Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif. marked a milestone in the history of mixed martial arts. For the first time ever, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was able to showcase its product to anyone with a television and access to the local FOX station.
When all was said and done, fans were able to witness the two greatest kinds of fights—a drag-out war and a brutal knockout.
Over the course of 15 minutes, Ben Henderson and Clay Guida went to war in what will certainly be a candidate for Fight of the Year. When all was said and done, Henderson was awarded a unanimous decision victory and will fight Frankie Edgar in February for the UFC lightweight title.
In the main event of the evening, Cain Velasquez returned to the Octagon after a 13-month layoff to defend his heavyweight title for the first time against No. 1 contender Junior dos Santos.
It took dos Santos a mere 64 seconds to knock out Velasquez to become the new UFC heavyweight champion, handing Velasquez his very first professional defeat.
As a whole, let's take a look at the fighters and the event and dish out some grades.
If this was any other event, Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos would have been a tremendous fight for a main event. But with the number of eyes on this event, it wasn't exactly the best fight to be the showcase bout of what was arguably the most important event since Zuffa acquired the UFC.
The fight was a stand-up battle from the moment the fighters were told to "get it on." After each fighter landed some heavy blows, it was a right hook that landed right behind Velasquez's ear that put him down.
From there, dos Santos pounced until the referee stopped the fight. The whole process of the title changing hands took a mere 64 seconds.
Had the viewers been able to witness more aspects of what MMA has to offer, the grade most likely would have been higher. But it is what it is, and it still was an exciting fight.
The bout between Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida for the No. 1 contender spot at lightweight ended up being an easy candidate for Fight of the Year.
It was announced the day before the fight that the winner would officially get a shot at Frankie Edgar for the lightweight title, and that seemed to light a fire under what are already two very high-energy fighters.
Over three rounds, Henderson and Guida both displayed very exciting striking and grappling. While the striking was not the most technical display ever seen, it had the crowd in attendance cheering with every strike thrown.
With his feet, Henderson clearly landed the more effective strikes. Every time he landed cleanly, Guida was quick to tie up Henderson and look for the takedown. Despite landing a few good punches of his own, it was very apparent that Guida did not want any of Henderson while they were standing.
The real highlights came when the fight was on the mat. There were multiple times where Guida had Henderson in submission holds where the average fighter would have submitted. But Henderson is well known for his incredible submission defense, and he was able to fight his way out of everything Guida applied to him, mounting some great offense of his own while on the ground.
When all was said and done, the cleaner strikes and superior ground skills displayed by Henderson earned him a unanimous decision victory and the right to face lightweight champion Frankie Edgar early next year.
While the two major bouts on the card produced some fireworks, the rest of the card was hit-or-miss when it came to providing fans memorable action.
Alex Caceres, aka "Bruce Leroy," got a much-needed win over Cole Escovedo, which more than likely saved Caceres from being released from the UFC. Caceres for the first time displayed the striking prowess that fans knew he had but had never unleashed inside the Octagon since his run on The Ultimate Fighter.
DaMarques Johnson made quick work of Clay Harvison, as he scored a knockout victory in less than two minutes of their welterweight bout.
In the best fight on the Facebook portion of the event, Dustin Poirier showed why he is an elite featherweight, as he owned Pablo Garza over the course of a round and a half before securing the fight-ending choke.
Whoever is the featherweight champion in 2012 better be paying close attention to this 22-year-old phenom.
The Facebook portion of the event was on par with every Facebook event to date. There was nothing flashy, just fight after fight with the occasional promo video thrown in here and there.
The FOX broadcast seemed like it was aiming to keep the attention of the new viewers by bringing in personalities most know from watching NFL on FOX.
The only downside appeared to be when they decided to give Brock Lesnar a microphone after the fights were over. While he didn't make a complete jackass of himself, he did seem to interject and stumble through quite a few of his thoughts.
But it was pretty obvious why they wanted Lesnar on the telecast: He has an upcoming bout with Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 to determine who will be first to challenge dos Santos for the heavyweight championship.
Moving forward, fighters like Kenny Florian, Frank Mir and Stephan Bonnar would seem to be a better fit to provide post-fight fighter analysis.