UFC 116 Review -Gabe Gambino
In what ended up being one of the best MMA cards of the year, UFC 116 delivered what could have been five fights of the night. Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar retained his title with a come-from-behind arm triangle choke submission victory over Shane Carwin. We will look back at this card and the results.
Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino vs. George Sotiropoulos
In the first fight of the main card, the man they call Batman fought 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu star George Sotiropoulos. This fight was entertaining, with Kurt getting himself in some trouble throughout the fight. Kurt wasn't able to do anything to fend off George's attacks. George utilized crisp striking and the rubber guard to dominate the fight until the very end of the third round where Kurt was able to land a big knee to the face of George. If that was landed any sooner, Kurt would have found himself a TKO victory over the Australian. Unfortunately for Pellegrino, the late third round knockdown wasn't enough to sway the decision in the judges eyes, as Sotiropoulos takes home the unanimous decision victory.
Result: George Sotiropoulos, Unanimous Decision
Stephen Bonnar vs. Krzystof Soszynski
This fight earned honors with good reason. The bloody rematch of the February fight between the American Psycho and the Polish Experiment was an exciting fight. With an early slugfest, Bonnar secured a takedown and was cut open before he looked to be in trouble. Bonnar turned it up in the last 90 seconds.
In the second round, we saw the Bonnar show. In a slugfest round, Bonnar and Soszynski went to war. The round was evenly matched until Bonnar rocked Soszynski with a huge knee and pinned him until referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.
Result: Stephen Bonnar, TKO (Strikes), Round 2
Chris Lytle vs. Matt Brown
The always entertaining Chris "Lights Out" Lytle and Matt "Immortal" Brown put on a welterweight show, with Brown dominating initially with his feet with good MMA Muay Thai, scoring a knockdown and a near arm triangle submission in the first round.
The second round looked to be more of the same until Lytle got the fight to the ground and attempted a guillotine choke from full mount. Lytle transitioned to side control where he was able to secure a mounted triangle and a straight armbar. His slick jiu jitsu earned him a submission victory in the second round.
Result: Chris Lytle, Submission (Mounted Triangle/Straight Armbar), Round 2
Chris "The Crippler" Leben vs. Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama
Love him or hate him, Chris Leben is one of the most entertaining fighters out there. Stepping in for injured Wanderlei Silva didn't only happen on 13 days notice, it happened exactly two weeks after his TKO victory over Aaron Simpson. This fight was an absolute war between the ethnically Korean Judo star and the crippler, and rightfully won co-fight of the night honors.
In a battle of styles, Akiyama hung in there, slugging it out with the 29-year-old American, even putting Leben in serious danger.
The back and forth war between the two went everywhere a fight could go, and a clear victor wasn't apparent, as the fight went back and forth so much. I would've hated to have been a judge for this fight, but luckily for Leben, he didn't take it that far, pulling off one of the most stunning submissions since some "UFC reject" tapped this Russian guy a week ago. As always, in entertaining fashion, Leben stole the fight from the judges' scorecards with only 35 seconds remaining, submitting the Judo blackbelt with a stunning triangle choke.
Leben proceeded to call out Wanderlei Silva for his next fight, which in my opinion would be a fight of the year candidate for sure. With this victory, I have a feeling we'll see more of Leben's face around in the pay per view circuit again.
Result: Chris Leben, Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 3
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin
In a performance of champions and two of the most gigantic men in the game, UFC Heavyweight champions collided to unify the title. Interim champion Shane Carwin and champ Brock Lesnar both walked into this fight with a victory over Frank Mir, but Carwin's was in March while Lesnar's last fight was almost a year ago. A case of diverticulitis screeched Lesnar's career to a stop while Shane Carwin was mowing through competition in the first round.
This almost looked to be the case when Carwin was able to land some big shots in the first round, causing Lesnar to stumble around the ring like a Kardashian at a frat party. There was even a moment when Carwin looked to completely outclass Lesnar, avoiding the takedown and almost getting himself a TKO victory. In Carwin's fashion, he was well on his way to taking the champ out in the first round with his scary amount of punching power, but Lesnar weathered the storm of the first round. Lesnar had never looked so tentative coming into the first round, abandoning his bull at the rodeo style a la the Heath Herring fight for a more cautious approach, and rightfully so.
Before we cover the second round, let's talk about coach Erik Paulson a little bit. Brock's grappling coach is also coach to top ground fighters with guys like Josh Barnett and Sean Sherk working with the Fullerton, California based grappling guru. Let's keep that in mind here.
In the second round, although Carwin insisted that he was not gassed, he appeared so, as he sluggishly came out for the second round. Complaining of leg cramps, Carwin wasn't able to avoid the inevitable: a Brock Lesnar takedown. All of a sudden, Shane Carwin was not looking his first round best and Lesnar appeared to be turning it up. With the first round undoubtedly in the books for Shane Carwin, Lesnar was able to control Shane until he was able to secure the fight ender: an arm triangle choke. Lesnar, not known for high level submissions, did the unexpected. Carwin tapped to the choke, and Lesnar, seemingly humbled by disease, went home with the belt. He looked very impressive in his victory.
Topping off the best UFC card of the year, champion Brock Lesnar retained his heavyweight title.
Result: Brock Lesnar, Submission (Arm Triangle), Round 2
HH's UFC 116 Awards
We at Hostile Hands will be trying out a new feature, and have awards based on our favorite moments of the card.
Knockout of the Night: Gerald Harris' slam knockout of Dave Branch
Submission of the Night: Chris Lytle's mounted triangle/straight armbar of Matt Brown
Fight of the Night: Chris Leben's entertaining slugfest and submission over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Comeback of the Night: Brock Lesnar, overcame a bad first round for a submission victory over Shane Carwin.
"I can't believe it" award: a split between Chris Leben winning by triangle and Stephen Bonnar's dominating win over Soszynski