Welcome fight fans to our live coverage of UFC 126 as the Mandalay Bay plays host to the deepest card in UFC history. The event features a staggering array of talent right down to the untelevised prelims will see eight fights broadcast with the first being the 8pm ET showing of Kid Yamamoto’s UFC debut on Facebook. The event is headlined by World Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva looking to successfully defend his title against fellow Brazillian Vitor Belfort and secure his place in a possible Pound for Pound King matchup against Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. The stakes could not be higher and nor could the buzz around this event.
The full card is as follows:
MAIN CARD (Pay Per View from 10pm ET)
- Champ Anderson Silva (185) vs. Vitor Belfort (185)
- Forrest Griffin (205) vs. Rich Franklin (203)
- Ryan Bader (205) vs. Jon Jones (206)
- Jake Ellenberger (171) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (170)
- Antonio Banuelos (136) vs. Miguel Torres (136)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV from 9pm ET)
- Paul Kelly (155) vs. Donald Cerrone (155)
- Chad Mendes (146) vs. Michihiro Omigawa (146)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook from 8pm ET)
- Demetrious Johnson (136) vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (135)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Untelevised)
- Gabe Ruediger (155) vs. Paul Taylor (156)
- Kyle Kingsbury (205) vs. Ricardo Romero (205)
- Mike Pierce (171)* vs. Kenny Robertson (170)
Inside Fights has all angles covered with our Editor in Chief Shawn Smith giving his picks for all the main matches while also scoring MMA 24/7’s at times heated preview of tonight’s action. Chris Roberts looks at the battle between the two blue chip prospects at 205Ibs in Jon Jones and Ryan Bader and whether Jon Fitch’s stalker Jake Ellenberger can defeat Carlos Eduardo Rocha. And I look at how UFC 126 marks the beginning of the post-WEC era in the UFC, what the consequences are of the Forrest Griffin vs. Rich Franklin match and why how Anderson Silva finally captured everyone’s attention. And the Inside Fights gang will all be on air from 1am ET for the debut episode of Inside Fights Up Too Late to recap UFC 126 in living sound.
Chad Mendes (146) vs. Michihiro Omigawa (146)
Slight reach advantage for Michihiro Omigawa but other than that its even. Omigawa is on a five fight win streak while Chad Mendes has yet to be defeated in nine fights. Its Judo vs. Folkstyle, Japan vs. America. Mendes throws out a leg kick and follows up with some body punches and a right hand. Connects with another right and an inside leg kick. Omigawa trying to find an opening but struggling. Man Omigawa’s corner is land. Omigawa connects with a left hook while Mendes wings. Mendes lunges in but Omigawa moves away. Mendes really throwing out the inside leg kicks. Mendes shoots from distance but Omigawa easily blocks. Mendes lands a couple of right hands but misses the hook. Mendes shakes his right hand, may have hurt it. Mendes goes for another takedown but its blocked. Omigawa takes a solid hook from Mendes straight on the chin. Mendes lands the jab. Mendes finally gets the takedown after catching Omigawa off balance. Omigawa attempts to move to butterfly guard and is looking for a submission off his back. Omigawa goes for an armbar but Mendes is eventually able to free himself. Mendes stands up but doesn’t really know what to do. Omigawa gets to his feet. Mendes is really doing a good job with the leg kicks, strange to see a wrestler so comfortable with them. Good, even round of action but Mendes took that 10-9.
Mendes drops Omigawa at the start of the second round with a big right hand and dives in to try to finish. Omigawa manages to survive after tying up Mendes. Mendes escapes but dives back in to land more bombs. Omigawa tries to attack the leg. They’re both back to their feet and Mendes looks very uncomfortable in teh striking exchanges. Mendes is landing big shots and Omigawa is bleeding from the nose. Mendes goes for the takedown but Omigawa is able to shake him off. Great takedown defense from Omigawa. Mendes pushes Omigawa up against the cage and coutures him. They get off the cage and Mendes connects with a one-two. Mendes is looking better standing, landing some nice punches as pushes forward. Mendes tries to go for a single leg but Omigawa sprawls, lands some shots to the body. Mendes connects with the flying knee. He does get a big takedown and lands some nasty elbows. Clear round for Chad Mendes and Omigawa needs to go for the finish in the third. 20-18.
