UFC Lightweight Championship Main Event
Frankie Edgar (14-1-1) TKO 4 Gray Maynard (10-1-1)
Time of Stoppage: 3:54 round four.
You know, it’s funny how certain fighting styles meld together to create beautiful artistry. One gets the feeling that if Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought a hundred times the result would be different every time. There is just something about Edgar’s fleet-footed boxing and Maynard’s grueling pressure attack that creates guaranteed explosions.
Such was the case Saturday night as Edgar, the incumbent champion, and Maynard met in the Octagon for the third time. When Edgar and Maynard’s second fight ended in a controversial draw back in January an immediate rematch was ordered by the UFC in order to provide definitive clarity on who the king of the lightweight division was. Tonight in Houston, Edgar made it clear that it was he who ruled the 155-pound division. Though, Edgar did not exactly have an easy time in defending his crown.
Just as was the case in their fight in January, Edgar had to weather a storm of relentless punishment at the hands of Maynard in the opening round. Edgar was put on unsteady legs early in the opening round after eating an uppercut from Maynard. As Edgar wobbled around the cage on footing that looked as if he was trying to ice skate, Maynard went for the kill. But, despite the bombs being connected to the face of Edgar, the Jersey Shore native refused to go down. Even after Maynard shattered Edgar’s nose with a knee the challenger was simply unable to put Edgar away.
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With Maynard unable to put Edgar away in the opening round the tide soon turned in favor of the reigning champion. Edgar was able to shake the cobwebs from his head to begin to utilize his foot movement and boxing to keep Maynard at bay. Though Maynard tried to close the gap throughout the second and third round, Edgar’s movement and speed enabled him to not only avoid the takedown attempts of Maynard, but Edgar was also able to pepper Maynard’s face with a few clean shots.
Then, the end came in dramatic and stunning fashion in the fourth round. As Maynard shot in for a takedown, Edgar clipped him hard with a wicked uppercut. Maynard’s knees buckled and as he staggered back against the cage the follow up barrage of punches from Edgar put him down and out.
UFC Bantamweight Championship Co-Main Event
Jose Aldo (20-1) UD 5 Kenny Florian (15-6)
Scores: 49-46, 49-46, 49-46
It’s hard to believe that when Kenny Florian began his career in the UFC many years ago he did it campaigning at middleweight. Since those early days in The Ulitmate Fighter, Florian has proven to be one of the most gutsy and accomplished fighter to have never won a title. So Florian began the task of shrinking down to the bantamweight limit in order to capitalize on height and weight advantage. Florian’s initial forrway in the weight class was a successful one so with a legacy that has seen Florain fight some of the best fighters in the sport the UFC granted him a title shot in their newly created bantamweight division. Unfortunately for Florian that title shot would mean a fight against the always-dynamic Brazilian Jose Aldo.
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Though Florian was considered by many to be a significant underdog heading into thus fight, the Boston native used a cerebral attack early on to frustrate and limit the game plan of Aldo. Florian accomplished this by continuing to work for the clinch and takedowns. This considerably slowed Aldo and prevented him from opening up his attack with his patented kicks.
However, Aldo soon was able to get more in rhythm in the second and soon it was Florian who was unable to utilize his game plan. From there the fight boiled down to Florian trying valiantly to make something happen with Aldo, the defending champion, doing slightly more.
In the end it was a close fight, despite what the scores say, and though Florian came up short years from now people will be singing his praise for the heart he showed in this fight.
UFC Middleweight Fight
Chael Sonnen (26-11-1) SUB RD 2 (Arm Triangle) Brian Stann (11-4)
Time of Submission: 3:51 round two.
Despite having one of the most colorful personalities in the game, Sonnen’s plan of attack is so one-dimensional it’s almost comical in its effectiveness. To know Sonnen is to know a fighter who has one tactic and that is to take the fight to the ground with wrestling and grind out a victory. While it’s not exactly the dreaded “lay ‘n pray” we fans hate, it’s also not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing fight style.
Against the former Marine in Stann, Sonnen wasted little time in enacting his much-used game plan as he immediately set up the clinch and looked for the takedown. Even though every one of Sonnen’s opponents knows what’s in store for them in the cage, the genius of Sonnen is that he still manages to impose his will on them.
Such was the case with Stann who despite putting on a valiant performance in the fight, found himself on his back trying to avoid the punches of Sonnen. In the second round Sonnen continued more of the same ground and pound styling but when the opening presented itself, he deftly slipped in an arm triangle that ended the fight.
During the post-fight interview Sonnen channeled his inner professional wrestler in requesting a “loser-leaves-town” match with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
“Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,” declared Sonnen. “Super Bowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me and I leave the UFC forever.”
UFC Lightweight Fight
Nam Phan (17-9) UD 3 Leonard Garcia (15-8-1)
Scores: 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
I have to be honest; I could watch Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia fight every day. There is something about these two that create a nuclear war level of explosiveness in the cage. Back in 2010 these two engaged in an absolute war but the fight was unfortunately marred by the controversial split decision victory awarded to Garcia. Many had felt that Phan deserved the victory and Saturday’s rematch was widely considered a “must see.”
Boy, did this fight not disappoint. Things started off at a blistering pace as both fighters continued what they had started back on 2010 by exchanging crushing blows to the face of each other. The ebb and flow of the fight had the crowd in Houston on their feet cheering wildly throughout the fight. Phan opened up the fight with a vicious body attack, but every time Phan seemed like he was pulling ahead, Garcia would come rolling back with some hard shots of his own. The fight was a brutal back and forth affair that contained all the drama of a Hollywood film.
In sweet redemption Phan emerged victorious with a deserved unanimous decision but in fights like this the tired cliché of the fight fans winning rings true.
UFC Lightweight Fight
Joe Lauzon (21-6) SUB RD 1 (Rear Naked Choke) Melvin Guillard (29-9-2)
Time of Submission: 0:47 round one
Recently, Melvin Guillard’s name had been mentioned in title contention talk. It’s hard not to see why given that Guillard had been laying waste to nearly everyone the UFC had put in front of him. But while the lightweight title picture was being sorted out in the main event, Guillard was given the task of facing jiu-jitsu whiz kid Lauzon. But to think of Lauzon as some sort of stay busy fight would be to underestimate a very capable fighter as Guillard soon found out.
Initially, things appeared to be going in Guillard’s favor as he peppered Lauzon early with some lightning quick strikes. However, Lauzon quickly countered with a hook to the chin of Guillard that put him on shaky legs. Seizing the opportunity Lauzon quickly took Guillard to the ground where a rear naked choke was locked.