UFC 116 post-fight news and notes…
— Official $75,000 bonus winners: Gerald Harris won “KO of the Night” for knocking out David Branch Rampage-Arona style. Dana White awarded Brock Lesnar “Submission of the Night” for, well, pulling off a submission. Dana later said “you’re out of your mind” if you think anyone else deserved it *cough*Chris Lytle*cough* more than Lesnar. Stephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski and Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama were both so entertaining, Dana decided to give “Fight of the Night” to all four of them.
“Whoever deserves the check deserves the check… What I expect of these guys is I expect these guys to go out and perform. Let me tell you this, and I mean it, we’re writing some [expletive] checks tonight. We’re writing checks – more than what you heard here tonight. Guys are going to get well taken care of tonight… Tonight was the greatest night of fights I’ve ever seen. There’s going to be some happy [expletives] skipping out of the MGM tonight, I’ll tell you that right now.”
— Brock Lesnar called his unlikely journey from lying on his deathbed to successfully defending his UFC heavyweight championship ” a miracle.” It was only eight months, but it felt like 10 years.
“Honest to God, from what I’ve been through since Nov. 6 of 2009 up until this point, it feels like it’s been 10 years. It’s been a grueling, grueling road. It really is truly a miracle. To come back from all that, and to be here and to win, words just cannot describe it. I really feel like I’m in a dream.”
Brock thanked Josh Rosenthal for allowing the fight to continue while he was pummeled by 47 unanswered shots.
“[Carwin] hit me pretty good, and I didn’t know where (I was) for a second. I ended up the ground, and I just had to go into survival mode and try to stay busy… I really have to thank the referee for allowing that thing go on. I wasn’t hurt. I thought if I just kept moving – I could feel Shane’s punches slowly becoming less and less. I thought, ‘If I get out of here, then I’m going to exert a bunch of energy.’ I realized there was a short time left, and I just tried to stay busy… I’ve been in those situations. I think some of my pro wrestling days helped prepare me for the ups and downs of things. I just don’t get too emotionally attached to a certain round. We train for that in the gym. There’s certain things that are just going to happen. You’ve got no control over it, and it’s whether or not you can get out of there and do the right things to move on. I knew that I lost the first round, but there were still four rounds left. I thought, ‘Well, we’re in a fight for sure now.’ I thought, ‘Here we go. I’m going to have to win this round, for sure.'”
Brock credited his jiu-jitsu coach Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros for the unexpected submission victory.
“We kind of suspected that [Carwin] would be prepared for my ground and pound, so ‘Comprido’ pointed this submission out. He said, ‘Listen, this is something that’s very feasible for you to do. It’s a wrestling – basically, it’s a headlock.’ Ironically, it happened on the other side. It actually all went totally backwards into it. It was just one of those things where I had to jump to the other side, and then I was where I needed to be. It just comes in training – part of second-nature. You’ve got to react, I guess… I’m a wrestler, and I’m trying to evolve. Is it pretty remarkable that I’ve only got six fights, and I’m the UFC heavyweight champion? Absolutely, it is. But I’ve got a lot of room to grow. I’ll be the first one to tell you.”
— Shane Carwin said he felt Brock Lesnar go out a couple times during the first-round beatdown, but wouldn’t criticize the ref for not stopping it.
“I felt Brock go out a few times. But it is the ref’s job to call the fight, and mine is to finish the fight.”
On his official website, Carwin explained that his cardio wasn’t the issue, his body just locked up on him after exerting so much energy trying to finish the fight.
“The game plan last night was to be patient and let the fight come to you. When I had him in trouble the ref keep saying he was going to stop it and then towards the end of the 1st my body began to seize up. In between rounds I could not move my legs and had what felt like a whole body cramp. My cardio was fine but my body was not. What can you do? You have to stand up and face your opponent.”
“Heading into the second I knew I need to finish the fight or I was going to be in trouble. Much like the Champion he is I am sure Brock was thinking the same thing. I had zero take down defense as my legs were dead to me and the rest is as they say history.”
Carwin vows to work his way back up the heavyweight ladder, and says he “wouldn’t want it any other way.”
— Keeping things in perspective, CagePotato’s Chad Dundas points out we were one solid punch away or perhaps one referee assignment away from calling Brock Lesnar “the best” to labeling Brock Lesnar “exposed.”
In fact, it’s difficult to know what to make of Brock Lesnar after a showing like this… Did he look great en route to the win? The real answer is both yes and no.
Never mind the fact that Carwin made Lesnar jump back like a scared house cat when he popped his head up with a stiff uppercut near the beginning of the first round. Or the fact that the Colorado native went on to hang a 10-8 first frame on the champ, laying the kind of hellacious beatdown on a cowering Lesnar that – were the undisputed heavyweight championship not on the line – certainly would’ve stopped the fight.
Had referee Josh Rosenthall stepped in to call the action, nobody would likely be arguing about it today. We writers would all be lining up our reproachful 600-word articles about how Lesnar had been overrated from the start and how foolish we’d all been for believing the hype. We’d be listing the wholesale changes he needed to make in his training and wondering aloud if he truly had the commitment to MMA to stick with it through such an embarrassing loss. But Rosenthal didn’t stop the fight – kudos to him for that, it was the right move – and so this morning our 600-words are spent largely fêting Lesnar as the best in the world.
— Dana White confirmed Cain Velasquez will get the next title shot sooner rather than later with the Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson winner on deck.