Omigawa has a nasty cut above his right eye, absolutely brutal. Somewhere Devon Alexander the sharp short pangs of shame. Mendes tries to hunt Omigawa down, goes for the takedown but again Omigawa can sprawl. Omigawa goes for the guilliotine but loses it. Mendes on top in Omigawa’s guard trying to work his ground and pound. Mendes can’t pass to improve his position with Omigawa controlling from the bottom. Mendes lands the right hand in counter to Omigawa’s superman punch. Omigawa putting together combinations but they don’t seem to be hurting Mendes. Mendes gets the takedown and that’s probably the fight over. Mendes tries for the oomplata but Mendes successfully defends against it. Another round for Mendes and its a shutout on my scorecard 30-27 to Mendes. All three judges agree with me.
Chad Mendes defeated Michihiro Omigawa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Kyle Kingsbury destroyed Ricardo Romero in just twenty-one seconds, overwhelming him with knees and punches up against the cage.
Paul Kelly (155) vs. Donald Cerrone (155)
Interestingly Goldberg acknowledges (even plays up) the resentment many UFC lightweight veterans feel towards their new colleagues from the WEC. Good reception for The Cowboy. Cerrone tries to touch gloves but Kelly lands a right hand. Kinda a sucker shot. Cerrone gets the takedown (Kelly’s British in case you’d forgotten) but Kelly threatens with a guillotine attempt. They stand back up and Kelly looks pumped. Kelly lands a big left hook but Cerrone responds with some nice looking knees. Some very British standing Kelly chants ring out. Kelly goes close with some wild swings. Cerrone comes back with some knees and an elbow. Kelly connects with a nice straight punch-hook combination. Cerrone is getting caught way too much…indeed Kelly is starting to eat him up standing. Cerrone gets a takedown but Kelly is able to stifle off his back. Cerrone gets some nice elbows, one of which opens up a nasty caught above Kelly’s eye. Difficult round to score – Kelly took most of the standup but Cerrone gets two takedowns. Hmmm. Kelly probably did the most damage. 10-9 Kelly.
Kelly pushes forward while swinging wildly but Cerrone does some decent work off his back foot. His getting more joy with his kicks than in his opening round. Cerrone lands a knee to the head…follows up with some leg kicks. Kelly goes for a body hook but Cerrone counters with a takedown. Kelly tries to get the guillotine but Cerrone pops out. Cerrone in half guard looking for an arm traingle. Kelly tries to buck out but only allows Cerrone to move to full mount. He again tries to buck out but ends up giving up his back with almost two minutes left in the round. Cerrone goes for the rear naked choke, which Kelly stubbornly defends against but he can’t resist for ever. Cerrone gets it, tightens up and Kelly taps at 3:48. Very important victory for Cerrone and the wider WEC alumni. Cerrone shows tremendous charisma in his post-fight interview, particularly when Kelly comes over like a bitch trying to explain away his sucker punch at the beginning of the round. If he’s good enough he’ll be a huge star in the UFC.
Donald Cerrone defeated Paul Kelly at 3:48 in the second round via submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Oh man Anderson Silva is such a fantastic heel! Goldberg and Rogan were breaking down the post weigh-in confrontation between him and Belfort, and then they just cut to him laughing his ass off. In the UK UFC 126 is part of a block of programming that started with UFC All Access…Anderson Silva. Its amazing how far he’s progressed as a character over the years. From the charming, smiling, well mannered normal guy to this wonderfully arrogant and demented figure we see today. Its that transformation that has led to internal UFC projections based on cable reaction predicting that this show will do around one million buys.
Btw when did we start pronouncing the ‘t’ in ‘Belfort’…I think I missed that memo.
It was worth nothing that technically Belfort can join a very elite club tonight as with his controvesial light heavyweight title victory against Randy Couture a win tonight will make him only the third man to hold UFC belts at different weight classes. Arguably he can claim to hold championships at three weight classes being a former UFC heavyweight title tournament…although that tournament was actually to crown a contender to the true Heavyweight Champion.
Antonio Banuelos (136) vs. Miguel Torres (136)
If you can say that any fighter deserves to win, then Miguel Torres deserves to win tonight. After the central role he played in the development of the bantamweight division it would be a tragedy if he was to slip out of contention just as the weight class gets to be showcased on the big stage. Torres suffered two back to back defeats in 2009/2010 but secured a good win against Charlie Valencia back in September and has overhauled his training to tighten up his game technically. This fight between two mexicans also shows the tremendous commercial potential of the lighter weight classes to reach out to the lucrative hispanic fight fanbase.
