It was the first pay-per-view of the year as Gray Maynard challenged Frankie Edgar for the Lightweight title in the main event of UFC 125: Resolution, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The show began with the preliminaries as Phil Baroni faced Brad Tavares in the middleweight division.
This was a great example of how a fight can turn in an instant. Baroni had controlled the majority of the action, but after his knee strayed south of the border Tavares came back strongly.
A left kick to Baroni’s head was the beginning of the end. Tavares followed up with some great combinations, and it wasn’t long before Baroni slumped to the ground. The referee quickly stepped in to give Tavares the knockout win.
It was down to the featherweight division next as Josh Grispi went up against Dustin Poirier.
Originally Grispi had been down to challenge Jose Aldo for the newly-created UFC Featherweight title, but that went out of the window when Also withdrew because of injury.
For someone who was meant to be the number one contender in his division Grispi certainly didn’t fight like someone in that lofty position.
Poirier had the beating of his man from the moment the fight began. It was an excellent display by the man, and it wasn’t until the final round that Grispi got in any real offence of note.
But by then it was too little too late, with all three judges giving the fight to Poirier, meaning that Grispi’s title aspirations will probably have to be put on hold.
The final preliminary fight saw Marcus Davis facing Jeremy Stephens in the lightweight division.
The 155 pound debut of the Irish Hand Grenade proved to be an intriguing back and forth affair.
As always Davis put in a strong striking performance, rocking Stephens a couple of times, with Stephens looking to secure a couple of submissions on the ground.
The end came in the final round when a haymaker from Stephens sent Davis crashing. He was out of it, and the referee stopped the fight, giving Stephens the highly impressive knockout win.
The main show began with more lightweight action as Clay Guida faced Takanori Gomi.
Guida came into this fight with some rather unique tactics, dancing around the cage, always moving, and if it was a tactic designed to frustrate his Japanese opponent then it clearly worked.
Guida looked in top form throughout, and even though Gomi got in some good shots Guida had his number, taking the submission win in the second round with a guillotine. Crazy stuff.
Then it was up to the welterweight division as Nate Diaz faced off against Dong Hyun Kim.
This was a very good fight. Kim put on an excellent performance, especially on the ground as he controlled the action. Diaz just didn’t seem to have an answer to the Korean’s tactics.
Not even a knee to the head while he was grounded could stop him, although Diaz came back briefly as the fight came to an end.
No surprise with the judges decision as all three scored in favour of Kim. Well, the crowd may not have like it but you can’t deny that it was a great performance.
The light heavyweights were up next as Brandon Vera took on Thiago Silva.
If you ever wanted to see a fighter getting completely overwhelmed then watch this fight. Silva simply dominated Vera from the beginning, completely controlling the fight on the ground.
Vera looked powerless against the Brazilian, and it was pretty obvious that he couldn’t do anything, especially towards the end of the fight when Silva began to slap him around before breaking his nose.
Once again there wasn’t a surprise with the judges, with Silva taking the unanimous decision.
The co-main event featured middleweight action as Chris Leben went up against Brian Stann.
This would have to be Stann’s best performance in the UFC. It could have developed into the kind of brawl Leben wanted, but Stann was having none of it.
The All-American’s crisp striking knocked Leben down twice, but it wasn’t long before the Crippler was back down after a knee. Stann went in for the kill, and the referee stepped in to halt the onslaught, giving Stann the dominating TKO win.
The main event saw Gray Maynard challenging Frankie Edgar for the Lightweight title.
If the rest of the year is going to be like this fight then I will be a happy man.
Maynard began the fight swinging, visibly hurting the champion and knocking him down time and time again. Edgar looked out of it, and it seemed as if he wasn’t going to survive the first round.
But survive he did, and for the next four rounds he came back strongly in what was a truly astounding performance with some crisp striking and great take downs.
But Maynard managed to stay in the fight, constantly looking for that one knockout blow, much to the chagrin of his corner, who wanted him to inflict further damage on the champion first.
So after five hard fought rounds the judges came into play. One scored for Edgar, one for Maynard, while the third judge saw it as a draw. Edgar had kept the title, but only just.
Filler material followed as Daniel Roberts faced Greg Sato in the welterweight division.
A quick encounter saw Roberts looking quite awkward in his striking game, looking more comfortable when the fight went to the ground. Moments later he managed to lock in a kimura for the submission win.
The show rounded out with a second showing of the Baroni/Tavares fight.
In conclusion – the UFC’s first show of the year proved to be great, with the undercard fights delivering big time and the main event going one step further, already a front runner for fight of the year.
So UFC 125 gets the big thumbs up from this writer. A great way to start the year. I just have to wonder what Edgar and Maynard will have in store for us next time.