On a night full of championship implications, some of UFC’s best came forward at UFC 136 to stake claims for championship glory.  Whose case carried the most volume and what will happen with those whose claims weren’t so favorable? Here’s what went down:

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar def. Gray “The Bully” Maynard, UFC Lightweight Title- Fourth Round TKO (3:54)

History really does repeat itself.  The opening round of UFC 136’s main event between Lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and challenger Gray “The Bully” Maynard was eerily similar to that of their UFC 125 championship confrontation.  Maynard landed a shot on Edgar that sent the champion reeling.  Like version two, the champion found himself scrambling to both buy himself time and preserve his coveted title.  Maynard was more tempered in his punch selection, not over exerting himself in the first round of this final chapter.  He played it smart.  His intellect, however, was to no avail, as he found himself in a place where he was unable to finish what he started.

Unlike the second bout, the proceeding rounds were not debatable as to who they belonged to.  Edgar took every round of the bout leading into the eventual conclusion.  Probably with history fresh in his mind, Edgar refused to let this last meeting fall into the judges’ hands.  “The Answer” gave a definitive display as to who would take the finale, by bullying “The Bully with an onslaught of punches, TKO’ing his foe with 1:06 left in the fourth round.  Edgar might have weighed in at 156 pounds during the weigh-ins, but he was able to rid himself of a monkey (Maynard) that has weighed down on him since April 2008 (Edgar’s first and only career loss and tie).

Jose “Scarface” Aldo def. Kenny “KenFlo” Florian, UFC Featherweight Title- Unanimous Decision

Make no mistake about it, the wily ol’ veteran came to fight.  Florian shocked MMA Nation with his ability to push the pace against a champion in Aldo, who brings a “Guns-A-Blazing” approach with him when it’s time to fight.  In the beginning, “KenFlo” was able to dictate the flow of the fight.  He even got Aldo to the cage a few times, wearing the champion down.  After assessing his game plan, Aldo went to what he does best, strike.  The champion landed thunderous punches and kicks that calmed Florian’s aggression.  Aldo even showed an ability to maintain control of the fight when it went to the ground.  Aldo in no way took this one in dominating fashion, but he took care of business and retained his title.  UFC President Dana White has been vindicated by Florian’s loss, given his sentiment that Florian doesn’t “get it done in big matches.” Now the question is what’s next for Florian.  Does he retire, or does he continue fighting, knowing his title contention days are behind him?

Chael Sonnen def. Brian “The All American” Stann, UFC Middleweight Title Contender’s Match- Second Round Arm Triangle Submission (3:51)

A lesson of this sport that can’t be conveyed enough is, “You have to be multi-faceted to succeed as a mixed martial artist.  That jewel could not have sparkled more than it did in this fight.  Stann came into this fight on a three-fight, winning streak, hoping to move one step closer to title contention.  The All American’s dream was deferred, thanks to Sonnen.  Whether it was striking, wrestling or the ground game, Sonnen proved to be an overwhelming task for the former marine.  Sonnen cemented Stann’s inevitable demise, forcing him to tap out 3:51 into the second round.

As an Anderson Silva fan, I feel an obligation to be anti-Sonnen.  Then he does something that makes me reconsider my stance.  Coming off a 14-month layoff, Sonnen in no way looked like he was detouring from his ultimate goal. As if fight fans weren’t already wowed by his return, he goes on to record the greatest post-fight interview I’ve ever heard.  When asked by UFC analyst Joe Rogan his thoughts on the bout, he disregards the question and went on a classic tangent.

“Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,” Sonnen said. “Super Bowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business”, Sonnen continued. “I’m calling you out, Silva, but we’re upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever.”

To add salt to Anderson Silva’s wounds, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is seen next to Silva, laughing hysterically.  That does it for me!  At the risk of being a turncoat, I’m leaning towards becoming a Chael Sonnen fan. Silva is still my favorite middleweight, but looking at Sonnen’s history with the division’s king, you can’t help but lend some sort of attention to him.  Should everything go accordingly, I’ll have another reason to look forward to Super Bowl weekend in 2012, according to the new number one contender.

By Antoine Hoffman

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