Former WEC Lightweight Champion Jamie Varner slayed a beast last night with his destruction of Edson Barboza at UFC 146. And he did it on short notice, too. Photo of Varner by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting via SBnation.com.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) whipped out the big guns as UFC 146, a mixed martial arts (MMA) event loaded with Heavyweight talent, took over the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat., May 26, 2012).
The card did not fail to deliver, as fans were treated to a very exciting night of fights, all the way from the Facebook/FX "Prelims," down to the Heavyweight Championship clash between Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir (even though it was a bit one-sided).
The champion retained his title. A number one contender was very possibly crowned. All in all, this card will have ripple effects for months to come, particularly in the heavyweight division.
We know that the winners won and the losers lost. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that. With that said, we'll use this segment to really highlight the more exceptional winners and losers, and to talk about the road map that guided them to their respective destinations.
Join me after the jump where we'll take a look at the list of big winners and lowly losers from UFC 146: "Dos Santos vs. Mir:"
Junior dos Santos -- "JDS" was successful in his first heavyweight championship title defense ... and then some. "Cigano" efficiently avoided Mir's takedown attempts, then punished him with devastating striking until he finally put him out of his misery in the second round. It's hard to see any heavyweights beating this guy for a while.
Cain Velasquez -- If there was any doubt that the former heavyweight champion has recovered from his loss to Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1 in Anaheim, Calif., on Nov. 12, 2011, all that was removed when Velasquez bull rushed "Bigfoot" Silva, stayed on top of him and pummeled him to a bloody pulp. The first round technical knockout win will probably end up being enough to earn him a chance at redemption and an opportunity to regain the belt he once held.
Stefan Struve -- Wow. After eating a few of "Big" Johnson's big punches inside the clinch, Struve wasted no time in pulling guard and finishing the fight with a very nasty armbar. It was quick and violent. For a super-sized heavyweight, his athleticism and agility are remarkably impressive. Big win for the "Skyscraper."
Roy Nelson -- "Big Country" looked fantastic, as he was able to plant a massive bomb of an overhand right that landed perfectly on the chin of Dave Herman and sent him spiraling to the canvas. It just goes to show that Nelson always has a "puncher's chance." Every time you think he's on his way out of the UFC, he does something like this. Roy's an unpredictable guy, that much is for sure.
Glover Teixeira -- After winning his last 16 fights in a row in lesser promotions, the 32-year old Teixeira had been developing a bit of a cult following. Last night, he proved that he's more than a "can-crusher." With a quick and brutal win over the very tough Kyle Kingsbury, Teixeira showed that he was a more than suitable addition to the UFC's stable of 205-pounders.
Stipe Miocic -- The Croatian sensation, who had amassed a perfect record (8-0) prior to UFC 146, started his fight versus Shane del Rosario a bit behind the 8-ball. Del Rosario made great use of his kicking arsenal to keep Miocic at bay and guessing as to what would come next. Eventually, Miocic decided to show off an aspect of his game we've not seen much of, as of yet, when he used his takedowns and ground-and-pound to garner himself a nice, second round technical knockout victory.
Jamie Varner -- "C-4" last fought in the UFC over five years ago. Since that point, it's been a roller coaster ride that included a run in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) as the Lightweight Champion, followed by a miserable streak, bouncing from one regional show to the next. Varner was given the opportunity to step into the cage with a very tough Edson Barboza on short notice (replacing the injured Evan Dunham), and did he ever capitalize! After absorbing a ton of leg kicks, Varner finally was able to push through, land a solid combo, pounce on his wounded opponent and finish the fight. Welcome back!
Dan Hardy -- Hardy was another fighter who made a big career comeback at UFC 146. After taking nine months off, "The Outlaw" scored a great knockout win, by way of a nasty left hook to the jawline of Duane Ludwig. Apparently, the time off really did him some good. Hard to say just what this will mean for his future, but it's a move in the right direction and very possibly saved his job.
