UFC 134 was more than the promotion's triumphant return to Brazil and its first ever event held in Rio de Janeiro, it was a confirmation of greatness for their greatest champion and a return to form for two of the legends of the sport. The card saw lots of action and some wild and wooly bouts. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva banished the ghost of his last loss with an incredible performance. Former champions Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua showed they still have what it takes to win the big fights.
Let's break down the action:
- A trio of preliminary fights made it onto the pay-per-view: Erick Silva vs. Luis Ramos, Paulo Thiago vs. David Mitchell, and Yves Jabouin vs. Ian Loveland. Silva put proof to the hype that had some touting him as the welterweight division's top prospect of 2011 when he blasted Ramos right out of the Octagon in the first round. Thiago battered and beat on Mitchell for three dominant rounds. Jabouin and Loveland acquitted themselves well in the only bout featuring no Brazilian fighters.
- Brazilian light heavyweight Luiz Cane had the singular distinction of being the only Brazilian to lose to a foreign fighter on the whole card when he let Bulgarian grappler Stanislav Nedkov come back late in the first round and knock him out. Cane disregarded Nedkov's one punch -- a looping overhand right -- for most of the first round, walking through it like nothing and getting more and more dominant but towards the end of the round, Nedkov caught him and once Cane was hurt, Nedkov swarmed in for the kill.
- Young American heavyweight Brendan Schaub came into UFC 134 fresh off a dramatic KO win over the legendary Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and was looking to put another legend on his victims list. Unfortunately for Schaub, his would-be victim was none other than the legendary Big Nog and Nogueira flatly refused to be a victim in front of his home town crowd. Nog walked through Schaub's hard punches and caught the American with a bomb of an uppercut that stunned him up against the fence. From there Nog knew what to do and made short work of the stunned Schaub.
- The Ultimate Fighter season 9 winner Ross Pearson came in against the vaunted and undefeated Edson Barboza with a solid game plan -- disrupt Barboza's range and get inside where his boxing skill could make the difference. Unfortunately for Pearson it was only enough to make for the Fight of the Night and the win on one of the three judges' cards. Barboza was able to do enough with his big kicks and hard punches to get the nod from 2/3 of the judges.
- Shogun Rua needed to beat Forrest Griffin to erase the sting of his 2007 loss to Griffin in his UFC debut. He did that and more. Rua backed Griffin up with a flurry of overhand rights and when he dropped Griffin to the ground he showed the killer instinct that made him the most feared light heavyweight in Japan's Pride Fighting organization. The loss knocks Griffin completely off the contenders list in the stacked 205lb division and re-ignites Rua's title hopes.
- Middleweight champion Anderson Silva was looking to cement his legacy as the greatest fighter in UFC history AND erase his last loss -- a DQ to Yushin Okami from back in 2006. Mission accomplished on both counts. Silva took most of the first round to find his range, only hurting Okami late in the round with a crushing high kick to the back of the head. In the second, Silva came out aggressive and taunted Okami with his hands down low. When Okami ventured into range he quickly paid the price as Silva dropped him twice with short, sharp straight punches. The second time, Silva followed him down and finished the job.
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