Note: This is a recap of the main event. On the undercard, Omigawa got robbed, Yves Edwards got shuffled off this mortal coil, Bongfeldt got choked standing, Massenzio got decisioned, Head got less blood than he needed to remain awake for an extended period of time, Young got outpointed, and Rosa got technically knocked out. Tell your friends.
UFC 131 has concluded, and the event came off like gangbusters, with memorable fights waged throughout. In a night that saw a little bit of everything, Junior Dos Santos clinched a title shot against UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, while fighters like Mark Munoz and Kenny Florian took critical steps in their own individual quests for the gold and glory. In all, 3 of the 5 pay-per-view winners were losing on my card at the conclusion of their respective first rounds. Oh, and then there were the 30-27′s…but we’ll get to that soon enough.
The main card kicked off with Donald Cerrone and Vagner Rocha in a bout that could be maddeningly full of unrealized potential for long periods, as Rocha continued to shoot in a wide variety of manners, nearly all unsuccessful. Cerrone knew coming in to this fight that Rocha really only had a small handful of paths to victory, and The Cowboy played it safer than we are accustomed to seeing in avoiding those paths. Cerrone never really engaged with meaningful combinations, but this fight will forever be defined one way – leg kicks. Cerrone battered Rocha’s lead leg with a series of kicks reminiscent of Marco Ruas (ask your older brother) or Jose Aldo, and by the end of the fight, Rocha was butt-scooting like my dog in June to try to establish contact for a takedown. Rocha, not my dog. Ceronne won a unanimous decision with two 30-27′s and a 30-26. No word on what Cecil Peoples thought of the fight.
Following the Cowboy’s paradoxically lackluster and impressive victory…well, things got weird. First, Dave “Pee Wee” Herman (you heard me) says in his pre-fight video that jiu-jitsu doesn’t work. Duly noted. Then, he walked to the cage to Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” Oh…ok. I’m on board. We’re going weird with this thing. Ok, let’s go. Then, of course, John Olav Einemo comes to the ring. He didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary, except walk to the cage looking like a pissed-off Viking with a name like John Olav Einemo. Standard fare. What followed was a whole lot of swinging – I’m talking “why is that man not dead” sort of stuff – both men get gassed, (horrribly gassed), Einemo has Herman almost talking to dead relatives, Herman hits the knee and a hook, and we’re done. Herman at 3:19 of the second via TKO. I can’t honestly say this was one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen, but it was certainly one of the most fun.
Mark Munoz and Demian Maia followed up, and the fight delivered in an unexpected way. Maia was the dominant fighter in the first round, and he was doing it with his striking. Demian Maia was beating someone on his feet. Not a bad start. At one point, Munoz even wobbled like my Aunt Judy at Thanksgiving when the Cowboys always lose. Munoz, however, quickly turned the fight to the ground, where he is a bit of a grown man. Once on the ground, Munoz immediately pounded on Maia’s core, legs and hips, and the effect was visible throughout the rest of the night. Munoz won a unanimous decision, with two 29-28′s and a 30-27. This was a big win for Munoz, who the UFC will now have to consider more closely when evaluating his position in the promotion.
And yes, I did say a 30-27. I don’t know. I really don’t. Mark Munoz’s grandmother thinks Maia won the first.
And now, Kenny Florian and Diego Nunes. I’ll admit it…I thought this was a walk-through for Florian if the weight cut didn’t hurt him too much. Nunes is a nice fighter with a quality record, but Florian can’t really be questioned on his ability as a fighter, and he’s a big 145. The first was mostly even, with brief exchanges, until Nunes floored Florian in the final 10 seconds of the round. Florian and Nunes went back and forth between their feet and the ground in the second, but Kenny finished on top with elbows to win the round. In the third, Florian took Nunes down and controlled him. Nunes caught Florian on the button again to end the round, but it appeared the damage was done. Florian won the unanimous decision, with two 29-28′s and a 30-27.
Again. Look, sometimes the fighters make it easy on you as a judge. One guy wins one round, the other guy wins two, you turn in a 29-28, and we all go to the afterparty. I don’t know how anyone looked at either of these fights and saw them as 30-27s. Such is life as an MMA fan, I suppose.
In the Main Event, Junior Dos Santos was Shane Carwin’s superior. That’s what happened. Junior Dos Santos was better. Carwin made half-hearted attempts to take Dos Santos down, but for much of the fight it appeared that Carwin’s strategy was to box with a better, faster, better boxer. Carwin landed a couple of solid shots that failed to buckle Junior in the first, but Dos Santos took over the round and the fight by beating Carwin senseless on the fence for 300 punches or so to end the round. The second and third rounds went from there, and Shane Carwin got messy. There are two things that should be said after this fight. First of all, Shane Carwin is tough. I might even call him grizzled. He just needs a huge beard, but I want that kind of guy in my corner. The other thing is, Junior Dos Santos is pretty good at this fighting thing. Cain Velasquez is now on the horizon, and if I’m looking forward to seeing that fight as much as I am, I know that Junior Dos Santos is looking forward to fighting it far more.