The biggest MMA card of the year takes place Saturday night in Las Vegas, with UFC 148 headlined on pay-per-view by the UFC middleweight title rematch between champion Anderson Silva and challenger Chael Sonnen. Sonnen dominated Silva for nearly five rounds in their first fight before succumbing to a late triangle armbar submission. Sonnen has talked trash nonstop for years about Silva and an angry Silva lashed out verbally at Sonnen earlier in the week. The grudge match has led to UFC’s highest grossing Las Vegas event ever.
UFC middleweight title: Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
Since 2006, Anderson Silva has reigned as the most dominant champion in UFC history. 14-0 in the UFC, Silva has had little difficulty with most opponents. The one significant exception was Sonnen, who dominated Silva with wrestling and was close to winning in decisive fashion when Silva caught him in a submission in the fifth round of their first encounter. Now, Sonnen gets his chance to pull off the win he almost had and end Silva’s long streak of dominance. A big question is how much a rib injury played into Silva’s performance the first time. Adding to the intrigue is that Sonnen has mounted the most aggressive war of words in MMA history against Silva and clearly gotten under the champion’s skin. Silva will have the opportunity to vanquish his rival in much more dominant fashion. It’s a fight with very high stakes.
Round 1. The Brazilian fans in attendance are loudly chanting that Sonnen is going to die in Portuguese. Loud Silva chants as the fight starts. Silva throws a few big punches and Sonnen takes Silva down 9 seconds into the fight. Sonnen immediately drops down punches on Silva. The crowd begins chanting USA. Silva is very active from the bottom but he isn’t attempting to stand back up. Sonnen gets Silva near the cage and looks to isolate one of Silva’s arms. Silva holds Sonnen and prevents Sonnen from getting enough distance to do damage. Silva briefly looks for an arm triangle from the bottom. Sonnen gets out and looks again to isolate one of Silva’s arms for a submission of his own. Sonnen drops down some elbows and works into mount position with 50 seconds left in the round. 10-8 Sonnen.
Round 2. Sonnen aggressively moves forward to close the distance and grab a hold of Silva. They clinch against the cage. Sonnen throws a few knees from the clinch. Sonnen drops down but Silva defends. Silva grabs Sonnen’s shorts and lands a couple punches. Silva opens up with punches and kicks and Sonnen goes for a desperation takedown. Silva blocks it. Sonnen misses a spinning strike and Silva lands some punches on the ground. Sonnen gets up but is dropped by a punch. Silva lands a few more punches on the ground and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Anderson Silva, TKO, round 2.
Silva after the fight says he doesn’t have a problem with Sonnen, despite Sonnen disrespecting his country. Silva embraces Sonnen, says he wants to show manners, and invites Sonnen to a BBQ at his house.
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin
This is the third bout between Ortiz and Griffin. The first time they fought was in 2006, setting a very short lived UFC buy rate record. Ortiz got the decision but many felt Griffin won that bout. They rematched in 2009, with Griffin winning the decision. Now they fight in a rubber match. Adding to the stakes is that this has been promoted as Ortiz’s retirement bout. Ortiz is one of the most important figures in the history of the UFC.
Round 1. Griffin throws the first strike of the fight, a head kick. Ortiz answers with a right punch. Ortiz swings wildly but Griffin ducks under. Griffin connects with a pair of straight punches. Ortiz takes Griffin down a minute in. Ortiz drops a big elbow. Griffin looks to get up but eats a couple punches in the process. Griffin finally does get back up less than two minutes into the round. They stand in the pocket and exchange punches, with each man landing. Griffin lands a nice combination including an uppercut and hook. Ortiz shoots in from long distance but Griffin defends easily. Griffin lands a series of straight punches and brushes off Ortiz as he tries to move in closer. Griffin lands a body kick and leg kick and circles out of the way of Ortiz. Ortiz looks for a takedown at the close of the round. Ortiz was very effective for the period he had Griffin down, but Griffin had a substantial enough lead in the striking to get the round. 10-9 Griffin.
Round 2. Ortiz drops Griffin with a heavy straight right punch. Ortiz moves in to try to close the fight but Griffin fires back to try to deter Ortiz. Ortiz throws a bunch of punches from close range on the feet but Griffin is able to survive and recover his senses. They return to striking from distance with Ortiz landing more blows than he did in the round 1 exchanges. Still, Griffin is landing more punches and mixing in leg kicks as well. Griffin keeps peppering punches on Ortiz with Ortiz loading up power punches that are largely missing. Ortiz goes for a takedown late but Griffin makes him eat some punches while stuffing it. Very similar round to the first in that Ortiz had the best offense of the round early but Griffin controlled the round solidly from there. 10-9 Griffin.
