UFC 162 takes place Saturday night from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, headlined by a UFC middleweight championship bout between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Weidman's wrestling and submission game makes him the closest betting underdog to the dominant Silva in many years. Many in the sport, particularly fighters, feel Weidman is Silva's most dangerous challenger.
UFC middleweight title: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
Anderson Silva is unquestionably the most dominant fighter in UFC history, with a sparkling 16-0 record and rock solid legacy. Weidman at 9-0 has nothing resembling the resume of Silva but does possess a style that could give Silva difficulty. He is an excellent wrestler with a dangerous submission game as well. A big factor could be how Weidman deals with the mental pressure of fighting an opponent so feared and dominant. Many fighters have come into the cage against Anderson Silva already psyched out and Weidman has never fought in a fight remotely this high profile.
Round 1. The fighers don't touch gloves. Weidman shoots for a takedown and he gets it. He drops down some big punches and works into half guard. He drops down elbows to go with the punches and looks to isolate Silva's arm. Silva gets out of danger and Weidman has to posture up to land more punches. He begins dropping down punches from the feet and rolls for an ankle of Silva. Silva gets out and returns to his feet. Silva stands next to the cage and puts down his hands. He welcomes Weidman in and Weidman punches him. Silva says okay and then lands a few kicks to the legs. Weidman goes for punches that land on air and Silva just encourages him for more. Silva encourages him to throw leg kicks and taunts Weidman before throwing punches of his own. Silva is playing around but he lost that round. 10-9 Weidman.
Round 2. Silva is taunting Weidman and encouraging him on before th start of the second round. Perhaps he is trying to bait him into a standup fight. As Weidman throws a punch, Silva feigns that he is hurt and begins dancing around. Weidman goes for a takedown but doesn't get it. Silva lands some hard leg kicks. Weidman goes for a punch. Silva taunts him and encourages him to throw more. So Weidman lands a punch that knocks Silva out. Silva was bobbing his head around dodging Weidman's punches but then got hit with a hook he didn't see and that was it. Just a moment before Silva was knocked out he was wobbling his knees pretending to be hurt to mock Weidman.
Winner: Chris Weidman, KO, round 2.
Mike Pierce vs. David Mitchell
Pierce is one of the more underappreciated fighters in the UFC welterweight division, due in part to his style of fighting. He has won three straight fights and has only lost in the UFC to elite opponents. Mitchell is a submission oriented fighter with a 1-2 record.
Round 1. Pierce closes the distance early and pushes Mitchell against the cage. He grabs a double leg but isn't able to take Mitchell to the ground. They remain in the clinch and exchange body shots. They separate and Pierce connects with a nice hook before looking again for the takedown. Neither fighter is able to gain an advantage so they remain tied up in the clinch. Mitchell lands a pair of nice knees to the body and Pierce responds with one of his own. They separate briefly and Pierce lands a nice straight punch and leg kick. Very dull first round. 10-9 Pierce.
Round 2. Pierce again instigates a clinch and again neither fighter is able to gain much of an advantage. Upon the break, Pierce connects with a few punches. This time, Mitchell goes for the clinch and throws a series of knees to the body. Upon a break from the clinch, Pierce lands a hard looping punch. Mitchell goes down and Pierce pursues him to the ground with a series of hammerfists that force the referee to stop the bout. That was a typical Pierce performance: grinding and unexciting but effective.
Winner: Mike Pierce, TKO, round 2.
Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon
Baczynski has been successful in the UFC following his stint on the Ultimate Fighter television show. He won four fights in a row with submissions and a knockout before dropping his last contest to Mike Pierce. Melancon is making his UFC debut, transferring over to the UFC from Strikeforce. He is only 6-2 in MMA but has fought for a number of prominent organizations including Strikeforce, Bellator, Legacy and now the UFC.
Round 1. Baczynski has a big length and reach advantage, but Melancon has no trouble closing the distance and landing the shots early. He lands a hard left hook early. Moments later he drops Baczynszki with another big shot and looks to finish the fight on the ground. He isn't able to close so he lets Baczynski back up. He then takes Melancon down. Very late in the round, Melancon drops down a bomb from his feet to the grounded Baczynski and a few additional punches as the bell sounds to signal the end of the round. Baczynski can't continue and the fight is called with a second left. That was a great performance by Melancon in his UFC debut.
Winner: Brian Melancon, TKO, round 1.
Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Barboza is considered one of the top Brazilian prospects in any weight class, with a 11-1 record and wins over high quality fighters like Ross Pearson, Terry Etim and Anthony Njokuani. He suffered his only setback last year in a shocking TKO upset by Jamie Varner. Oliveira is 15-5 in MMA competition but 2-4 in the UFC. He isn't considered at Barboza's level and was an injury replacement for John Makdessi here.
