LAS VEGAS – Anderson Silva made his way to the Octagon amid a sea of boos in his quest to further cement his status as the best the MMA world has ever seen. Having never lost in the UFC, Silva has been loved and hated by hardcore fans, but even those that claim to hate the UFC middleweight champion, have to be amazed at his performance at tonight’s UFC 126 event.
Silva needed less than a single round to destroy one of his toughest challenges to date in former UFC champion Vitor Belfort.
After a tentative start to the bout, Belfort started to open up and attack Silva, who responded with a front kick that KO’d Belfort where he stood. An additional 2 punches finished off the stunned Belfort, and punctuated a legendary performance by the reigning UFC kingpin.
“I want to start by thanking all my trainers who have helped me with all the different disciplines,” Silva said.
“Thanks to my coach for teaching me that kick. Everybody should respect Vitor. Before I even started fighting, he was a champion, so he deserves your respect.”
Griffin outlasts Franklin
In a battle of former UFC champions, the gritty and grinding Forrest Griffin used his size advantage to wear out Rich Franklin. After the fight hit the ground in the first, Griffin remained on top the rest of the round. Franklin utilized an efficient and effective guard to sustain little damage with Griffin on top, but it was a dominant start for Griffin.
The pace quickened in the second round, with both guys landing kicks and combinations in the pocket. Griffin would once again work Franklin to the ground, but this time Franklin was able to get back to his feet after a scramble.
Griffin would then land the biggest punch of the fight, staggering Franklin with a big left hand, but Franklin quickly recovered and scored some nice shots of his own, mixing in blistering left kicks to the body.
Griffin looked to be up 2 rounds to none going into the final round, and it looked as though Franklin sensed it as well, as he responded quickly, putting together multiple punch combinations while the fight was on the feet.
In true Forrest Griffin fashion, the big man responded, stepping into the pocket and exchanging with the former UFC middleweight champion.
Griffin looked to seal the deal with a take down, but was reversed by Franklin, and after a mad scramble, Griffin once again ended up on top. After a fairly close final round, the bout would go to the cards.
When the results came in, it was Forrest Griffin (18-6) that was awarded a unanimous decision victory, his first in over a year, and his ninth overall in the UFC.
Jon Jones easily dispatches Ryan Bader, next in-line for chance at “Shogun’s” belt
Jones easily dodged and stuffed any and all take down attempts by Bader, and in the first round, it was Jones that shot in quickly and got an immediate take down. Once on top, Jones stifled and smothered Bader, controlling position from the top and tattooing the body of Bader with elbows.
Jones used quick transitions to advance position and hunt for submissions starting with a north/south choke, then a guillotine from there. The round would end with Jones on top and in total control.
Jones started to find his range on the feet early in the second, while Bader struggled with winging punches outside the 84-inch reach of “Bones.” Bader still failed to earn a take down as Jones stayed one step ahead of the shooting Bader, and after a brief clinch, Bader once again found himself on the bottom of a beat down.
Jones continued to look for submission attempts from the top, starting with a d’arce choke, then transitioning to a tight guillotine. After some adjustments to his body position, Jones torqued on the hold forcing the tap from Bader.
Jones improves to 12-1 overall, and 6-1 in the UFC, but more importantly, it was announced that he will be next to face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship, in lieu of Rashad Evans who is out due to injury.
Jake Ellenberger edges Rocha
Jake Ellenberger came out against the dangerous submission specialist Carlos Eduardo Rocha and got an early take down, but quickly found himself on his back and in deep trouble after a scramble. Rocha’s world class ground game was on full display, as he transitioned from one dominating position to the next, constantly looking for openings to lock up submissions.
Ellenberger’s experience paid huge dividends as he fended off all of Rocha’s threatening submission attempts, especially as he survived a tight americana just before the bell sounded on Round 1.
Rocha slowed down considerably after the first, and it was Ellenberger that came out firing big knees in the clinch to start the second frame. Ellenberger found his timing and distance in the second, setting up his right hand with double jabs, and a late take down seemingly sealed Round 2 for him.
The third round was much like the second, as Rocha faded and Ellenberger continued to land the better strikes throughout the final stanza. A take down late in the third proved to be enough to win the round and the fight overall for Ellenberger.
When the cards came in, the judges awarded Ellenberger (23-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC) with a split decision victory. Inexplicably, one judge scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Rocha.
Miguel Torres victorious in UFC debut
Instead of getting into an old-fashioned brawl, Torres started and stayed patient, punishing Banuelos with a stiff jab that broke the nose of Banuelos. Torres enjoyed a tremendous reach advantage, and capitalized on it, continuing to pepper Banuelos with his jab. The jab kept Banuelos from ever getting into a rhythm the entire bout.
Banuelos seemed content to fire away from the outside, and abandoned any attempts at taking the fight to the ground. In the end, it was all Torres, as he was awarded a unanimous decision victory by the judges (30-27, 30-27, 30-27.)
The win moves Torres to 39-3 overall, and 1-0 in the Octagon.