The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wrapped up its fifth pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year on Saturday night (May 25, 2013) as UFC 160: "Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2" went down from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez successfully defended his title for the first time in the main event of the evening, as he pushed his record against Antonio Silva to 2-0 with a first-round (technical) knockout victory.
The undercard on PPV also saw its share of quality action as Junior dos Santos, Glover Teixeira and T.J. Grant finished their respective opponents by knockout or submission while Donald Cerrone earned a dominant decision win in the main card opener.
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on UFC 160 fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in "Sin City."
The Biggest Winner
A spinning wheel kick knockout by a heavyweight? A spinning wheel kick knockout by a heavyweight. That's exactly what former UFC champion Junior dos Santos pulled out of his bag of tricks to knock out Mark Hunt in the UFC 160 co-main event.
After more than two rounds of heart racing action where the two talented strikers exchanged their best shots, dos Santos went all in and threw a jaw-dropping spinning wheel kick that knocked "The Super Samoan" down and led to the violent knockout finish.
If there was any doubt to the contrary, "Cigano" left no question in anyone's mind that he should be the next challenger to Cain Velasquez's heavyweight title with a finish absolutely no one could have predicted.
The Brazilian did exactly what Hunt wanted him to do by standing in the pocket and exchanging punches with no fear, and to the surprise of many, dos Santos actually got the better of the majority of the stand up against the former K-1 champion.
Prior to UFC 160 it seemed it would be a better choice for the UFC to take their time and build up to a Velasquez vs. dos Santos trilogy bout, but after dos Santos' highlight reel knockout over Hunt, the match up cannot come soon enough.
In what was undeniably the most impressive victory of his 26-fight career, T.J. Grant secured a chance to challenge UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson for his title with a sensational first-round knockout victory over Gray Maynard.
Grant became the only man other than Frankie Edgar to defeat Maynard in a professional MMA contest, which is a huge feather in his cap and the exact reason why he is now the undisputed No. 1 contender at 155 pounds.
It was only a few short years ago when Grant was a floater in the welterweight division, going an average 3-3 in his first six UFC fights. But when the Canadian made the decision to drop a weight class, he broke through to become a top contender, putting together a 5-0 with the most recent victory over Maynard without question being the marquee performance in that run.
UFC President Dana White said after the event that he was looking for Grant or Maynard to make a statement in the 155-pound title eliminator, and the he did just that by taking out the world's No. 3 ranked lightweight in just 127 seconds.
The nature of his victory over "The Bully" proved Grant has the skills to defeat the elite in the lightweight division and that confidence combined with the momentum of a tremendous win streak means the 29-year-old will walk into his first UFC title fight as a legitimate threat to the champion.
The big question going into the UFC 160 main event was if Cain Velasquez would be able to one-up his first performance against Antonio Silva. And while there may have been significantly less blood in the contest, the answer to that question when all was said and done is yes.
The reigning heavyweight champion finished "Bigfoot" by (technical) knockout at the 1:21 mark of the first round after a perfectly placed right cross knocked the Brazilian down and an onslaught of ground-and-pound followed that forced referee Mario Yamasaki to call the fight.
While the result may have been somewhat predictable, the win was a crucial moment in Velasquez's career due to the fact he finally got the elusive title defense he failed to achieve in his first title reign.
The Biggest Loser
Gray Maynard had the chance to earn himself a third, yes, third UFC lightweight title fight with a win over T.J. Grant, but "The Bully" failed to come through when it meant most as he succumbed to the Canadian for just his second loss in a dozen trips to the Octagon.
Where the 33-year-old goes from here is anyone's guess. He is definitely still one of the most talented fighters in the world at 155-pounds, but losing the title eliminator to Grant was a significant blow to any title aspirations he may have had for the near future.
It's never too late for a fighter to climb back up the ladder; however, in Maynard's case, it's going to take him a whole lot more work than the average fighter after this most recent setback.
In the most significant fight of his MMA career, Antonio Silva came up short against Cain Velasquez for a second time in the UFC 160 main event and has now entered Rich Franklin territory in the UFC heavyweight division.
"Bigfoot" was presented with the rare chance to avenge a very one-sided loss that took place one year prior to the rematch --and for a championship no less-- but managed to thwart the opportunity and lost even quicker than the first time.
Silva will always be a worthy addition to the heavyweight division; however, as long as Velasquez is the titleholder, the Brazilian will not be seeing a glimpse of another championship fight.
Normally, a fighter in Silva's situation would change weight classes for a fresh start. But seeing as he cuts to the 265-pound heavyweight limit, that clearly isn't an option; something that only rubs salt into the wound of the defeat.
While Mark Hunt should be commended for hanging with Junior dos Santos for nearly three rounds, "The Super Samoan" went from MMA's top feel good story to the victim of one of the most incredible knockouts in UFC history.
Dos Santos gave Hunt every opportunity to pull off the unthinkable and score the upset by playing into Hunt's world and striking, but ultimately the New Zealand native failed to connect with a fight-ending blow and was brutally knocked out himself.
Although he wasn't totally outclassed by dos Santos as many had predicted going into the fight, the loss brought many down to earth and proved that while Hunt is an incredibly exciting competitor, he isn't going to be UFC champion with the type of talent that crowds the top of his division.
Who were your biggest winner and loser from UFC 160? Let us know in the comments in the comment section below.
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