Round 3. Ortiz drops Griffin with a huge straight punch that sends Griffin tumbling to the mat. When Griffin gets back up, Ortiz slams him down. Griffin looks to work his way back up but Ortiz is able to hold him down. Griffin looks for a kimura but doesn’t come close. Griffin finally stands back up with two minutes left in the round. They both are moving very slowly at the close of the fight. Ortiz is basically stationary, reminiscent of the previous fights late. Griffin isn’t able to capitalize all that much, but is landing more shots on a tired Ortiz who is basically just standing still. 10-9 Ortiz, 29-28 Griffin.
Griffin leaves to the back before the decision is announced. The crowd boos. UFC president Dana White chases after him. Griffin finally returns.
Winner: Forrest Griffin, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
In a strange scene, Griffin interviews Ortiz after the fight.
Yoislandy Izquierdo vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Izquierdo is a Cuban-American fighter who lost his UFC debut. Oliveira is a Brazilian with a 1-4 mark in the UFC.
Round 1. Izquierdo looks comfortable in the standup early, but Oliveira takes him to the ground a little over a minute into the bout. Oliveira passes into side control. He looks to mount but has trouble gaining that position because Izquierdo is right next to the cage. Izquierdo gets back up with a minute left in the round. Oliveira goes for another takedown but Izquierdo blocks it. Izquierdo stuns Oliveira with a pair of straight left punches as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Oliveira. Closer round than the long period of control by Oliveira would suggest, however.
Round 2. Izquierdo moves forward aggressively and lands a nice knee but Oliveira ducks down and takes Izquierdo down. Oliveira works into side control and looks for an Americana submission. In the process, Izquierdo lands some elbows from the bottom and cuts Oliveira open. Oliveira continues to work over Izquierdo on the ground but isn’t able to threaten seriously and has to settle for riding the Cuban-American. 10-9 Oliveira.
Round 3. Oliveira takes Izquierdo down and lands some punches from in Izquierdo’s guard. Oliveira then passes into side control. Izquierdo works his way to the cage but isn’t able to get back up. With a minute left, Oliveira secures a crucifix position and throws down some elbows. 10-9 Oliveira, 30-27 Oliveira.
Winner: Rafaello Oliveira, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
John Alessio vs. Shane Roller
There aren’t many fighters who have more experience than John Alessio, who fought for the then UFC lightweight (now welterweight) title back at UFC 26 in June of 2000. Alessio is still looking for his first UFC victory. Roller was a three time All-American wrestler in college but has dropped three straight fights in the UFC.
Round 1. The two fighters seem content to stand and trade early, most concentrating on their boxing. Roller throws a kick and catches Alessio low 90 seconds in. Roller shoots for a takedown halfway through the round but Alessio avoids it with ease. Both men are staying just out of range defensively and not doing a lot of damage offensively. Alessio pushes Roller against the cage late in the round and looks to bring Roller down. Alessio eventually backs off. Late in the round, they begin to engage more actively. Alessio lands some solid jabs and strong hooks while Roller answers with uppercuts. Alessio drops Roller with a hook late and that should be enough to win him the round. 10-9 Alessio.
Round 2. Alessio lands a few punches early and tries to take Roller down. Roller grabs a guillotine choke and looks to finish on the mat. Alessio rolls out of danger and they end up back on their feet. Roller grabs a lock on Alessio and slams him down. Roller lands some elbows from close distance and looks to pass into better position. Alessio tries to stand up and Roller grabs his back with just one hook in. Roller is able to secure a body triangle from the back and lands repeated punches and elbows to Alessio. Decisive round for Roller. 10-9 Roller.
Round 3. Alessio charges forward early and staggers Roller with a series of rapid fire punches. He lands uppercuts and hooks that push Roller against the cage and have him in trouble. Roller is able to survive and shoots for a takedown. Alessio grabs Roller’s neck and looks for a submission but Roller easily avoids the guillotine choke and lands in half guard position. Alessio works his way to his feet but Roller slams him back down. As Roller holds Alessio down, Alessio verbally taunts Roller and implores him to “fight” rather than “ride.” Roller locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds left in the fight. Alessio rolls into top position and gets very active with punches at the close. 10-9 Roller, 29-28 Roller.
Winner: Shane Roller, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Costa Philippou vs. Riki Fukuda
Philippou is a tough, heavy handed striker who has won three straight fights in the UFC. Fukuda is a well rounded veteran who should be 2-0 in UFC were it not for a terrible judges’ decision against Nick Ring.
