Junior dos Santos entered UFC 131 as the number one contender (remember, he was supposed to fight Cain Velasquez before ending up on the Ultimate Fighter with Brock Lesnar), and he exited as the number one contender.
The big factor in the fight was the difference in speed. Dos Santos looked faster than Shane Carwin. Faster in his hand speed. Faster in his movement. The speed, at times, confused Carwin, who went through periods of being gunshy.
Dos Santos hurt Carwin toward the end of round one. He swarmed with punches, forcing Carwin to turtle into defensive mode. Herb Dean asked for movement from Carwin, who responded. Dos Santos looked at Dean, saw that he wasn't about to stop the fight, and stepped away with under a minute left in the round.
It was reminiscent of Carwin's last fight against Brock Lesnar at UFC 116, with Carwin playing the role of Lesnar.
This time, however, the second round miracle would not come to be. With his face already bloodied and his nose likely broken, Carwin took more punishment as the fight dragged on. By the third round, his movement was all but gone, his feet planted flat on the mat.
Herb Dean stopped the bout with sixty seconds left to allow the referee to check Carwin's vision. Carwin insisted he could see, and the bout was allowed to continue.
Dos Santos killed any chance of Carwin turning up the urgency, planting Carwin on the mat twice as time ran down.
After the fight, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez entered the cage to formally accept the challenge from his new challenger.
- We now have a better idea of dos Santos' ability to defend takedowns. He stuffed 2 of Carwin's 3 takedown attempts, and popped right back to his feet on the third. Carwin's never displayed the sort of effective wrestling that the champion has in the past, nor can he match Velasquez's speed.
- It's interesting to see where Carwin goes from here. He has interesting rematch opportunities against Lesnar (depending on his return date) and Frank Mir. He might be the next step for Brendan Schaub, should Schaub defeat Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
- Just one year ago, we wondered if MMA had entered an age of monster heavyweights. Now, we have a 245-lb. champion waiting on a 235-lb. challenger.
- Kenny Florian's featherweight debut started slow, but outlasted a game Diego Nunes to take a decision. He looked sluggish at times, and admitted at the post-fight presser that he had "stories" about the weight cut. He'll need to improve on his performance if he plans on handling champion Jose Aldo's speed.
- Say what you will about the decision (I had it 29-28 for Demian Maia), but someone needs to defecate on the 30-27 Mark Munoz scorecard turned in by Nelson Hamilton. Atrocious judging on a night filled with bizarre cards.
- Joe Rogan seemed flabbergasted at the "improvement" in Maia's standup, but it's been a steady progression rather than a leap in this fight.
- Maia and Munoz were robbed of a bonus check by Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo, who took Fight of the Night in a wild (and entertaining) heavyweight brawl.
- Vagner Rocha's leg is gonna look like a gangrene patient tomorrow morning.
- A lot of people are going to complain about Donald Cerrone's inability to finish, but they should be complaining about his taste in headwear and entrance music.
- Sam Stout done stole Yves Edwards cookie twice this weekend. Stout ate a right hand from Edwards, and came back with a perfectly placed left hand that put Edwards out cold.
Chris Weidman improved on the performance he put together against Alessio Sakara in his UFC debut (on short notice). Straight outclassed Jesse Bongfeldt on the floor before submitting him with a standing guillotine. Bongfeldt, at that point, was looking for a way out.
- Speaking of improving on UFC debuts, Nick Ring ran a train on James Head before subbing him out with a no-hooks rear naked choke in the third. Ring recovered from a late knockdown in the first, adding a little depth to his performance.
- Dustin Poirier beat a game Jason Young in a fight that was closer than the two 30-27 scores would indicate.
- Joey Beltran and Aaron Rosa fought to a poor man's subprime UFC version of Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama.
- Dana White promised to pay Michihiro Omigawa his win bonus, if they gives you an idea of how the judging went in that fight.
- I'm too lazy to try and remember all my complaints about Joe Rogan (running a live blog hurts these pieces), but suffice to say that list is long this evening.
FIGHTER OF THE NIGHT
Photos by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Dos Santos solidified his place as the number one contender in the heavyweight division. Cain Velasquez's injury worked out in the end, as the fight with Carwin is a better bridge to a title shot than Roy Nelson. Awesome performance, and while I'm pessimistic on his chances of beating Velasquez, I do expect him to put on a good fight.
MOMENT OF THE NIGHT
Sam Stout wrecked Yves Edwards so bad, Edwards told Kevin Iole he had never been knocked out before. Jorge Masvidal might have something to say about that. The brutality of the punch was matched by the violence of Edwards' head bouncing off the canvas after he fell backwards. Stone recognized Edwards' plight, stopped his followup, and raised his hands to the heavens, victorious.
MIKE GOLDBERG LINE OF THE NIGHT
Something about "an unstoppable force meets an immovable object" in reference to the main event between Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin.
Lazy. Absolutely lazy. Do you want to know why I find Mike Goldberg so insufferable? He is paid to described action, to put a narrative into context. He is paid to speak. And he's so fucking lazy with his words.
Mike, please, do me a favor. Read George Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language. Please show me that you give a shit.
ENTRANCE SONG OF THE NIGHT
"Cowboy" by Kid Rock
You know how I know your taste in music sucks? You like "Cowboy" by Kid Rock in a non-ironic way. Cerrone's cowboy hat should have gone farther in the Bloody Elbow Tournament of Bad.
Despite Dana White's assurance that Zuffa needs more fighters, there's no margin for error in the UFC. It only takes one loss to find a pink slip waiting for you on Monday morning. Who's on the Chopping Block?