Chris Weidman took the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title Saturday night (July 6, 2013) with an impressive second-round knockout of longtime champion Anderson Silva, with a finishing sequence in the main event of UFC 162, which took place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, that will endure for years to come.
After a hard-nosed first round, during which Weidman scored a takedown and dominated with strong punches from the top, Silva returned to his feet indignant. Clowning on his feet through the rest of the round, it eventually caught up with him in the second, as the challenger landed a numbing pair of hooks while "The Spider" leaned back, ultimately finishing him with a crushing follow-up on the ground.
And just like that we've got the end of an era, which was arguably the most brilliant and dominant in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA) ... (insert mandatory hat tip to Fedor Emelianenko here).
In the co-main event, Frankie Edgar ground out a deserved decision win over the resilient Charles Olivera.
That's not all.
Let's take a closer look at UFC 162 and see how the competitors graded out with our latest "Report Card:"
Chris Weidman: A+
Weidman won the title in the best possible way -- knocking out a legend. With a solid opening stanza where he set the tone, taking down Silva and being completely unfazed by the moment, Weidman's confidence in attempting a leg submission was an impressive display, even if he didn't come close to getting it.
He wasn't scared when they returned to the feet either, and that belief in himself paid huge dividends, as he drilled the clowning Silva, dropping him to the mat for a finishing sequence of punches that left no doubt who the better man was tonight.
Weidman has a huge future in front of him and one whose arrival is a fresh recharge for the division, and the promotion. But, whatever happens from here, it doesn't matter because he'll always be the guy who beat Anderson Silva when the world was watching.
And he did it in one hell of a memorable way.
Cub Swanson: A-
Creative, patient and at times brilliant, Cub Swanson's come a long way since his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) days, where he was something of a tweener: Not quite good enough on the feet to do a Chuck Liddell impression, and underpowered against good wrestlers.
Those days are long gone, as the Greg Jackson-trained product has elevated his game dramatically.
Swanson definitely took the long-haul approach in this fight. Cuffed around early against Dennis Siver, Swanson stuck it out, making solid adjustments on the feet and piling up stand up points as Siver tired. He also hit a magnificent throw in the second, which pretty much disinclined Siver to try takedowns from then on.
In the third, Swanson put together a great finishing barrage to score a huge KO win and send notice to the rest of the division. It's just a guess here, but I think with his intelligence and tactical ability to adjust, he'll be even better in five-rounders. This was a Swanson's fifth consecutive win, and he's probably one win away from a title shot given the landscape of the division.
Frankie Edgar: B+
Gritty, persistent and impossible to discourage, Edgar was Edgar tonight. With some rough moments early, Frankie's subtle adjustments were the difference. Finding his range on the feet and constantly pressuring, he had a huge third round to take the decision over Charles Oliveira.
It's hard to tell how far Edgar is away from a title shot given the state of the 145-lb. division. But tonight was a reminder that the guy is an elite talent, and he sure isn't going anywhere. Also, for Edgar's sake, he ought to ask the UFC for a five-round main event in his next bout, because those tend to be his money rounds in close matches. With Edgar's seemingly mandatory "take some bombs early to get warmed up" style, it's only logical that he gets enough time to even the score.
Charles Oliveira: B+
Olivera's had some heartbreaking losses, but tonight he showed a nice blend of resilience and fulfilled the promise of the slam-bang quick wins earlier in his career. Giving Edgar fits on the feet at times, Oliveira big gap in experience came into play in the third, as the former lightweight champ simply kept pressuring him, landing several jolting punches as Oliveira weathered a tough storm.
However, he probably did more tonight to prove he belongs among the top 145-pounders than the rest of his career.
Because he came pretty close to beating Edgar, showing he can hang with the elite. Olivera, a mere 23 years young, is probably at least three years from his physical prime, and will continue improving. With a slick submission game and deft standup, he'll be a force in the coming years, and tonight's the kind of learning experience to give him confidence competing at this level.
