Talk about going out with a bang.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) concluded its 2011 fight season last night (Dec. 30) with perhaps the biggest main event ever (literally), with Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem combining for more than 530 pounds of heavyweight muscle.
Despite their enormous sizes, it was what happened after their number one contender eliminator match concluded that was truly gigantic:
It apparently wasn't because "Demolition Man" demolished him less than three minutes into the first round of a scheduled five frames. He had made up his mind, win or lose, that this -- or his next fight against division champion Junior dos Santos had he won this evening -- would be his last inside the Octagon.
Health issues and family appeared to be at the heart of his decision -- Lesnar returned to the eight-walled cage last night after undergoing surgery to remove a foot of his spoiled intestines. The same guts that Overeem blasted with K-1 kickboxing-level kicks and knees to secure the lopsided technical knockout win.
Indeed, Overeem "swept the leg" Karate Kid-style -- and whether it was by design or not -- targeted the surgically-repaired mid-section of the former champion with powerful precision. Lesnar simply could not withstand the abuse, doubling over alongside the cage unable to defend himself or even make it look like he wanted the fight to continue.
Overeem will now challenge "Cigano" in 2012, while Lesner retreats to his remote compound in the MInnesota wilderness to lick his wounds, farm some land, kill some animals and, most important, spend time with his family.
Enjoy it, champ. It's been a tough 34-year-long road.
Stockton slap boxer 1, Colorado Springs "Cowboy" 0.
Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone talked the talk prior to their lightweight showdown in the co main event of the evening. Last night, the 155-pound duo walked the walk for three straight rounds of non-stop, back-and-forth action.
Fists, and (middle) fingers, were flying from the second Diaz and Cerrone didn't touch gloves, enduring for 15 minutes until Diaz's hand was raised to the rafters in certain victory.
Diaz came out pumping the patented Diaz jab like a piston, painting Cerrone's face crimson after only a few of them found their marks early and often. The Cesar Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt was supposed to have the superior edge on the ground, but he demonstrated once again that he didn't even need to leverage his greatest strength because of his improving boxing.
In fact, sans for a few legs sweeps from "Cowboy," Diaz never hit the floor. He didn't even really have to try to because he was using Cerrone's head as a speed bag.
Cerrone, naturally, did fight back. He had some bright spots, but they were few and far between. It was clear from the outset that he wanted to prove a point with a dominant, aggressive performance; however, Diaz just beat him to the punch time and again, sapping any momentum immediately by continuing his annoying full-court press.
It's true, Donald: You don't have to be from Stockton to be tough, but perhaps they're just a little tougher.
Former number one welterweight number one contender, Jon Fitch -- widely regarded as the second best 170-pound fighter in the sport -- waited 10 long months to return to the Octagon after undergoing shoulder surgery and assume his position atop the division's elite.
Too bad it took Johny Hendricks only 12 seconds to dash those high hopes.
That's right, the durable, predictable and agonizingly efficient Fitch finally met his match, a "Big Rig" left hand from Hades that flattened him stiff just moments into their fight. Hendricks followed up with a punch to the chest, and another missile was cocked and ready to fire before the referee in charge of the action mercifully intervened.
Fitch was dazed and confused, lifelessly wrestling the referee to the mat thinking that he was still intelligently defending himself.
Not even close.
Hendricks scored a monster win for his rising career last night, elevating his status in a very crowded (and competitive) division, as well as notched another victory for the MMA fans who criticize Fitch's style who don't understand MMA.
Fitch came into this fight needing a finish to silence those critics, but their voices will now only grow louder after getting stopped for the first time ever inside the Octagon in 16 appearances.
Fear the beard.
What happens when long and lanky meets rigid and robotic?
Alexander Gustafsson registers his fourth consecutive finish, this time against MMA veteran, Vladimir Matyushenko, who he stopped (literally) dead in his tracks little more than two minutes into their 205-pound showdown.
That's what happens.
Gustafsson, 24, took his time, circling Matyushenko, 41, and looking for an opening to bust through and begin his assault. "The Mauler," however, didn't have to try too hard because "The Janitor" slipped on his mop while charging face-forward with a telegraphed strike right into the Swedes inbound fist.
The short left jab, which landed right on the button, crumpled Matyushenko to the mat and into immediate turtle mode. Gustafsson violently boxed the ears of his fallen opponent before the referee stepped in to call it off.
Gustafsson is among the hottest prospects going in the division right now, while Matyushenko -- if he doesn't intend to retire -- will be relegated to official light heavyweight gatekeeper status for as long as he sticks around.
Look out 205-pound contenders, Gustafsson is the Dark Horse heading into 2012. And if he can notch another spectacular, high-profile win in front of his hometown crowd in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 12, 2012, it will be time to "throw him into the mix" and see if he sinks or swims.
Speaking about special, how about Jim Hettes, who completely outclassed Nam Phan in their featherweight fight, which kicked off the PPV extravaganza.
The Ricardo Almeida-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, 24, kept his perfect professional record intact (10-0) with an absolute blowout of a very talented veteran. It wasn't even close -- several judges even had multiple 10-8 rounds scored in favor of "The Kid" when the decision was read after three relentless rounds.
It was that lopsided.
Hettes clung to Phan like white on rice, taking him down, nailing him with punches and elbows on the ground, and then working for submissions every step along the way.
Phan -- who is known for his heart and determination -- had zero answers for Hettes' smothering attack. He simply could not find enough space to work his stand up or get off his back to avoid the constant punishment. Nam Phan is not a bad MMA fighter, but tonight, Jim Hettes made him look very, very ordinary.
Breakout performance, without question.
That's enough from us. Now it's your turn to discuss UFC 141: "Lesnar vs. Overeem" in the comments section below. How can the promotion handle losing one of its biggest box office draws? Can Overeem outstrike dos Santos? Is Hendricks everyones hero? And how about Nate Diaz motherfuckers?!?!
Let's hear it, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our complete UFC 141 blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Lesnar vs. Overeem" right here.
While you're at it, check out our fight-by-fight recaps and immediate reactions for the UFC 141 PPV and Spike TV action:
- UFC 141 results recap: Ross Pearson decisions Junior Assuncao in last Spike TV bout ever (Article here)
UFC 141 results: Danny Castillo wins split decision over Anthony Njokuani on Spike TV (Article here)
Last, and certainly not least, check out our complete UFC 114 results recap of the Facebook "Prelims" right here.
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