Round 1. Oliveira immediately moves to close the distance but eats a couple counters in the process. Barboza rips a fast kick to the body that elicits an "ooh" from the crowd. Oliveira shoots for a takedown but is easily stuffed. Barboza then turns Oliveira around with one of his vicious leg kicks. Oliveira goes for another takedown but Barboza avoids it. Oliveira connects with a straight left punch and goes for another takedown. It is blocked once more and Barboza goes back to work with leg kicks. Oliveira has another takedown attempt blocked. Barboza mixes kicks to the body and legs. He circles around and is light on his feet, attempting to avoid providing an easy target for a takedown. After another hard leg kick Oliveira begins noticeably limping. Oliveira's leg is bleeding from multiple spots. 10-8 Barboza.
Round 2. Barboza goes back to work with a kick to the body and kick to the leg. He catches Oliveira off balance with a punch but lets him back up. Oliveira then catches Barboza off balance with a punch and tries to use it to get a takedown. Barboza works his way back up to the feet and goes back to the kicks. Oliveira goes down twice from leg kicks and after two more Oliveira goes down again and Herb Dean calls off the fight. Oliveira is in great pain. That was a good stoppage.
Winner: Edson Barboza, TKO, round 2.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman
Gonzaga is one of the more experienced fighters inside the UFC's Octagon. 15 of his 21 MMA fights have taken place in the UFC. His most famous fight was a main event heavyweight title loss to Randy Couture at UFC 74. He has excellent jiu jitsu but has increasingly relied on his striking in recent years. Dave Herman is a unique character who starts fights fast but has a tendency to fade. He needs a win here after losing his last 3 fights, albeit to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson.
Round 1. Herman opens with a couple front kicks to the body. Gonzaga responds with a right hook that Herman doesn't see coming. Herman goes down hard and Gonzaga follows with a few punches on the ground to cement the ending.
Winner: Gabriel Gonzaga, TKO, round 1.
Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome
There is hope that Parke, from Northern Ireland, can be a star in the European market. He won the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighter season pitting the UK against Australia. Tokudome is fighting for the first time outside of his native Japan. He won his UFC debut in Saitama against Cristiano Marcello.
Round 1. Parke lands the first telling blow with a left hook to Tokudome. The fighters exchange jabs. Parke lands a hard left punch right up the middle but Tokudome is fine. Neither man appears to have a lot of power. Parke clinches and looks for a takedown. He pulls Tokudome down but Tokudome stands right back up. Tokudome nicely reverses Parke as Parke goes for a takedown and takes top position on the ground. Tokudome lands a few punches and attempts to pass guard but he isn't able to do a lot in terms of scoring offense or advancing position. Parke then reverses and gets into side control late in the round. 10-9 Parke.
Round 2. They trade kicks to start. Tokudome moves in with punches and Parke fires back. Parke catches Tokudome with a nice counter hook that has Tokudome in momentary trouble. They then open up with wild, winging punches and trade as the crowd cheers. Parke lands a straight left punch right on the button and then another moments later. Tokudome is able to absorb them so Parke takes him to the ground. Tokudome is able to get back up. Tokudome throws a nice flying knee and some additional punches and Parke takes the fight back to the ground. He immediately gains full mount. Tokudome nicely presses up and gets out of danger. They return to their feet at the close of the round. Very good round for Parke. 10-9 Parke.
Round 3. Tokudome looks for a takedown and they work to secure top position. In a clinch against the cage, Tokudome lands a few hooks from close range. Parke goes for a takedown but Tokudome reverses like he did in the first round to take top position. Parke gets back up. Tokudome connects with a head kick, a few additional punches and takes Parke down. That was his best flurry of the fight. Parke is able to get up quickly. Parke connects with a good 1-2 punch combination. Parke goes for another takedown which Tokudome defends well. 10-9 Tokudome, 29-28 Parke.
Winner: Norman Parke, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Chris Leben vs. Andrew Craig
Leben is a well-known fighter dating back to his tenure on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. He has battled addiction over the years and lost 3 of his past 4 fights. This is an extremely important fight for him given that run and the fact he looked terrible in his most recent contest against Derek Brunson. Craig is a gritty and exciting fighter who is 2-1 in his early UFC career. His most recent fight against Ronny Markes was his first MMA loss.
Round 1. Leben marches forward. He eats a knee but clinches and looks for a takedown on Craig. He can't get it and they briefly separate. Leben throws a big overhand punch and goes back to the takedown attempt. He has Craig down for a moment but Craig gets right back up. They break. Leben throws a wild left hook and again looks to take the fight to the ground. He can't get it and Craig lands a nice straight left punch on the break. Craig lands two straight punches and Leben staggers in for another takedown attempt. Craig defends that. Leben goes for another takedown. Upon a break, Craig shoots but doesn't get the takedown. Most are likely going to give that round to Leben for instigating clinches, but Craig was more accurate with his strikes. 10-9 Craig.
