Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) today (Nov. 5, 2011) tied a ribbon around its first and only United Kingdom (U.K.)-promoted event of the year at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.
It was the focus of much consternation and debate, but not for the quality of fights on the card, but for the perceived lack thereof. The promotion threw the fans a bone, however, booking the first-ever five-round, non-title fight between Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz.
"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" only needed two of those rounds, however, to lay a steady beatdown on "The Crippler." As expected, Leben came to party, slinging leather and demonstrating once again that his chin is made of something not from this world.
Munoz tagged him time and again, dragging him to the canvas and unleashing his fury with brutal ground and pound, as well as nailing Leben on the way up as he attempted to escape. Leben landed a few good shots of his own, but it was evident that the former collegiate wrestling champion was getting the better piece of the action and would likely continue to do so had it lasted longer.
In the second round, Munoz opened up a deep gash over Leben's left eye, which began to run red. It didn't appear to be a fight-ender, but after further inspection between rounds, Leben said he could not see, apparently forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
Certainly not the way Leben traditionally goes out, which is on his shield, meaning that the injury was viewed as a serious threat to his health, whether at that exact moment or in the very near future.
Nothing a few tugs of Jameson likely can't lick quick.
Munoz, meanwhile, picked up a huge win, his fourth straight since making the move down to 185 pounds and certainly his most high profile. He politely requested a shot against division champion Anderson Silva in his post-fight speech, but that apparently isn't going to cut it because Chael Sonnen has been poking his finger in the chest of "The Spider" seemingly forever.
He's close, but oh so far away.
Unfortunately, all "One Punch" waltzed into was one devastating Brazilian knee.
Barao, who was riding an insane 26-fight win streak prior to tonight, including a unanimous decision win over Cole Escovedo at UFC 130, as well two submissions under the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) banner, was more than content to stand with the British brawler.
In fact, he might have taught him a thing or two once Pickett watches back the tape. Barao caught him with a brilliant standing knee to the face, which he then followed up with ripping punches to the body and face.
As if that wasn't impressive enough, Barao launched himself onto the back of Pickett, who was reeling, locked his legs around his body, arms around his throat, and scored a very impressive first round finish.
Look out, Dominick Cruz.
In hindsight, it probably wasn't such a bright idea.
Abedi actually came out looking confident, stalking the "Pitbull" and essentially daring him to stand and trade. Alves, naturally, obliged, exchanging kicks and punches at an even rate with the previously undefeated Swede.
During one of those exchanges, Alves connected with a short combination that clearly dazed Abedi. He swarmed immediately and followed Abedi to the canvas, landing several strikes that had the referee itching to intervene.
However, the fight continued, as did the assault -- Alves was mushing his head into the mat and nailing him skin-splitting elbows and punches that forced Abedi to roll to his belly to find refuge. He found it, but in the form of a rear-naked choke that was applied by the American Top Team (ATT)-trained fighter.
For Alves, it marked his first submission win with the UFC, as well as hopefully a very significant confidence boost that perhaps can get him back inside the cage with top-ranked competition ... and winning consistently.
Just like the good 'ole days.
Anderson Silva's body doppelganger, Cyrille Diabate, wanted to leverage his superior Muay Thai striking skills to pick apart and finish his overmatched opponent (on the feet), Anthony Perosh, and string together back-to-back wins inside the eight-walled cage.
"The Hippo," a Brazilian jiujitsu specialist, had other plans. And in the end, the Australian was the one who went home to "The Land Down Under" with consecutive wins in the light heavyweight division under his belt .
It wasn't pretty, not in early going, anyway, with Perosh spending most of the first round backpedaling, attempting to avoid the crisp strikes and dangerous stand up attack of his French counterpart. Most of his takedowns were stuffed and he was then punished shortly thereafter for his unsuccessful attempts.
But then toward the tail end of the opening frame, he charmed the "Snake" to the ground and began to get busy. Perosh picked up right where he left off in the second stanza, on the ground, which was more than enough time for him to find an opening and strangle Diabate into submission.
Not too shabby for a veteran fighter pushing 40.
Jab, jab, spinning back kick, guillotine choke, win.
That's the 17-second winning gameplan that Terry Etim executed to kickoff the broadcast with bang. His opponent, Edward Faaloloto -- a Leben protege from the Big Island of Hawaii -- didn't even know what hit him because everything happened so fast.
It was crystal clear that after an 18-month layoff, Etim was more than anxious to get back inside the Octagon and mix it up. And it showed. It was easy to forget that Etim had won four of his last fights (now five of his last six) after the submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos in his previous performance.
Now the lanky Liverpool lightweight is back in business, is he ever, while his opponent, Faaloloto -- who has lost three straight under the Zuffa regime -- will likely head back to the regional circuit and hope to work his way back to the big show.
That's enough from us -- now it's your turn to discuss "Leben vs. Munoz" in the comments section below. It was a solid night of MMA action, which featured five finishes. That's right, not a single main card match went the distance.
How will you remember (or how quickly will you forget) UFC 138?
For complete UFC 138 results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.