The hits just keep on coming, with UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida delivering another in a string of exciting and memorable fight cards put on by the UFC.
In total, the event saw three fights go the distance, with only three of the night’s eight remaining bouts making it out of the first round. There were highlight reel submissions and knockouts throughout the card, back and forth battles and come from behind victories; two veterans fell and two rose, a young champion silenced his doubters and capped off a truly amazing 2011 run – all of it conspiring to make up one of the best UFC events this year.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jonny “Bones” Jones tasted adversity for the first time in his career, with former champ Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida giving him fits early on in their championship battle and even staggering him at one point with a well-placed punch. It speaks to Jones’ dominance the amount of weight placed on Machida just winning the first round and also the way that he came back to take the second and the fight. Jones adjusted, hurt Machida and then choked him unconscious, adding another sequence to his highlight reel and another former champion’s scalp to his mantle. With this fight, Jones answered the long-lingering questions about his chin, leaving one to wonder where – if anywhere – Mr. Bones is lacking and exactly what it takes to beat him. It looks like Dan Henderson or Rashad Evans will be the next men to try and find out.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira looked to be moments away from impressively defeating Frank Mir, erasing his UFC 92 loss to the former heavyweight champ and building a very solid and some would say improbable winning streak. Mir got rocked, ate several hammerfists on the ground and then got put in one of the fight game’s most inescapable guillotines. Clearly it was all over for Mir, only someone forgot to tell him that. Mir not only fought free from the hold, but grabbed his own submission and forced Big Nog to tap for the first time in his storied career. Unfortunately, Big Nog tapped after his arm was devastatingly injured, Mir having cranked the hold until its end and Nogueira refusing to submit until his arm was a flopping mess. It was an incredible display of toughness by Nogueira, but it left him with another severe injury in a string of severe injuries and may have cost him his career. Mir emerges form the bout in a considerably better position, now on a three-fight winning streak capped by a thrilling comeback win.
The smaller of the fighting Nogueira brothers also emerged from the event in much better shape than his brother, having ended a two-fight losing streak by defeating former UFC light heavyweight champion via first-round TKO. Nogueira took a page from Rashad Evans’ book and took Ortiz out with vicious body blows, ending the bout after dropping Ortiz with a knee to the body by hammering away at his ribs with ground and pound. In victory, Nogueira likely saved his UFC career and put a definitive end on Ortiz’s. Ortiz had said prior to the bout that he may only serve out the last two fights on his contract before retiring, win or lose. One has to think that a win over Lil’ Nog and a subsequent victory would have seen Ortiz stick around, but now he’ll be lucky to be granted the retirement match he’s asked for to attempt to go out on a win.
Further down the main card, The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, picked up his second straight superlative victory by knocking out hometown favorite and vaunted striker Mark Hominick via TKO just seven seconds into their featherweight tilt. Officially, Jung tied the record for fastest knockout in UFC history, though there is currently a major push to give that honor to its rightful owner, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, for what should have been a four-second KO over Jonathan Goulet back in 2006. Regardless, the win was huge for Jung, who’s coming off of a Submission of the Year candidate over Leonard Garcia for the Twister he tapped him with in March.
Igor Pokrajac, Constantinos Philippou and Dennis Hallman all picked up impressive first round finishes on the ION TV portion of the preliminary card, though, as he said himself, Hallman’s should have an asterisk as he missed weight by several pounds. Pokrajac took out seasoned light heavyweight Kyrzysztof Soszynski via cut and dry first-round knockout and Philippou did the same to a very game and mustache-sporting Jared Hamman. Hallman simply overpowered a much smaller opponent in John Makdessi, tapping out the Canadian with a rear naked choke in the first round. The victories especially serve Philippou and Pokrajac well, as their asterisk-less wins were both memorable and exciting.
Finally, the bottom of the preliminary card (which aired on Facebook) saw the debut of two promising prospects in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product John Cholish showed poise and technical prowess in taking out fellow debutant Mitch Clarke via second-round TKO, improving his record to 8-1, extending his winning streak to seven straight and announcing his presence at 155lbs. in the process. Though less dominant, Jake Hecht still pulled off a TKO victory in his first UFC appearance, against The Ultimate Fighter 11 contestant Rich Attonito. Hecht had trouble with Attonito throughout the fight, but managed to connect with a hard elbow when Attonito worked for a takedown that hurt him and opened the door for Hecht to finish the fight with ground and pound. Hecht brings his record to 11-2 in victory and raised his current winning streak to four in a row.
UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida went down at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.