UFC 116: Main Card Review and Fighter Report Cards
UFC 116 delivered a card for the ages in Las Vegas last night!
Stacked with highly entertaining fights from top to bottom, the event without doubt lived up to its billing as the biggest event in UFC history.
Chris Leben delivered a career defining performance, George Sotiropoulos continued his march towards the Lightweight Title, and Brock Lesnar made a triumphant return to the octagon to unify the Heavyweight Title.
With much to talk about, let's get down to it.
George Sotiropoulos defeats Kurt Pellegrino via Unanimous Decision
'The Wizard of OZ' used his ground excellence to dominate Pellegrino in the first two rounds en route to the decision win.
Pellegrino rallied to win the third on most people's score cards, but it was not enough. You could see that 'Batman' was mentally broken during the fight and already knew he had lost before the scores were announced.
George Sotiropoulos (A)
Without question, the Australian is now firmly in title contention at 155lbs.
Now on a six fight win streak in the UFC and with consecutive wins over top 10 ranked fighters, a title shot in his next fight is not out of the question. Though, a No.1 contender eliminator fight seems more likely. (Evan Dunham anyone?)
In a fight with huge implications for both fighters coming in, George did what he need to do to get the win. It may not have been his best performance, but with the win, he secured his status in the division. Thus, he gets an A for his win at UFC 116.
Kurt Pellegrino (C)
Once 'Batman' gets a chance to reflect on his loss last night in Las Vegas, he might see it as one of the most disappointing nights of his career.
Pellegrino never really got going until the third stanza. By then, it was already too late. The loss, which snaps a four fight win streak, has killed the momentum he had prior to the fight. He gets a C for his display. With his lackluster performance, rumors of Pellegrino's retirement may resurface.
Stephan Bonnar defeats Krzysztof Soszynski via TKO in Round 2
It's always a surprise when a rematch exceeds the original but Bonnar and Soszynski put on a fight that warranted the 'Fight of the Night' bonus they received.
Bonnar was clearly determined and realized the significance of the fight for him, as he was riding a three fight losing streak coming in. 'The American Psycho' pushed the pace relentlessly and kept coming forward on Soszynski.
Stephan Bonnar (B+)
It's been said many times by Dana White that Bonnar has a job for life in the UFC. However, his future as a fighter must have been in danger before this fight.
Bonnar conjured memories of his Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale with Forrest Griffin, and used all his heart to get the win in this fight. As Bonnar said, it was an ugly fight, but he got the win, right? He gets a B+ . Good work.
Krzysztof Soszynski (C-)
Before this fight, Soszynski was on the cusp of entering the upper echelon of the Light-Heavyweight division already stacked with talent. Unfortunately for whatever reason, 'The Polish Experiment' never really got going in this one.
He seemingly abandoned his game plan, and he couldn't cope with Bonnar's relentless pace and pressure. He'll be disappointed with the loss and he should be. C- .
Chris Lytle defeats Matt Brown vis Submission in Round 2
On any other night, this would have likely picked up some sort of post event bonus. Lytle got the win and has now quietly amassed a three fight win streak. Brown has now lost two consecutive fights.
Questions are arising. Where has the promising 'Immortal' Matt Brown gone?
Chris Lytle (B+)
Lytle put on a strong showing last night at UFC 116, and made sure people realize that this MMA veteran is not done yet.
This was great performance, and a big win. By winning the exchange on the feet before getting the arm bar victory on the ground, Lytle gets a B+ , and proves there is life in this old dog.
Matt Brown (D)
I like Brown as a fighter, and thought he showed real promise a few fights back. However that promise and ability seemed to have washed away in his last two fights.
Granted, Almeida and Lytle could be viewed as a step up in competition, but the level of competition shouldn't worry Brown as much as the level of his own performance.
He gets a D and has a lot of work to do before his next fight.
Chris Leben defeats Yoshihiro Akiyama by Submission in Round 3
When Leben reflects on the last two weeks this Sunday morning he'll be the happiest man alive, and surely proud of the best fortnight in his career to date.
Leben's win over Akiyama is a huge result for the former Ultimate Fighter. When you add his victory against the previously undefeated Aaron Simpson only two weeks ago, the fight at UFC 116 seems all the magical. The co-main event fully justified its 'Fight of the Night' bonus.
Chris Leben (A++)
It simply won't get any better for Leben unless he wins the title. A Fight of the Night bonus and two wins in two weeks have taken him from the periphery to front and centre in the Middleweight Division.
He stood toe to toe with Akiyama and once again showing his "iron chin." His ever-improving well rounded game was also on display, sinking in the triangle choke late in the third round for the win.
A++ and congratulations to Leben, well done sir!
Yoshihiro Akiyama (C)
There is no question that 'Sexyama' comes to fight.
However, his two fights in the UFC, the Japanese/Korean sensation has not shown any real ability to commit to a game plan.
His win over Belcher at UFC 100 was razor thin and when faced with another striker in Leben, he again chose to stand and bang. Akiyama has skills in the standing game, and power in his shots, but he needs get smarter in his fights.
C for his work last night, but a lesson in game planning is what he needs.
Brock Lesnar defeats Shane Carwin via Submission in Round 2
The UFC 116 Main event did not fail to deliver on its tag as the biggest Heavyweight clash in history. Carwin came out of the traps and dominated Lesnar for the first round, landing numerous strikes to Lesnar as he had him pressed up against the cage.
The fight could and would have been stopped by another referee, but Lesnar held on as Carwin gassed himself out trying to end the fight. As the second round started, Carwin was visibly tired and Lesnar took him down with ease. The champ then moved to side control to eventually ice the submission win.
Brock Lesnar (A)
The fairy tale comeback story is complete for Lesnar as he unified the Heavyweight Division in front of friends, family, and screaming UFC fans in Las Vegas.
Lesnar weathered an early storm from his opponent and came back with a huge win in Round Two. Lesnar showed his heart and the ability to take big shots from Carwin to solidify his claim as the best Heavyweight in the world. Lesnar gets an A and huge applause from me!
Shane Carwin (B)
Despite losing, Carwin left UFC 116 with his reputation enhanced in my book. Carwin is for real. He is truly is one of the best heavyweights in the world.
Carwin once again displayed his huge KO power as he dropped Lesnar early in the fight. But his inexperience cost him, as he grew fatigued trying to end the fight then and there.
There is a case that the fight should have been stopped and Carwin would have been right to go for the kill. But it wasn't. Carwin should have allowed the fight to be stood up, which would provide another opportunity to hit Lesnar again.
Carwin gets a B because on another night the ref would have stopped it and we may be talking about him as the new Champion.
So there you have it folks. UFC 116 lived up to all expectations and exceeded this writers own.
Who impressed you at UFC 116?
Do you agree with my grades?
Greg Parfitt is a Featured MMA writer on Bleacher Report.
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