Really good reaction from the fans for Miguel Torres. Torres is visibly taller and longer than Banuelos. They feel each other out to begin, with Torres keeping hand out to keep Banuelos out of punching range. Torres lands a kick…goes close with a right hand. Torres looks like a monster in terms of height and reach. Torres flicking out the jab. Torres is fighting very cautiously, obviously the stakes are extremely high for him tonight. Crowd getting restless. Banuelos catches a kick from Torres and trips him to the ground, but chooses not to follow. This is not exactly the non stop, high impact action that we may have expected coming in. Torres working the jab while looking to counterstrike. Connects with a right hand. I can understand him wanting to play it safe and win, but he needs to do more to make a good first impression. Banuelos connects with a right hand but misses with a spinning back kick. Torres snaps Banuelos’ head back with a jab. Thats it for the round. Crowd is not happy. 10-9 to Torres.
Miguel Torres seems to have swapped brains with Wladimir Klitschko. Just hiding behind the outstretch lead hand, while using his reach to outpoint his opponent with long range bombardment. Torres connects with a inside leg kick but Banuelos calls a low blow. Torres tries to go close with a jumping high kick. Torres picking Banuelos apart with jabs and kicks, but he doesn’t seem to be fighting at his normal pace. Crowd is very disappointed. Banuelos can do nothing to get inside. Banuelos is swinging wild but cannot land a thing. I mean man I’m all for guys fighting tall but this isn’t smart in the long term. Banuelos nose seems to have been damaged by the jab of Torres. Banuelos sneaks in a couple of good shots but not enough to come anywhere close to taking the round. 20-18.
Both fighters need a finish, Banuelos to get the victory and Torres to add some gloss on what has been an extremely disappointing debut. Its alright fighting like this when you’re a star like St. Pierre or Klitschkos but Torres is trying to win over a completely new fanbase and he’s doing the very opposite. I mean this is approaching Silva-Leites levels of extremely effective technical striking just leaving everyone flat. Torres is just completely safe behind his reach advantage but he’s not upping the tempo to finish the fight. Lands a nice head kick but largely peppering Banuelos with the jab. Torres hurts Banuelos with a right hand. The jab of Torres is starting to hurt Banuelos. Banuelos is swinging wildly but its not good. The bell sounds and the boos ring out across Mandalay Bay. 30-27. Terrible, terrible debut for Torres that makes the already tricky job of marketing the bantamweights to the UFC fanbase only harder. And once again all three judges agree with me.
Very disappointing. Worryingly Torres didn’t see anythingwrong with his performance despite the boos coming from the crowd (although to be fair people were still cheering him). I tell you what, if that’s how Torres intends to fight from now on I do not want to be watching if he ever challenges Dominick Cruz.
Miguel Torres defeated Antonio Banuelos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jake Ellenberger (171) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (170)
Ellenberger clips him with a left hand, gets the takedown but Rocha rolls through. Rocha pushes Ellenberger against the cage, but Ellenberger gets the takedown. They standup. Rocha gets the takedown into side control. Rocha attacks the arms of Ellenberger. Rocha is just shifting position looking for an opening. Rocha is showing tremendously smooth grappling but doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. Rocha is doing no ground striking, instead just looking for a submissions. Rocha attacks the legs of Ellenberger. Rocha gets warned for headbutting (somewhere Bradley feels the short sharp pangs of shame) and the distraction allows Ellenberger to get back to his feet. Rocha slips on spinning back kick attempt. Rocha goes for a takedown, Ellenberger sprawls and works the body from front facelock. Rocha goes for the kimura and uses that to flip Ellenberger over. Rocha serious attacks the arm but Ellenberger is able to hang on. Great round of grappling. 10-9 to Rocha.
Ellenberger lands a big punch early on, follows it up with a couple of knees. Rocha goes for another takedown, Ellenberger sprawls and gets some punches in. Rocha actually turtles up, suggesting he’s struggling to cope with the stand up of Ellenberger. Ellenberger tries to connect again but isn’t landing with anything…indeed he seems to have dropped the pace. Rocha with some nice high kicks. Ellenberger trying to walk down Rocha, connects with a big right hand a punch to the body. Ellenberger is being pretty tentative after a good start to the second round, landing punches but not doing so with any intensity. Rocha misses with the flying knee. I don’t understand why Rogan is talking about Ellenberger losing the fight…he’s clearly taking the second round. Ellenberger goes for a takedown, gets it but Rocha shows why that would be a bad time if there was more time in the round by moving quickly for a triangle choke. Probably a mistake as it will make Ellenberger wary of going for anything in the future. 19-19.
