Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kept the Brazilian fans on their feet for an entire evening of mixed martial arts (MMA) goodness last night (Jan. 14, 2012) as UFC 142: "Aldo vs. Mendes" invaded the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
The card featured a headliner bout that featured a champion, Jose Aldo, who had yet to be defeated during his tenure with promotion. Not only has he not lost, it really hasn't been all that close."Scarface" defended his 145-pound title with a buzzer-beating knockout victory over Chad Mendes, followed by a ridiculous scene where Aldo flew out of the cage and ran around the arena, much to the delight of the raucous hometown fans.
And to the chagrin of the security team charged with keeping him safe.
Vitor Belfort scored a "phenomenal" win over Anthony Johnson, who had a lot of trouble making weight (again). The win for Belfort propelled him back into title contention and showed that he still has some gas left in the tank.
Join me after the jump where we take a look at the list of UFC 142's big winners and lowly losers:
Jose Aldo -- What would happen when Aldo faced a wrestler the caliber of Chad Mendes? Could he continue to defend against takedowns the way he has in all of his other fights? Was Mendes the kryptonite for the seemingly unbeatable champion? Nope. Aldo is the best at 145 pounds. He may even be the best in the world. The scary thing is that Aldo is still relatively young and getting better with every fight.
Vitor Belfort -- After taking everything that Johnson had to give him, including a swollen black eye, Belfort used his incredible athleticism and killer instinct to get a submission win over a fighter who many thought may cause problems for Belfort with his wrestling. He'll probably need another good win before a title shot is back within reach, but he's back in the conversation.
Edson Barboza -- His third round knockout against Terry Etim may have been the sickest head kick finish ever. I watched it at least 15 times before I was ready to see something else. It was ridiculous. This guy's Muay Thai stand up is fantastic. He's still undefeated (10-0) and if he were in any other division than the UFC's very stacked lightweight class of fighters, he'd be getting a lot more attention.
Rousimar Palhares -- His submissions are brutal. He doesn't just look for a tap, he looks for limbs. His leglocks are ruthless. Once he has a hold of you, you're done. It will be really interesting to see what kind of match up he's given next. I believe he's earned the right to fight a top-tier middleweight and am excited to watch it when it goes down.
Gabriel Gonzaga -- After leaving the UFC and stating he was retiring following a loss to Brendan Schaub at UFC 121 on Oct. 23, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif., it looked as though we'd seen the last of "Napao" in the Octagon. A little more than a year later, Gonzaga felt the fire again and made his return at UFC 142. He emerged victorious with a really nice submission victory over Ednaldo Oliveira, who came into the heavyweight showdown as a highly touted prospect. Welcome back, big guy.
Anthony Johnson -- Bro, what is the deal with you and your weight? Welterweight was never your weight class. Everyone knew that but you. Now even middleweight seems to be a cut too difficult to make. UFC President Dana White has been patient with you, but he's not exactly known for having a long fuse. You really need to pick a weight class and commit to it. The sad thing is that you have a world of potential. I'd love to see you one day live up to it.
Mario Yamasaki -- I usually like Yamasaki, but tonight's disqualification ruling in the fight between Erick Silva and Carlo Prater was one of the worst I've ever seen. Silva was robbed of a win bonus and the credit he deserved for an impressive victory. Something has to be done about these kind of stoppages. It hurts the legitimacy of the sport and it really is a shame.
Sam Stout -- In his first fight back since experiencing the overwhelming loss of his brother-in-law, coach and close personal friend, Sean Tompkins, Stout just never really got rolling. At the end of the third round, he finally got loose a little bit and started to let his hands go. Unfortunately, it was far too little and much too late. He had already spent the majority of the fight defending and getting picked apart, to an extent, by Thiago Tavares. Credit Tavares for fighting a smart fight, but this was a less than stellar performance for "Hands of Stone."
UFC security -- Look, I'm not trying to be "Debbie Downer." It was kind of a cool scene seeing Jose Aldo rush out of the cage and say hello to every fan in the arena after his win over Mendes. It just shouldn't have happened. Thankfully, nothing awful went down. There weren't any lunatics with shanks fashioned out of Dos Equis bottles, but there could have been.
Anyway, that's my list. Who were your big winners and lowliest of losers from UFC 142? Let us know in the comments section below!
To check out complete UFC 142: "Aldo vs. Mendes" results and detailed blow-by-blow coverage click here.