Last Saturday was a very special night for many groups of people. If you’re a fan of Mixed Martial Arts in general you got to see, what was in my opinion, the single best card I’ve ever seen.
If you’re a fan of the UFC you got to see Brock Lesnar claim his place as the best Heavyweight fighter in the world.
If you’re a fan of drinking a lot and seeing dudes beat the crap out of each other, then you also walked a way a big winner.
I fit into all three of those groups, so my Saturday night was quite wonderful. It seemed every fighter on the card that night elevated their game to another level for UFC 116 and anybody watching walked away from that card feeling blown away. With that out of the way, let’s get down to the recap
Brock Lesnar def. Shane Carwin (Submission, Arm Triangle, Rd. 2)
Anyone who for whatever reason didn’t get to see the event must have assumed the result they were reading was a typo. The big ground and pound wrestler showed that he’s improving by locking in an impressive arm triangle submission after surviving some serious early trouble.
No one is going to question Shane Carwin’s ability or his power after his first round with Lesnar. Carwin defended the takedown and kept the fight standing before dropping Lesnar with pinpoint punches and knees. Once he had Lesnar on the ground though Carwin couldn’t do enough damage to finish despite raining down punch after punch on the champ. Carwin punched himself out and appeared to gas in round 2 when he was finished by the submission.
What’s Next for Lesnar?: We know this one for sure. A match up with a smaller version of Carwin in Cain Velasquez.
What’s Next for Carwin?: Hopefully no more fights that make it out of the first, that or some cardio improvement. Dana White has already stated that the winner of Junior Dos Santos-Roy Nelson will have the shot after Velasquez so a rematch may be out of the question for awhile. A rematch with Frank Mir would be boring so why not give him some one like Mirko Cro Cop?
Chris Leben def. Yosihiro Akiyama (Submission, Triangle Choke, Rd 3.)
Dana White is fond of saying that you can never let a fight go to the judges. Chris Leben lived by that statement when he finished off Akiyama with less than 30 seconds left in the fight with a beautiful triangle choke.
Leben appeared to be having trouble with Akiyama’s judo in round one after being taken down multiple times. However Leben didn’t let that happen in the second round, getting the better of the striking exchanges and winning round two.
Round three would have been a toss up for the judges. Akiyama controlled the top position but Leben stayed active out of his guard and appeard to inflict some damge with elbows off his back. Luckily for Leben it didn’t go to the scorecards as he sunk in the choke with 30 seconds left.
What’s Next for Leben?: Leben called out Wanderlai Silva after the fight, but White nixed that idea soon after saying Silva needs time to recover. Leben already has a loss to Michael Bisping on his record. The winner of the Damian Maia-Alan Belcher fight would make a lot of sense.
The fight that won’t happen though, and the one I’d like to see is Chris Leben-Vitor Belfort. Both of the guys have great hands and great chins, but I believe the UFC wants to protect Belfort as he is the last contender for Anderson Silva.
What’s Next For Akiyama?: Time on a treadmill, Akiyama gassed quickly. I think the UFC wants to protect Akiyama as their Asian market asset, they need to give him a fight he can win. Kendall Grove provides enough challenge to make for an interesting fight.
Chris Lytle def. Matt Brown (Submission, Inverted Armbar, Rd 2.)
This fight would give any jiu-jitsu loving fan a hard on. Round One saw an attempted Gogoplata from Lytle and a D’Arce choke from Brown that almost ended the fight. In round two Lytle took top position and quickly moved from side mount into an inverted triangle. There wasn’t much Brown could do from there as Lytle synched in an inverted armbar picking up the win and putting on a jiu-jitsu clinic.
What’s next for Lytle?: The first fight was a bit of a bore but both fighters have come a long way from the Ultimate Fighter 4 finale. How about a rematch against Matt Serra?
What’s next for Brown?: Brown doesn’t have enough to compete in the upper ranks of an impressive welterweight class. Make him a gatekeeper for an up and comer.
Stephan Bonnar def. Krzysztof Soszynski (TKO, Rd 2)
Bonnar-Soszynski II showcased what many love about both fighters, and that’s that both of them are willing to stand up and bang. Both rounds were slug fests that were only slowed down by several clinches. Soszynski showed a seemingly iron chin before being dropped to the canvas and finished.
What’s next for Bonnar?: Give Bonnar up and comer Phil Davis.
What’s Next for Soszynski?: Soszynski has an IFL loss to Ben Rothwell from his pre UFC days. Give the two a rematch.
George Sotiropolos def. Kurt Pelligrino (Unanimous Decision)
Sotiroplos did to Pelligrino what he did to Joe Stevenson. Got the better of the stand up exchanges, surprised us with just how good his wrestling was, and neutralized any takedowns with a great rubber guard. He also vaulted himself into serious title contention with a win.
What’s next for Sotiropolos?: This one is easy, give him Evan Dunham for a number two contender match after the Florian-Maynard winner.
What’s next for Pellegrino?: Joe Stevenson would be a good rebound fight and could put either fighter back into contention.
Biggest Winner of the evening?: Anyone who watched the card. Dana White called it his proudest moment since owning the company. This may go down as the best UFC card in History.
Biggest Loser of the Evening?: Chris Lytle was screwed out a 75,000 dollar submission of the night bonus that was instead given to Brock Lesnar. While Lesnar’s submission was impressive he probably also made a couple million dollars after sponsorship and PPV Sharing. Lytle’s base salary for a win is probably only 32,000 dollars. Give the guy a break.