Two light heavyweights entered the cage in the opening bout of the UFC 139 main card last night (November 19, 2011), but only one left with their win streak still firmly intact.
Kyle Kingsbury entered his bout against Stephan Bonnar with a four fight win streak and a wave of hype after putting on some impressive performances against the likes of Jared Hamman, Fabio Maldonado and Ricardo Romero.
Many felt the ripped Ultimate Fighter season eight veteran would be too strong and too much for "The American Psycho," but Bonnar proved the doubters wrong with a dominant unanimous decision victory.
So how'd he pull it off? And what's next for both men?
At first, it appeared that Bonnar was going to play directly into Kingsbury's game, allowing himself to be put in the clinch along the fence and get grinded out with short knees and elbows. The tide began to turn towards "The American Psycho," however, when he connected with a swift short left hook once he finally found himself in the open that staggered Kingsbury.
Just when it looked like this bout would turn into the stand-up war that everyone predicted, Bonnar scored a takedown from the clinch with a minute left in the first round and he discovered something -- Kyle Kingsbury is almost completely helpless off his back.
As the fight wore on, scenes like this one became common nature.
Take a look at how Bonnar postures up and just drops some big ground and pound upon Kingsbury, almost as if it's punishment for his failure to learn any form of defense on the ground.
From this position, Kingsbury's tremendous strength means absolutely nothing. Notice how he tries to turn into Bonnar and get to his feet but gets completely shut down because Bonnar simply uses basic leverage to remain on top of him.
While he waited until the final minute of the first round before dragging the fight to the ground, Bonnar realized he had an easy victory gift-wrapped for him and made a concerted effort to take Kingsbury down within the first minute of both the second and third rounds
At this point, it was just getting easy for The Ultimate Fighter season one finalist.
Despite being older, having taken more damage in his career and definitely suffering from a serious strength disadvantage, Bonnar proved that skill and technique still more important when it comes to the intangibles of the sport.
Watch how easily he's able to drag Kingsbury to the ground by sneakily reaching his left leg around his opponent's left and then pushing forward to score the forward trip.
He'd finish both the second and third rounds with about eight-plus minutes of top positional control and was awarded an easy unanimous decision victory when it was all said and done.
For Kyle Kingsbury, he's got to work on two things, his defensive wrestling and his ability to get back to his feet once taken down. Stephan Bonnar isn't exactly a Division I All-American wrestler so "Kingsbu" can expect that every single one of his future opponents will have seen this fight and will try to take him down. He was exposed here after four wins over fighters who haven't had much success at light heavyweight. Hopefully this motivates him to improve his overall skills as hard as he works on his physical fitness.
Potential future opponents for Kingsbury could include Cyrille Diabate, Brandon Vera or the upcoming loser of Igor Pokrajac vs. Krzysztof Soszynski. Regardless of who he faces next, he needs to tune up that ground game.
For Stephan Bonnar, it may not have been the most entertaining victory, but it was smart. He's taken plenty of big shots throughout his career by standing and trading blows in big brawls with technically superior opponents, so why not play it safe when he smells an easy "W" with top control and positional superiority? As is often the comeback when people complain about fighters using their wrestling to win decisions, if you don't like it, train to stop it.
Bonnar surprisingly called out Quinton Jackson after his win, which was his third in a row in the UFC. Apparently, Jackson showed interest so that's a fight that could potentially go down in 2012. Other possibilities include fellow UFC 139 winner Ryan Bader or perhaps a match-up of major veterans with the winner of the upcoming Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira bout. Any of those fights would be compelling.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you content with Bonnar's decision to utilize his ground game for his second consecutive fight to earn a victory? Will Kingsbury ever come back from this to do anything in the light heavyweight division?
For complete UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Henderson" results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire pay-per-view (PPV) event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.