Click below for the UFC 138 main card report....
BIRMINGHAM - At the end of round one of the UFC 138 main event at the LG Arena Saturday night, Chris Leben had to be stopped by the referee from hammer fisting Mark Munoz’s head. Moments prior he had walked through some massive bombs, taken square on his chin, to deliver a crashing left hand of his own to Munoz. That prompted Munoz to look for a takedown but ended up with him crouched against the fence taking shots. See post-fight interview
He was probably wondering what we all were - what do you have to do to actually stop Chris Leben? Anderson Silva managed it once, only one fighter (Brian Stann) has since. Like a broken bone, Leben’s chin seems to have calcified and become stronger following Anderson’s assault on it.
Unfortunately his skin hasn’t, so when Munoz had Leben down in the second round he was able to open a nasty cut over his eye that had blood pouring into it with wild abandon. The fight was stopped briefly to allow the doctor to take a look but he let the clash proceed. Fans went wild, chanting Leben’s name deliriously as he staggered back into the fray.
But the cut got worse and blood kept coming. At the end of the round, Leben’s corner felt the cut was too bad to allow their man to wade back into battle. He might have a heart twice the size of the average man but still he cannot fight with one eye.
It was a shame the fight ended on a cut; before the stoppage it had been a glorious clash. Munoz did what he said he was going to do - take Leben down and throw ‘Donkey Kong’ punches - while Leben does what he always does, wading through bomb blasts to swing huge left hands with stopping power in each one.
After the first round, Munoz looked like he wasn’t enjoying the exchanges, while Leben was in his element. But Munoz’s conditioning seemed to be holding up better, and as he got to work with his wrestling, Leben looked to be tiring, which would have been interesting to see had it played out over three rounds.
After the fight, Munoz called for a title shot against Anderson Silva. The crowd noise was non-committal, suggesting he isn’t quite there yet. Leben is the biggest win of his career but cuts are not conclusive and he will need a solid win over another name opponent to edge into that title picture.
What a fight! A description doesn’t even do this clash justice - you simply have to watch it. If you can watch this fight and stay sat down, you must be made of ice. Remember when Paul Kelly and Paul Taylor threw down at UFC 80?? The first 30 seconds of that fight are already part of UFC legend for their pace and ferocity - this fight was the same, except for its entire duration. See post-fight interview
The pair absolutely battered each other from the opening bell, furiously exchanging punches and both landing frequently. Renan Barao had the better of some exchanges, Pickett’s intensity allowing perhaps more openings in the guard than Barao was. But it was very even until Barao landed a nuclear right knee on Brad Pickett’s jaw out of nowhere - Pickett wasn’t even bent forward at the time.
That staggered him and Barao was all over him, punching him until he hit the floor and then following with a ground and pound barrage of such a high workrate it contained more punches than the rest of the evening’s card put together. Pickett rolled away, but gave up his back. Barao was on him in a flash and working for the rear naked choke. Pickett tried to gut it out for the remaining minute but he could be seen fading into unconsciousness and had to tap.
Watch this fight as soon as you can. If you are a fight fan you owe it to yourself. The bout was an easy choice for Fight of the Night, and both men received $70,000 bonuses for their performances.
Papy Abedi was aggressive at the start of the fight, ploughing forward with a flurry of punches, but there was a scrappy nature to it that suggested he was nervous and maybe rushing his work a little bit. At the same time, Thiago Alves was able to deploy a precise Muay Thai striking style, landing numerous clean shots on his Swedish opponent. See post-fight interview
But as Abedi relaxed he became more effective and the fight became even, with good exchanges and damage done by both sides. Alves landed a huge right kick to the body on two occasions while Abedi was able to land an Anderson Silva-style front upkick to the jaw that Alves later admitted had rocked him solidly.
But he became perhaps too loose; Alves noticed Abedi was dropping his left hand and so he fired off a crunching right which staggered him. A left hook followed and down Abedi went. Alves followed him and the referee was about to step in, until Abedi turned turtle. But that did not save him - Alves circled his neck with a bulging arm and put the squeeze on him to get the first submission win of his UFC career.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT - ANTHONY PEROSH VS. CYRILLE DIABATE
At 39, Anthony Perosh is one of the oldest fighters on the UFC books and to be brutally honest, he looked it during the first round against his striking stylist opponent. Cyrille Diabate was picking Perosh off with strikes pretty much at will and Perosh’s response was either to backpedal or shoot a bad double-leg which Diabate saw coming a mile off. See post-fight interview
It looked like Diabate was going to cruise to an easy win, maybe even a stoppage, until Perosh ended up on the floor and he went with him to try and pound the Australian out. Perosh swept him, mounted him and suddenly was able to use the jiu-jitsu skills that make him such a world-class grappler. Diabate was at a loss to defend himself as Perosh methodically set up a rear naked choke to end the fight just over three minutes into the second round. He is now 2-0 in his last two outings while Diabate goes 1-1 and 2-2 in his last four.
Two stiff jabs and a savage leg kick from Terry Etim prompted Edward Faaloloto to step back onto the cage. Etim launched a huge spinning back kick to Faaloloto’s body, but Faaloloto caught his foot and transitioned to a body lock. He lifted Etim high into the air to slam him - but Etim pulled guard and locked on a tight guillotine, something he is infamous for in his own gym. Faaloloto sank to the floor, resisted briefly and then tapped - the whole thing took seventeen seconds. Writing this report took far longer than the actual fight. See post-fight interview
Now returned from his long layoff, Etim is looking to get busy and his next bout will undoubtedly be a tougher proposition. At the post-fight press conference, after awarding Etim the $70,000 Submission of the Night award, UFC president Dana White said that matchmaker Joe Silva had already chosen Etim's next opponent and that fans could expect to see him fight again "right away."