Dana White post-event interview with Ariel Helwani. Props: MMAFighting.com
It’s no stretch to say that UFC 136 was, on paper, the most stacked UFC card since UFC 100. It featured two title fights, the return of the only middleweight to make Anderson Silva look human, a rematch from one of the most controversial decisions of 2010 and a lightweight contender looking to keep his winning streak alive. Add on the UFC Fan Expo being held on the same weekend, and it would seem impossible for UFC 136 to live up to the hype. Yet, impressively enough, it did.
If you’re a fan of “zombie style” fighting, then Frankie Edgar absolutely has to be one of your favorite fighters after last night. In a performance that caused more than a few of us to experience déjà vu, Edgar seemed like he was one punch away from being knocked out throughout Gray Maynard’s early onslaught. But Edgar hung on and managed to take the next two rounds en route to a fourth round TKO. It’s an impressive accomplishment, especially considering that Frankie Edgar is a natural featherweight while Gray Maynard is pretty big for a lightweight, if Mike Goldberg is to be trusted. Any questions about Frankie Edgar’s ability to finish seem to have been answered last night. Especially in the eyes of Dana White, who awarded Frankie Edgar the 75k Knockout of the Night honors.
Meanwhile, new questions have been raised about Gray Maynard’s conditioning. Let’s face it; this is two fights in a row where Maynard’s performance has been Carwin-esque, gassing out trying to finish Edgar early. Time will tell whether or not the comparison is fair, but it doesn’t help Gray’s cause that during the first round we were constantly reminded of the rigorous conditioning program he underwent to ensure he wouldn’t tire out so quickly for the rubber match.
I’ll say this much about Kenny Florian: He knew that if he stood any chance beating Jose Aldo, it would be beating him against the cage, putting him on his back, and having good enough conditioning to take it to the judges. Florian managed to stick to this game plan throughout the fight, even managing to steal a round from the champion. Frankly, if Aldo wasn’t that much better than Florian, Ken Flo probably would have managed to steal the fight. But Aldo was just that much better, outclassing Florian in virtually every aspect of the fight. I would compare Kenny Florian to Allen Iverson, in the sense that he’s one of the best in our sport to never win a title on the sport’s biggest stage, but I have way too much respect for Iverson to make such a comparison. Iverson was a fan favorite who always seemed to be ahead of his time, both on and off the court. Florian is a great fighter, but this was arguably the most competitive of his three title shots. Let that sink in.
Ironically enough, there was a fighter from last night that could draw the Iverson comparison. Don’t act like you don’t know who I’m talking about. Chael Sonnen looked like he hadn’t missed a step against Brian Stann, despite over a year’s worth of inactivity. Sonnen delivered the same beatdown that made Anderson Silva finally look human against the thoroughly outclassed Brian Stann. To Stann’s credit, he consistently worked for submissions against Sonnen, but was unable to put any meaningful offense together. In typical fashion, Sonnen took the microphone after the fight and showed the rest of the UFC how to create hype. Will the loser actually leave town? As the video above shows, Dana White doesn’t want to commit to an answer to that yet.
The 75k Fight of the Night bonus went to Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia for their three round tilt. The fight played out exactly as we expected it to, as it was the same slugfest that was their first meeting. As per their first meeting, Phan outclassed Garcia with his refined striking. Except this time around, Garcia came dangerously close to finishing Phan. And this time around, the judges got it right and awarded Phan the fight. Has Garcia lost his immunity with the judges? Maybe so. Likewise, Submission of the Night honors went to Joe Lauzon for his rear naked choke against the heavy favorite, Melvin Guillard. Guillard got caught early, and once he was on the ground, he was the same Melvin Guillard we’ve always known. Props to Joe Lauzon for being able to finish off Guillard, but the above video seems to indicate that Dana White thinks the performance was a 75k fluke.
Full results, courtesy of BJPenn.com:
Champ Frankie Edgar def. Gray Maynard via TKO (punches) – Round 4, 3:54 Champ Jose Aldo def. Kenny Florian via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Chael Sonnen def. Brian Stann via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:51
Nam Phan def. Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Joe Lauzon def. Melvin Guillard via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1, 0:47
PRELIMINARY CARD: (Facebook)
Stipe Miocic def. Joey Beltran via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Darren Elkins def. Tiequan Zhang via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)
Aaron Simpson def. Eric Schafer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mike Massenzio def. Steven Cantwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)