Round 1. After a tentative feeling out period, Fukuda shoots for a takedown two minutes in. Philippou is able to successfully defend. They return to the striking but both men remain hesitant to open up. Philippou connects with a nice straight punch and an uppercut moments later. Fukuda is bleeding a little bit. Slow round. 10-9 Philippou.
Round 2. Philippou lands better early in the round and Fukuda goes for a takedown a minute in. Philippou easily defends it and lands a few big hooks. Philippou is taking over as the fight goes on, with Fukuda consistently getting the worse of the striking and unable to get the fight to the ground. Fukuda goes for another takedown but doesn’t get it. Philippou staggers Fukuda back with a heavy right hook. 10-9 Philippou.
Round 3. Fukuda aggressively goes for a takedown early and pushes Philippou against the cage. Philippou pushes him off. Philippou circles on the outside and throws jabs at Fukuda. He has the fight in control and he’s not taking any risks. Philippou takes an accidental finger right to the eye and screams in pain during the stop in action. After the stop, Philippou comes back with a couple big hooks. 10-9 Philippou.
Winner: Costa Philippou, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Gleison Tibau vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Tibau is a well respected veteran of the sport with wins over the likes of Rich Clementi, Terry Etim, Caol Uno, Jeremy Stephens, Kurt Pellegrino and Rafael Dos Anjos. Khabib is a 23-year-old Russian with a sparkling 17-0 record and who looked tremendous in his UFC debut against Kamal Shalorus.
Round 1. After a feeling out process, Khabib shoots for a takedown two minutes into the fight. They struggle against the cage for a minute and a half before they are separated. Khabib comes out swinging wildly but doesn’t land anything. He then looks for another takedown but isn’t able to secure it at the close of the round. 10-9 Khabib.
Round 2. Tibau lands the best shot early, a counterpunch that connects solidly on the chin of Khabib. Khabib goes back to the takedown attempt 90 seconds in. Tibau prevents it. Tibau takes Khabib down at the midpoint of the round but Khabib stands back up. They exchange next to the cage and Tibau lands a nice hook. Khabib tries for a takedown again. He can’t get it. 10-9 Tibau.
Round 3. Khabib presses for another takedown, with Tibau once more defending against the cage. They separate and Tibau takes Khabib down. Khabib stands back up in no time at all. Khabib looks to take Tibau down again but he is getting nowhere at all. Khabib throws some wild punches but few land. Tibau isn’t answering himself, however. 10-9 Khabib, 29-28 Khabib.
Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Melvin Guillard vs. Fabricio Camoes
Guillard is a well known knockout artist with good wrestling but a dubious ground game. Camoes is a middle of the line lightweight with a strength in jiu jitsu.
Round 1. Guillard lands a heavy left hook as Camoes tries to close the distance. Guillard throws another moments later. Camoes grabs a leg and takes Guillard down momentarily but Guillard gets back up. Guillard looks for a kimura and then throws a body kick. Guillard catches a body kick attempt by Camoes but can’t capitalize. Guillard stuffs another Camoes takedown attempt. Camoes pushes for a takedown and then pulls guard. Guillard goes down with him. Guillard drops down some punches but Camoes reverses into top position. Guillard looks to get up but Camoes grabs his neck and takes mount position. Camoes drops down a punch of punches from top position and looks for an armbar but Guillard stands back up. Camoes looks for a spinning kick and falls down. Guillard lands some punches to close the round. 10-9 Camoes.
Round 2. Guillard is conservative early in the second, mainly throwing out his jab. Camoes connects with a nice straight punch. Camoes grabs a leg and looks to take Guillard down but Guillard is able to avoid trouble. Camoes takes Guillard down for a second but Guillard gets right back up. Camoes gets a takedown late in the round and has Guillard against the cage. Guillard gets back up but Camoes lands a spinning back elbow. Camoes ends up on the ground and Guillard fires in some punches late in the round. Guillard pulled out the round at the end. 10-9 Guillard.
Round 3. Guillard is again tentative at the start of the round. He mainly throws out his jab and looks to land a power shot or two when Camoes comes in. Camoes for his part isn’t accomplishing anything. Guillard mixes in some punches to the body. Guillard is one of the few fighters in UFC history to end a fight with a body punch. Camoes looks for a takedown but can’t come close. Camoes grabs a leg and looks for a leg lock at the close of the third round. Another close round. This fight could go either way. 10-9 Guillard, 29-28 Guillard.
Winner: Melvin Guillard, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Welcome to the pay-per-view portion of the card.
Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton
Menjivar is a very experienced veteran who has fought a variety of excellent opposition in many different weight classes. He was the first opponent of UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre. Easton is a charismatic Washington, DC fighter with a 12-1 record.
