Sunday, July 3, 2011

UFC 132: Suprises & disappointments, but exciting

With so many first round finishes at UFC 132, it was kind of ironic that the main event turned out to be a five round back and forth battle. However, it ended up as I predicted it would, although that was the only prediction I got right in an otherwise surprising, but exciting night of fights. In the end it was UFC Bantamweight Champion (135 lbs) Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber who stole the show.

Cruz 'The Dominator' (18-1, 6 KO's 1 sub) and Faber 'The California Kid' (25-5, 7 KO's 13 subs) fought about as close a five rounds as you can get. While the judges didn't see it that way as they awarded Cruz (pictured @ left) a unanimous decision, with one judge scoring all five rounds for Cruz, the scores weren't indicative of how close the fight actually was. Ask anyone who watched it and they'll tell you it was a difficult fight to score.

That is because Cruz and Faber are so extremely fast and quick, that anytime either of them launched an attack, the other was able to counter it just as fast. It was truly an exciting match of speed, but ultimately it was Cruz's awkward, yet effective, style of firing and shooting from all angles that earned him a well deserved victory. Joe Rogan commented after the fight that he'd like to see them go at it for a third time; so would I as they are now (1-1).

Sadly the co-main event, though just as exciting, albeit for 27 seconds, may have marked the end of a true legend. Everyone, including themselves, knew that when middleweights (185 lbs) Wanderlei 'The Axe Murderer' Silva (33-11-1, 23 KO's 3 subs) and Chris 'The Crippler' Leben (26-7, 13 KO's 8 subs) stepped into the octagon, fireworks were going to erupt. These two only know one way to fight and that is going straight ahead firing punches and they did not disappoint. The disappointment came when it looked as though Silva may have Leben reeling with a couple of shots in the pocket, only to be caught with a vicious left uppercut that dropped him to his knees.

Leben followed with more lefts to the head on the ground that left the legend out on his knees until the referee stepped in to save him. Leben, though excited, remarked later on, "Wanderlei is my hero; he's always been my favorite fighter." While respectful, it may not be comforting to this icon of the sport who is now just (2-6) in his last eight fights. Silva, who is beloved around the world by so many fans, including myself, may need to come to the realization that it is time to move on.

With a successful gym in Las Vegas where he trains his own team of young fighters, there is no other reason for him to continue other than for the thrill of it. Although it happens more often that not in combat sports, it is really sad to see a true legend continue to get beat down after a storied career where he once issued the beatings. It happens to the best of them, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture etc, and now it is Silva's time to come to that realization. He may not have a choice as Dana White said in the post-fight press conference, "People love him so much for the way he fights and the type of person he is; but yeah, it's probably the end of the road for Silva."

Ironically, it was another legend that shocked the world last night. Former light-heavyweight (205 lbs) champ Tito Ortiz (16-8-1, 8 KO's 3 subs), who had not won a fight in nearly five years, rekindled glimpses of days gone by as he defeated the young lion Ryan 'Darth' Bader (12-2, 5 KO's 3 subs) via guillotine choke submission in less than two minutes of the first round. During an exchange, 'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' caught Bader with a short right hand that dropped him in a daze and in the ensuing scramble; Ortiz secured the choke that forced the tap. Fighting for his life, as his job was clearly on the line; Ortiz lives to fight another day.

Finally, in a card full of highlight reel knockouts and submissions, the highlight of the night was clearly produced by welterweight (170 lbs) Carlos Condit (27-5, 13 KO's 13 subs). His perfectly timed flying right knee to the jaw of previously undefeated Dong Hyun Kim (14-1-1, 6 KO's 1 subs) in the first round, obviously stunned the man known as 'Stun Gun' dropping him to the canvas. 'The Natural Born Killer' then unleashed a vicious assault of punches that ended Kim's perfect record and night.

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