UFC 136: A Report From Houston
HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – On paper, UFC 136 had everything it needed to be the best pay per view of the year. It did not disappoint. The event drew an announced attendance of 16,164 in which the main event featured the third installment of lightweight champion Frankie ’The Answer’ Edgar and his challenger ’The Bully’ Gray Maynard.
Maynard edged out a decision victory in their first meeting and the 2 fought to a draw on New Years Day of this year. Both men wanted to be done with the other, both wanted closure. They got it! The first round was almost a replay of their previous fight, with Maynard dropping the champ early and jumping on him in an effort to finish Edgar.
It was not to be. Edgar was able to withstand the early onslaught but the thought of deja vu had to be running through his mind. The second and third rounds saw Edgar get in his groove while Maynard almost looked sluggish, failing to commit to anything offensively. The early part of the fourth round looked much of the same. That was until a short scramble lead to the champ being able to land a right hand sending Maynard to the mat. Edgar was able to pounce and quickly finish the fight. “That my friends, is closure!” said commentator Mike Goldberg. Closure indeed.
Leading into this final confrontation, ‘The Answer’ didn’t hide the fact that he was tired of having Gray Maynard in his life and was more than ready to move on. He will now be able to do just that.
In the semi-main event, another UFC title was on the line as featherweight champion Jose Aldo battled Kenny ‘KenFlo’ Florian in a five round war. Florian, the challenger, had been here before. This was his third attempt at becoming a UFC champion, failing in his 2 previous bids at the lightweight title.
The general feeling was that is would be his last shot at realizing his dream. The first round looked good for the challenger. He was able to dictate the pace and put Aldo on his back. However, Florian was simply not strong enough to keep the champion down but was able to keep Aldo against the fence while utilizing his clinch in order to win the round.
Ultimately, it would be the only round for the challenger as Aldo was able to find his range and implement his game plan. Punches, kicks, counter shots, and stuffed takedowns all proved to be too much for Florian. The leg kicks that Aldo has become known for weakened the challenger, making it nearly impossible to get the champ to the ground. In the end, all 3 judges scored the contest 49-46 in favor of Jose Aldo.
This now marks the 13th straight victory for Aldo and counting his WEC days, the 4th defense of his featherweight title. As for Florian, UFC President Dana White was quick to make it known that ‘KenFlo’ will have a spot with the company no matter what he chooses to do. “I want to rest, spend some time with my family and friends, and then evaluate all of my options,” said Florian. “One way or another, you haven’t seen the last of Ken-Flo!”
The return of Chael Sonnen was a long time coming. After sitting out 14 months due to suspensions and other legal issues, the self-proclaimed “People’s Champion” was looking to make a statement against ‘All American’ Brian Stann. And he did just that.
Stann, who is known for his punching power, was looking to keep the fight on it’s feet. The wrestling machine, Sonnen, had another idea. He quickly went in for the takedown, but Stann was able to fight it off. But Sonnen was able to adjust and eventually put Stann on his back. The majority of round 1 was a ground and pound clinic put on by Sonnen and the second was much of the same.
The round opened up with Sonnen securing a double-leg takedown, quickly moving to a full mount position. Stann was able to work his way out and thanks to an early stand up by the ref, he now had a chance to land some shots on Sonnen. But it wasn’t to be as “The People’s Champ” was able to take down Stann again. After landing in side control, Sonnen was able to secure an arm-triangle choke forcing Stann to tap.
The crowd was almost split down the middle as Sonnen didn’t go crazy with a celebration. He did what he knew he would. After all, he had other thoughts on his mind. Commentator Joe Rogan joined Sonnen in the cage to get his thoughts on the fight. “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. Super Bowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business. I’m calling you out Silva, but we’re upping the stakes. I beat you, (and) you leave the division. You beat me, and I will leave the UFC forever.” Strong words from a man who is convinced that he has the middleweight champions number.
Back at UFC 117, Sonnen dominated the champion for 23 minutes until Silva was able to score a triangle submission, shocking everyone who was watching. Sonnen still feels he won that fight despite the submission and is far past eager to get his hands on Anderson Silva one more time. At the post-fight press conference, it was much of the same. “You’re asking me if I think I’m next for Anderson Silva? No, he’s next. I’m the people’s champion, the linear champion, the best damn middleweight in the world. We’re playing for keeps now. Anderson Silva, it’s time.” This fight will happen at some point and when it does, we will all be treated to an exciting war.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the pay per view started out with even more action. In the opening contest, Joe Lauzon submitted an overly excited Melvin Guillard in what many were calling the upset of the year. Very few people gave Lauzon a chance in this fight. After all, Guillard has been on a tear lately, destroying everyone in his path. With a victory over Lauzon, it was expected that Guillard would be next in line for a shot at the lightweight title, But Lauzon was happy to play the spoiler. “This is the biggest win in my career…I’m really proud of myself.” Guillard was obviously upset in himself. “I blew my dream. I don’t deserve to be the champ…I’m sorry to the fans for the loss and it’s back to the drawing board.”
In the fight of the night, it was a rematch between Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan. Their first fight last year ended in controversy when the judges awarded the fight to Garcia, despite everyone else in the world scoring the fight for Phan. However, revenge was sweet for Nam Phan as he was finally able to get the victory he felt he was robbed of last year.
In typical Leonard Garcia fashion, it was a slugfest. Garcia is known for throwing wild haymakers and was once again picked apart by the more technical Phan. Despite the loss, Garcia earned even more fans with his performance and will no doubt live to fight another day. Phan now looks to put Leonard Garcia behind him and move on, unless fans are demanding for Garcia/Phan 3. “I would like to put this rivalry between me and Leonard behind us, but if the UFC wants to make a third fight, then I’m all for it,” said Phan. Something tells me we’ll see this fight again sometime next year.
Demian Maia def. Jorge Santiago via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Anthony Pettis def. Jeremy Stephens via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Stipe Miocic def. Joey Beltran via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Darren Elkins def. Tiequan Zhang via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)
Aaron Simpson def. Eric Schafer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mike Massenzio def. Steven Cantwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)