UFC 132 main card recap: Cruz retains title; Leben KO’s Silva

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It is always great to see a good rivalry in sports, and UFC bantamweight championDominick Cruz and Urijah Faber added another installment to their rivalry tonight with an exciting twenty-five minutes of action.

After suffering his only professional loss to “The California Kid” back in 2007, Cruz was able to avenge that defeat tonight at UFC 132, and more importantly, successfully defend his UFC belt for the first time with a unanimous decision victory over Faber.

With chants of “Faber” and massive cheering for the popular former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber echoing throughout the building, Cruz got to work early with his trademark footwork, speed, and elusive style that poses extreme challenges to most everyone that faces him.

Faber was up for the challenge, countering the speed of Cruz with his own, and managed to land a pinpoint right hand in the opening frame that dropped the champion. Cruz bounced to his feet just as quickly as he hit the mat, and went back on the attack, getting in and out landing punch and kick combos while in the pocket.

Faber looked to get the fight to the mat in the second, but Cruz was effective at neutralizing that part of Faber’s arsenal. Once again, late in the round after big exchanges by both, Faber managed to drop Cruz with a right hand.

Cruz responded, getting back to his feet and getting a take down of his own before finishing the round with a flurry.

The champion started to take control of the third early with darting left hands, and kick combinations that continually found their target. Faber went for another take down and got it only to be reversed before scrambling back to his feet.

Neither fighter could manage to control the other when the fight hit the mat, and the scrambles in this title fight were a sight to see.

The championship rounds resembled the first three, with nonstop action as both fighters looked to steal enough points to secure the rounds and the fight. The champion continued to switch stances and throw unorthodox combinations as he started to pick up the pace to close out the fight. He also added back-to-back take downs late in the round, and although he was still unable to control Faber on the ground, it likely scored critical points in the judges’ eyes.

When the cards came back it was all Cruz (18-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), with scores of 50-45, 49-46, 48-47. As boos erupted from the crowd, Cruz congratulated Faber for his tremendous effort in the fight, and touted his toughness in the post-fight interview.

“I hit him with a jumping knee, and that rocked him,” Cruz said. “He’s tough, man. He’s a veteran, and he did well to recover from it.”

Chris Leben KO’s “The Axe Murderer”

Chris Leben needed only 29 seconds to put away a true legend of MMA, with a stunning KO victory over Wanderlei Silva.

As expected, both guys came out quick, but it was Leben that countered and connected with a left hand that found it’s mark behind the ear of Silva.

Silva was clearly hurt and as he tried to lock up the plum clinch, Leben came straight up the middle with a series of crushing uppercuts that dropped “The Axe Murderer” to the mat.

Leben continued the onslaught landing seven unanswered left hands to the turtled Silva before the referee could intervene and stop the fight.

The stunning finish improves Leben to 26-7 overall, and 12-6 in the UFC.

Dennis Siver outlasts Matt Wiman to earn unanimous decision victory

Dennis Siver and Matt Wiman fought a back-and-forth battle of attrition, but in the end it was Siver that would get the victory by unanimous decision.

The first round was very close as both fighters looked to implement their game plans. Siver looked to get off early on the feet, while Wiman tried to get the fight to the ground.

Wiman came out and took control of the second round, getting a hard-earned take down and splitting open the head of Siver with a barrage of elbows. Wiman spent most of the round on top, and it was clear that the third round would determine the winner of the bout.

A fatigued Wiman failed on several take down attempts from way outside as Siver did a much better job of defending in the third frame. With the fight remaining mostly on the feet, Siver took control with the cleaner strikes as the time wound down on the final round.

When the scorecards came back, it was Siver that improves to 18-7 overall with his third straight UFC victory.

Tito Ortiz resurrects career with submission victory over Ryan Bader

A loss would have likely meant the end of the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in the UFC, but Tito Ortiz showed the world that he isn’t done just yet, with a stunning first-round submission victory over Ryan Bader.

After a short feeling-out period by both fighters, Bader looked to up the aggressiveness, but got dropped with a laser-straight right hand by Ortiz as he stepped in to land a right hand of his own.

Ortiz immediately poured on the ground-and-pound, forcing Bader to instinctively grab a leg trying to recover, but in the process gave up his neck to the seasoned veteran.

Ortiz capitalized, securing the guillotine and locking up his guard. The tap came quickly, and just like that, Tito Ortiz is back in the win column after over four years without a victory in the Octagon.

The win moves Ortiz to 16-8-1 overall and 15-8-1 in the UFC.

Carlos Condit makes Dong Hyun Kim his third straight (T)KO victim

Carlos Condit continued his streak of knockouts, adding Dong Hyun Kim to his list of victims with a dominating first-round KO finish.

After giving up an early take down, Condit used his very active guard and ground skills to sweep Kim and get back to his feet. After that, it was all Condit.

Condit landed a stiff left hand and kick before connecting with a brutal flying knee that dropped Kim against the cage.

Condit wasted little time putting the finishing touches on his handiwork, peppering Kim with additional strikes before the referee could stop the action.

Condit (27-5) has now won four straight in the UFC after dropping his debut with the organization, and takes one step closer to title contention.

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