In normal circumstances, failing to highlight an undercard as entertaining as this one was would usher in a penalty of public flogging in most states. Hell, the prelims produced a knockout slam so devastating that it cycled hourly on television as part of SportsCenter's daily top 10 highlights.
But look at the poster for the event. There are only two men featured here. Zuffa built this card around a heavyweight title unification fight between Shane Carwin and, more precisely, Brock Lesnar.
After his thrashing at the hands of Cain Velasquez, it's become easy to forget that Brock Lesnar's MMA career nearly ended in the winter of 2009. Zuffa had originally scheduled Lesnar to fight Shane Carwin at UFC 106, but illness forced the bout's cancellation and subsequent rescheduling for UFC 108.
Doctors diagnosed Lesnar's illness as mononucleosis, forcing a second cancellation of the bout. Further investigation discovered that Lesnar was suffering from diverticulitis, a digestive disease found in the large intestine, which had overtaxed his immune system to such a degree that he contracted mono. In late November, emergency surgery was performed to close holes in the intestine. The performing surgeon estimated that Lesnar had suffered effects of the condition for nearly a year.
In January, Lesnar announced on ESPN's SportsCenter that he prepared to return to the UFC in the summer. Shane Carwin left Frank Mir's brain matter on the mat in March, setting the stage for Lesnar and Carwin to meet at UFC 116 in July.
Carwin landed a left uppercut that sent Lesnar reeling into the fence. Carwin pounced on the visibly stunned Lesnar, eventually sending him into the fetal position after a flurry of punches. Carwin erupted into Finish Mode, winging volumes of punches at whirlwind speed. Lesnar maintained his composure, and listened to the instructions of Josh Rosenthal to show enough resistance to allow the bout to continue.
In the post-fight interview, Lesnar told Joe Rogan, "I knew he was getting tired. Each shot was less dramatic than the other, and I thought, 'I'll just let him go.'"
With a minute left in the round, Lesnar exploded back to his feet and pinned Carwin against the fence as time expired.
As the fighters came out for round two, it was Lesnar, not Carwin, who looked like the fresher fighter. Fifty seconds into the round, Lesnar ducked under Carwin's lazy punches and planted him on the mat. Brock landed in side control, passed into mount, and transitioned into an arm triangle. Carwin held on as long as he could; but, exhausted and with Lesnar making an adjustment to the technique, was forced to tap at two minutes and nineteen seconds.
The fight was a massive business success, selling 1.16 million pay-per views, the most in the UFC since Lesnar's last fight against Frank Mir at UFC 100.
Full results after the jump.
|SF: Henderson vs. Babalu||5.1|
|SF: St. Louis||1.4|
|SF: Fedor vs. Werdum||0.7|
|SF: Heavy Artillery||0.2|
|SF: Diaz vs. Noons 2||0.2|