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Reaction from the Action: ‘UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber’

Dominick Cruz WEC ChampionUFC 132 was an interesting mix of both action packed and ho hum matches. Every single fight of the event either went the distance or was a first round finish.

Viewers were treated to instant classics such as Cruz/Faber II and possibly the last match of the legend Wanderlei Silva’s career. Unfortunately those same viewers had to endure snoozers such as Aaron Simpson against Brad Tavares.

The action set the pace for the card, and will ultimately be what UFC 132 will be remembered by.

Preliminary Card:
For all those viewers that had to sign on to Facebook in order to watch the first four preliminary fights, I’m sure they’d have preferred to have left their computers off other than a few exciting moments in the Anthony Njokuani/Andre Winner fight. Njokuani threw more knees at Winner’s face than the amount of people that saw Transformers 3 this past weekend. Surprisingly, Winner decided to continue eating those knees like it was $4 all you can eat pancakes day at IHOP, which helped see Njokuani take the unanimous decision.

Former bantamweight champion Brian Bowles also played the judges game in taking Takeya Mizugaki to a unanimous decision. The same result took place in the other two fights, which saw Aaron Simpson and Jeff Hougland as victors.

Following those four fights, the card started to take a turn for the better, as George Sotiropolous looked to return to his winning ways against Rafael dos Anjos. Unfortunately for George, that did not occur. Dos Anjos found Sotiropolous’ chin within the first minute with a swooping right hook. Sotiropolous now finds himself in a much different position than just four months ago, when he was seen as one of the top contenders for the lightweight belt.

Melvin Guillard did not want dos Anjos to enjoy all the fun. Guillard seems to have taken Sotiropolous’ spot amongst the growing list of contenders at 155 pounds. He has always been seen as one of the most talented lightweights in the world, but incidents outside of the ring seem to have always plagued him. Guillard seems to have moved past those issues, and with a knockout of Shane Roller, has now won his last five fights, and eight of his last nine.

Main Card:
The string of first round finishes continued, as both Carlos Condit and Tito Ortiz obliged on what seemed to be the instruction manual handed out to the fighters prior to entering the octagon.

Condit took on the undefeated South Korean Dong Hyun Kim, and made it look easy. Condit has seen his stock rise exponentially ever since knocking out Dan Hardy in England last October. Were it not for a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut, Condit arguably would already be the number one contender. If he continues his current streak, that will no longer be up for debate.

Tito Ortiz, on the other hand, went into this event with nearly the exact opposite point of view. Ortiz had not won a fight in nearly five years (a knockout of Ken Shamrock). Names like Tim Sylvia and Rich Franklin graced UFC posters as current champions. Current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would not begin his MMA career for another two years, as he had just graduated high school.

Ortiz put all of the pressure behind him, pressure that included his announcement that if the UFC released him, he would retire. Ortiz surprised everyone, especially Ryan Bader, with a short right hand that knocked Bader down. Ortiz went on to lock Bader in a guillotine, which would see him win submission of the night honors.

Following this, it was back to the decisions, as Dennis Siver won a controversial unanimous decision over Matt Wiman. Wiman stormed out of the cage following the decision from Bruce Buffer.

In the co-main event, it did not take Chris Leben long to supply the promised fireworks. Unfortunately with the fight lasting only 27 seconds, it did not live up to Joe Rogan’s declaration of this being touted as the “fight of the decade”. Silva has since asked for a rematch, but that seems unlikely. What does seem likely is that Silva, 35, has fought his last match. With only two fights in the last 24 months, and a 2-4 record in his current UFC stint, retirement looks to be best served for this legend.

In the main event, we were witnesses to a classic title fight at 135 pounds as Dominick Cruz avenged his only career loss to challenger Urijah Faber. Although he did receive a 50-45 score from one judge, the match was a lot closer than that score. Faber seemed to have the most success we’ve ever seen against Cruz and his awkward style in the last few years. With that success, it is arguable we could see an immediate rematch for the bantamweight title.

Biggest Winner: Tito Ortiz
While Condit and Guillard rose even higher in the rankings of their divisions, respectively, Ortiz got to keep his job. With a $500,000+ payday, I’d say that means quite a lot to him in many different ways.

Biggest Loser: Wanderlei Silva
The opposite can be said for Silva. While he did make quite a bit of money for his short performance, there is a strong possibility that was the last time the Axe Murderer competed inside the octagon.

Biggest Question: Who is next for Dominick Cruz?
As mentioned, Cruz/Faber II was a very competitive and close fight. Does it deserve a rematch? Undoubtedly.  Will it be immediate? That remains to be seen. Brian Bowles has won two in a row since losing to Cruz after breaking his hand in their championship fight last year. Demetrious Johnson looks to be the other top contender to take on Cruz before the end of the year.

Future Matchups:
Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller/Ben Henderson winner: Arguably a number one contender’s fight (although Clay Guida would have something to say about this), this would be a prime matchup as a main event for a UFC Fight Night card in the fall, following the completion of the Edgar/Maynard trilogy.

Carlos Condit vs. Josh Koscheck: Condit looks to be stuck. He says he wants to fight again before the end of the year. Champion Georges St. Pierre will defend his belt against Nick Diaz in October. Condit has not even been announced as the top contender for whoever wins the GSP/Diaz fight, so waiting around for that result could lead to nothing. Meanwhile, Jake Shields has signed on to face Jake Ellenberger, and Jon Fitch and BJ Penn look destined to challenge each other again following their draw in February. Koscheck has not been heard from very much (which is a challenge for him) since his lopsided loss to St. Pierre in December.

Tito Ortiz vs. Rich Franklin/Antonio Rogerio Nogueira winner: As mentioned, Ortiz saved his job against Bader on Saturday. It’s unlikely he will ever return to true contender status, but plenty of highly notable matchups remain for him. A fight pitting him between the winner of Franklin/Nogueira, who square off in August at UFC 133, could see the return of Ortiz as a co-main event fighter again.

Ryan Bader vs. Brandon Vera: Bader is still a very promising prospect at 205, even with the current two fight losing streak. While there is a chance he takes on a lesser known name such as the winner of Vladimir Matyushenko/Alexander Gustaffson, Bader just needs to find a way to get his name announced by Bruce Buffer as the victor. Vera has not been in action since his loss and eventual cut/return to the UFC at UFC 125 to Thiago Silva. This could possibly be a decisive fight for both Bader and Vera’s futures in the organization.

Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber: While I am nearly always strongly opposed to immediate rematches, in the case of being the second fight and leaving the tally at one win apiece for both fighters, Cruz and Faber still have unfinished business. Cruz did not utterly dominate Faber in taking the decision, and possible top contender Brian Bowles just lost to Cruz last year due to injury. A number one contender matchup of Bowles and Demetrious Johnson would serve very well for the future of the 135 pound division.

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