In a card filled with studs like Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo, Demian Maia, and Melvin Guillard, the last thing you’d expect is none of those men to record a stoppage victory (well….Guillard was just stopped), and decision-friendly fighters like Chael Sonnen and Frankie Edgar manage actual finishes.
First up, Chael Sonnen’s first fight since losing to Anderson Silva despite steroids and Anderson’s broken ribs. No sane person would think that he would lose to Brian Stann, who was forced to drop to 185 after Phil Davis wrestled him to death. So it was no surprise that Sonnen had his way with Stann on the ground but no one expected it to end with an arm-triangle submission.
At first I thought Sonnen would tap to his own submission attempt due to force of habit, but no! This is Chael’s first finish since 2007!! A rematch with Anderson Silva is definitely warranted, especially with the interview he gave afterwards.
Up next, the rubber match between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. In their 2nd fight earlier this year, Maynard beat the tar out of Edgar in the opening round and looked to have the lightweight champ finished multiple times over. Instead, Edgar recovered and in an epic war scraped out a split draw to retain his belt. Now 0-1-1 against Gray, Frankie looked to finally notch a win against his great rival and the only fighter to “not lose” to him. Just like in the 2nd fight, Edgar was dropped, on wobbly legs, and Maynard was ready to finish the fight. Edgar once again proved to be tough as nails, won rounds 2 and 3, and with the 4th round closing, Maynard attempted a takedown and instead got crushed by a beautiful uppercut. Edgar let him back up for more punishment and then dropped him again, dribbling his head off the mat repeatedly and forcing Josh Rosenthal to stop the fight in yet another dramatic comeback for “The Answer”.
It’s Maynard’s first career defeat in his pro MMA career. His other loss was against Nate Diaz in The Ultimate Fighter reality show, but it’s listed as an amateur bout. I give tons of credit to Edgar for managing to recover his senses and get his first TKO win in…..a long long time, but Maynard has terrible fight IQ. I cannot believe how poorly he handles visibly rocked opponents. While you could argue he may have won the 2nd fight, there’s no doubt about this outcome. Frankie Edgar is the champ and he’s here to stay.
Of course the biggest shock of UFC 136 was Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan, in which the judges correctly scored a Garcia fight properly. Phan hung on for dear life and won a unanimous decision against the windmill-throwing brawler.
What a night in Houston. Certainly one of the best cards I’ve ever seen. The UFC has delivered the last few weeks and will continue to do so to close out 2011.