UFC 131 results, reflection and analysis
Skill beats power and will in Vancouver, Canada. In the UFC 131 main event, Junior Dos Santos defeated a game but overmatched Shane Carwin in a bout to decide the heavyweight division’s number one contender.
‘Cigano’ used his height and skill advantage to full effect, battering the smaller Carwin bloody by the end of the first round. Carwin showed true heart and an improved gas tank in lasting the remaining two rounds, but was clearly outgunned as Dos Santos established a stiff jab and solid combination punching. Dos Santos solidified his victory by scoring some surprising takedowns on the former Division II wrestler.
“Much respect for Cain Velasquez. Cain, I’m coming for you,” Dos Santos said on his future opponent and the current UFC heavyweight champion.
Dos Santos vs. Velasquez
If there was ever a fighter that was stylistically made to beat Velasquez, Dos Santos fits the mold; a tall, rangy striker with solid jiu-jitsu skills. ‘Cigano’ also looks to have worked diligently on his wrestling, and will only improve even more by the time he fights Cain. Cain’s power, wrestling and superb conditioning makes it tough to call, but I’d have to go with Dos Santos by unanimous decision.
What’s next for Carwin? Most likely a rematch with Brock Lensar once the latter heals up. Perhaps a rematch with Frank Mir is also in Carwin’s future. Unfortunately, time is not on his side at 36 years old, and the end could be close for ‘The Engineer’.
Kenny Florian vs. Diego Nunes
Kenny Florian made a successful featherweight debut in the night’s co-main event, outlasting Diego Nunes en route to a unanimous decision. The two-time lightweight title contender conceded that the weight cut to 145lbs was a challenge, having come in at 180lbs after knee surgery.
Nunes won the first round, knocking down Florian with a crisp left hook at round’s end. However, Florian took command in the second, scoring with takedowns, ground-and-pound and some elbows which opened up cuts on Nunes. Florian continued to work in the third, taking down an exhausted Nunes. Nunes dropped Florian to a knee with a right hand at the end of the third round, but it wasn’t enough to salvage the fight.
Florian vs. Jose Aldo
Florian’s successful debut will inevitably lead him down Aldo’s path. And while Florian showed superb conditioning against Nunes, Aldo is no stranger to five-round wars. Unless Florian can take him down and keep him there, Aldo dominates him standing. Florian will have to stick to a superb ground-and-pound game plan if he hopes to pull this one off. Otherwise, Aldo by third round TKO.
What’s next for Nunes? Nunes is still young, and the featherweight division is stacked with good fighters. Look for the talented Nunes to improve as he gains more experience in big fights.
Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz
Showing remarkable improvement in his striking, former BJJ world champion Demian Maia gave the ‘Filipino Wrecking Machine’ all he could handle standing, stalking his opponent and showing great footwork in cutting off the cage. Munoz struggled to connect with his big right hand standing, and Maia buckled him several times with precise punches.
The fight was closely contested, as Maia held his own in the clinches and almost pulled of a submission several times. Munoz, a former All-American wrestler, was superior in the takedown department, and unleashed his trademark ground-and-pound once he was on top. The three judges scored it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27, with Munoz winning by unanimous decision.
What’s next for Munoz? This is the biggest win of his young career thus far, and opens up the opportunity to fight any of the top middleweight contenders. A fight Michael Bisping or Brian Stann would draw some good ratings.
What’s next for Maia? The fight was close and could’ve gone either way; this is a minor setback for the immensely talented Maia, and he’ll look to be better than ever in his next outing.
Other action: In a lightweight bout, Donald Cerrone defeated Vagner Rocha via unanimous decision. Dave Herman beat Jon Olav Einemo by TKO in the second round in a heavyweight showdown.