With the Canucks fighting tooth and nail for the NHL championship, it wasn't as easy as some expected to get Vancouver natives excited about UFC 131 Saturday night. The Stanley Cup finals, combined with a rearranged main event - one that had initially featured mega star Brock Lesnar and suddenly found itself superstar free when Lesnar underwent surgery- led to challenges at the box office.You'd have never guessed watching on television. The crowd was enthusiastic and seemed to love what they were seeing.
In the main event, Junior dos Santos solidified his claim as the top contender to Cain Velasquez's heavyweight title and Kenny Florian announced his presence in the featherweight division. Beyond the two established stars, some exciting action peppered the card. What were some of the highlights? The following certainly stand out:
Yves Edwards. Edwards is one of my favorites, a classy guy who has represented the sport well over the years as a perennial lightweight contender. It was uncomfortable seeing him laid out on the canvas, legs twitching after a brutal left hook from Canadian Sam Stout. Stout deserves credit for such a dramatic win. I understand the event has to be timed properly for broadcast purposes, but announcer Joe Rogan was in the cage interviewing a celebrating Stout while Edwards was still unconscious. Great knockout, but I wanted to know that Edwards was OK. I'd like to see the UFC give viewers health updates on fighters who've been KO'd during the broadcast.
- Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman. the Norwegian heavyweight dynamo, finally made his UFC debut. It made for an entertaining fight as he and fellow debutante Dave Herman traded blow after blow in an exciting slugfest. Herman ended Einemo's night with a hard knee followed by a tight left hook. I won't lie - I'd like to see that fight again.
- The MMA world awaited Kenny Florian's featherweight debut. Early in his three round decision over Diego Nunes, it looked like a horrible idea. Florian looked like he had escaped from a refugee camp somewhere, or at the very least a vegan boot camp in his first bout at 145 pounds and Nunes was consistently beating him to the punch. Florian settled, and as it tends to do, cream rose to the top. He took the final two rounds with ease and is looking for a shot against champion Jose Aldo at the champion's earliest convenience.
- In the best fight of the night, Mark Munoz and Demian Maia went toe-to-toe in a fight that surprised everyone. Maia was expected to live in fear of Munoz's heavy hands. Instead, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu artist came bustling out of the corner like a young Tommy Hearns. Using a reach advantage, he poped Munoz on the chin and wobbled his legs. By the second round, Munoz had recovered, gotten his bearings, and combined power punching with the kind of takedowns you'd expect from a former NCAA champion. Munoz is creeping closer and closer to a shot at his good friend Anderson Silva for middleweight gold.
- Junior dos Santos dominating of Shane Carwin. You could hear Carwin's nose break against Junior dos Santos in the first round and by the time the bell rang, Carwin's ghostly white face was covered in blood. If it wasn't for a visibly smashed noise and multitude of cuts, you might have thought he was filming a vampire movie. Junior was rarely in trouble over the course of 15 minutes, working behind a solid jab that left Carwin clueless. Now dos Santos will finally meet champion Cain Velasquez, a fight the UFC expects to hold in November. There's an open question about how promotionally successful a dos Santos vs. Velasquez fight will be, but there's no question dos Santos emerged as the rightful number one contender.
So what were your favorite moments from UFC 131? Be sure to vote in our poll on the front page.
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