“You’re going to see Cain and Brock fight. Then coming up, Dos Santos is going to fight ‘Big Country,’ and the winner of that fight will get the next shot.”
— Chris Leben did the unlikely and pulled off two impressive UFC victories in a matter of two short weeks. Leben recognized it is huge for his career, and he’s determined not to screw it up.
“[I’m] overwhelmed. You know, it’s been a long road and a somewhat bumpy one for me, and this is just huge for me. My career and my life are in better places than they’ve ever been… I’ve said it before. I’m more than just a fighter. I’m a martial artist. I’m a coach; I have a gym; I have a team … and martial arts is my life. MMA is my life. I love watching people grow, and for me it’s different. It’s not about proving that I’m tough anymore. Now it’s about inspiring the guys at my gym, the people I train with… You guys know I’ve f–ked up before, but I’m trying to walk the line.”
— Dana White confirmed what we already knew: Chris Leben won’t get Wanderlei Silva next because Wand is having knee surgery. Dana intends to keep Leben busy in the meantime.
“We talked about that. The problem is Wanderlei’s going to have knee surgery, and he’s going to be out for a while… The thing that I like, now Leben we’ll get to take some time off, heal, rest, relax. But get him right back in there. I think it’s important to keep him active, keep him busy. He looks great, and he’s completely matured as a fighter and as a person. I’m happy for him.”
— Dana White revealed Stephan Bonnar may have been cut if he lost to KSos.
“If he lost tonight, he probably would have been looking at (being cut). Honestly, I couldn’t answer that question. Yeah, he’s been on a skid, and he was losing, but if a guy comes out and puts on a great performance and has a tough fight, you never know. It depends. It was hard to cut Keith Jardine. I like Keith Jardine very much, and I have respect for him. We’ve seen him have great fights many times. It was a hard decision. To be honest with you, I was getting worried about Stephan Bonnar that he was getting soft because he knew Uncle Dana would always take care of him.”
Bonnar was thrilled with the victory. He said it was “better than sex.”
“The first cut, I was like, ‘Eh, probably no big deal,’… The second, I was like, ‘Oh, damn. Looks like I’m bleeding out of another one.’ They kept adding up. It got me worried, but the plan was to really make it a dogfight and push the pace. You know me; when I bleed, it tends to bring the best out of me… I’ve got to give Krzysztof some credit. He put a good fight on. I don’t remember when it was, but he hit me so hard my head went back, and I saw the lights. When I tried to refocus, I couldn’t see anything for a good 45 seconds. (In) the ‘Rocky’ movie, they say, ‘Oh, I’m seeing three of him.’ That’s what I was thinking. ‘Should I see three of him? I can’t see [expletive].’ I just put my hands up… I’m on cloud nine right now. I’m as high as you can get. … You have no idea the feeling. Just to get a win, it means the world to me. I’m really happy. This is better than sex.”
— Dana White halfway jokingly said “we’re going to make an example out of James Toney,” recognizing it could go the other way like it did with Brock Lesnar.
“We’re going to make an example of James Toney… I hope he’s not in here and I don’t have to listen to him right now… It’s become this whole UFC versus boxing thing. I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m always yapping about people who do freak shows. I’m doing one. I got sucked into one. James Toney talked a lot of smack, and he picked a fight and now it’s going to happen… James Toney’s been an accomplished fighter for many years, and he’s training in mixed martial arts now. James Toney’s a real fighter. James and I go back and forth. He’s mad at me right now and he’s going to be even more pissed off now after what I just said, but the reality is I am not so delusional that I don’t think that anything can happen when two big guys get in there and start throwing punches. Believe me, I’ve seen, and I’m sure that many of you who’ve been in the fight business for a long time have seen some crazy things happen, and James Toney’s no joke. He’s a real guy, and I noticed the difference in the weight that he’s lost already. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come in and talk all this smack and then stay heavy and not really train. He’s training and he’s going to try to knock out Randy Couture that night… Randy Couture called me and said, ‘If James Toney really does fight in the UFC, I want this fight. I want to fight him.’ You don’t say no to Randy Couture, so we’re doing it.”
— Chuck Liddell is “having a hard time” calling it a career according to Dana White. He’s not sure what Chuck is going to do, but he hopes he retires.
“Dinner was great. It’s always cool hanging out with my friend, but Chuck’s having a hard time with this thing… He told me tonight the show open messed him up – watching the show open… You remember when I was basically smashing everybody around him at the last press conference and calling them cling-ons? Well, I apologize for that. Chuck told me that that’s not the case. Their feeling is the same thing. These are guys that care about him and have been around him a long time. They’re willing to back him and support him any way he wants – whatever he wants. They’re being friends… You’ve got to understand, this guy’s been in it longer than me. He’s been around forever, and he loves the sport. All I’m hoping for is that he’s going to make the right decision.”
— The UFC’s China office is opening in a few weeks, and they’ve already hired the person who will head the division. Dana White says this rapid global expansion means eventually there could be six different cards going on in six different countries at the same time.
“We could have a show [in the U.S.] on Saturday night and five more going on in five other countries. That’s what’s going to eventually happen. It’s figuring this thing out, putting the pieces together, and like I said, it’s a work in progress. But I’m telling you guys, I said it years ago, and I’ve been saying it – how big this thing is going to be. I think people are now really starting to realize how big this thing is really going to be.”
Image via The LA Times