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Commentary: A Look At The Weekend’s Big Winners

The most hyped MMA event of 2010 has come and gone, as “UFC 111: St-Pierre vs. Hardy” is officially in the books. Although four bouts went to a decision, a handful of fighters made quite the impression on Saturday night.

Shane Carwin

Without a doubt, the biggest winner of the evening was the second-largest person inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Many doubted Carwin’s resume when he was initially handed an opportunity to fight Brock Lesnar (who was in attendance to greet the interim champ) for his title at UFC 106 back in November, but all the critics were silenced after Carwin put Frank Mir to sleep in the first round of their bout.

Although Mir has packed-on an additional 20 pounds over the past several months, some would make the argument Carwin dominated Mir worse than Lesnar did at UFC 100 last July, and that is saying a lot.

Now that we know Carwin and Lesnar will unify the title later this summer, most likely at UFC 116 on July 3rd, it’ll be interesting to see how Carwin stacks up with the heavyweight king.

Nate Diaz

The UFC lightweight-turned welterweight looked impressive in his first fight at 170-pounds as he TKO’d a tough Rory Markham in the first round of their scrap. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist showed improved striking and great strength in a weight class most believed he shouldn’t have ventured into.

After checking-in at an astonishing 6 pounds over the welterweight limit, Markham must have been a good 10-15 pounds heavier than Diaz by the time the cage door closed, however Diaz proved that size doesn’t always matter as he masterfully out-struck the Miletich trained fighter.

Dan Hardy

Sure the Brit got thoroughly dominated in his first crack at a UFC title, but he definitely put himself on the 170-pound map. In a Rocky Balboa-like performance, Hardy showed the heart and grit that fans from the hardworking state of New Jersey appreciated.

He may have been the antagonist leading up to his clash with champion Georges St-Pierre, but Hardy left as the people’s champ when the fight was all said and done.

On two separate occasions, Hardy was presented with opportunities to tap out when the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt isolated his arm in very compromising positions. Instead of submitting, Hardy gutted it out and salvaged his limb to take the world’s best welterweight the distance.

Expect Hardy to get a solid opponent in his next bout and work his way back up the pecking order. However, it’s unlikely GSP will still be a welterweight if/when he does get back.