Round 2. Leben swings wildly with a couple of hooks but doesn't come remotely close. He clinches again. Neither man gets anything and on the break Craig connects with a very good punch from close range. Leben looks for the takedown again. He can't get it and eats a knee on the break. Leben is moving slowly. They clinch again. No one gets anything and on separation, they trade leg kicks. They clinch and Leben throws some punches to the body. 10-9 Craig.
Round 3. Leben clinches again and this time lands some big punches. Craig answers back with punches of his own and drops Leben. Leben is in big trouble and Craig is pouring it on from the ground. Leben gets up, which may be a mistake. The crowd loudly chants for Leben, who gives a tired look up at the clock. There are still over three minutes left. They clinch again. Upon separation, Craig drops Leben with another punch. Craig goes to work with some punches from the top. Leben gets back up but is taken down again. Leben gets up and is taken down a final time. 10-8 Craig, 30-26 Craig.
Winner: Andrew Craig, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver
The UFC 162 pay-per-view kicks off with an important featherweight bout. Swanson has worked his way into featherweight title contention with four consecutive impressive victories. His brawling style often makes for crowd pleasing fights. Siver is an accomplished technical striker who is 9-2 in his last 11 UFC fights and 6-1 in his last 7. Most of those have come against quality opposition. The winner here will be one of the very top contenders for Jose Aldo's title.
Round 1. Siver connects with a pair of hard left hands early on. Swanson is trying to move in to land on Siver but he's coming right into range of Siver's looping power punches. Swanson throws a spinning kick and Siver uses the opportunity to take Swanson to the ground. Siver quickly procures half guard position and mixes up punches to the body and head on the ground. Siver works his way into side control. Swanson tries to stand up but cannot. Siver drops down some elbows. He looks to move into full mount but Swanson is able to catch one of his legs and Siver ends up back in Swanson's guard. Swanson goes for a guillotine choke and Siver stands back up to get out. 10-9 Siver.
Round 2. Siver opens the round with a series of kicks from different angles. Siver lands a good hook and Swanson answers with one of his own. As Swanson goes for a punch, Siver ducks under and tries a takedown. Swanson stops him. Swanson looks for a unique almost Capoeira style kick but can't get it. Siver grabs Swanson's head and lands a looping punch. Swanson hits Siver with an excellent kick to the body. Swanson uses a beautiful judo throw and quickly moves into mount in an explosive sequence that the crowd explodes for. He begins throwing punches from full mount and looks for an omoplata in a scramble. 10-9 Swanson.
Round 3. Siver looks for a takedown and on the break cracks Swanson on the chin with a hook. Swanson lands a nice punch of his own on Siver a little bit later. Siver goes for a spinning backfist but gets all air. Swanson appears more comfortable in the standup exchanges now and nails Siver with a long series of punches. Siver eventually goes down and Swanson overwhelms him with punches on the ground to finish the fight. It was a late stoppage by referee Herb Dean.
Winner: Cub Swanson, TKO, round 3.
A lot of stars at the show, including Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson and Usher.
Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch
Mark Munoz was one of the top contenders for Anderson Silva's middleweight title prior to a loss to Chris Weidman last year. Now, Weidman is getting that shot and Munoz at 35 needs to get his career back on track. Munoz gained a lot of weight following that loss but got himself back into excellent shape. Boetsch is a gamer. He isn't a particularly good athlete but grinds out wins with his toughness and wrestling.
Round 1. Boetsch goes for a takedown but Munoz elevates and is right back on his feet. Boetsch slams Munoz down but Munoz stands back up. Boetsch moves in with punches and clinches again. Munoz this time takes Boetsch down. Boetsch eats a punch but stands up. Munoz takes Boetsch down again but Boetsch gets up again. Munoz takes Boetsch down a third time. Boetsch grabs a guillotine choke and uses it to take top position. Munoz stands back up and lands some heavy punches to Boetsch. They grapple for control against the cage and trade knees. Munoz lands some more hard punches to the chin of Boetsch and unsuccessfully looks for a takedown at the close. 10-9 Munoz.
Round 2. Munoz looks for a wild flying knee but doesn't come close. They clinch and Munoz looks for a takedown. Neither man is able to pull anything off. Boetsch lands a nice hook and looks for a takedown. However, Munoz powers Boetsch back for a takedown of his own. Boetsch goes to stand up and Munoz tries to use the opportunity to take Boetsch's back. Munoz lands a series of heavy punches to the body but Boetsch stands up. Munoz then takes him right back down. Boetsch stands up and looks for a takedown of his own. Munoz stuffs it and lands more big punches to the body. He lands a couple knees to the body as well. 10-9 Munoz.
