ultimate Fighter, Johnson struggled to maintain his position in the lightweight rankings.
That all changed with his impressive showing against Joe Lauzon at UFC Fight Night 26. Still, fans weren't quite sure whether it was the result of Lauzon's decline or Johnson's improvement.
But after UFC 168, it's clear that it was the result of Johnson's improvement.
Gleison Tibau had become a very tough and durable gatekeeper in the lightweight division. The Brazilian hadn't been knocked out since his fight with Nick Diaz (at welterweight) at UFC 65. He also hadn't been finished since UFC 86, when Joe Stevenson tapped him out with a guillotine.
Johnson easily handled getting past the Brazilian, knocking Tibau out cold in the second round. Tibau won't be confused with a title contender, but fans shouldn't underestimate what Johnson was able to accomplish at UFC 168.
Look for him to emerge as a contender in 2014.
Let me get this out of the way first: Chris Leben was the perfect opponent for Uriah Hall to look amazing against.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I believe Hall deserves some credit for putting on an impressive performance. He showcased his talented array of striking skills on the feet and had some nice footwork.
Leben plodded forward with a his left hand loaded up but was unable to find his range. He was dropped with a flying knee almost immediately to start the fight and was nearly finished after being decked with a punch to end the first frame.
Hall was set up to win because the UFC knows it has a big draw on its hands, and Prime Time didn't disappoint. He may not unleash a highlight-reel finish every time he steps in the cage, but if he can look that good each time he fights, fans won't complain.
Dustin Poirier had yet to finish a fight in the UFC by knockout coming into UFC 168. He had some nice pop to his punches, but nobody pegged him as being capable of knocking anyone out.
That perception changed Saturday, when Poirier finished Diego Brandao in the first round by TKO.
The game plan for facing Brandao usually involves a fighter weathering the early onslaught, as the Brazilian tends to fatigue after the first round. Poirier isn't the type of fighter to wait around, though.
Poirier attacked early and often, punishing Brandao's body when the two clinched against the fence. Brandao looked like he simply froze, while Poirier unleashed a powerful flurry to end the fight with a few seconds remaining.
Poirier's performance was not only impressive because he won in the first round, but also because he went against the grain and met Brandao's early offense with offense of his own.
The win put him in position to rematch Cub Swanson or face another top contender in 2014.
Travis Browne has quickly become a very dangerous opponent for anyone in the heavyweight division.
While his fight with Alistair Overeem should have been stopped, Browne deserves props for surviving and finishing Overeem in the same round. He also should get mad props from the MMA world for finishing a guy like Josh Barnett in the first round.
Barnett is among the best heavyweights in the world, but he ran straight into a knee while attempting a takedown and was met with a vicious string of elbows from Browne. We saw Browne force Gabriel Gonzaga to go out with those same elbows, and it's clear that going for a takedown against him is dangerous to one's brain cells.
We still haven't seen Browne have to fight off of his back, but with his ability to knock people out with his back against the cage, we may not have to. He'll likely face Fabricio Werdum next if the Brazilian doesn't wait for Cain Velasquez to return from injury.