Last night in Las Vegas, UFC fans were treated to one of the best cards in recent memory. The lineup was stacked top to bottom with talent and three main event fights. Everything lived up to the hype and it was a great night to be a fight fan.
The performance of the night goes to Frank Mir. Very few people gave him a chance to beat the so called unstoppable Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. In the title bout for one portion of the heavyweight crown, Mir dominated a fighter who was never knocked out. Until Mir got a hold of him that is.
Frank Mir had the perfect game plan and used his excellent boxing skills to pick apart Nogueira. Both fighters are world class on the ground and the fight hardly left the feet. Mir's hands looked fast and powerful and he stunned his opponent over and over. The fight came to a crashing halt in the second round as Mir again knock Noguiera down and then went in for the kill. Hammer fists and huge shots were being rained down as the ref stopped in.
With the victory, Frank Mir earns a shot at the other portion of the heavyweight title. The person holding that is none other than Brock Lesnar. Mir defeated Lesnar in February via leg lock. Lesnar was pounded on Mir and dominating until he got caught by Mir. If you want to talk about a must see fight, Mir Lesnar II is exactly that.
Another title changed hands and Rashad Evans is the new light heavyweight champion. Forrest Griffin failed to defend his title and Rashad kept his perfect record intact.
I keep telling anyone who will listen that Rashad Evans just has that "it" factor. He proved me right yet again as he won via TKO in the third round. With the win he improved to 8-0-1 in the octagon. Evans continued to improve and showed yet again he has knockout power.
The first two rounds Forrest had the upper hand and looked to be costing to a decision victory. Both fighters were landing solid punches and even better leg kicks. Griffin got the better of the exchanges and drilled Rashad with right hand that looked to hurt Evans at the close of the second round. The fight didn't go to the ground at all in the first ten minutes.
The third round began and Evans scored a takedown a minute in. He then went to work and landed some huge punches. Forrest was visibly hurt and couldn't stop and barrage and the fight came to a halt with two minutes and forty-six seconds left in the third round.
There were two title fights on the card and we now have two new champions. Frank Mir and Rashad Evans looked awesome and deserve to be wearing that gold around their waist. Two classy champions that could very well hold those belts for a long time.
The other main event fight was the third installment between former PRIDE foes, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Wandelei Silva. The two earlier matchups went to Silva in dominating fashion.
Chalk the third fight up as one of the best knockouts you will ever see. Rampage put Silva to sleep with a picture perfect left hook. Silva was out before he hit the floor. The ref didn't jump in right away and Jackson landed a few more huge right hands for good measure. I did lose a little respect for Rampage as he landed two more shots as the ref was trying to pull him off of Silva, a very dirty move in my book. It seemed to be very intentional in a fight where there was bad blood.
Rampage was in some legal trouble recently and many observers thought that might affect his performance. He switched training camps as well. If he can stay focused and keep his head right, he will be a force to reckon with. Jackson should be the first to get a shot as the new title holder that is Rashad Evans.
Rashad Evans def. Forrest Griffin via TKO (punches) -- Round 3, 2:46
Frank Mir def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via TKO (punches) -- Round 2, 1:54
C.B. Dollaway def. Mike Massenzio via TKO (strikes) -- Round 1, 3:01
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson def. Wanderlei Silva via KO (punch) -- Round 1, 3:21
Cheick Kongo def. Mostapha Al-Turk via TKO (strikes) -- Round 1, 4:37
Yushin Okami def. Dean Lister via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Antoni Hardonk def. Mike Wessel via TKO (strikes) -- Round 2, 2:09
Matt Hamill def. Reese Andy via TKO (strikes) -- Round 2, 2:19
Brad Blackburn def. Ryo Chonan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Patrick Barry def. Dan Evensen via TKO (injury) -- Round 1, 2:36
The last fight card of the year was the best. Ten fights in all and only two of those went to the scorecards. The UFC always tries to save their best for the end of the year and sure didn't let anybody down. Fight fans everywhere that tuned in got their money's worth, and a little extra in my opinion. Happy New Year to everyone and let's hope that 2009 is just as exciting as 2008 in the world of mixed martial arts and boxing.