Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put its best foot forward by wrapping up another campaign of mixed martial arts (MMA) action this past Sat., Feb. 4, 2012, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada with the UFC 143: "Diaz vs. Condit" event.
Former Strikeforce heavyweight and Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert practitioner Fabricio Werdum made his return to the Octagon by delivering three rounds of punishment to Roy Nelson en route to a decision victory.
The action earned both Werdum and Nelson "Fight of the Night" honors, and left fans with an image of a bloody and battered "Big Country" that we're starting to get a little too familiar with.
Those are just some of the highlights. Let's take a look at the rest of the mental scrapbook pages that made up UFC 143.
If you watched the build up to the fight between Diaz and Condit, you might have assumed that it was a foregone conclusion who was going to advance.
Diaz would need to get past the "Natural Born Killer" to get his title fight versus "GSP" that he'd long been demanding.
It wouldn't be easy, but certainly, he'd be able to scrap, trashtalk and bully his way to a victory and then we'd get the fight we all wanted to see.
Diaz thought he was going to win. St. Pierre wanted him to win. UFC President Dana White may have said he was impartial, but be serious. Think of the potential payday. "St. Pierre vs. Diaz" sells itself.
All that went out the window on Saturday night when Condit came out, stuck to the gameplan, fought a smart fight and took home the win. He played spoiler. He said he was going to.
He's a man of his word.
But not everyone felt so sure that he should have been given the nod from the judges. Diaz was the biggest critic of the decision, and in the heat of the moment, he announced to Joe Rogan that he was so upset, he would be retiring from the sport of MMA.
No word on whether his retirement will actually come to fruition. There is also no word on whether or not Condit will wait until November to fight St. Pierre, or if he will take a sooner fight to bridge the gap.
We'll keep you posted.
Fabricio Werdum was once employed by the UFC before. In a little over a year, Werdum went 2-2 in the Octagon, losing his last fight via KO to current UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 90 on Oct. 25, 2008 in Rosemont, Ill. He was cut immediately afterwards.
Since that point in time (leading up to UFC 143), "Vai Cavalo" went 3-1 under the Strikeforce banner, most notably defeating Fedor Emelianenko with a triangle choke that MA fans (and Fedor himself) will never forget.
In his UFC re-entry bout, Werdum was given a tough opponent in Roy Nelson, who is known for his big belly and his granite chin (among other things). It would not be a cakewalk (pun intended), but it would certainly but Werdum in a favorable light if he were able to win.
For three rounds, Werdum absolutely battered "Big Country" with muay thai striking that has clearly improved in leaps and bounds since his last stint with the UFC. His stand up was crisp, clean and brutal.
He never even really had to use his world class jiu-jitsu, and that's a scary premise for the rest of the heavyweights in MMA, worldwide.
Nelson will probably now be in a position where he will be in danger of being cut if he doesn't win his next fight and look good doing it.
Werdum should now get a high profile opponent, and has successfully placed himself "in the mix."
Originally, Koscheck was slated to fight Condit, until an injury to "GSP" forced a shake up of the card. Koscheck never really appeared to give Pierce a lot of respect. He clearly felt insulted that he was even having to fight him.
Either way, the fight ended up being a lot closer than Koscheck or anyone else probably expected it to be. "Kos" did end up receiving the split decision, but it really could have gone either way.
Next for Koscheck? Dana White said he wouldn't mind seeing him fight Nick Diaz or Carlos Condit. MMAmania.com will certainly keep you informed and updated on those scenarios.
The preliminary fights were fought on FUEL TV as well as two early fights that were streamed on the UFC's Facebook fan page.
The Facebook portion of the card featured the emergence of a bright and shining prospect in karate expert Stephen Thompson, who grabbed hold of the spotlight with a fantastic head kick KO over Dan Stittgen.
His combined professional kickboxing and MMA record is now 26-0. "Wonderboy" is 28 years old and appears to have a tremendous upside.
For his big time breakthrough fight finish, Thompson was given a check for $65,000 for the "Knockout of the Night" award. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to your bosses and the fans.
He wasn't the only one lucky enough to take home a big check.
Read the list of fight bonus award winners, including "Knockout of the Night," "Submission of the Night," and "Fight of the Night" here.
Those are the bright spots and dark corners of UFC 143 that stand out in our memories. How about you? What would your recap look like? Give us your rundown in the comments section.
And just in case you want to get up to speed on the entire UFC 143 fight card from top to bottom click here.