One of the UFC's biggest events of the year takes place Saturday night, featuring a pair of high profile title fights. In the main event, all-time great Anderson Silva seeks to avenge the only loss of his UFC career and regain the UFC middleweight championship against undefeated champion Chris Weidman. Weidman knocked out Silva in July when Silva was showboating, leading to much discussion as to whether the fight result was more about Weidman or Silva.
In the co-feature, Ronda Rousey defends her UFC women's bantamweight title against rival Miesha Tate. Rousey and Tate have a longstanding mutual dislike, showcased on the most recent season of the UFC's Ultimate Fighter reality show. Rousey rode a wave of positive media coverage to stardom, but has run into something of a backlash recently as fans have gotten to know her better. The deep card also includes an intriguing heavyweight contest pitting veteran Josh Barnett against rising star Travis Browne. The winner will be a top challenger for the UFC heavyweight title.UFC middleweight title: Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
Silva is one of MMA's all-time greats, an otherwordly blend of precision striking, creativity and instincts. He dominated the UFC's middleweight division for 7 years until running into Weidman in July. Weidman was the sort of fighter always believed to present problems for Silva: an excellent wrestler with dangerous submissions and good striking to boot. Weidman took Silva down and did damage early before Silva began showboating. That encouraged Weidman to stand with Silva and in the process, Weidman caught Silva with a punch and knocked him out. Now, they rematch. Silva seeks to erase the memory of their first fight. Weidman looks to affirm its validity.
Anderson Silva crouches down in a pensive pose for a couple minutes before making his way out.
Round 1. Silva comes out with his hands high, showing respect for Weidman's power. Weidman ducks down and gets the takedown. Silva immediately looks to stand right back up by the cage and he does so. Weidman keeps the clinch and looks to pull him back down. They trade knees in the clinch. Weidman stuns and drops Silva with a punch. He swarms with heavy punches on the ground and looks to close. Silva is able to survive. Weidman drops down hard elbows on Silva. He uses a can opener to try to open Silva's guard like Mark Coleman always used to like but Silva won't do so. Wiedman drops down more hard punches and elbows. Weidman postures up to get leverage for shots but can't get anything big through. The crowd continues to rally for Silva, with the big Brazilian contingent loudly chanting. Silva does land persistent punches from the bottom but Weidman has the leverage to land bigger shots. Weidman drops down another big shot at the end. 10-8 Weidman.
Round 2. Silva's hands are again high. Silva throws a leg kick but Weidman checks it and Silva breaks his leg. That's it. What a crazy and unfortunate ending to the fight.
Silva's leg breaking was absolutely horrific. A disgusting, Joe Theismann like injury.
Winner: Chris Weidman, TKO, round 2.
UFC women's bantamweight title: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
Rousey was an Olympic judo bronze medalist and has won all seven of her professional MMA fights via first round armbar. Tate has been her biggest rival and they have had an war of words for years. Rousey submitted Tate in their first fight last year and Tate lost her last fight via TKO to Cat Zingano.
Round 1. They move to the center and start trading punches. Rousey grabs a bodylock and pulls Tate down. Tate gets up but eats a Rousey knee. They trade knees to the body in the clinch. Rousey lands a nice looping punch and a front kick. Tate goes down and grabs a triangle choke attempt. She then looks for an armbar but can't get it. Tate takes Rousey down but Rousey looks to set up an armbar. Rousey lands some elbows from the bottom and looks to set up a triangle choke. Tate gets out of the triangle and they return to the standing position. Tate lands a nice hook to the jaw of Rousey. She lands another punch that stuns Rousey and they tumble to the ground. Rousey looks for the armbar in the scramble but Tate avoids that. Tate looks for a takedown but Rousey reverses the momentum and takes top position. She then stands back up. Very competitive first round and Rousey is out of the first round for the first time. 10-9 Rousey.