Yves Lavigne -- For three rounds, Lavigne allowed C.B. Dollaway to "lay and pray," en route to one of the most boring wins we've ever seen in the sport. It's not Dollaway's fault. He realized it was working and that Lavigne was not standing them up, so he kept doing it. But it was god-awful to watch. I'm starting to feel like the only two kinds of referees we have in MMA are the kind who have no idea what jiu-jitsu is and want to stand the fighters up and instantly, and referees like Lavigne who have a seat and eat some popcorn while a wrestler humps his opponent until the bell rings. There is a compromise. I'd love it if MMA referees could figure that out.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Jason Miller -- What do you get when you combine a guy with a bum knee and a wrestler content to hold his adversary down for three rounds, on the way to a lackluster decision win? You get this steaming pile of crap. I'm not going to go into much further detail than that, because I'll get angry and start a fight with an inanimate object. But if I did, THAT fight would be more exciting than this awful affair. Terrible. Just terrible.
Frank Mir -- So let me get this straight. The game plan was to shoot early, then, if you don't get it, engage in a boxing match? Really? Also, I'm not trying to throw barbs here. I'm not a world class athlete, and I could stand to do a few more sit-ups, but am I the only one who thought Mir came in with a spare tire? This was a championship fight and supposedly the biggest fight of Mir's career. It just seemed like he wasn't all there and maybe even came in cocky. Mir has historically been his own worst enemy. He was last night.
Antonio Silva -- Not a good debut for "Bigfoot." Velasquez was able to essentially use the blueprint set out by his teammate, Daniel Cormier, to soundly defeat his gigantic opponent. By the time it was all over, "Bigfoot" was practically drowning in a puddle of his own blood. The caveat here is that Silva lost to a guy who was a champion and probably will be again, one day. Velasquez is no slouch.
Lavar Johnson -- all week long, Johnson was vocal (in the press) about not being worried about the ground game. He just wanted to provide an entertaining knockout. That's all well and good, but as we always say, this is mixed martial arts, not boxing. You have to have some semblance of a ground game to survive in this sport, especially on the highest level. Struve exposed a gaping hole in Johnson's game that we pretty much already knew existed.
Shane del Rosario -- I could just about copy my comments for Lavar Johnson and paste them here. It's 2012. MMA isn't what it used to be. If getting taken down means the end of the fight for you, you've got a TON of evolving to do. Also, am I the only one who thinks del Rosario is a pudgy heavyweight? I'd love to see him cut down to 205. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.
Edson Barboza -- It will be hard to determine how bad a loss this was, until we're able to see what Jamie Varner does in his next few fights. Barboza started off strong, and he looked to be really inflicting serious damage with his thunderous leg kicks. However, Barboza got sloppy, allowing for an opening for Varner to land a big combo that ended his night prematurely. Varner's a tough guy, but Barboza was supposed to win this fight, and he knew it.
Jason Miller -- Maybe he had a hurt knee. Maybe C.B. Dollaway fought a boring "lay and pray" fight that put "Mayhem" in a bad spot. Either way, Miller looked terrible, for the most part. He was able to land a couple good shots, but overall, he had no answer for Dollaway's takedown and was unable to really ever get back up. For three rounds, Miller started off by landing big shots, over-anxiously rushing in, allowed himself to get reversed, and then was held down for the rest of the round. Live and learn. Or get lost.
Dave Herman -- A lot of people were looking for "Pee Wee" to have a break-out performance and really prove that he belongs in the UFC. So far, he's 1-2 and hasn't looked particularly impressive in any of those three contests. If he doesn't get cut after this loss, he'll be placed on a very short leash and should be fighting for his spot in the promotion the next time he steps into the Octagon.
Kyle Kingsbury -- I won't belabor the point here. The fact is, "Kingsbu" got his ass handed to him by a far superior fighter. I think this loss won't look quite so bad in a a year or so, once fans are acquainted with just how dangerous a fighter Glover Teixeira is. With that said, no fighter wants to get demolished on the Facebook prelims.
What does your list of winners and losers look like? Hit us with your best shot(s) in the comment section below!