On a night when history was made with the UFC taking its show to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates under the desert sky, another sort of history was made in the title fights.
A sort of history that Dana White and the rest of the UFC brass will want to soon forget when it comes to their middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Silva, 34, improved his UFC record of consecutive wins and title defenses to 11 and 6 respectively by toying with Maia with his speed and effortless striking arsenal for the first two rounds and then literally toying with the crowd and the UFC brass by doing absolutely nothing but walking circles around his opponent for the final 15 minutes.
It was Silva’s first title defense since last April and first fight since August after coming off of elbow surgery. The champion blamed ring rust for his frustrating performance on Saturday. An excuse that I’m sure White won’t be too quick to accept.
In the other title fight, Frankie Edgar out-boxed Lightweight Champion BJ Penn over five rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47 from the three ringside judges.
Edgar, 29, improved to 13-1 by using his speed and footwork to continually move in and out against the champion and Penn really had no answer than to try to find an opening that simply wasn’t there.
It was certainly a tough fight to score, each round pretty evenly contested but you certainly can’t argue that Edgar frustrated the champion while doing more damage than any previous challenger at lightweight has done in the past.
Penn wasn’t complaining about the decision, either. He sure felt as if he had lost which by many accounts — including those that mattered — he did.
The rest of the main card was filled with stellar performances and finishes.
Mark Munoz (8-1) opened the event with a come-from-behind win over fellow middleweight Kendall Grove (13-7) by TKO in the second round. After taking a huge uppercut to the jaw from Grove in the first while trying to secure a takedown, Munoz endured, escaping to the second where he stormed Grove with some nasty right hands and a vicious ground and pound assault.
In a battle between rising lightweights, Rafael Dos Anjos (14-4) took out the tough Brit Terry Etim (14-4) with dominant jiu-jitsu securing an arm bar in the second round.
Dos Anjos is now right there in the discussion of the top fighters in the division with an excellent performance over a very tough opponent in Etim who was also impressive in the fight.
Light heavyweight prospect Phil Davis (6-0) showed that he isn’t just a wrestler after having his takedowns stifled early by Alexander Gustafsson (9-1). Instead of trying to keep after them he allowed Gustafsson to surprisingly take the fight to the ground and then gain position on his opponent, eventually securing an anaconda choke to win the fight.
And in the showdown between legends, welterweight Matt Hughes (45-7) took out Renzo Gracie, earning his record-tying 17th win in the UFC.
It was a historic night in which the Abu Dhabi crowd on Yas Island received a great night of fights which included a championship upset and some excellent performances by some outstanding young talent. Yet it will most likely be remembered for the frustrating main event performance by middleweight champion Silva.
What remains to be seen is how White will deal with the enigma that is Silva.
- Anderson Silva def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision to retain UFC middleweight title
- Frankie Edgar def. B.J. Penn via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 49-46) to become new UFC lightweight champion
- Matt Hughes def. Renzo Gracie via TKO (strikes) Round 3, 4:40
- Rafael Dos Anjos def. Terry Etim via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 4:40
- Mark Munoz def. Kendall Grove via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:50
- Phil Davis def. Alexander Gustafsson via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 4:55
- Rick Story def. Nick Osipczak via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- DaMarques Johnson def. Brad Blackburn via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 2:08
- Paul Kelly def. Matt Veach via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 3:41
- Jon Madsen def. Mostapha Al-Turk via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)