Round 2. Tate comes out swinging hard. Rousey uses a trip takedown but eats a few upkicks as she looks to take top position. Rousey backs up and lets Tate up. Tate then looks for a takedown but Rousey again uses her judo to flip Tate and take top position. Rousey stands up. Rousey walks into a left hook but then gets Tate down. Rousey has side control and looks to get mount but Tate avoids that and stands back up. Tate eats some punches on the way up and the crowd chants for Tate. Rousey uses a beautiful judo throw to slam Tate right back down. Rousey is in side control and grabs the arm. Rousey looks for the armbar but then instead gives that up and takes mount. Rousey lands a bunch of punches and grabs the armbar. Rousey has the arm extended but doesn't have the angle and has to let it go. Rousey looks to set up a reverse triangle choke with just 30 seconds left in the round. Tate hangs on for the end. 10-8 Rousey.
Round 3. Rousey presses forward with punches and clinches with Tate. Rousey pulls Tate down with Tate on top. Rousey immediately looks to set up the armbar. She extends it and gets the tapout. Tate looks to shake Rousey's hand but Rousey walks away to crowd boos.
Winner: Ronda Rousey, submission, round 3.
Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
Barnett is one of the most accomplished heavyweights in MMA history, having fought and thrived in just about every major MMA organization for over a decade. He successfully returned to the UFC in August with a win over Frank Mir and looks to get into the title picture with a win here. Browne is 15-1-1 in MMA and 6-1-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming due to a fluke leg injury against Antonio Silva. A long fighter, his greatest strength is his striking.
Round 1. Browne lands a pair of solid hooks at the start. Barnett clinches but Browne backs off. Barnett looks for a takedown but doesn't get it. Barnett moves in and eats a heavy knee. Browne follows with hard elbows to the side of the head and Barnett goes out.
Winner: Travis Browne, KO, round 1.
Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes
Jim Miller is one of the sport's most respected veterans, a hardworking submission grappler who has great fighting spirit. However, he has struggled greatly in three of his last five fights against Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz and Pat Healy. Camoes is an unheralded 14-7-1 Brazilian fighter.
Round 1. Camoes lands the best early shot, a solid uppercut. Miller answers with some quality hooks as Camoes aggressively wades in. Camoes lands some nice hooks but is taken down when he goes for a head kick. Camoes scrambles up and then gets Miller down. Miller grabs an armbar and gets the submission.
Winner: Jim Miller, submission, round 1.
Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao
Poirier is a top featherweight contender with his only losses coming to Danny Castillo, Chan Sung Jung and Cub Swanson. He is coming off an impressive victory over the dangerous Erik Koch. Brandao won the 14th season of the Ultimate Fighter and has gone 3-1 in the UFC since then. He is known for coming on strong at the beginning of fights but fading late. He missed the 145 pound weight for this fight by a remarkable 8 pounds yesterday, bringing about a torrent of criticism for his lack of professionalism.
Round 1. Brandao throws a head kick at the start that Poirier deflects. Brandao lands a nice body punch. He then lands a big overhand right. Poirier snaps in a body kick. Poirier hits Brandao with a few punches right up the middle. He hits a really hard right to the chin of Brandao. Brandao catches Poirier off balance with a punch and sends Poirier to the canvas. Brandao looks for a takedown but cannot secure it. Brandao gets a takedown with a minute left in the round but Poirier stands back up. He presses Brandao against the cage and pours on a series of punches to the chin. He has Brandao in big trouble as Brandao looks tired and drops to the canvas. Poirier lands a series of punches on the ground and avoids a Hail Mary armbar submission attempt. He lands additional punches and the fight is stopped late in the round.
Winner: Dustin Poirier, TKO, round 1.
Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall
This is a very important fight for both men, as the UFC has said that the loser will be cut from the organization. Leben was arguably the fighter most responsible for the success of the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and he has remained a star in the promotion ever since. Punishment from years of hard fights and substance abuse issues have left him an old fighter at 33 and he has lost three straight. Hall had remarkable buzz coming off his stint on the Ultimate Fighter, thanks to some extremely violent and spectacular knockouts. But he lost his first two regular UFC fights and looked uninspired in the process. He needs to recapture some of that promise here.
Round 1. Hall hits a flying knee at the start and drops Leben. Leben gets up and pushes forward. He eats another knee. Leben keeps moving in and throwing big looping overhands. He also adds leg kicks in there. Hall keeps backing up and trying to land counters. Hall drops Leben with a straight right punch very late in the round and looks to finish with additional punches on the ground. Leben is barely able to survive and is saved by the bell. 10-8 Hall.
