The year 2011 is not even a week old and already unexpected results have run amuck. Of the four fights I focused on in my predictions, I only guessed one right. My 1-3 posting of the UFC 125 card is the worst to date. Personally, it serves as a con as I aim for pin-point accuracy with my forecasts, but for the sport it’s a pro. On any given night, David can slay Goliath and the little engine can…will. Then there was one result that left UFC nation stunned.
For those of you that missed out, here’s how the opening Pay-Per-View of 2011 panned out:
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida defeats Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi via Submission Choke (4:27 of the Second Round)
While it took awhile for the first blow to land, it was worth the wait. A large part of that dealt with “The Fireball Kid” trying to figure out “The Carpernter’s” perplexed fighting stance. It’s a stance that can be likened to the Tazmanian Devil, minus the tornado-like spinning, Guida and Gomi opened the bout sizing each other up. From there, punches exchanged, but none of them landed. Guida landed the first strike of the fight with right kick to Gomi’s chin. From there, Guida went for a takedown. Although Gomi escaped, Guida immediately greeted him with a two-piece combo. The packed house rung out in appreciation, chanting Guida’s name. Guida attempted a single-leg takedown, followed by control of Gomi’s back, only to come up empty-handed in both instances. The two found their way to the cage, separated and met at the center of the octagon. Gomi landed a right jab to Guida’s stomach, which did nothing to decrease Guida’s energy. With :45 left in the opening round, Guida landed a left head kick, followed by a double-leg takedown. Gomi tried to wiggle out of vulnerable position on the ground, only to receive a standing power slam in return. Guida landed a few knee shots to Gomi’s left rib. Guida looked to further the damage, but was forced to relent at the conclusion of the round. The second round’s start was somewhat similar to the first, except Guida didn’t wait as long to initiate an attack. He shot in for a takedown, but was met with a right hook when returning to his feet. A flurry of missed punches followed and again Guida went in, this time for a single-leg take down. Gomi stifled his charge with a gut wrench hold around the waist. Guida went for an over-the-back take down but Gomi wiggled out and stuffed him. Guida took hold of Guida’s leg, the two accelerated into the cage and Gomi popped Guida with a standing knee shot to the stomach. Guida stepped away from Gomi after realizing he couldn’t’ establish a clinch, but received a parting left hook in the process. Another series of missed punches came into play. Guida closed it out with a stiff jab to Gomi’s face and as the two separated, the difference in energy level, which favored Guida, could not have been more obvious. A left kick and a right jab found a place on Gomi’s face. Gomi fired a haymaker onto Guida’s chest, which was answered with a right jab to his chin. Gomi caught Guida flush with a knee to the face, but Guida ate it and used it to his advantage. Guida secured Gomi’s leg and power slammed him to the mat. Guida tried to secure a triangle choke on Gomi, while Gomi looked to sink in a kimura submission. Guida found an opening, landing forearm shots to Gomi’s face which segued into a guillotine choke. With :33 left in the second round, The Carpenter extinguished the Fireball Kid’s fire, forcing him to tap out.
Thiago Silva defeats Brandon “The Truth” Vera via Unanimous Decision
If you didn’t know any better, at first glance, you would think Vera was fighting former WWE superstar Batista. Not only does Silva favor him in the face, but he is easily the biggest 205 pounder in UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Vera was not intimidated by Silva’s size. He opened the bout landing two leg kicks that echoed throughout the arena. Silva ate both shots and caught “The Truth” with a right overhand shot. Silva bullied Vera into the cage, but received a knee shot to his body for his troubles. Silva executes a single-leg takedown and that’s when the tide turned in favor of the “Super-Light Heavyweight”. Vera was able to control Silva after an attempt to pass guard. He even worked in a butterfly guard. Silva would eventually outmuscle his opponent and gain side control. Silva followed up with a mixture of punches and elbows. Silva broke through Vera’s guard to land more shots.Vera maneuvered around to pop Silva with an up kick, knocking Silva on his back. Vera escapes Silva’s clutches to close the opening round. The second round saw an exchange of hooks between the two. After Silva’s last shot, the two found themselves against the cage. Silva found an opening and tripped Vera to the canvas. Vera threw elbows while on his back. Meanwhile, Silva landed his own strikes from the upright position. Vera again kicked Silva away, but Silva found an opening and took the half guard position. Vera looked for another sweep. Meanwhile, Silva landed a left hand that forced Vera to cover his face. Silva continued the pounding until the second round ended. Silva attempted a body kick to open the last round, but Vera caught it and a takedown ensued. Vera followed with a body kick of his own. He went for a head kick, but Silva rammed him into the cage and locked in a double under hook hold. Silva turned that into a waist lock. Vera tried to work out of it with elbow shots, but Silva powered his way around and took Vera’s back. Silva went back to his punches. Silva taunted Vera, slapping his ears and drumming on his back and continued the onslaught. As the final horn sounded, Silva postured as if he knew he won the fight, while Vera slowly got up to reveal the nastiest nose break I’ve ever witnessed…period. I had The Carpenter renovating Gomi’s face, but I didn’t think someone’s face would literally be rearranged.
