UFC 168 saw both a male and female champion successfully defend their belts, but they did so in vastly different fashion. Chris Weidman (11-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and Ronda Rousey (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) retained their titles in the co-main events from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Dec. 28, but Rousey's victory provided all the stirring action that the men's match lacked.
Rousey took the match with an armbar in the third round, but even getting that far against the champ was a laudable accomplishment for Miesha Tate, as Rousey had never needed more than one round to whip an opponent. Rousey had stoked the fiery rivalry with Tate (13-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC), and it came to a head after the bout was decided.
The rivalry got a little more juice when Rousey refused to shake Tate's hand after the victory. Being a sore loser is one thing, but a sore winner is much worse. Nevertheless, all the pugilist sports involve such gamesmanship and swagger, and the fans eat it up hungrily.
The evening was marred by Anderson Silva's (33-6 MMA, 16-2 UFC) gruesome leg injury, which ended the match and left the formidable fighter writhing in pain on the floor of the ring. The injury was so severe that Silva was rushed to the hospital for surgery.
It was a devastating end to a hotly anticipated rematch between Silva and Weidman. After Weidman beat Silva by knockout at UFC 162 to remain undefeated, many MMA fans were anticipating a rousing rematch.
Instead, they got a sad and troubling ending that leaves a long road to recovery ahead of a great competitor.
On the downside, it was the first time a main event has ended due to injury since UFC 90; however, it was also the "first pay-per-view event since UFC 146 in May 2012 to see all main-card fights end by knockout or submission," according to Mike Bohn of MMAJunkie.com.
Travis Browne (16-1-1 MMA, 7-1-1 UFC) defeated Josh Barnett (33-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) for his third consecutive victory, all of which have come in the first round. He is also the only fighter in UFC history to earn two victories stemming from standing elbow strikes, per Bohn.
Browne's recent run of success should vault him onto the short list of contenders for the heavyweight title.
While his fate remains to be seen, Rousey's next match has already been confirmed against Sara McMann (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), which will see them headline UFC 170. It will be a match of former Olympians, but McMann will face a very tough test.
Between winning on yet another armbar and exuding the bravado that resonates with fans, Rousey is fast becoming one of the top MMA fighters, bar none.
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