The fireworks came early in Las Vegas this Fourth of July weekend as UFC 132 exploded inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
The action-packed 11-fight card featured an unbelievable, back-and-forth bantamweight championship battle between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber; the comeback of UFC legend Tito Ortiz; and perhaps the swan song for another MMA superstar as Wanderlei Silva was knocked out in less than 30 seconds.
“Tonight was a big night here in Las Vegas. Tons of stars, a big Fourth of July card and they (Cruz and Faber) went out and showed the world what we already knew,” said UFC president Dana White about the event that drew 12,947 and a live gate of $2.3 million.
Bantamweights prove their worth
Cruz outlasted Faber in a thrilling five-round title fight, taking a unanimous decision by the judge’s scores of 50-45, 49-46, 48-47.
“Me an Urijah set the bar for everything for 135s. We had something to show the world, that we could headline a card. We can compete with heavyweights, 170-pounders, everyone,” said Cruz who avenged his only career loss, a 2007 setback at the hands of Faber.
“Just because we’re little guys doesn’t mean we can’t scrap.”
While Faber said he felt he actually won the fight, he quickly agreed with commentator Joe Rogan that a third fight should happen.
“I’d love to, let’s do it,” said Faber, who lost his fourth straight title fight. “I felt it could have went either way, I thought I won the fight because I landed heavier punches. But I didn’t finish him or do enough to convince the judges. Congratulations to Dominick.”
Ortiz still standing
The UFC’s former long-reigning light heavyweight champ hadn’t won in more than five years and knew a loss Saturday would signal the end of his career, so he responded with an impressive first-round finish of Ryan Bader, choking the The Ultimate Fighter Season No. 8 winner out in 1:56.
“The key tonight was the guys that I’ve been training with. It’s such a positive group of guys and anytime I thought I wanted to let up in training, they kept pushing me,” said Ortiz, who claimed the “Submission of the Night” award and corresponding $75,000 bonus.
“I put my private life on the backburner for this training camp so that I could focus on performing like I’m capable of performing. It’s such a great feeling to get this win. I’m reinventing myself.”
Another legend’s career in jeopardy
The fan favorite Silva may be at the end of his illustrious MMA career after suffering his sixth loss in his last eight fights when UFC veteran Chris Leben knocked him out in just 27 seconds.
“I think its one of those situations where I’d like to sit down and have a talk with him and maybe Chuck Liddell-him,” White said referring to the Ice Man, who retired late last year after losing five of his last six fights.
“He has nothing left to prove. People love him all over the world. I don’t want to see that happen to him any more.”
UFC 132 Results
Bantamweight (135 pounds) — Jeff Hougland defeated Donny Walker by unanimous decision 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Lightweight (155) — Anthony Njokuani def. Andre Winner by unanimous decision 30-26, 30-26, 30-27.
Middleweight (185) — Aaron Simpson def. Brad Tavares by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Bantamweight (135) — Brian Bowles def. Takeya Mizugaki by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Lightweight (155) — Rafael dos Anjos def. George Sotiropoulos by KO (:59-Round 1).
Lightweight (155) — Melvin Guillard def. Shane Roller by TKO (2:12-Round 1).
Welterweight (170) — Carlos Condit def. Dong Hyun Kim by TKO (2:58-Round 1).
Light heavyweight (205) — Tito Ortiz def. Ryan Bader by submission (guillotine choke, 1:56-Round 1).
Lightweight (155) — Dennis Siver def. Matt Wiman by unanimous decision 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Middleweight (185) — Chris Leben def. Wanderlei Silva by TKO (:27-Round 1).
Bantemweight (135) — Dominick Cruz def. Urijah Faber by unanimous decision 50-45, 49-46, 48-47.