The UFC undoubtedly had a winning formula last night with plenty of exciting finishes, shock results and entertaining scraps to ensure that everyone in attendance left with a smile on their faces.
As the dust begins to settle on the event we look back and pick out the fighters who’s stock rose and fell the most as a result of this show.
Counted out by virtually everybody prior to the fight, Tito Ortiz had the last laugh when he rose like a pheonix from the ashes and arguably came out as the star of the UFC 132 show.
I’ll admit that even I said I couldn’t see how Ortiz could win this fight, but he proved me wrong. Not only did he show a rare glimpse of power in his hands by dropping the normally durable Bader, but he also showed that he’s more than just a ground and pound specialist by proceeding to tap him with a guillotine choke.
A win over a credible opponent like Bader is priceless for Ortiz, not only giving him his first win in five years, but also helping him to establish himself as someone who still has to be respected in the light-heavyweight division.
On a night where a number of fighters enhanced their reputations ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Carlos Condit still managed to stand out from the crowd.
While Dong Hyun Kim wasn’t the most glamorous opponent he was an exceptionally tough one, with a stifling top game and an unbeaten pro-record to his name. Therefore it looked as if Condit was going to find it difficult to shine, but yet he still found a way to do so.
The fact that he managed to sweep to the mount from his back early in the fight was impressive in itself, but the flying knee that dropped Kim a little later and set Condit on his way to a TKO victory was even better and would go on to earn ‘Knockout Of The Night’ honors.
With four wins under his belt, each against highly regarded opposition, Condit now has the kind of buzz surrounding him that could set him up as a credible opponent for Georges St.Pierre’s welterweight title in the not-too-distant future.
This was a big fight for Dominick Cruz. Not only was he looking to avenge his only loss to Urijah Faber and defend his bantamweight belt, but it was also his debut in the UFC and so the pressure was on to make an immediate impact and establish in the mind of the casual fan why he’s No.1 at 135lbs.
In the end he did just that, picking up where he left off in the WEC by putting on an eye-catching showcase of his unorthadox but highly effective striking skills, his remarkable speed and fleetness of foot, his endurance and resiliance, and his scrambling abilities on the mat.
It was a close fight, and an exciting one – enough so to claim ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors, and there’s already chatter of a third encounter between the two some time down the line which will be an even bigger night for the bantamweight division that Saturday’s was which is good for all concerned.
In the mean time Cruz extends his unbeaten run to nine fights and has now put himself firmly on the map in the sports biggest promotion.
Leben’s loss to Brian Stann last time out took a little bit of the wind out of his sails following an impressive winning run in 2010, but he bounced straight back with a big win over Wanderlei Silva last night.
In the opening flurry he demonstated his chin is still as stout as ever as he ate several of Silva’s trademark winging hook’s, and then displayed his own devastating power to produce the finish in just 29 seconds.
Many people will be saddened to see a legend like Silva disposed of in this way, but it’s a testiment to Leben’s own character that few will begrudge him his victory.
Now 4-1 in his last five fights, Leben remains outside of the title picture, but is undoubtedly destined for more big fights at 185lbs in the near future.
Guillard looked as confident as we’ve ever seen him last night against Shane Roller, and in the end he showed he had every reason to feel that way.
Guillard’s trademark speed and knockout power was once again on display as he danced around Roller for the opening couple of minutes and then blasted him with fists and knees to earn the KO victory.
Now five fights unbeaten, and having only been between once in his last nine outings to the Octagon, Guillard at the very least should be a main card regular from now on, and is arguably now the most exciting and entertaining title contender in the lightweight division.
It takes two to tango, and while Faber ultimately lost out by unanimous decision to his rival Dominick Cruz, he still came out of this fight looking good.
This was a much better showcase of Faber’s skills than his UFC debut against Eddie Wineland, giving him a chance to show the power he has in his hands, his ability to fight at a high tempo for five full rounds, and brief glimpses of his grappling abilities.
Win or lose Faber has a knack of being in exciting fights, and that was certainly the case again here, earning Cruz and himself ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors.
Faber may not be the dominant champion he once was, but with people already calling for third fight with Cruz, he’s still got plenty to offer and continues to be a welcome addition to the UFC’s ranks.
Really things couldn’t have gone much worse for Silva against Leben. He went out on his shield swinging for the fences, but as devastating as the knockout will be for him, what might be harder for him to take is just how quickly it happened.
As Chuck Liddell finally realised last year, once your chin goes your ability to put on the kind of exciting back-and-forth slugfests that made you famous goes with it too. Prior to this fight Silva had been talking about having as many as 10 more fights before considering retirement, but With four clean KO losses in his last eight fights Silva’s health now becomes a concern.
Backstage UFC President Dana White indicated that, as with Liddell, he will now implore the Brazilian to hang up his gloves to ensure he doesn’t endure further unneccessary punishment.
It’s a great shame as other fights on the horizon with the likes of Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen could have been fun, but neither seems like a winnable fight at this stage in his career and may do him more harm than good.
After doing very well to produce a perfect 12-0 record in the sport, Bader’s upward momentum has now stalled with two successive losses.
A defeat to Jon Jones didn’t come as a great surprise to many people and so was easier to bounce back from, but a loss to Ortiz will be much harder to swallow given that he was an overwhelming favorite against the veteran who looked to be on his way to retirement.
The fact that he’s now been finished by guillotine choke on both occasions also points out a worrying hole in his game, while Ortiz also showed that he can be hurt on the feet too.
At the age of 28 there’s still plenty of time for Bader to bounce back, but there’s no doubt he’s now slipped down the pecking order at 205lbs after last night’s showing.
Like Bader, Sotiropoulos has also had a rapid fall from grace. At one point on an eight fight winning streak he looked to be en-route to a lightweight title shot, but he too has now suffered back to back losses.
Last time out Dennis Siver pointed out holes in both the Aussie’s striking and his wrestling, while this time around Rafael Dos Anjos went straight for the kill and clean KO’d him in under a minute.
So while Sotiropoulos remains one of the most exciting and dynamic ground fighters in the sport, it’s become clear that his all-round MMA game is flawed and at the age of 33 the question now is whether he still has time to shore up those weaknesses and muster up another run at the title or if his best days are now behind him.