Rundown of UFC 131 post-fight news and notes…
— Despite reports that UFC 131 ticket sales were hurting due to Stanley Cup fever in Vancouver, 14,685 UFC fans still filled Rogers Arena for a $2.8 million gate. The numbers were down from the UFC’s first trip to Vancouver last year, but still solid nonetheless.
— Sam Stout pocketed an extra $70,000 in Knockout of the Night bonus money for his scary KO of Yves Edwards. Chris Weidman earned the sub bonus for choking out Jesse Bongfeldt with a standing guillotine. There has been a lot of debate over who should have earned Fight of the Night honors, but Dana White felt UFC rookies Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo deserved the $70,000 bonus checks.
— Everyone expected Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin to end in a knockout, but like most of the fights on last night’s card, it went to a decision. That could be attributed to JDS’ gameplan. Knowing Carwin has dynamite in fists, dos Santos admitted to playing it safer than normal with lots of jabs instead of engaging in a toe-to-toe firefight.
“I [threw] a lot jabs tonight, because it was a little bit [safer] for me,” said Dos Santos. “I just [continued] to throw jabs and stay a safe distance from him, because he hits hard, and I had to respect that.”
Still, dos Santos nearly finished him at the end of the first round when he knocked him down and started unloading shots as Carwin went into survival mode. JDS says he tried to end it right there, but Carwin was too tough.
“I tried to finish the fight in the first round, but he’s got a hard chin. He’s tough, so I couldn’t. I was getting tired from hitting him and [the referee] didn’t stop it. I asked him to stop it, but he told me to keep going. Shane did a good defense, and it was a good decision by the referee, because Shane continued to fight and stand up with me.”
Finish or not, JDS’ performance was extremely impressive and locked him in for a title shot against Cain Velasquez later this year. JDS says it will be his “biggest challenge.”
“I think my biggest challenge is coming. Cain is the champion and he deserves that. I will be ready for him,” said Dos Santos. “I think Cain’s best [attribute] is his cardio. He’s good in wrestling, but I’m learning wrestling very fast. I will try to [defend his takedowns] and [be] looking for the knockout with my boxing.”
As for Carwin, he was taken to the emergency room after the fight to get a CT scan and get treatment for his broken nose and facial lacerations. A morning after pic hasn’t surfaced yet, but we’ll post it if it does.
— Kenny Florian successfully debuted at 145 lbs. last night, but it wasn’t an easy ride getting there. There were “stories” as Kenny put it, times when he wasn’t sure if he made the right decision.
“There were several points when I was thinking that [I made a mistake dropping to featherweight]. I think, honestly, the whole weight cut was a true test in discipline. It took me to the next level mentally and [showed me] what I’m capable of doing. After that, I think anything [will be] easy.”
He made it though and despite the difficult cut and a rocky start against Diego Nunes, Florian is going to stick around at featherweight, at least long enough to fight Jose Aldo for the title, which Dana White said is “more than likely” coming next.
“More than likely,” White joked. “How’s that for confirmation?”
“Kenny has been here for a long time,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for him. He goes from 185 pounds down to we’ll see where he ends up. He deserves a shot at the title, no doubt about it.”
Whether Kenny “deserves” the title shot after only one win in the featherweight division is up for debate, but there’s no question that Aldo vs. Florian is the most attractive featherweight title fight the UFC can put on at the moment.
— Mark Munoz weathered the early storm against Demian Maia’s fists (!), to eek out a decision and continue his trek up the middleweight ladder. Munoz believes the win puts him in the “top echelon” of the middleweight division, but it wasn’t enough to earn him “in the mix” status with Dana White just yet.
“How close is he to a title shot?” White asked. “I don’t know the answer to that question. He’s definitely on a great win streak. Beating Demian Maia is a big deal. It was a good, tough fight tonight, and it was funny because Demian Maia looked awesome. The fact that he bought Demian Maia, and the fact that he beat Demian the way that Demian fought tonight was unbelievable.
“I was very impressed (for Munoz) to win the way Demian Maia looked tonight. We’ll see what happens.”
— Despite having monitors at their disposal, the cageside judges still managed to come up with some very questionable scores last night. Mark Munoz was awarded a 30-27 on one scorecard after clearly losing the first. Same for Kenny Florian who Diego Nunes knocked down in the first. Their biggest flub of course came in the first fight of the evening when Michihiro Omigawa was robbed of a win against Darren Elkins. Omigawa was so upset he refused to leave the cage at first until Joe Silva finally convinced him he needed to exit. In an attempt to make it right though, Dana White matter-of-factly declared that Omigawa would receive his win bonus and they would treat the loss as a win.
“Then you’ve got the Omigawa fight, where this guy loses the fight and Joe Silva said he was pulling a (Kazushi) Sakuraba and wasn’t going to leave the Octagon. He was going to stay in there, Joe had to beg him to leave,” White told MMAWeekly.com.
“We’re going to pay him his win money. I don’t care what the judge said, he won the fight. I say he won, overruled.”
I really don’t know what else there is to stay about the awful judging in this sport without sounding like a broken record, but clearly something needs to get done. In the meantime, MMA Weekly has shots of the scorecards if you’re interested in seeing who screwed up.
— Sam Stout scored what Dana White called “one of the most vicious knockouts in UFC history” last night. It was a big relief for Stout who’s known for his punching power but hadn’t knocked anyone out in his UFC career before last night.
“I’ve been calling myself ‘Hands of Stone,’ and I haven’t knocked anybody out in the last five years, so I was starting to get a little worried about it,” said Stout, whose last KO win came in September of 2007 against Martin Grandmont in the TKO organization.
“It was definitely a big relief to get that knockout. It was a good feeling that I haven’t felt in a while and I think you can see if you go back and watch the tape of my celebration, it got extended a little bit. I was jumping up and down and screaming for a while. It feels good to be knocking people out again and I hope to keep it going.”
It was a scary moment for Yves Edwards and he laid stiff on the mat for several minutes following the knockout, but once he got his wits about him, he was able to walk out of the cage on his own. Edwards confirmed on Twitter today that he is okay.
Thank you everyone for all the support. I’m fine and appreciate your concern. Congrats @sammyjstout it was fun while it lasted. Great job!
— Dana White clarified last night that all co-main events that are elevated to main event status like Rampage vs. Hamill was at UFC 130 when Edgar vs. Maynard was canceled will remain 3-round fights under the UFC’s new 5-round main event policy. If someone steps up at last minute to fill in for a main event participant however, they will be expected to go five-rounds.
Interestingly, this new policy doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the TUF 14 coaches battle between Michael Bisping and Mayhem Miller will be a five-rounder because Dana White isn’t even sure it will headline the TUF 14 Finale. It’s really odd, because the coaches fight usually either headlines or co-headlines a pay-per-view, yet this fight might not even headline a free Spike card. Strange.