— 12,947 attendees filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena for a $2.3 million live gate. Unexpected celebrities cage side included Rhianna and Justin Bieber.
— Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber earned Fight of the Night honors for their thrilling five-round bantamweight title fight. Carlos Condit took home KO honors for handing Dong Hyun Kim his first loss via flying knee of doom. And last but not least, Tito Ortiz secured the one and only submission on the card to earn sub honors. Given the circumstances though, I’d say he deserved to win it no matter how many other subs on the card there were. It was his first win in five years after all. The bonuses were worth $75,000 each.
— For Wanderlei Silva fans (myself included), it was difficult to watch who once the scariest fighter in MMA get put to sleep once again in a matter of seconds. It seems Dana White agrees because he told reporters at the post-fight press conference that this is “probably the end of the road for Wanderlei.” Dana recognizes that convincing Wand to retire won’t be an easy task though and figures he’s probably going to have to “Chuck Liddell him into (retirement).” It may be the right thing at this point, but I personally don’t see Wand giving into it on the first try. I bet he convinces Dana to give him another shot.
Full quote via MMA Junkie:
“People love him so much because of the way he fights and his style and the type of person he is,” White said. “But yeah, (it’s) probably the end of the road for Wanderlei.”
“People knew that [Silva] and Leben were going to come out and they were going to throw until somebody fell down, and it was Wanderlei tonight,” White said.
“I think it’s one of those ones where I’d like to sit down and talk to him and kind of Chuck Liddell him into it,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I think the guy has nothing left to prove. He’s a warrior. People love him all over the world, and I just don’t want to see that happen to him anymore.”
Chris Leben had nothing but praise for Wand after the fight:
“Wanderlei Silva is my favorite fighter; he always has been,” Leben said. “To tell you the truth, I never visualized the fight going the way it went. I only visualized a three-round war.
“I’ve never been as scared to go into the ring as to fight Wanderlei Silva. The man is a legend. What he’s done for the sport is absolutely amazing.”
— Between Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick and tonight’s main event between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, it feels like the lighter weight classes are really starting to show why the WEC was so beloved by the hardcore fan base. They’re capable of putting on tremendously entertaining fights and tonight’s bantamweight title fight certainly live up to that potential. It was closer than some of the judges’ scores made it look, but I do think that Cruz did enough to edge Faber for the win. Fightmetric also agreed with the judges giving Cruz the win 49-47.
The Cruz-Faber rivalry is now tied at 1-1. Dana White said he wouldn’t mind seeing the third fight at some point, but it won’t be right away. Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson are apparently in the mix for the next title shot, but it’s unclear who will get it.
Despite the animosity they had before the fight, Cruz and Faber showed nothing but respect for each other after it.
“I respect all the fighters out there, but even my best friends know I’m a jerk sometimes,” Cruz said. “So it was fun. It was fun to talk trash. And sometimes it’s easy to talk trash about a guy like Urijah… But I have nothing but respect for the guy,” Cruz said. “I’m good. It’s business to go in there. The guy has done so much for the lighter weight classes. There’s no denying it.”
“It feels like I was in a tornado running into stuff, dressers and whatnot,” Cruz joked. “I don’t know. My shoulder hurts. My face hurts a little bit. I don’t know. I was just going out there to scrap, and I all I knew was if I got hit, I was going to keep punching. … There’s no way to stop me. That’s the only way to think in there.”
— So holy crap, Tito won! I couldn’t believe it myself and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Dana was right, Tito’s at his best when his back’s against the wall. In addition to the $75,000 bonus check, he also gets to keep his job so plenty to celebrate. Not sure if he was kidding or not (probably not), but Tito said he’s feeling lucky tonight and planned to do a little gambling with his bonus money.
Tito described the final sequence as “an out of body experience.” Said “it was like the Matrix.” He also wanted everyone to know that he “did what Jonny Bones couldn’t do, and that’s finish Ryan Bader in the first round.”
Tito also said that he wants that Forrest Griffin rematch next.
“I gave [UFC President] Dana [White] his opportunity to find someone to beat me, and it didn’t work [with] Bader,” said Ortiz in a postfight interview with UFC.com. “So give me my shot at one of the guys I thought that I beat already in Forrest Griffin. [The judges] gave him a split decision, so give me another chance at him.”
“[This was] the rebirth of Tito Ortiz. I’m injury free. I’m very healthy. I had a great training camp. I did it at home. This was the first time in 11 years that I didn’t go up to Big Bear. I think being mentally focused really helped out a lot,” said Ortiz. “I had a lot of personal problems with my family, and I really focused on the positive and surrounded myself with people who uplifted me and showed me the true champion I really am.”
If not Forrest, Tito wants Shogun, Rashad Evans or any of the other top light heavyweights. He just wants to be “in the mix.”
What Tito doesn’t want to be is a “stepping stone” for anymore up-and-coming fighters trying to make a name off his back. Instead, he intends to make a stepping stone out of his opponents like he did with Ryan Bader.
“Tonight, I made a stepping stone of Ryan Bader,” said Ortiz, who competed on the pay-per-view main card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “And he said he was going to make a stepping stone of me. But he ain’t stepping on this champion. Hell no.”
— Of course, it wouldn’t be a UFC pay-per-view without at least one controversial judges’ decision. Dennis Siver and Matt Wiman fought a hard, close battle, but many including myself thought that Wiman did enough to secure the win. The judges thought otherwise and awarded the decision to Siver. The second round was easily Wiman’s, but the first and third were a little closer. According to Fightmetric, Siver did manage to outstrike Wiman on the feet, but Wiman did most of the damage in the fight when he was able to get Siver to the ground, which was enough to convince Fightmetric’s super magic scoring algorithm to score it 29-28 in favor of Wiman. Interestingly, Dana White thought Siver won, but noted that Lorenzo Fertitta and Justin Bieber (seriously) scored it for Wiman.
No one was more pissed about the decision though than Matt Wiman. He apparently stormed out of the cage and then out of the arena through the gate the fans use. It didn’t upset Dana, who noted that Sean Sherk once walked halfway down the strip shirtless and shoeless.
— Melvin Guillard pressed hard for a rematch with Dennis Siver on the UFC 136 Houston card, saying “we can fly you back over, and I can put you to sleep again.” Guillard then offered to wager their purses on the fight. It’s not clear if Siver (who doesn’t speak English) even understood what he said. Guillard also mentioned Jim Miller as someone he’d like to fight next.
— Dana White declared Carlos Condit “one of the best 170-pounders in the world” after he crushed Dong Hyun Him’s unbeaten streak with a flying knee. Some have said (myself included) it was enough to earn him a title shot against the GSP-Diaz winner, but due to the timing, it looks like Condit will have to take one more fight before he gets a crack at the title.
“I do want to fight again in 2011,” Condit said at the evening’s post-event press conference, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “I know the timeframe may not work out for me to get the next shot, but I want to fight again before the end of the year.”
It’s unclear who Condit’s next opponent will be, but Jon Fitch and BJ Penn are still both looming in the welterweight title picture. It makes sense for Condit to fight one of them if they don’t fight each other, but it’s unclear which direction Joe Silva and the UFC plan to go with it.
Update: This post has been updated with quotes and a few notes on Carlos Condit.