Leben says he is done between rounds and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Uriah Hall, retirement, round 1.
Estevan Payan vs. Robert Peralta
Payan is an Army veteran looking for his first UFC win. Peralta is 2-1 (1 NC) in the UFC and has finishes in 14 of his 16 wins.
Round 1. Peralta lands a few hooks at the onset of the fight and takes Payan down. Peralta lands some punches from the top, but halfway through the round Payan uses a nice sweep to take side control top position. Payan goes to work with punches for most of the rest of the round. Peralta gets up at the end. Very even round. 10-9 Payan.
Round 2. Peralta lands a couple punches early. Payan hits Peralta with a nice leg kick. Peralta answers with some leg kicks of his own. Payan gets a takedown halfway through the round and gets side control just like in the first. Peralta gets up but eats a couple power punches for his effort. Peralta looks to take Payan down. They grapple for position against the cage. 10-9 Payan.
Round 3. Peralta stuns Payan with looping punches at the very start of the round. He follows with more punches and drops Payan. Peralta continues to land blows on the ground and the referee stops the contest. Peralta needed a big third round and he got it.
Winner: Robert Peralta, TKO, round 3.
William Macario vs. Bobby Voelker
Macario is a 22 year old Brazilian who excelled on the second season of the Brazilian Ultimate Fighter and is thought to have a lot of potential in the sport. However, he suffered a setback and lost via submission in his UFC debut. Voelker has a 24-10 record with few notable wins, but did win his trilogy of fights with Roger Bowling on Strikeforce's Challengers series.
Round 1. The heavily Brazilian crowd is solidly behind Macario. Voelker comes out aggressively, pushing forward with punches to the head. Macario looks to feel out Macario and then goes to work with punches of his own to the body and head. Macario lands a heavy knee and nails Voelker with hard punches against the Octagon. Macario, who had cardio issues in his last fight, paces himself carefully. Macario drops Voelker back with a huge punch right to the chin and follows with more by the cage. Macario takes Voelker down three minutes into the round but Voelker gets back up. Macario slows down some towards the end of the round but Voelker isn't landing much at all. 10-9 Macario.
Round 2. Voelker charges forward like in the first round with big punches. Macario backs out and uses head movement to avoid almost all of the shots but doesn't answer much himself. Macario gets a takedown 90 seconds in. Voelker gets back up. Voelker pushes the action and walks down Macario but isn't landing much. Macario lands some nice counters to the body and head and looks to close up against the cage. He drops Voelker momentarily with a knee but Voelker gets back up. Voelker's nose is a mess from all the shots. 10-8 Macario.
Round 3. Voelker gamely pushes forward again but he isn't able to land with any consistency. He goes for a takedown but it is stuffed. Voelker lands a few nice hooks. Voelker's face has become a terrible mess from the shots in the first and second rounds. Macario is less aggressive in the third, content to utilize his jab and avoid any threat from Voelker. He mixes in leg kicks as well. Macario takes Voelker down with a little over a minute left but Voelker gets up again. 10-9 Macario, 30-26 Macario.
Winner: William Macario, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. John Howard
Siyar is a crowd pleasing Afghan fighter with excellent finishing skills. He is looking to rebound from a loss to Dong Hyun Kim in March. Howard, a muay thai striker, was cut from the UFC in 2011 but then won six of seven outside the organization to get another opportunity. He returned to defeat Uriah Hall via split decision in an uninspired bout in August.
Round 1. The fighters feel each other out at the beginning, knowing each man has significant knockout power. They trade leg kicks and then hooks, with neither landing a telling blow. Siyar lands the best early shot, a looping right punch. They clinch against the cage, where Siyar lands a few hard knees to the body. Howard looks for a takedown but Siyar defends well. Siyar lands another body knee but Howard takes him down with 90 seconds left in the round. Siyar has Howard in half guard, but Howard then moves forward and looks to mount. In the scramble, Siyar returns to his feet. Siyar lands a few punches and Howard answers with a good counter hook at the close of the round. Very close round. 10-9 Siyar.