Mark Munoz: B+
Munoz is always fun to watch, and win or lose, chances are something exciting's gonna happen. Tonight, he made some key adjustments, putting himself in good positions to blast Tim Boetsch and grind out a very impressive decision. Munoz' conditioning was also better, and he looked very sharp after a year-plus layoff that was him balloon up past 250 pounds.
And with the title changing hands, and with Silva potentially on the retirement horizon, Munoz must be excited at his prospects for campaigning toward a title shot, which got a real boost with the belt changing hands.
Tim Kennedy: B-
I've always been high on Kennedy because of his resilience and mental toughness, and both were on display tonight, as he worked himself out of some threatening positions with the uber-dangerous Roger Gracie. Kennedy basically took an assessment of where he could apply his advantages, and stuck to it, muscling Gracie against the cage and doing just enough standup work to keep him honest.
Also, you have to like the fact that Kennedy vocally complained about UFC fighter pay, then apologized after Dana White predictably condemned him for the statements, and then he went in and took Gracie to school.
Kennedy's a tough middleweight who isn't quite top ten yet, but as tonight proved, he's a very tough out and if you're fighting him, you better pack a lunch, because he's gonna be tough to outlast.
Tim Boetsch: C+
Boetsch is incredibly tough and absorbed a terrific body beating tonight. Starting strong with a slight wrestling edge against Mark Munoz, "The Barbarian" got the worst of some key scrambles, ultimately ending on bottom where Munoz could unload his taxing ground and pound.
At times, it sounded like a butcher chop -- Thwap! Thwap! Thwap! To his credit, Boetsch took more punishment than most people caught in Munoz' terrific hammers, and was still scrapping at the end.
However, Boetsch's striking has always been somewhat rudimentary, and that was exposed tonight; he simply couldn't make Munoz respect it enough to control the range and deny takedown openings.
Dennis Siver: C
Undersized for 155 pounds, Siver's cut to Featherweight is clearly a bit much. He was big-man strong in the first, muscling Swanson and overpowering him on the ground. But, with his gas tank dissipating midway through the fight, he looked like he was fighting in five feet of water.
Bashed out with a highlight-reel style third-round knockout in the third round, Siver showed how powerful he can be early, but he'll have to make some adjustments with how he makes the weight, because he clearly doesn't have the bullets for a fast-paced three round bout against elite competition. At least not tonight.
Roger Gracie: D
Gracie was right where he needed to be in the opening minutes of the bout, riding Kennedy from the top and threatening to take his back. But, unable to finish, he got sucked into a grinding, conditioning based game, much of it waged on the feet and against the cage, where Kennedy's vast edge in technique and experience exposed Gracie's considerable holes. Gracie, along with Ronaldo Souza and Marcelo Garcia, is widely considered the best no-gi grappler on the planet. But tonight was stark reminder of how it's better to be good at all things in MMA than amazing at one and mediocre at the rest. Gracie tired midway through the bout, and by the third, despite having some openings for takedowns he'd nailed early, he simply couldn't finish them. This was a good eye-opener for him and he'll probably need a couple years to develop a standup game if he's going to be around in MMA long-term.
Anderson Silva: D
If Silva had been knocked out in the conventional fashion - that is, not clowning and flaunting the basic rules of stand up -- I'd probably give him an F. But, he did have some characteristic moments of brilliance tonight, even if the clowning that led to his first loss in 16 UFC bouts casts a pall over a memorable changing of the guard.
Ironically, that pall does add a weird promotional tint to a potential rematch. I don't think Silva will just want to stick around and have non-title fights for kicks -- not at his age and this stage of his career. If they do meet again, it will be nice to see how a serious Silva fares. Weidman performed brilliantly, especially in the first, taking down Silva and measuring out a perfect mix of solid ground-and-pound with positional and submission defense.
The bad side of a rematch is that Silva will only be older, while Weidman, with a mere 10 fights, will only be better. Perhaps he knows something we don't if he doesn't take the fight. If he does, that's a huge opportunity to edit a disastrous, albeit small, chapter in a career that has seen no equal.
For complete UFC 162: "Silva vs. Jones" results, including blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's MMA action, click here.
Jason Probst can be reached at www.twitter.com/jasonprobst.