Round 1. Menjivar throws a front kick early as Easton bounces up and down on the balls of his feet. Easton throws a head kick that grazes off the head of Easton. Easton is having trouble getting in range of Menjivar but has success throwing leg kicks. Easton connects with a big head kick. Menjivar responds in kind but his doesn’t land as solidly. Menjivar is mixing in some different looks and throws a pair of spinning back kicks to the leg. Easton’s offense is more straightforward. Easton lands a nice inside hook and goes for a takedown that is blocked at the close. Very close round. 10-9 Easton narrowly.
Round 2. Menjivar lands an overhand right and a body kick early. The fighters trade kicks to the leg. Neither man is doing much in the way of damage. Menjivar lands another head kick. Easton keeps moving in with looping punches, but he isn’t able to consistently land. Easton goes for a flying knee but it doesn’t connect. 10-9 Easton.
Round 3. Easton continues to press forward, with Menjivar countering. Easton lands a nice leg kick and a pair of hooks. Menjivar shoots for a takedown but Easton blocks it. Easton scores a takedown halfway through the round. Menjivar moves up his hips and looks to get in position for an armbar but Easton isn’t in any trouble. Menjivar gets up and Easton throws a knee when he does. Easton moves forward with punches but isn’t landing much. Menjivar is landing less in defense. Another dull fight. 10-9 Easton, 30-27 Easton.
Winner: Mike Easton, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie
Mendes is one of the world’s elite 145 pound fighters. He sports a 11-1 record and is coming off his first career loss in a title fight against Jose Aldo. McKenzie is something of an anomaly, not particularly skilled or athletic overall but possessed with a unique ability to apply a guillotine choke. 12 of his 13 wins have come via guillotine choke.
Round 1. Mendes aggressively attacks with an overhand right and knee to the body. Mendes catches a McKenzie kick and lands a punch to the body that drops McKenzie. Mendes follows with punches on the ground and gets the stoppage.
Winner: Chad Mendes, TKO, round 1.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia
Kim is a welterweight contender with a 15-1-1 record and a solid overall game. Maia is a former welterweight title challenger with world class jiu jitsu and vastly improved striking.
Round 1. Maia immediately shoots for a takedown. Kim lands some elbows while defending. Maia rotates around and looks to take Kim’s back. He grabs Kim’s back and throws Kim to the ground. Kim is injured in the process. Maia takes mount and throws a few punches but realizes Kim can’t continue and stops. Kim appears to have suffered a rib injury.
Winner: Demian Maia, TKO, round 1.
Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote
Le is a unique fighter whose San Shou style has made him a drawing card and popular star in the Bay area. Le is now 40 and has spent a lot of time in recent years shooting movies. He’s trying to secure a win in the UFC before retiring. Cote had some success in the UFC earlier in his career and headlined 2 UFC pay-per-views but he isn’t considered an elite fighter. This is basically a referendum on what Le has left as a fighter.
Round 1. Le catches a Cote body kick and slams him to the ground. Le mixes in kicks low and high. Cote is clearly a much bigger man than Le, who has never cut much weight to make 170 pounds. Le continues to mix in kicks from different angles while Cote’s attack is much more straight forward. Cote connects solidly with a looping right punch to the jaw. He shoots for a takedown but Le blocks it with ease. Cote moves in with punches but Le gets the best of him with a heavy counter. Cote nods to signal it connected solidly but Cote’s chin has always been solid. Le connects with a big hook moments later. Le follows with a body kick. The crowd chants for Cung Le. Le despite being the smaller man is much better at keeping the right striking range. 10-9 Le.
Round 2. They exchange leg kicks early. Le lands a spinning back kick to the head. He follows with a kick to the body. Cote moves in and lands a couple nice punches. Cote opens up a serious cut near the eye of Le and the blood is all over both men. Le connects with a solid kick to the body. Cote throws a serious of punches. Most are blocked but a few get through. Le appears to be slowing a little bit. Cote becomes more active as the round progresses with punches. Le backs Cote off with a pair of counters. They clinch against the cage. Cote lands some uppercuts. Very good round. 10-9 Cote.
Round 3. Le lands a hard head kick to open the round. Cote lands a pair of hooks and a body kick. Cote presses Le against the cage. As they separate, Cote lands a spinning backfist. They clinch again and exchange knees and body punches. Le uses a trip takedown but Cote gets right back up. Cote shoots for a takedown and grabs a leg but Le balances on his other leg and Cote separates. Cote lands a few punches to the head but Le responds with a few of his own. They clinch and Le takes Cote down with 45 seconds left in the fight. Le retains position for the remainder. 10-9 Le, 29-28 Le.
Winner: Cung Le, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
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