One night removed from the Canucks Game 5 Stanley Cup Final win over the Bruins, the Rogers Arena in Vancouver was buzzing with excitement as former Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin was dominated by the jab of Junior Dos Santos in the main event of UFC 131.
The fight was contested on the feet for the most part as Dos Santos stopped a couple of take down attempts by Carwin in the first round. Near the end of that opening round, Dos Santos rocked Carwin and looked reserved in the dying seconds as he didn't want to over punch his opponent while referee Herb Dean looked on.
Carwin looked to be defending himself, so the first round came and went, but not before Carwin's face became a bloody, cut mess. Carwin also looked to have suffered a broken nose as a result of Dos Santos' first-round onslaught.
UFC President Dana White commented on this beat down during the post-fight press conference, saying he thought Carwin survived and proved that he could go the distance.
"I thought he made it through the first round, kept putting his hand up, kept moving as much as he could, was in a bad position and then stood up and went two more rounds." said White.
The second round saw Carwin come out with plenty of heart, reminiscent of scenes from the famous "Rocky" movies. Ironically, it was Dos Santos that entered the arena with the popular movie theme.
Carwin did show that there was still fight left in him and even took the brunt of a vicious head kick by Dos Santos near the mid-point of the fight. He merely shook it off, as if it didn't phase him whatsoever.
The third round saw Dos Santos finishing off a dominant performance, using the jab constantly to keep Carwin at bay and even took down the former Division 2 collegiate wrestling champion twice in the dying moments of the fight.
Dos Santos won a unanimous decision victory and is the new No. 1 contender for the UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.
"Cain, I'm coming for you." said Dos Santos just moments after his win.
Dos Santos was originally scheduled to fight Brock Lesnar but was scrapped due to Lesnar's latest illness. Carwin stepped in to replace the former champ.
Carwin's original UFC 131 opponent, Jon Olav Einemo was in another battle of heavyweights on the main card against Dave Herman.
This was a back and forth war on the feet that saw both fighters get rocked. Herman ultimately came away with the second-round TKO. This fight earned "Fight of the Night" honors and is definitely worth watching again.
How will Junior dos Santos fare against Cain Velasquez?
"Submission of the Night" went to Chris Weidman after a standing guillotine choke forced Jesse Bongfeldt to tap out with only six seconds left in the first round of their bout.
In the pre-main event, Kenny Florian made his Featherweight debut against Diego Nunes.
Florian, the Massachusetts native, ate a lot of boos from the pro-Canucks crowd but that didn't seem to affect his performance, as he looked quite impressive against the man who narrowly beat former WEC Champion Mike Brown in his UFC debut.
The fight saw multiple take downs, and Florian looked to be more comfortable on his back than he did on top. Florian did cut the Brazilian in the back of the head and as the second round ticked away, a lasting image was Florian working on top while Nunes' head rested in a puddle of his own blood.
The end of the fight almost saw a miracle for Nunes after getting muscled around by the much bigger Florian.
Nunes connected with a devastating punch in the last couple seconds, one that staggered Florian but before Nunes could capitalize, the bell signaled the end.of the fight and a unanimous decision win for the former T.U.F. finalist.
Florian had to cut the weight for this fight after recovering from knee surgery, a battle that started at over 180 pounds. Florian admitted that cutting the weight was the toughest thing he ever had to do in his life but insisted during the post-fight press conference that he "felt great."
"I felt I was actually able to outlast him, felt he was getting tired and frustrated and I just try to keep the pressure on and I knew even despite the hard weight cut, my training was still great and with all the carbs in me, I felt really good." said Florian.
Florian also commented on who he wants to fight next and to nobody's surprise, he had hopes of UFC gold on his mind.
"I want to make a run for that belt. I beat one of the top guys in the world. Diego Nunes is going to be a future champ. I wanted to face someone like that and prove that I was one of the best guys in the world," Florian said to Joe Rogan following his win.
Florian followed up during the post-fight press conference.
"I think Jose Aldo's one of the best fighters in the game and (I have) a lot of respect for him," said Florian, "I think every UFC fighter's dream is and should be to be champion and test yourself against the best. He's one of the best and that's what I want."
White had been quoted before the event that Aldo would be next for Florian if "KenFlo" could get past Nunes, and he reiterated Florian's desire for a fight with Aldo following Florian's comments.
"He definitely deserves a shot at the title, no doubt about it." said White.
The other two main card bouts saw a couple of unanimous decision wins as former Middleweight title challenger Demian Maia fall to Mark Munoz and in a lightweight battle, Donald Cerrone defeated UFC newcomer Vagner Rocha.