UFC 138: The overlooked card that overachieved
It may have been the UFC’s first non-title five round bout but the UFC 138 main event between Mark Munoz and Chris Leben did not need the extra time.
In a thoroughly entertaining bout that saw no part of the Octagon go untouched, Munoz impressively prevailed by doctor stoppage after the second round when Leben informed his corner that he could no longer see.
While a cut stoppage is usually deemed an anti-climax for many fans, this was anything but. The stoppage was a testament to the beating Munoz had steadily begun to inflict upon Leben.
Much has been made of Munoz’s wrestling credentials but it was in this bout where we have first seen them truly come to the fore.
Well, that and his ridiculously powerful ground and pound that he describes as Donkey Kong-esque.
It was one of those giant ape-style swings that ended up catching Leben’s eye that was the catalyst for the eventual stoppage.
After the bout, the ‘Filipino Wrecking Machine’ requested a title shot against middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva.
That is probably a fight or two off for Munoz who is probably still behind Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping in the pecking order but with this performance he is definitely on the shortlist of contenders.
As momentous as the bout was, it probably was not seen by a great amount of people. The middleweight contender bout headlined a line-up that was panned by the media and fans alike.
The fact that the card was held in England meant that it was a much earlier start for MMA fans around the world, which can’t have helped either.
Despite the criticism though, UFC 138’s main card was filled with terrific entertainment even if it was all over rather quick.
The night (or morning) kicked off with the return of the lanky and indecipherable Brit, Terry Etim.
A series of injuries had kept him out of the cage since April of last year, but it looked like he was in a hurry to get out of there.
It took just 17 seconds for him to latch onto a fight ending guillotine choke that forced his opponent, Edward Faaloloto to submit.
Next up was Australian, Anthony Perosh whose bout with Pride veteran, Cyrille Diabate was promoted to the main card earlier this week.
Things looked shaky for Perosh early on as Diabate looked to be working the Australian over from a distance with his rangy strikes.
As the first wore on though it became clear that Diabate was looking hesitant to engage for fear of the takedown. And right to fear it he was as Perosh took the fight to the mat early in the second round.
After some positional control from Perosh he eventually secured his opponent’s back and forced him to submit to a rear naked choke, upping his UFC light heavyweight record to 2-0 in the process.
Former welterweight title contender Thiago Alves rebounded from recent loss to Ricky Story by submitting UFC newcomer Papy Abedi in the first round of their spirited clash.
Abedi looked to have success early with his combinations, but Alves endured the brief onslaught to drop his opponent and then batter him from full mount with some vicious elbows.
From there Abedi gave up his back and was submitted in short order.
A pivotal bantamweight clash between England’s Brad Pickett and Renan Barao rounded out the event’s main card action and also picked up the night’s $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus from UFC management.
The two fighters exchanged energetically and frequently early on but it became clear that Barao was the much harder puncher.
Punches be damned however, as Barao eventually dropped the Brit with a knee and then took his back in the ensuing scramble.
He quickly finished his stunned opponent with the third rear naked choke of the night to up his professional record to 27 wins and one defeat.
Fight of the Night: Brad Pickett and Renan Barao
Submission of the Night: Terry Etim
Knockout of the Night: Che Mills