Even with two fighters who had each not fought in over nine months, UFC 131 was campaigned as a night that was going to end with fireworks. Dana White told anyone that would listen that the main event with Junior Dos Santos taking on Shane Carwin would not get past the first round. White’s promise nearly came to fruition, as Dos Santos came very close to finishing Carwin late in the round. However, referee Herb Dean decided to let the fight continue. This proved to be the correct decision, as Carwin was able to continue. Carwin’s wife might disagree, as his face looked similar to a Picasso painting as he sat on the stool in his corner. He was never able to recover, and Dos Santos went on to win a one-sided decision.
The fight capped off of a night marred with decisions. However, as opposed to previous events like UFC 129 and 130, which ended with main events that were lacking in entertainment, these fights still supplied action.
Main Card Recap:
It all started with Donald Cerrone defeating Vagner Rocha. Rocha, a replacement for Mac Danzig, had nothing to challenge Cerrone’s standup. Cerrone controlled the bout throughout, especially with leg kicks. Rocha could be seen laying on the mat while the decision was called, displaying just how much of an effect those kicks had. Cerrone scored the unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, and 30-26.
The following fight brought the main card’s only finish, as Dave Herman defeated Jon Olav Einemo via TKO in the second round. Einemo, coming off a nearly five year layoff, relied heavily on a right hook that was his only hope standing up. While that did stun Herman, he was able to recover, and finished Einemo with a barrage of knees and punches.
The next matchup pitted two of the top middleweights, Demian Maia and Mark Munoz. Maia started off the fight with striking that we have never seen before from him. One punch even stunned Munoz for a few seconds. Following the first round, (which Maia won, even with one judge scoring it 30-27), Munoz took over on the feet, and brought back his expertise in his wrestling. This was enough to take the decision, as Munoz brings his win streak to three, as he continues his ascent to challenging for the middleweight championship.
In the co-main event, we saw Kenny Florian make his featherweight debut against Diego Nunes. Florian seemed to struggle early, as Nunes’ versatile striking netted problems for Florian. He slowed the tempo down, and used his size to his advantage. Then his patented elbows made a return, and opened up a rather large gash on the top of Nunes’ head. Nunes fought valiantly, but did not do enough to convince the judges to give him the decision.
Vancouver fans: The crowd was loud all night. We heard all week how the attendance was going to suffer due to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even with less than a third of the attendance of the record crowd in Toronto, they were much more attentive and enthusiastic about the ongoing fights.
Sam Stout’s nickname: For a guy supposedly possessing “Hands of Stone”, Stout did not live up to the name in quite a while. His last knockout was over four years ago, in a regional event in Canada. That all changed when Yves Edwards’ face got in the way of Stout’s fist.
Chris Weidman: Touted as the next big UFC prospect at middleweight, Weidman is living up to the hype. Weidman spoke of visualized ahead of the match about submitting his opponent Jesse Bongfeldt, and he did exactly that.
Demian Maia’s standup: Maia’s jiu jitsu skills have long been known as elite and amongst the best in the UFC. His striking skills however, always left more to be desired. That changed on Saturday night. Maia was getting the best of Munoz on the feet throughout the first round. If he can get his striking even somewhat close to his ground game, Maia will be a very tough force to deal with.
Kenny Florian’s weight cut: Other than the main event, the topic most often discussed was how Florian was going to look going into his record fourth weight class. On Friday’s weigh-ins, Florian looked as muscular as he did at lightweight, and showed no signs of slowing down on Saturday during a fifteen minute fast paced fight.
Judging: There is no other place to start but with the judging. It started off with Michigiro Omigawa losing via unanimous decision to Darren Elkins in the opening fight, and also was on display with Mark Munoz and Kenny Florian receiving 30-27 scores in their fights.
Fight of the Night bonus: With all due respect to Jon Einemo and Dave Herman for putting on an entertaining match, that was not the fight of the night. That distinction clearly belonged to Demian Maia and Mark Munoz. This was the most even fight of the event, and was a tough fight to score following a very close third round.
Dave Herman’s entrance music: I get it, your nickname is “Pee-Wee”. But coming out to Boy George can not be excused under any circumstance. I’ll allow Roy Nelson coming out to Weird Al’s “Fat” because..well..he is fat. But until you come out with a blonde wig and makeup, no more Boy George, please.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez: This one is an easy to determine. Considering this was a #1 contender’s bout, I think I can consider myself batting 1.000 so far.
Shane Carwin vs. Roy Nelson: This was a match that was expected to take place at UFC 125 in January. However, Carwin had to have surgery, and Nelson was still undergoing legal issues with Roy Jones’ Square Ring Promotions. Now with both fighters coming off of back-to-back losses, a fight between the two will determine the careers of each. Carwin, 36, and Nelson, 34, do not have much longer to feasibly pursue the heavyweight belt.
Kenny Florian vs. Jose Aldo: Dana White said at the press conference that Florian is “more than likely” the next challenger for Aldo at 145.
Diego Nunes vs. Chan-Sung Jung: Nunes put up a valiant effort against the UFC veteran in Florian. He will always fare better against opponents who will not look to take the fight to the ground. The Korean Zombie, coming off a celebrated “twister” submission victory over Leonard Garcia, would provide another possible fight of the year candidate in challenging Nunes.
Mark Munoz vs. Brian Stann: Both are riding three fight winning streaks. Both are insanely nice. Both are vying for the belt at 185. It’s really that simple. Joe Silva has such an easy job.
Demian Maia vs. Jorge Santiago: As stated earlier, I was impressed with Maia’s improved standup. Will it be good enough to test Santiago? That is to be determined. Santiago is coming off a loss to Brian Stann, but showed in his fights overseas that he is one of the most versatile fighters at 185.
Pictured: Kenny Florian