They trade from long distance to begin with, with Rocha doing a good job with the kicks. Rocha goes for the takedown after Ellenberger got inside and let his hands go, but Ellenberger was able to sprawl. Rocha connects cleanly with a spinning kick. Ellenberger goes close with a one-two combination. Rocha lands another kick and another. Ellenberger with a swinging punch. Ellenberger swings wildly and goes for the takedown (!?!). Ellenberger ties Rocha up and connects with some knees. Rocha goes for a head kick but Ellenberger catches and pushes him down. Ellenberger is cut above his right eye. Ellenberger gets a point scoring takedown, and now its up to Rocha to get a match winning submission. He can’t get it and the fight goes the distance. 29-28 to Jake Ellenberger on my scorecard. The judges have it 30-27 to Rocha and 29-28 Ellenberger, 29-28 Ellenberger. I have no idea how one judge gave all three rounds to Rocha. Terrible call.
Jake Ellenberger defeated Carlos Eduardo Rocha via unanimious decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Ryan Bader (205) vs. Jon Jones (206)
This fight really has got over to the casual fan in a way that neither guy’s previous bouts have. Bader has dutifully and doggedily risen through the ranks, impressing without ever really winning over the general fanbase. Jones on the other hand is a true phenom, wowing everyone with an offense that is both eyecatching and innovative. He has of course been helped by being booked in what were effectively a series of squash matches. The man that haunts both fighters is the challenger in tonight’s main event, Vitor Belfort. Like these two Belfort exploded onto the scene like an absolute wrecking ball and many were talking about him redefining the game, becoming one of the greatest of all time. And then came Randy Couture, a shock defeat and it all came crashing down. Belfort would rebuild his career it would never been the same again. If Jones wins impressively he becomes a superstar. If Bader wins he becomes a contender. The stakes are high, as can be shown by the nerves being shown by both fighters, particularly Jones.
Bader rushes in but doesn’t connect. Jones jumps up for a knee but thinks better off it. Jones goes low for a takedown, which he gets. Bader tries to counter with a guillotine but Jones is able to escape. Jones very smoothly transitions to north/south and goes close with a North/South Choke. Jones tries to free his right arm but by doing this he allows Bader to ease the pressure. Bader gets back to his feet. Jones connects with a high kick. Bader shoots for a takedown but Jones comfortably stuffs it. Jones has top position, with Bader’s head in a front facelock tries to work the body. Jones beautifully takes Bader’s back by stepping over him. Bader stands up but Jones still has his back. Bader counters with a kimura attempt but its to no avail. Jones goes for a choke and then works Bader over with big elbows. Dominant round for Jones who looked like a million bucks. 10-9 to Jones obviously.
Jones lands a quick left hook, switches to southpaw. Connects with an overhand right and a jumping side kick. Follows up with a nice leg kick. Goes for the front kick but misses. Jones rushes in but Bader catches him a short punch. Bader gets a leg kick, Jones responds in kind. Bader misses with a big swing. Jones combos a superman punch with a leg kick, beautiful stuff. Jones lands an inside leg kick and a jumping leg kick. Jones starting to chop Bader down from the base. Jones lands a good right hand. Jones is just on a different level to Bader. Bader pulls guard…yes a wrestler pulls guard to take the fight down to the ground. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Jones looks for a D’Arce choke, transitions to a guillotine. And he gets it…while being in Bader’s half guard! What a performance from Jones who proves beyond all doubt that he’s the real deal. That’s a star making performance.
Jon Jones defeated Ryan Bader at 4:20 of the second round via submission (Guillotine Choke)
What…there’s more! Joe Rogan tells Jon Jones that Rashad Evans is injured and cannot face Shogun Rua at UFC 128 for the World Light Heavyweight Title , and that the UFC want to offer him the title shot in place of his team mate. Jones accepts! And we have the staredown between Shogun and Jones. Oh man I cannot wait for UFC 128! One of the most dramatic moments in UFC history.
Forrest Griffin (205) vs. Rich Franklin (203)
This fights is all the more important now that we know that Jones is facing Shogun at UFC 128. If either guy manages to win impressively and Couture loses in Toronto then there’s a good chance they get the next title shot. Griffin connects with a glancing high kick. Griffin takes down Franklin, Franklin stifling off his back. Big ‘Forrest’ chant. Griffin moves to half guard, but Franklin moves him back to the full guard. Franklin doing a great job tying up Griffin, Griffin is only getting the odd heavy shot in. Griffin grabs the back of Franklin’s head and gets several short punches and elbows in. Griffin getting more punches in and there’s a very real danger that carrying all this weight and working so hard to defend will tire Franklin out. Griffin gettings some good elbows in, but Franklin doing a great job maintaining wrist control. Dominant round for Griffin but Franklin’s defense was good to keep it at 10-9.
