There are certain shocking fights or events across the history of MMA that will forever hold the hearts of generations of fight fans. Frye vs. Takayama, Griffin vs. Bonnar, Liddell vs. Wanderlei, or Cain vs.Brock. There are far too many to name in one breath.
There are historical moments that simply hold a lot of weight, and they span many amazing events which have become the heart and soul of MMA.
It is not very often that these events or moments coincide with one another. They are rare enough as they are, but to see multiple jaw dropping examples of the best MMA has to offer, that is unheard of.
When the pages of history are turned back for review and nostalgia, there is no doubt that UFC 132 will be reflected on as a night that changed many things for the future of MMA, and those changes took hold with one stunning performance after another.
A legend rose from the ashes, another fell and a new legend was forged in the fires of one of the greatest fights this sport has ever seen.
Yes, UFC 132 in the fight capital of the world; this was a historical night indeed.
When Ryan Bader was dominated by Jon Jones, many who had seen his career up to that point expected nothing less than a re-focused “Darth” Bader to bounce back and regain his perfect form.
Even further, when Bader's next opponent was announced to be a man who had lost four of his last five fights, UFC veteran Tito Ortiz, many critics felt Ortiz was the not the kind of fighter he once was and not the type of fighter who could give Bader problems.
It's a funny sport this game of MMA. Odds and presumptions are easy to come by.
Tito Ortiz was supposed to fall to Ryan Bader. His final fight was to be against a rising star capable of leading the division. A torch was supposed to be passed at UFC 132.
“They” could have told you all about it.
“They” quite obviously did not talk to Ortiz and his camp about the outcome of this match. What “they” might have learned is that legends are not built on sand foundations, they are built with the blood, sweat and tears that can only be found across wars won and lost inside the Octagon.
Legends don't bet on odds, they bet on themselves.
Tito Ortiz bet on himself Saturday night, and he won big. The man had the house stacked against him, he went all in and he was dealt a black jack—a royal flush; he hit the jackpot. Not only did he simply win a fight to keep his career alive, but he won that fight over one of the top light heavyweights in the world.
It is quite a feather in Ortiz's cap to be one of only two warriors to ever crack the code that is Ryan Bader.
Tito Ortiz proved to be a resilient and still capable member of the old guard. He showed he can still get it done, and he can get it done against a rising star like Bader.
It really was an impressive win that shocked the entire MMA world. Even Tito fans were hesitant seeing the legend take his corner opposite Bader. But one stunning punch and another guillotine choke later, and Ortiz had pulled off an amazing upset.
When one door opens another closes. It is the nature of things, and some doors are shut gently, others are slammed closed with authority. The entire MMA community saw a door slammed in the face of one of their most celebrated heroes.
There are many icons in this game, but few can boast the type of unconditional pride that fans feel for Wanderlei Silva. This is a man who threw caution to the wind time and time again, who threw his soul onto the mat without pause for fans more times than most can recall.
This man desires victory, but more importantly, he cherishes the thunder of an arena of fight fans who could never forget his name after seeing him perform. Victory is a by-product of the war that follows Wand into battle.
His whirlwind of terror captivated an entire generation of fight fans and will forever echo throughout the halls of MMA, it will be accompanied by relentless applause.
It is not surprising that certain fighters might emulate the style of such a celebrated fighter. But most fighters will never dare to cross the line from their comfort zone to all out reckless war at all costs. So the possibility two such fighters will ever meet is not as common as fans might like.
Chris Leben is of a similar cut of cloth as Silva. Chris Leben will throw hands, Leben will scrap, Leben never moves backwards, Leben's not looking for a decision, he is looking for your soul. His approach is eerily similar to Silva's.
So when fight fans heard him announced as Silva's opponent for UFC 132, they were elated. They knew this war could never last three rounds, these two berserkers could do nothing less than put on a spectacular fight.
