Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) last night (Feb. 20, 2010) pulled the trigger on its first-ever pay-per-view (PPV) event "Down Under" from the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.
In the main event of the evening, the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira took on up-and-comer Cain Velasquez in a heavyweight bout that pitted the experienced champion against the title hopeful.
It didn't last long.
Velasquez beat Nogueira to the punch and then unleashed a furious combination midway through the opening frame that dropped the virtually unstoppable "Minotauro" in his tracks. He followed him to the canvas and dropped three or four head bouncers just for good measure before the referee stepped in to rescue Nogueira.
It happened so fast that Velasquez even seemed surprised with the result. Stunning. The former Arizona State University wrestling standout didn't even have to attempt a single a takedown to seal an absolutely enormous victory.
Can you see him now, Mr. Lesnar?
In the pre-fight interviews, Michael Bisping said he looked forward to the challenge of Wanderlei Silva coming out to knock his head off.
Bold words, considering Silva truly has earned the nickname "The Axe Murderer" throughout his illustrious career.
For the most part, Bisping avoided slinging punches with the Brazilian brawler, boxing him for pretty much the entire fight and attempting numerous takedowns that likely impressed the judges.
It was a super close fight heading into the last round, but Silva likely stole it with a barrage that put "The Count" down -- but not out -- with 10 seconds left on the clock.
Silva was clearly very pleased after the match with the win -- he needed it. Bisping, on the other hand, was obviously disappointed.
What a difference a few seconds can make.
Australian-born George Sotiropoulos came out to a hero's welcome for his lightweight showdown with Joe Stevenson. And the crowd roared and chanted behind him religiously the entire way in a fight that turned out to be an exciting back-and-forth ground war.
Stevenson just didn't seem to have any answers for the brilliant ground game of Sotiropoulos, whether he was working from the bottom or the top. Sotiropoulos was never in any trouble and he put Stevenson in several compromising positions.
The judges went on to reward Sotiropoulos for his performance with a resounding unanimous decision victory, which will likely catapult him into the 155-pound contender mix. Stevenson, meanwhile, a former number one contender, needs to head back to the drawing board.
Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 winner Ryan Bader looked to keep his perfect record intact in the biggest test of his professional career against the venerable Keith Jardine.
Bader's key to victory heading into the 205-pound showdown appeared to be leveraging his relentless wrestling attack to nullify the awkward -- albeit effective -- stand up of the "Dean of Mean."
The bad news for Bader is that for most of the fight, Jardine's takedown defense was on point. The good news for Bader is that it was a crushing left hook in the third round, not ground and pound, which put the exclamation point on an absolutely huge win for Arizona Combat Sports product.
Bader clipped Jardine in the center of the Octagon with a right that appeared to get him woozy, pounced with a glancing flying knee and then put him to sleep momentarily with a flush blow to the chin.
It was a beautiful combination, demonstrating that Bader is blooming into a complete (and dangerous) mixed martial artist ... fast.
Australia's own Anthony Perosh stepped up on just two days notice when Ben Rothwell came down with the flu, agreeing to take on the once feared striker and former Pride FC Open Weight Grand Prix Champion, Mirko Filipovic.
"The Hippo" vowed to submit the Croatian, which appeared to be his best strategy to pull off a win under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, each time Perosh tried to close the distance, Cro Cop would torch him with a left hand or hammer fists ... several.
But it wasn't the numerous left hands or hammer fists that did Perosh in -- it was one well-placed elbow in the second round that busted the Aussie wide open. He refused to quit, seeing the round through to the end even though he was bleeding like a stuck pig.
Between rounds, however, the ringside physicians made the decision for him, calling a halt to the action before the final frame could begin.
It's a much-needed win for Cro Cop. His movement and physical form looked better, too.
Not really sure where this puts him if anywhere, however -- he was facing are far less superior opponent. Nonetheless, it's a step in the right direction .... is he still a forced to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division?
That’s enough from us — now it’s your turn to discuss "Nogueira vs. Velasquez" in the comments section below. Sound off, Maniacs.
For complete UFC 110 results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.