Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight roost-ruler, George St-Pierre, against explosive slugger, Johny Hendricks, will headline UFC 167 this Saturday (Nov. 16, 2013) from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is an incredibly difficult sport to predict. Some cards look spectacular in terms of top-ranked fighters, but are destroyed by injuries or merely result in dull fights. Others, like UFC Fight Night 32 last Saturday, have little in terms of name power, but are filled with brutal finishes and exciting clashes.
UFC 116 had big names -- actually, the biggest name in the business -- and delivered in spades.
The earliest "Prelims" under card bouts were nothing to write home about. Of the four bouts, three went to decision, and two of them resulted in splits. The crowd booed the slow matches mercilessly. The only salvation for the crowd was an absolutely devastating slam knockout of David Branch. His opponent, Gerald Harris, capitalized on a failed flying triangle attempt to lift him further in the air then ram his head into the mat.
The fights really began to heat up once the Spike TV broadcast began. First, the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran and "Kimbo Killer" Seth Petruzelli began his second Octagon run against AMA Fight Club-trained fighter Ricardo Romero. In the first round, it appeared that "The Silverback" was about to earn his first UFC victory, as he largely defend his opponent's takedowns and landed hard shots, even dropping Romero near the end of the round.
However, Petruzelli was rapidly fatiguing when the second round began. He managed to rock Romero once more, but fell off of his back while searching for an armbar, allowing Romero to work from top position. Not long after, Romero began working an americana, switching to a straight armbar. Petruzelli was forced to verbally submit, as his arm appeared damaged.
The fans didn't know it yet, but the main event would end in similar fashion.
A Heavyweight match up between training partners of the main event athletes, Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, was the final "Prelims" bout of the night. Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts athlete Chris Tuchsherer was set to take on Grudge Training Center's Brendan Schaub.
This fight did not last long, as the TUF 10 runner up quickly proved his athletic advantage. About one minute into the fight, Schaub landed a clean right hand, which was more than enough to rock "The Crowbar." A few more punches finished him off, and Schaub began his climb up the Heavyweight contender ladder.
In the opening bout of the pay-per-view (PPV) card, Australian George Sotiropoulos out-wrestled Kurt Pellegrino, evading his submission attempts. Late in the bout, "Batman" managed to rock "G-Sots," but failed to seal the deal and lost a decision. This would be the last pedestrian bout of the night, as the final four PPV bouts delivered some serious violence.
In the next bout, TUF 1 runner up Stephan Bonnar was fighting for his job against Krzysztof Soszynski. "The American Psycho" was on a three-fight losing streak, including a controversial cut loss to the aforementioned Soszynski. However, the cut was because of an inadvertent headbutt, meaning Bonnar had a chance to avenge his loss.
Both men were aggressive in the first round, especially Soszynski, who dropped his hands and threw down more than once. Bonnar had some success in the clinch and with takedowns, but lost the first round. Even worse, an exchange at the end of the round left Bonnar with a gaping cut on his forehead.
Bonnar entered the second round with a sense of urgency. He immediately landed a solid right hand, but "The Polish Experiment" landed a flurry in response. Not long after, Bonnar again tried to start a brawl but backed off after a right hook stumbled him. Bonnar recovered and began getting the better of Soszynski, then started working from the clinch once again.
A hard knee rocked Soszynski, allowing Bonnar to hit a double-leg takedown. As Soszynski tried to stand up, Bonnar threw another knee, which dropped the Polish-Canadian onto his knees. Bonnar followed him to the mat with punches and the referee soon stopped the bout.
After his victory, Bonnar announced that the victory was, "better than sex." Not so sure about that claim, but it was a hell of a fight nonetheless.
Moving on to the next fight, Welterweight brawlers Chris Lytle and Matt Brown had an exciting scrap. In the first round, Brown landed the cleaner shots and managed to takedown "Lights Out," who was constantly whipping haymakers at the Cincinnati native.
In the second round, Lytle landed a powerful uppercut that rocked "The Immortal." Brown stumbled and pulled guard, but Lytle was able to pass to side control. Then, Lytle stepped over his head and locked up a mounted triangle. At first, Brown fought off the position, but Lytle was able to isolate his arm and hyperextend it, leading to the second straight armbar of the night.
The co-main event of the night featured TUF 1 contestant Chris Leben and Japanese Judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama. Leben had accepted the bout on just 14 days notice, having defeated Aaron Simpson two weeks earlier.
The story of the first round is Akiyama's Judo ability. He repeatedly threw "Crippler," who gamely returned to his feet more than once, and threatened with submissions from the top position. He also exchanged evenly with Leben on the feet and managed to avoid his armbar attempts.
In the second round, a brawl erupted in the center of the Octagon. At first, the slugfest favored "Sexyama," who rocked Leben with a hard right hand. After the right hand, Akiyama followed up with more power shots, but as is a common occurrence in Leben fights, this punishment only made him stronger. He responded with haymakers of his own, dropping Akiyama to one knee with a left hand.
Akiyama recovered and looked to his takedowns, but Leben defended. Near the end of the round, Akiyama is once again landing more blows, but Leben manages to rock him at the end of the round with his vicious right hand. In the third, Akiyama relied on his takedowns again, controlling Leben for a majority of the round.
Leben was clearly the fresher fighter but was content to work small shots from his back, rather than stand up. This meant that with a minute left in the bout, Akiyama was likely ahead on the scorecards. "The Crippler" had to do something desperate, so he climbed his legs up Akiyama's back and locked in a triangle.
Eventually, he adjusted and grabbed an excellent angle, forcing the Japanese fighter to submit.
The main event of the evening was the much anticipated return of Brock Lesnar, who had been out for more than one year with diverticulitis. The ring rust was apparent, as Shane Carwin quickly charged Lesnar and began dropping bombs on his stunned foe. Carwin dropped the champion more than once and spent most of the first round landing violent ground and pound.
To his credit, Lesnar defended himself fairly well, blocking most of the ground punches with his massive arms. Although referee Josh Rosenthal had many opportunities to stop the fight, he refrained from doing so. This allowed Lesnar to recover between rounds and take advantage of a tired Carwin, quickly taking him down in round two. After a minute of ground-and-pound, Lesnar passed Carwin's guard and began working for an arm-triangle choke.
At first, Carwin defended, but the massive wrestler's squeeze was too powerful and Carwin tapped!
Few events possess the amount of excitement that UFC 116 did. In fact, UFC President Dana White handed out two "Fight of the Night" awards. Fewer still are headlined by the UFC's biggest draw ever. Indeed, UFC 116's main PPV card was explosive, unpredictable and filled with talented fighters, making it one of the most entertaining events ever and deserving of the No. 4 spot on our all-time list.