Round 3. Munoz lands a nice uppercut and takes Boetsch down. Boetsch looks for a choke but Munoz is able to avoid danger. Munoz goes back to work with hard punches on the ground. Boetsch is in a bad position and can only defend even though he isn't in much danger. Munoz looks for a kimura from the top and the crowd reacts big on a night where there have been lots of knockouts but few submissions. Munoz then looks for a rear naked choke but doesn't have both hooks in. Munoz goes back to work with punches on the ground and lands some heavy ones. Munoz drops some bombs to end the fight. Very impressive performance for Munoz. 10-8 Munoz, 30-26 Munoz.
Winner: Mark Munoz, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-27).
Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie
This is the UFC debut of two former Strikeforce fighters. Kennedy gained fame for serving in the army while also competing as a fighter. He came up short twice via decision in Strikeforce middleweight title fights. Gracie, from the most famous fighting family, is a jiu jitsu ace but is lacking in other aspects of his game.
Round 1. Big chants of "You're going to die" in Portuguese from a crowd heavily populated by Brazilians. Gracie shoots for a takedown and gets it. Kennedy stands up. There are "USA" chants but they're quickly drowned out with boos. Gracie moves in with a couple punches and then backs off. Kennedy lands a few leg kicks. Gracie clinches and throws some knees to the body. Gracie gets another takedown and as Kennedy stands up, Gracie gets his hooks in and takes Kennedy's back. Gracie locks up a body triangle with 90 seconds still to go in the round. Kennedy is able to roll out and take top position. Knowing he's down big in the round, he immediately throws some aggressive punches. 10-9 Gracie.
Round 2. Kennedy opens with leg kicks. Gracie ducks down for a takedown but Kennedy pushes him against the cage and takes Gracie down. He lands some hard punches to the head and looks to sink in his hooks. Gracie defends that and they return to their feet. The crowd begins singing in Portuguese. Americans respond with USA chants and the Brazilians boo. This is quite the atmosphere. Kennedy takes Gracie down again. The action is a little slow and they are returned to the feet. Kennedy throws a few punches and clinches. 10-9 Kennedy.
Round 3. Kennedy throws a series of leg kicks early. Gracie isn't particularly active. Kennedy mixes in hooks but they rarely land. Kennedy grabs Gracie's waist and throws some knees to the behind. He releases Gracie and throws some more leg kicks. Gracie clinches and goes for a takedown. Gracie gets very low and momentarily has Kennedy down but Kennedy pops right back up and presses Gracie against the cage. The crowd begins doing the wave. Kennedy returns to throwing leg kicks and Gracie isn't doing much. 10-9 Kennedy, 29-28 Kennedy.
Winner: Tim Kennedy, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
Edgar was UFC lightweight champion for almost 2 years, but now has a three fight losing streak on his record. However, all three of those were close decision losses to the current 155 pound and 145 pound champs. He seeks to rebound here against a dangerous 23-year-old fighter with speed, nice striking and a slick submission game. Oliveira is coming off a loss to Cub Swanson but would really elevate his stock with a win in this bout.
Round 1. Edgar comes out fast, throwing straight punches. Oliveira looks for a takedown and then pulls guard. As Edgar stands up, Oliveira lands a hard knee to the shoulder area. They clinch and Oliveira leaps up to pull guard. Edgar lands a few punches and stands up. They exchange punches on the feet and Edgar throws Oliveira down. Oliveira gets up and eats a hook and an uppercut. Edgar stuffs a takedown attempt. In a fast paced scramble, they return to the ground with Edgar on top and Oliveira landing elbows from the bottom. 10-9 Edgar.
Round 2. Oliveira lands a few shots including a heavy leg kick. Edgar throws Oliveira down but lets him back up. Edgar then takes him back down. This time Edgar is content to work in Oliveira's guard and land punches. Oliveira decides to stand up. Oliveira lands a few punches and Edgar is bleeding from the nose. Edgar catches Oliveira off balance with a punch moments later. They begin exchanging openly from close range with each man landing solid punches. Edgar then gets a big slam on Oliveira. Oliveira looks for a guillotine choke at the close of the round. Exciting second half of the round. 10-9 Edgar.
Round 3. Edgar goes to work with power punches early and lands some strong straight punches to Oliveira. He keeps the pressure on and lands some of his best shots of the fight. Oliveira hasn't slowed down to any significant degree but Edgar appears to be taking over as he so often does down the stretch of fights. Oliveira answers back well and snaps back Edgar's head with one of the best punches of the fight. Oliveira trips Edgar but Edgar gets back up. Oliveira appears to hurt Edgar with a shot but Edgar comes right back and lands big punches of his own on Oliveira. The crowd is going nuts. Edgar gets a takedown with a minute left in the fight. Edgar lands some punches and the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Edgar, 30-27 Edgar. But it was a close and exciting fight.
Winner: Frankie Edgar, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).