Little did fight fans know it may have very well signified the end of an era. Like the other legend competing at UFC 132, Silva has seen more defeat creeping its way into his legacy than he and the powers that be might like. Simply put, Silva's wars have taken their toll and most definitely shortened the life of his fighting career. The end is much closer than any fight fan or Silva himself would care to admit.
But after seeing Silva fall to a series of devastating unanswered Chris Leben uppercuts, many fans found their jaws on the floor and their hearts broken. As their hero lay slumped on the floor, memories of his career came flooding back, and they knew they were quite possibly seeing Silva's last moments inside a cage.
Dana White alluded as such at the post fight press conference, but everyone knows the fighting spirit of Wanderlei is not going to be quenched in under 30 seconds of devastation at the hands of Leben. Yet, even if the fight in his heart persists, it may not be enough to convince Dana to give him another fight inside the Octagon.
If Wand is indeed done, only he can know for sure. Most of us know what his answer is without ever needing to ask. He will fight again, but even still, the writing is obviously still clearly written on the wall. His greatest days are behind him. If he is unable to weather the storm of Leben, how could he ever make a run at the title held by Anderson Silva.
He may have a fight or two left, but sadly, his loss to a dangerous Leben represents at very best the beginning of the end. His loss to Rich Franklin was a war, his win over Bisping was close, but his loss to Leben was nothing short of definitive. As sad as it may be, it is only a matter of time before this legend's astonishing career will come to an end.
Celebrate him fight fans, it is all he ever wanted from you.
With two legend's career paths taking very different turns, another fighter who competed at UFC 132 saw the very first steps of what is sure to be a new legend taken towards his destiny. Dominick Cruz has put on many impressive performances across his career.
His one of a kind approach simply has never been seen before and quite possibly may never be duplicated. The style he brings into the cage on fight night is a rare treasure that will almost certainly carry him into MMA history, as if becoming the first ever UFC bantamweight champion has not done that already.
All of his wins in the WEC and the UFC have been impressive but it was his opponent that helped elevate Dominick to a new level at UFC 132. Four years ago Dom tasted defeat for the lone time in his career. He suffered that defeat at 145 pounds and at the hands of a then unstoppable Urijah Faber.
Cruz dropped to 135 and regained his form as a force in this sport. At that time he was 9-1. Six fights later he won the WEC bantamweight championship. Now he stands at 18-1, still a champion as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
He was in the top 10 pound-for-pound before his rematch with Faber, but now after defeating one of the sport's icons in decisive fashion, Cruz is easily in the top five. Faber found his way back to Cruz after being run out of the 145-pound division by Mike Brown and Jose Aldo.
Much like Rich Franklin after Anderson Silva, Faber has been a championship-caliber fighter without a home since his loss to Aldo. The only clear answer was to chase the 135-pound title at his natural weight class. Why wouldn't he chase a title held by a man he beat so handily many years ago?
Surely with all the support and effort Zuffa has rallied behind the poster boy Faber, they would love to see him with a UFC strap around his waist to validate all the hype that often surrounds him. Well, Dom Cruz had other plans, and he spoiled the Faber 135-pound coming out party.
Cruz proved that is his domain, his kingdom and he has zero intentions of putting down his crown any time soon. After a dominant performance over Faber, Cruz has sent a ripple of intimidation across the entire division. The cat's out of the bag, not even Faber can handle this guy, so who's next?
Who is really going to challenge this legend in the making. 18-1 kids, 18-1. And the one was just avenged with authority across five rounds of championship war between two of the sports most dynamic and proficient fighters.
Hey may very well become the GSP of the lower weight classes, he could very well move back up to 145 and continue his historic run there, he quite honestly could be one of the single greatest fighters this sport will ever know. If UFC 132 was not indicative of the greatness of Dominick Cruz, nothing ever will be.
So there you have it, three story lines of epic impact on this sport. All of them under the umbrella of UFC 132. This amazing fight card had it all, and these are but a few of the angles. The impact of this card will ripple across the shores of this sport for a long time.
If you missed it, shame on you, you missed a damn good night of fights.
This article originally featured at Hurtsad MMA.