Griffin coming in with knees and kicks but Franklin is getting some good counterpunches in. Griffin just looks so much bigger than Franklin, it is very much like they are of two different weight classes. Forrest landing some leg kicks but he’s eating a lot of punches from Griffin. Griffin lands a head kick. Griffin goes for a takedown and takes Franklin’s back. Griffin works to improve position, Franklin tries to maintain wrist control. Griffin frees his hand and connects with some short punches to the head. Franklin stands up and after a struggle Griffin separates. Griffin throws a big kick, following it up with an inside kick and a right hand. Griffin connects with a left hook and Franklin drops but Griffin can’t capitalize. Franklin lands a body kick that forces Griffin to take a step back. Franklin is landing nice right hands on the counter. Franklin showing more aggression towards the end of the round. Difficult round to score…Griffin got the takedowns and rocked Franklin but Franklin’s boxing seemed more technically sound. Probably Griffin’s round…but only just. 20-18.
They exchange standing, Franklin gets the better of it with a nice body kick. Franklin tries to take Griffin down, but ends up being thrown to the ground himself. Franklin quickly gets back up and connects with a knee. They trade high kicks. Its getting into long range bombardment terriority with both fighters staying at the outer edges of the pocket and trading single shots. Neither is pushing forward and putting finishing combinations together. Griffin drops down to get the takedown but Franklin quickly stands up. Griffin tries to get a standing guillotine but Franklin counters with a takedown. They scramble back to their feet and Griffin gets another takedown. Franklin gets back up and that’s pretty much the fight. Very difficult round to score, especially it was often not clear who was getting the better of the standing exchanges. Girffin probably gets the nod for the takedowns and guillotine attempt. 30-27 to Griffin on my scorecard, although a close 30-27 if you know what I mean. All three judges had it 29-28 to Griffin, to the surprise of Rich Franklin.Forrest Griffin shows he’s got his shtick back down, with a funny self-deprecating interview with Rogan.
Forrest Griffin defeat Rich Franklin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Really good ‘Key to Victory’ breakdown for the main event by Goldberg and Rogan. Don’t think I’ve seen them do this before. Funnily enough I was thinking when watching last week’s Strikeforce show that Showtime’s stat-heavy presentation was making the UFC’s production look slightly superfical. Very happy to see something like this.
World Middleweight Title Fight
Anderson Silva (185) vs. Vitor Belfort (185)
Well here we are. This fight has captured the imagination of fight fans in a way that is genuinely surprising. Silva has become a genuine superstar over the past eighteen months and Belfort is a name that clearly resonates in the subconscious of MMA fans. What’s more the stakes have been raised…we now know that a Belfort victory would derail the march to the long anticipated P4P King fight between him and Georges St. Pierre. The world is watching, can Silva make it thirteen victories in a row or will Belfort finally fulfil his potential?
Steven Seagal is actually in Silva’s entrouage! Awesome!
They feel each other out to begin with and we need to get used to this if Belfort is going to fight cautiously. Belfort throws out a nothing left kick, Silva rushes in trying to land a jab. Very little happening as both wait for the other to make the first move. Silva rushes forward but Belfort falls back. Belfort misses with a leg kick. Belfort rushes in and lands a left. Silva goes for a high kick, Belfort ducks under gets the takedown but Silva gets right back up. Silva lands a knee. They exchange leg kicks. Belfort rushes forward but Silva shows his matrix head movement. Silva connects cleanly with a devastating front kick that drops Belfort like he’s been shot. A few quick punches and its over at 3:25 of the first round. Wow…just simply wow. Silva is simply operating at a level above everybody else. Can Georges St. Pierre defeat him? I’m not so sure now.Silva gives a great long ranting promo in Portuguese! He apparently thanks everybody in his life ever.
Anderson Silva defeated Vitor Belfort via TKO (Strikes) to retain the World Middleweight Title
That concludes our live play by play of UFC 126. Make sure to join us at 1am ET for Inside Fights Up Too Late!
Tags: anderson silva, chad mendes, demetrious johnson, Donald Cerrone, forrest griffin, Gabe Ruediger, Jake Ellenberger, jon jones, Kid Yamamoto, Michihiro Omigawa, miguel torres, Mike Pierce, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA 24/7, Paul Kelly, Paul Taylor, Rich Franklin, ryan bader, UFC 126, Vitor Belfort