It wasn’t the most highly anticipated card of the year, but it was an entertaining one nonetheless last night from Las Vegas. In the main event and co-main event of the evening, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos both proved why they are the top of the heap in the Heavyweight division, with each man earning impressive stoppage victories over their opponents.
In other main card action Donald Cerrone battered and bloodied KJ Noons, giving him a rude welcoming to the UFC in a bout that left the octagon covered in blood. Canadian Lightweight TJ Grant continued his career resurgence since dropping from 170-pounds, as he blitzed former title challenger Gray Maynard in the first round, to earn a TKO victory and a title shot against Benson Henderson. In the other main card bout streaking Brazilian prospect Glover Teixeira earned a first round submission over James Te Huna.
Finally, a game plan from Donald Cerrone. Cerrone had every move of Noons’ well scouted and was prepared to counter at every opportunity. Hell, he even used a number of takedowns throughout the fight to control the action on the mat. In the end both men were bloodied, but Noons was significantly more battered and bruised as Cowboy took a clear cut decision.
What’s next for Cerrone? Some people mentioned Josh Thomson as a possible foe, but apparently Thomson is pretty close to getting a title shot himself and I doubt Cerrone is at that level yet. I think a bout with Diego Sanchez makes a lot of sense for Cowboy. The other and possibly more intriguing option is to pair him up with Rafael dos Anjos.
What’s next for Noons? Probably finding a new job. He’s a tough fighter and he loves to bang, so there’s always the chance that the UFC keeps him around. But his contract in Strikeforce was pretty hefty and he’s not going to be sniffing a title shot in the UFC. If they keep him around a bout against someone like Tim Means or a rematch with Ryan Couture could be the way to go.
Lightweight Bout: TJ Grant defeated Gray Maynard via TKO (Punches) at 2:07 of Round One
These two guys came out looking to trade heavy leather and they did. Grant ate a few big shots from Maynard, but mostly shrugged them off before landing a big shot that hurt Maynard. From there he absolutely swarmed Maynard, not giving him any room to recover and pounded out a first round TKO.
What’s next for Grant? That’s easy, a bout against UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Dana White said before the fight this was a title eliminator and he wasn’t changing his tune after this impressive performance. The rumor is that this fight could headline the first UFC on Fox Sports 1 card.
What’s next for Maynard? He’s teased retirement in the past, so I guess that’s always on the table. But athletes like that seem driven to compete, so I think he will. There are two match ups that I’d like to see the UFC go after, first of all a bout with Nate Diaz in a rematch from their bout on The Ultimate Fighter season 5. The other is a bout against the man who can’t win a decision, Evan Dunham.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira defeated James Te-Huna via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:38 of Round One
Teixeira wasted no time in this bout and he appeared as though he wanted nothing to do with Te Huna’s power striking game. He instantly shot for a takedown and even after it was stuffed, knocked off a few punches, before shooting again. Once he got this fight to the floor, it was excellent grappling displayed by Teixeira as he transitioned quickly. Te Huna tried to scramble to his feet, but Teixeira quickly snagged the neck and tightened the guillotine choke for a quick submission.
What’s next for Teixeira? After the fight his manager was calling for the winner of the upcoming UFC 161 main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans, which is probably an excellent fight to get him ready for a title shot. I’d like to see the UFC take a different route with him though, and give him the winner of the Mauricio Rua – Lil’ Nog bout from the same card. Throw it as a main event in Brazil, and I think that’s a winner.
What’s next for Te Huna? Clearly that was too big of a step up in completion for him to handle. He’s a powerful striker who can knock anybody cold, so he’s a dangerous outing for anyone and he’s someone the UFC is going to want to keep around. I’d like to see him face a capable grappler in his next fight, which means he could fight Vinny Magalhaes. Ovince St. Preux could also be a good challenge, but that might be too much of a drop in competition for Te Huna.
Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos defeated Mark Hunt via KO (Spinning Heel Kick) at 4:18 of Round Three
Junior dos Santos had a relatively easy path to victory if he decided to use his wrestling and take Mark Hunt down. Instead he chose to bang it out with one of the most dangerous Heavyweight strikers in the UFC and mostly dominated him. He dropped him with a big shot in the first round, but Hunt survived. He continued to pressure him as the fight went on, and in the third round as Hunt was getting noticeably fatigued, he went of the kill. An impressive spinning heel kick dropped Hunt and follow up punches sealed the deal for dos Santos.
What’s next for dos Santos? UFC President Dana White and many fans are already calling for dos Santos-Velasquez 3, and it’s hard to argue with them. Still I’d prefer that they give that fight a bit of time to settle and let each guy get another win. Still waiting can be dangerous as the UFC has learned with Alistair Overeem. So I suspect this is the next fight for each man. If I were the UFC I’d put this one on the debut for Fox Sports 1, they delivered on Fox, they can surely do it again.
What’s next for Hunt? He’ll probably fight the loser of the upcoming bout between Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne. Another fight that would make sense would be to have him fight Antonio Silva, who lost in the main event to the champion. The winner of that fight would get a decent bump up in contendership. Either of those fights I wouldn’t mind seeing.
UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Cain Velasquez defeated Antonio Silva via TKO (Punches) at 1:21 of Round One
Cain shot for a takedown, it got stuffed. He faked a takedown and landed a one-two directly on Silva’s chin and followed it up with punches, that was about all she wrote. The stoppage may have been a bit early if you ask me, but I don’t think the result was ever in doubt. After the fight Silva also complained that many of the shots that landed were illegal and hit him in the back of the head, which is probably a valid complaint as well as I counted at least two that landed in a dangerous area on the back of his neck. Still like I said, this one wasn’t ever in doubt.
What’s next for Silva? Big foot got a bit lucky to get this title shot so quickly, but it’s way down the ladder for him now. There are a few potential match ups but none of them seem to have the perfect fit. So I’ll just list some names off and you can decide for yourself which you’d like to see. Frank Mir coming off the loss to Daniel Cormier, Mark Hunt coming off of his loss to dos Santos, Josh Barnett making his UFC debut after a loss to Daniel Cormier or Stefan Struve coming off of the loss to Mark Hunt.
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