Last night's UFC 132 is being widely-regarded as one of the most entertaining UFC events of the last several years, even if it didn't necessarily feature the company's top stars in main event roles. No matter your MMA preference, there was much to enjoy: knockouts, submissions, storylines, elite battles between top competitors in hugely meaningful bouts and more. It's rare one event features a confluence of both fun or exciting action and true mixed martial arts significance, but that's precisely what UFC 132 served up.
Let's review the entire fight card and underscore some of the more memorable moments from the night:
- In the opening bout of the night, unknowns Jeff Hougland and Donny Walker turned in a spirited bantamweight performance. Both were making their UFC debuts, but fought first when the MGM Grand was largely empty, so did not appear to be suffering from Octagon nervousness. Hougland showed a more diverse skill set, particularly in the jiu-jitsu position game, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against the rest of the division.
- Anthony Njokuani evidenced the need for a wide offensive striking arsenal in his utter destruction of Andre Winner. Winner is likely to be cut given this is his third loss in the UFC in a row. Meanwhile, Njokuani proves matching him up with other strikers tends to turn out crowd-pleasing affairs. Njokuani exploited Winner's linear and narrow game not only with angles and devastating strikes, but with anticipation, forward-inching movement and diverse responses to his attacks. If Winner stepped in once, he ate a push kick. If he stepped in again to close the distance, he ate an outside leg kick and a knee. And when he wasn't stepping in, Njokuani was slowly walking into him to force action. I was also glad to see a fight that aired on Facebook received Spike TV time even though it went the full distance.
- Despite being 36 years of age, Aaron Simpson managed to defeat Brad Tavares. Tavares showed dramatically improved takedown defense both against the cage and even in open spaces. Simpson's game, particularly his distance-closing overhand right to body lock, does not appear to be rapidly evolving, but given his age and wrestling-backed skill set - as well as his ability to win fights in the UFC - it probably isn't much a priority for Simpson.
- Brian Bowles was able to squeak past Takeya Mizugaki by winning the later rounds of their contest. Bowles early in the fight had trouble with Mizugaki's striking angles and counter right hook, but eventually employed better movement and takedowns that led to advanced ground positions to take the win. It's rumored Bowles will get a title shot with this win, but it's not at all clear he possesses anything to give champion Dominick Cruz in what would be a second meeting between the two.
- Rafael dos Anjos ran over George Sotiropoulos last night with a first-round right hook that put the Aussie out almost immediately. This loss is Sotiropoulos' second in a row and at age 33, likely represents the end of any contendership for the UFC lightweight title. Dos Anjos,, by contrast, who has admittedly been up and down in the division and unable to secure wins against top competition, is 26 and has more time to make something happen. Given that dos Anjos was also a late replacement might earn the Brazilian more favorable matchmaking in terms of key opposition that will allow him to move up the lightweight ladder should he win.
- Melvin Guillard absolutely steamrolled Shane Roller in their lightweight match on Spike TV. Roller's vaunted wrestling never even had a chance to emerge as Guillard's quickness and movement shut the lights out early. Some have suggested Guillard deserves a title shot, while others believe a rematch with Dennis Siver is in order. Whatever direction he takes, this appears to be his best chance to make good on the promise of his athletic career. In every meaningful way, Guillard is peaking and the UFC could best use his talents by giving him the match-ups to see if he's prepared to contend for a title shot.
- It's not clear if Carlos Condit earned a title shot at the winner of Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz with his first-round flying knee KO of Dong Hyun Kim, but he's probably close. Condit followed up his first-round stoppage of Dan Hardy by exploiting the Korean's more measured, robotic stand-up, handing him the first true loss of his career. Condit will likely need to prove his mettle against a more polished veteran with formidable wrestling skills, but the stock of 'The Natural Born Killer' has never been higher.
- From the depths of despair and career failure, Tito Ortiz resurrected his career (for the time being, anyway) with a dramatic first-round submission of Ryan Bader. Ortiz used a short, inside uppercut to hurt Bader, then jumped to an arm-in guillotine in the ensuing scramble. Ortiz was sure to be cut from the UFC and have his career ended had he lost. Notably, Ortiz was unranked heading into last night's bout while Bader was ranked 7 on the USA TODAY/SB Nation Consensus MMA Rankings. Ortiz is 36 and moves out of the frying pan and into the fire, but earns his first win in five years and puts a new lease on his UFC life.
- Dennis Siver and Matt Wiman fought to a spirited decision with some fans and media having issue with the decision. Wiman clearly took the second frame with top control and damaging elbows on top. The first and third are harder to decipher, particularly the third. The judges believed Siver did enough to stifle the takedowns of Wiman while landing enough strikes to be awarded the decision. As aforementioned, some are now suggesting Siver and Guillard should rematch one another.
- In what UFC President Dana White likely calls the last fight of his career, Wanderlei Silva was easily put out in a short contest at the hands of Chris Leben. Silva's wide striking style backfired again as Leben fired short punches up the middle until Silva collapsed. Leben followed up with a few more hard shots before the referee had no choice but to stop the action. It's a sad sight for Silva, but an important rebound in the up and down UFC career of Chris Leben.
- In the main event, Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber put on an utterly spectacular, highly important, and incredibly technical main event for the UFC bantamweight title. Both fighters had to rely on every trick in their arsenal and displayed utterly amazing scrambles for positional control when the fight did hit the floor. The majority of it, however, was spent with Cruz using his traditional method of movement and selective shots to pick apart Faber. Faber did have a few moments where was able to land a damaging strike. Two of the judges awarded him at least one round, but he was never able to capitalize or gather momentum. There could be a third fight in their future, but either way, it would be an understatement to say their bout elevated the bantamweight class much in the same way Faber's previous bout with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo did.
So what were your favorite moments from UFC 132? Be sure to vote in our poll on the front page.
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