It was another show with main event changes as Shane Carwin faced Junior Dos Santos in the main event of UFC 131, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with the preliminaries, and once again ESPN began with technical problems, although we did get to see all of the first fight as Jesse Bongfeldt faced Chris Weidman in the middleweight division.
We saw a brief feeling out period at the beginning of this one before Bongfeldt scored with a big kick that stunned his man.
Weidman countered with a take down, controlling the action on the ground until Bongfeldt managed to get back to his feet.
But just as it looked as if the fight was going into the second round Weidman connected with a knee to the body. Bongfeldt tried to counter with a take down but got caught in Weidman’s standing guillotine, tapping out with just six seconds of the round left.
Then it was on to lightweight action as Sam Stout faced Yves Edwards.
Both fighters began by testing the waters with a few combinations before Edwards worked hard for the take down. However, Stout’s butterfly guard meant that he couldn’t do much on the ground.
When they got back to their feet Edwards connected with a big right, only for Stout to counter with ac left hook that sent Edwards crashing to the canvas. There was no need for Stout to inflict any further damage as he took the impressive knockout win.
So with that early finish it was on to filler material from the heavyweight division as Joey Beltran took on Aaron Rosa.
There was some wild brawling in this one. The first two rounds saw them engage in a clinching and striking battle, and the striking was so wild in the second that both men scored with inadvertent low knees.
The end came in the third round. When the fight finally went to the ground Beltran unleashed with the ground and pound, with the referee stopping to give him the TKO win.
The main show began in the lightweight division as Donald Cerrone went up against Vagner Rocha.
The Cowboy put in a dominating performance here, easily defending against Rocha’s take down attempts and centring his attack on Rocha’s lead leg.
Cerrone leg kicks were so brutal that Rocha was limping badly by the end of the third round. Rocha just didn’t seem to have any answer to this attack, and it looked like Cerrone could finished him off at any time.
No surprise with the decision as all three judges scored in favour of Cerrone.
It was up to the heavyweight division for the next fight as John-Olav Einemo faced Dave Herman.
Two new guys looking to impress their paymaster put on a very interesting striking battle. There were times when Herman just seemed to be inviting Einemo to hit him, and hit him the big Norwegian did, rocking him a number of times.
But Herman came back strongly, and after Einemo looked like he was about to win Herman came back immediately, a left hook sending Einemo down, with Herman taking the TKO win after some nice ground and pound.
Middleweight action followed as Demian Maia faced Mark Munoz.
I really enjoyed this one. The first round saw Maia put on a great striking display, showing how much he’s improved recently.
Munoz came back strongly from the second round onwards, putting on a great striking display of his own, allying that to some excellent ground work.
It was a great back and forth battle, and with the fight going the distance the judges came into play, with Munoz taking the unanimous decision.
The co-main event saw Kenny Florian dropping down to featherweight to take on Diego Nunes.
The big question going into this one was whether Florian could cut it at 145. The answer was yes.
Although Nunes had a good first round, knocking Florian down with a left/right combination K-Flo came back strongly from the second round onwards, putting in some good work on the ground.
But as the fight reached it’s final stages Nunes got a second wind and rocked Florian with a right that sent him down onto one knee.
But it was enough, as all three judges gave the fight to Florian.
The main event saw Junior Dos Santos taking on Shane Carwin, with a shot at the Heavyweight title on the line.
With the records these two have hardly anyone expected this fight to make it out of the first round, and at one point it looked like it wouldn’t.
Dos Santos put on an excellent striking display, and when he knocked Carwin down and went to work with the ground and pound it looked all over. But despite a broken nose and the crimson mask Carwin survived the onslaught.
Although Carwin had his moments later on Dos Santos dominated the remainder of the bout. It was an excellent display of fighting, and he even threw in a couple of take downs for good measure in the final round.
There was no great surprise with the decision as all three judges scored in favour of Dos Santos.
The show rounded out with a second showing of the Sam Stout/Yves Edwards fight.
In conclusion - even though I’m in danger of sounding like a stuck record I’ll say it anyway.3
This was another great show from Dana White and his crew. Every fight delivered and then some, and that’s good enough for me. The highlight of the night had to be the performance of Junior Dos Santos as he booked a mouth watering match with Heavyweight king Cain Velasquez.
So in all UFC 131 gets the big thumbs up for a night of top notch fight action.