Round 2. Howard lands a wild punch early and presses forward with heavy shots when he has Siyar momentarily dazed. The fighters exchange wild hooks from close range before Howard backs off into a safer range. Howard grabs a leg and looks for a takedown but Siyar blocks it. Siyar follows with a knee and takes Howard down. They return to their feet in short order. They clinch, with Howard throwing uppercuts and Siyar relying more on knees. Howard lifts up Siyar and hits the infamous Samoan drop with 30 seconds left in the round. 10-9 Howard.
Round 3. Howard goes for a takedown early. He can't get it. Siyar lands a couple punches and a nice knee. Howard connects with a few solid punches of his own, mixing them in from different angles. Howard gets the takedown two minutes in and works from inside Siyar's full guard. Howard postures up to gain leverage for harder grounded punches. He hits Siyar with some hard punches from the top. Siyar looks to get up but can't do so. Howard works his way into full mount position, a very advantageous spot for the fighter on top. Siyar is forced to roll over to avoid hard punches and Howard gets his hooks in and looks for the rear naked choke submission. Time runs out. Howard clearly won the third round. The first two were close. 10-9 Howard, 29-28 Howard.
Winner: John Howard, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Dennis Siver vs. Manny Gamburyan
Gamburyan and Siver fought for a long time at 155, relying on thick, compact and powerful physiques to overcome length and reach disadvantages. Now, they both fight at 145 and won't have to deal with a much longer opponent here. Siver is a German kickboxer while Gamburyan is an Armenian-American judoka.
Round 1. Gamburyan closes distance quickly and lands a few power hooks from close range. Gamburyan isn't a great technical striker but he can land with great power. Siver takes him down a minute in. Gamburyan immediately looks to secure an armbar. He can't get that but is able to return to his feet. Siver throws a series of leg kicks to establish range. Gamburyan gets a takedown with a minute left and then looks for a leg lock. Siver lands a bunch of punches and Gamburyan give up on that. Gamburyan stands up with Siver grabbing a body triangle and looking to sink in a rear naked choke. 10-9 Siver.
Round 2. Gamburyan and Siver throw wild looping punches at the same moment. It sounded like Gamburyan landed harder but Gamburyan goes down. Siver doesn't follow up. Gamburyan goes for a takedown. Siver looks to secure a guillotine choke but Gamburyan avoids that and pulls off the takedown. Gamburyan is patient landing punches consistently from top and he opens up a cut on Siver. Siver gets up at the midpoint of the round. Siver throws a series of straight punches while Gamburyan throws a wild spinning back kick that misses. Gamburyan goes for a takedown and gets it with a minute left in the round. Gamburyan works from the top until the round concludes. 10-9 Gamburyan.
Round 3. Siver looks to establish the range he wants with jabs and leg kicks. Siver gets a takedown. Gamburyan looks to set up a kimura from the bottom but can't get it. Gamburyan tries to get up and Siver takes his back in the process. Siver applies a body triangle and looks for a rear naked choke. He can't get it but he keeps control and lands punches for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Siver, 29-28 Siver.
Winner: Dennis Siver, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Michael Johnson vs. Gleison Tibau
Johnson is a talented but inconsistent fighter coming off an impressive win over Joe Lauzon. He has won five of his last seven fights. Tibau is a perennial lightweight gatekeeper. He has fought in the UFC for 7 years against the likes of Nick Diaz, Tyson Griffin, Joe Stevenson, Melvin Guillard, Caol Uno, Jim Miller, Rafael Dos Anjos, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jamie Varner.
Round 1. After a feeling out period standing, they clinch against the cage. Johnson separates and becomes more active with leg kicks and inside punches. He briefly stuns Tibau with a shot to the chin but doesn't pursue with vigor. Tibau is throwing very little. Tibau goes for a takedown but has it blocked. Tibau goes for a takedown but doesn't get it at the end of the round. Boring start. 10-9 Johnson.
Round 2. Tibau continues to be inactive. Johnson isn't much better. Johnson drops Tibau with a left punch and knocks him out with additional punches on the ground.
Winner: Michael Johnson, KO, round 2.Follow on Twitter at @ToddMartinMMA.