Brian “The All American” Stann defeats Chris “The Crippler” Leben via TKO Stoppage (3:37 of the First Round)
Going into this bout, fight fans knew it would be heavy on striking. It’s also common knowledge that Leben has a granite chin. How did it fare at UFC 125? Stann and Leben opened the bout exchanging low kicks. Stann landed a right cross. Leben missed with a haymaker and Stan cracked him with another right hand. Leben closed in looking to land a shot on Stann, but got a hook and a jab in return. Stann landed a right and the two went into the clinch. Stann landed a left knee to Leben before finding the cage. Stann landed a right uppercut to Leben’s ribs. Leben went for a takedown, but is met with two upper cuts in the process. The two traveled back and forth against the cage; Stann missed a knee and Leben counters with two punches before returning to the clinch. The two maintained the clinch into the center of the octagon and Leben got the better of that exchange, landing multiple punches to Stann’s face. Stann ate them and landed a knee to Leben’s chest, which forces the two back into the cage. Leben lands two upper cuts, which backed them away from the cage and into center-octagon. Leben and Stann had a quick stint of dirty boxing, which led them back into the cage. The two broke the clinch and met at the center of the octagon. Stann attempted a rib kick, but Leben caught his leg and forced his back into the cage. The combatants exchanged knees and punches. “The All American” caught “The Crippler” with a right hand that would put anyone on notice. Stann followed with a knee shot to Leben’s ribs and a three-piece combo of punches. Leben responded with a left jab of his own, but it was all for naught because ‘The All American” landed a right hook that sent “The Crippler” to the mat. Stann got on top of Leben and continued to punch away, but Leben stood the two to their feet. After a missed attempt at a standing guillotine, Stann followed up with punches, which sent the two into another clinch against the cage. Stann works in three left hooks, where the third sent Leben to the mat. Stann proceeded with hammer fists and flurries of left and right hooks. Stann saw and opening and landed a left knee to Leben’s head which put him to the mat once again. Stann stoodover Leben and pounded away relentlessly. Referee Seth Rosenthal demanded Leben to fight back, but he was unable to and that was all she wrote. Stann’s hands were able to rattle Leben’s granite chin.
UFC Lightweight Championship
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and Gray “The Bully Maynard battle to a draw
Brock Lesnar, who was nowhere near Las Vegas, suffered a loss on New Year’s night. Thanks to Edgar’s resolve, he now owns the most epic comeback in UFC history. Here’s how! Little striking was involved in the opening seconds of the bout. Edgar initiated the process with a low kick on Maynard. Maynard responded with an overhand left shot that sent Edgar to the mat. The champion reeled from that shot. Maynard zeroed in on him and landed more shots. Edgar tries to work in a takedown, but Maynard is right there to continue his hailstorm of punches. Edgar tried to separate himself from Maynard, but as mentioned in my predictions, Maynard was able to keep up with Edgar. Whatever space was there, Maynard closed in on it to extend his attack. “The Answer” was responsive to referee Yves Lavigne’s commands and continued fighting. Immediately, he is clocked with a right uppercut that forces him to revisit the mat. Maynard was merciless in his attack, truly living up to his nickname. Edgar got to his feet and his nose was a bloody mess. Every time he tried to circle around Maynard, he tasted leather, courtesy of Maynard’s left hook. The beating continued until the champ is saved by the buzzer. UFC Nation was shell-shocked. You couldnt’ help but assume Edgar’s demise was eventual. Round two was a different story! The previous round served as a wakeup call because Edgar regained his wits and speed. He landed an overhand right that left a mark under Maynard’s left eye. Maynard tried to connect with a shot of his own but missed. As the round progressed, Maynard went more into defense mode, while Edgar was on the offensive. Edgar fired with a right hand. Maynard tried a takedown, but Edgar refused it. Maynard rushed Edgar, only to be stood up and power slammed to the canvas. Edgar landed a few more stiff shots to Maynard’s eyes. Maynard tried another takedown, but was stuffed. “The Answer” landed two more shots to Maynard’s face and round two is in the books. Round three was the most balanced of the fight, as the two landed substantial shots on each other, but nothing devastating. Edgar was able to sink in a guillotine, but Maynard was saved by the buzzer. Early in the fourth round, Edgar almost executed a take down. Edgar tried following up with another guillotine, but Maynard escapes. Maynard rushed Edgar, but gets caught in another power slam to the mat. Maynard was elusive and immediately got back to his feet. Maynard threw punches, but they were labored. The burst he had in the opening round faded away. He landed a two punch combo, but Edgar answered with a knee that sent him to the cage. The two tried to establish positioning against the cage, but Edgar got the better of that deal, landing three upper cuts to Maynard’s left eye. Maynard threw a right hand that missed and Edgar replied with a two-jab combo. There’s one round left! The MGM Grand Garden Arena lost its mind, knowing the final round was imminent. Edgar landed a low kick and followed up with a three-punch combo, where only the final left hook landed. He followed up with a two-piece hook combo that caught Maynard’s body and head. Edgar circled back, but not without taking a shot from Maynard. “The Bully” tried to shoot on “The Answer” but received a knee. In another shot attempt, Maynard couldn’t execute the takedown, but was able to land a knee of his own before pulling away. Maynard receives another knee after failing at another takedown attempt. He threw a weak uppercut and is countered with two hooks. Edgar went for a low kick, but Maynard connects with a stiff jab. Edgar followed with a flurry of punches that stun Maynard. Maynard shoots for another takedown, but is stuffed by the champion. Both men fired haymakers to close out the fight. It came down to the judges’ table and the ball was dropped tremendously. The result was a draw.
Yes, Maynard dominated the opening round, but with the exception of round three, Edgar dominated rounds two, four and five.
The resolve the champion showed after being in the jaws of defeat is nothing short of admirable. Did Maynard exhaust himself in the only round he truly won? That will to be determined down the line, but what Edgar accomplished should not be dismissed. These two have to do it again and and when they do, I’m sure they will not allow the end result to fall into the judges’ hands.
By Antoine Hoffman