UFC 129 from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada was a fight card packed with exciting knockouts, creative submissions, eye-popping victories and two five-round championship fights that has left many questions unanswered, as well as numerous questions resolved.
Overall, the matchups were skillfully thought out and the fighters executed to the best of their abilities in front of the raucous Canadian crowd.
UFC 129 on April 30, 2011, will be remembered for a variety of reasons, including the retirement of the immortal Randy Couture, the softball-size hematoma on the head of featherweight competitor Mark Hominick and the absolute love of mixed martial arts by the Canadian people.
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With spectators packed to the rafters inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, UFC 129 set a North American attendance record with 55,724 rabid MMA fans cheering on the action.
Additionally, the gate totaled $12.1 million, according to MMA Junkie, shattering the previous mark of $5,397,300 at UFC 66.
Outside of hockey, the Canadian people love and cherish ultimate fighting.
Overcoming a rash of vicious injuries, including a broken leg during his fight against John Salter at UFC 113, the Canadian MMA star elevated his impressive overall MMA record to 25-14 with his victory over Ryan Jensen at UFC 129 this past weekend.
Securing a triangle choke, Jensen was forced to tap as MacDonald locked up his 19th submission victory in 25 overall fights.
Back on the winning track and seemingly uninjured from his most recent bout, Jason "the Athlete" MacDonald may once again live up to his highly touted hype that engulfed his entrance into the UFC back in 2006.
Destroying the much younger Jason Brilz in a mere 20 seconds, the 40-year-old Vladimir "the Janitor" Matyushenko "introduced" himself to the North American fans with a barrage of punches and a flurry of strikes.
I state that he "introduced" himself to the North American fans because Matyushenko has fought worldwide since 1997; however, he is a relative unknown here in North America.
For the younger MMA fan, "the Janitor" is enjoying a second stint inside the famed UFC Octagon after competing in the IFL and Affliction promotions.
Known for his wrestling pedigree, Vladimir Matyushenko is a solid boxer and will continue to climb up the UFC light heavyweight ladder, hoping for a chance to challenge for the championship.
Claude "the Prince" Patrick exploited Daniel "Ninja" Roberts' lack of a stand-up game en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 129.
Grounded in a foundation of karate, Muay-Thai and jiu-jitsu, Patrick executed a brilliant stand-up striking game, dominating Roberts on their feet.
Gracefully moving in and out of angles and avoiding any take-down threats, "the Prince" exhibited the skills necessary to make him a threat within the UFC welterweight division.
Perhaps a tad bit premature to think that Claude Patrick may one day challenge for the title.
However, if he continues to develop and grow as a skilled striker and elevates his ability to finish weaker opponents, the time will come when "the Prince" will be challenging to be king.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to Nate Diaz. Being a former fighter myself, I am fully aware of the challenges faced when the Octagon door is closed and a fighter's training and will are all he can rely on.
With that said, the loss to Rory MacDonald this past weekend is Nate Diaz's second defeat in a row. Additionally, the Cesar Gracie prodigy has lost two of his last four fights and four of his previous seven matchups.
To quote the famous Rick Flair, "To be the best, you have to beat the best." Unfortunately, Nate Diaz has not beaten the best.
His recent losses have all been handed down by the top-tier talent within the UFC lightweight division, including Gray Maynard, Clay Guida, and most recently, the super talented young prospect, Rory MacDonald.
A victory over a highly regarded lightweight competitor in his next bout will keep Nate Diaz employed by the UFC.
A defeat, however, will mark the third loss in a row for the Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner, ultimately leading to a pink slip for Diaz and rendering the once coveted Stockton native as just merely average within the highly talented UFC lightweight division.
Ben "Smooth" Henderson is the former WEC lightweight champion. This MMA Lab product has engaged in memorable battles with Donald Cerrone, Jaime Varner, and most recently, Anthony Pettis.
Transitioning into the UFC, "Smooth" continued his winning ways with a highly contested three-round unanimous decision victory over the black belt in jiu-jitsu, Mark Bocek.
Equipped with a balanced skill-set, Ben Henderson is talented on his feet and equally versed on the ground.
Considering the immense talent that already exists at the lightweight division, "Smooth" will continue to chip away at the competition until the day comes when he is once again competing for championship gold.
With gate sales eclipsing $12 million, Dana White and the UFC rewarded the fighters with the highest bonus money offered to date.
Taking home an additional $129,000 were:
Fight of the Night: Mark Hominick vs. Jose Aldo.
Submission of the Night: Pablo Garza for his triangle choke of Yves Jabouin.
Knockout of the Night: Lyoto Machida for his crane kick on Randy Couture.
Kudos to the Zuffa brothers and the UFC management for rewarding the talent that generates tens of millions of dollars for the UFC.
Quickly becoming a UFC household name, Pablo "Scarecrow" Garza continues to tally victories and "firsts" within the UFC featherweight division.
The first fighter to secure a win in a UFC featherweight bout, Pablo is also the first fighter to earn the largest "Submission of the Night" honors.
Securing a masterful flying triangle choke on Yves Jabouin during their first-round matchup, Garza is rising up the featherweight division at a meteoric pace, eclipsing every competitor who challenges him inside the Octagon.
An amazing display of grit, toughness, skill, endurance, strategy and every other conceivable adjective to describe this featherweight championship belt was on display inside the Rogers Centre.
Earning "Fight of the Night" honors, the matchup between the current UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo "Junior," and the No. 1 contender, Mark "The Machine" Hominick, was epic.
Showcasing their talents in front of MMA's largest crowd on North American soil, this back-and-forth affair was littered with ebbs and flows that kept fight fans on the edge of their seats.
Enduring a brutal start to the fight and weathering a massive hematoma, Mark Hominick turned the tables in the later rounds, pressuring the champion to his max, yet coming up short on the judges' scorecards.
The most entertaining fight and easily the greatest display of mixed martial arts' ability at UFC 129, I beg UFC match-maker Joe Silva to give Hominick another chance for the title against Aldo in the near future.
These two competitors deserve a rematch. Additionally, speaking for myself, I, as a fan, want to witness the talents of these two superstars again.
Announcing his plans for retirement prior to UFC 129, Hall of Fame fighter Randy "the Natural" Couture's legacy is secure, even after suffering a knockout loss to Lyoto "the Dragon" Machida.
With pundits and skeptics doubting Couture's abilities against the elusive Machida prior to Saturday's matchup, "the Natural" gave "the Dragon" all he could handle before Machida's exceptionally placed crane kick sent the icon to the mat for good.
Even though Randy Couture's last fight inside the famed Octagon resulted in a defeat, his legacy as one of the greatest ultimate fighters of all time is not tarnished.
Randy Couture's list of accomplishments may never be exceeded by any present day fighter. Here is a short list of some of the immortal one's accolades since his introduction to the UFC in 1997.
- Three-time UFC heavyweight champion
- Two-time UFC light heavyweight champion
- Inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame
- First fighter to hold championship titles in two different weight classes
- Oldest fighter to win a title in UFC history
Besides his accomplishments in the cage, Couture has been a proud and respectful ambassador for mixed martial arts, utilizing his fame for charitable work and nationwide exposure of various causes.
A true icon, congratulations for an amazing career, Randy, and thank you for all the tremendous fights over the years.