By: William Holmes
Tonight was the UFC’s biggest card in a very long time.
The undercard fights might have failed to deliver the excitement that UFC fans are used to, but the main event and co-main event were exciting bouts that left you on the end of your seat.
The PPV started off with a bout between Ivan Menjivar (24-8) and Mike Easton (12-1) in the bantamweight division. Both fighters exchanged combinations and were not afraid to vary their offense with an array of kicks. At times the bout looked like glorified sparring, but it was Easton who remained the aggressor and landed more shots. He was able to and a jumping knee in the second round, and secure a takedown in the third round. It was a good victory and a step up in competition for Easton, and he won with scores of 30-27, 29-28, and 30-27.
The second bout of the night was between former featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes (11-1) and the ultimate fighter participant Cody McKenzie (13-3). McKenzie looked dangerous thin, and succumbed to a straight right hand to the body from Mendes. Mendez quickly followed up with hammer fists that bounced the head of McKenzie off the mat several times before the referee called a halt to the bout at 0:31 of the first round.
Demian Maia (15-4) made his welterweight debut against the Dong Hyun Kim (15-1-1). The bout did not last long, as Maia dragged Kim to the ground but causing a rib injury to Kim in the process. Maia had transitioned to full mount position but Kim offered no resistance as the referee waved off the fight at 0:47 of the first round.
Ex Strikeforce star Cung Le (7-2) took on former title challenger Patrick Cote (17-7) in the middleweight division. Le showed his technical prowess early on in the fight with an early leg trip, and continued to dazzle throughout the fight with various body kicks, crescent kicks, and spinning wheel kicks. Both Le and Cote were leaking blood and several good exchanges occurred in the fight. Cung Le executed a beautiful trip/throw in the third round and finished the fight in Cote’s full guard. Le showed improvement tonight and won on the judges’ scorecards by 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27.
The co-main event was between Tito Ortiz (17-10-1) and Forrest Griffin (18-7) in the light heavyweight division. The first two bouts were close fights that ended in split decisions and saw both fighters go 1-1. Tonight’s fight was just as close as the first two, and perhaps more exciting.
It might not have been the most visually pleasing display of striking, but both fighters showed heart and grit and was a fitting end to the career of Tito Ortiz. In the end Griffin simply outlanded Ortiz and was in better condition. Ortiz did threaten to finish the fight several times, as he took down Griffin several times and landed some of his patented ground and pound, and was also able to knock Griffin down in the third round with a straight right hand. Griffin however wore Ortiz down, and Ortiz’s bruised face at the end of the fight showed he was a beaten man.
The main event was between middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva (31-4) and Chael Sonnen (28-11-1) in a rematch of what was Silva’s toughest fight to date in the UFC.
The rematch started off exactly like their first match, as Sonnen quickly took Silva down and proceeded to grind Silva down with ground and pound throughout the entire first round. Sonnen was able to transition to half guard and even full mount, but Silva was able to hang on and affect Sonnen’s ability to land hard ground and pound from the top position.
Silva must have been slightly woozy after the first round, as he had gone to the wrong section of the cage where his corner was not located before being guided to his coaches and team.
Sonnen pushed forward in the second round and tried to trap Silva against the fence, but Silva was able to defend effectively and even attempted a single leg takedown of his own. Sonnen unwisely went for a spinning back fist that saw him miss wildly and tumble to the ground. While sitting down, he ate a hard knee to his chest and he crumbled to the ground. Silva finished the fight with several hard punches as Sonnen was able to do nothing but cover up as best as he could.
Referee Yves Lavigne stopped the fight at 1:55 of the second round.
Anderson Silva has now defended his title ten times in a row, and is 15-0 in the UFC. They are both records.
Last month an MMA legend whom many considered to be the greatest fighter of all time retired in Russia at the age of 35 in a fight that was not readily available to fight fans in the United States on pay-per-view or on television.
Tonight, another MMA legend retained his belt against his bitter rival at the age of 37, and made a stronger statement as to why he should be considered the greatest MMA fighter of all time.