In terms of action, UFC 100 delivered
LAS VEGAS -- For people fortunate enough to be on hand, memories of UFC 100 will live a very long time. From beginning to end, the event was nearly flawless -- with merely one forgettable incident just before the closing moments.
The fun began with UFC Fan Expo. Preliminary estimates have upwards of 50,000 fans attending the event Friday and Saturday. Crowds jammed into the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for fighter autographs and pictures or simply to soak up the fun-filled air.
Most fortunate were the 11,000 folks who got their hands on a ticket to enter the Mandalay Bay Events Center for Saturday night's action, which generated $5.1 million at the gate. If there was ever a UFC card to see, this was it.
Every bout was action-packed; even the preliminary fights had fans on their feet cheering wildly. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva proved he has no equal in mixed martial arts.
The three high-profile bouts were most evident of Silva's ability to match the right fighters at the right time. First up was a grudge match between middleweight contenders Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping.
Brock Lesnar retained his UFC heavyweight title in dominating fashion and avenged his only loss with a dominating second-round stoppage of Frank Mir at Las Vegas. The former collegiate wrestling champion easily threw his more experienced opponent to the ground early in each of the two rounds and rained punches to the head of his overmatched foe. In the second round, the blows were too overwhelming, and referee Herb Dean had to step in to rescue the semiconscious Mir. Lesnar improved to 4-1, while Mir dropped to 12-4. Lesnar used his superior size and strength to keep Mir pinned to the mat in each of the two rounds. The UFC heavyweight champion was able to land numerous hard punches on Mir and opened up an assortment of cuts and bruises on his archrival, who had submitted Lesnar in his first UFC bout nearly 18 months ago.
|ESPN Stats & Information|
When Henderson and Bisping finally entered the Octagon, the hostility they had developed lost none of its intensity. Henderson had promised to punish Bisping for the taunts he delivered during Season 9 of "The Ultimate Fighter," and he remained true to his word.
The former Pride light heavyweight and middleweight champion chased Bisping until finally catching him and landing a vicious right hook at 3 minutes, 20 seconds of Round 2. Bisping was unconscious before hitting the canvas, but Henderson landed an elbow on the jaw of his fallen victim just before referee Mario Yamasaki could intervene.
UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre strengthened his case as No. 1 pound-for-pound mixed martial artist with a dominating performance against Thiago Alves. This fight was supposed to represent St. Pierre's toughest test as a pro. It didn't.
St. Pierre dominated Alves in every facet of the fight. He took Alves down at will and controlled him standing, where the challenger had been expected to have an edge.
It came as no surprise when all three judges -- Adalaide Byrd (50-45), Douglas Crosby (50-44) and Marcos Rosales (50-45) -- scored the fight a shutout for St. Pierre. ESPN.com also had the champ blanking Alves 50-45.
Despite the lopsided victory, St. Pierre remained respectful of Alves. He envisions a bright future for the conquered warrior.
"Thiago Alves was my toughest opponent so far," St. Pierre said. "He's very young. This happened to me when I lost to Matt Hughes. He will be back."
That type of respect wasn't exhibited by heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, who overpowered interim titleholder Frank Mir in the main event. The 265-pound Lesnar bullied Mir en route to a second-round TKO.
Afterward, Lesnar put a blight on what had been a flawless evening. He refused to shake Mir's hand, made a derogatory gesture toward the fans, took a jab at one the event's major sponsors and made a off-the-cuff sexual reference.
If Lesnar had wanted to cement his status as the most disliked fighter in UFC, he accomplished that goal. He is officially the man everyone wants to see beaten to a pulp.
As long as Lesnar wins, he will continue to command large paydays. That will change the night he is put flat on his back -- maybe by No. 1-rated heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, whom UFC president Dana White is strongly pursuing as a possible opponent for Lesnar.
After a stern talking-to from White, the champion issued an apology during the postfight news conference. He apologized again on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
"First, I want to apologize. I acted very unprofessionally after the fight," Lesnar told a packed room of reporters. "I'm a sore loser, OK. I don't like to get beat. I believe that first bout between Frank and me, I gave that fight to him.
"There was a lot of emotion in this fight for me. You guys have asked if there is something I can bring over from WWE. You saw a little of it tonight.
"I want to apologize to [sponsor] Bud Light. I'm used to selling pay-per-view tickets. I came from a business that was purely entertainment. Dana came in, and we had a whip-the-dog session. I apologize."
Lesnar appeared sincere in his apology. Time will reveal the level of his sincerity. Despite Lesnar's missteps, UFC 100 exceeded all expectations.
It was a special event, one that will not soon be forgotten. Now it's on to the next 100 shows, which will begin Aug. 8 in Philadelphia.
Franklin McNeil covers boxing and mixed martial arts for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. He is also the MMA insider for ESPN.com's "MMA Live."
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