UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes went down this past Saturday from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and featured a host of exciting bouts, significant and strange occurrences. Here, we’ll take a brief look at how things shook out.
First off, Jose Aldo reminded the world why he’s considered to be one of the planet’s very best mixed martial artists, as he masterfully repelled Chad Mendes from his title. With Aldo shutting down the wrestler’s takedown attempts at every turn, it became clear quickly that Mendes was in over his head, with it seeming only a matter of time until the champion unleashed. The moment came with mere seconds left in the first, when Aldo broke wrist control, spun around and launched a knee directly into Mendes’ chin as he dove for another takedown, knocking him backward, then knocking him out with a pinpoint right hand follow up shot.
In victory, Aldo continues his reign of terror over the featherweight division, sending another talented contender back into the ranks wondering how things went wrong. Whether he stays at featherweight or moves on to lightweight, Jose Aldo looks to bring spectacular violence wherever he goes.
In the night’s co-main event, Vitor Belfort sent a burly Anthony Johnson packing, but he did it in a way that almost no one foresaw (with the exception for yours truly, of course). Most believed it would be Johnson who would need to weather an early storm in order to eventually work his way to victory, but it was the other way around come fight night. Perhaps knowing that his failed weight cut had left him drained, Johnson came out of the gates hot, repeatedly putting Belfort on the mat, where he would mount significant offense from top position. Defying the stereotype that he crumbles when he’s not immediately effective, Belfort recovered and came back at Johnson with hard shots, eventually taking his back and finishing the fight by submission.
Earning twenty percent of Johnson’s purse for his failure to make weight in addition to his win bonus, Belfort walked away a happy man on Saturday night, while Johnson walked away unemployed, cut from the UFC for unapologetically missing weight for the third time in his promotional career.
Rousimar Palhares proved that his fearsome reputation for collecting legs is absolutely legitimate, as he quickly tapped out Mike Massenzio despite the fact that Massenzio, like all of Palhares’ opponents, knew his likely gambit. Toquinho also managed to make it through the fight without doing anything erratic or unsporting, a nice change of pace for the short stack of leg-mangling muscle.
Erick Silva’s first round disqualification loss to Carlo Prater sharply illustrates the necessity of continued evolution in regards to MMA officiating. Believing that Silva struck Prater down with illegal shots to the back of the head, referee Mario Yamasaki ruled the fight a DQ after allowing it to conclude. Though the job of a referee is a difficult one, Yamasaki should have known to stop the fight and issue a warning or deduct a point before allowing it to finish, thus robbing a promising young fighter of a victory that he earned fair and square. Joe Rogan’s in-cage interrogation of Yamasaki following the incident may have been slightly awkward, but it was good to see an MMA official asked to explain a questionable call.
Edson Barboza finally made good on his hype, wheel kicking Terry Etim into unconsciousness in the final round of their lightweight tilt, likely earning knockout of the year in the process. If the lightweight division hadn’t been put on notice of Barboza’s presence before, his dispatching of a talented veteran in Etim should do the trick.
On the undercard, Thiago Tavares picked up a slightly iffy decision over Sam Stout in a very close lightweight battle. Gabriel Gonzaga made his return to the Octagon a triumphant one, submitting Junior dos Santos’ training partner, Ednaldo Oliveira, in one round. Yuri Alcantara and Mike Pyle also picked up impressive victories, over Michihiro Omigawa and Ricardo Funch, respectively. Felipe Arantes also put one in the win column by defeating Antonio Carvalho.
If UFC 142, especially the main card portion, is any indication of things to come in 2012, expect an exciting, non-stop year for MMA.