Chris Leben file photo: Sherdog.com
UFC 116 was like watching “Blade Runner” on mute with Faith No More playing in the background -- unvarnished gonzo awesomeness.
What follows is a collection of the five moments that sum up this doozy of an evening.
Lesnar Stands Up
After losing for the first time in some 10 years, Fedor Emelianenko famously said “The man who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up.”
On Saturday night, Brock Lesnar fell and he fell hard. Shane Carwin’s freakish punching power looked like it was too much for the supposedly unstoppable South Dakotan freight train. Both standing and on the mat, Lesnar ate everything Carwin had to offer for nearly five full minutes.
It was near the five minute mark that Lesnar did what no one had done after taking Carwin’s best shot -- he stood up. Now that this most unlikely of UFC heavyweight champions has secured his place atop the division, there is a certain poetic justice to him living up the words of his predecessor.
Leben Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
He was out on his feet, tossed all over the cage and had the face to prove it, but Chris Leben did what he always does -- he kept coming forward. That almost inhuman ability to endure in the face of impossible odds was looking like it may not be enough however, as Yoshihiro Akiyama was inching closer and closer to a decision win.
With just a few scant seconds left on the clock, Leben lived up to his cardiac kid reputation by cinching a fight-ending triangle choke that sent a wildly partisan crowd into nationalistic hysterics. Considering his recent comeback win over Aaron Simpson, it was the perfect closing note to an impossible two-week run of heroics for the alumnus of the very first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Brown Gets Posterized
Chris Lytle loves two things: bonus checks and drama.
Even though he came up short on the former, he delivered the latter in spades. Most of that drama came from a dreadful first round that saw Lytle nearly tapped out by Matt Brown and generally look like a shell of his of former self.
As “Lights Out” so often does however, he dusted himself off and worked his magic yet again by trapping Brown in a mounted reverse-triangle/straight-armbar combination. The visual funk factor of that finish will make for another long-term addition to Lytle’s full-length feature of a highlight reel.
“The American Psycho” Admits He’s Psycho
Stephan Bonnar probably won’t ever get cut from the UFC, but his rematch with Krzysztof Soszynski was undoubtedly a referendum on whether he deserves to be fighting in the Octagon.
He cast the deciding ballot by crashing a knee into Soszynski’s dome and pounding out a fiercely-fought stoppage win. It was in his post-fight interview however, that he won the hearts and minds of the masses all over again by simply declaring “I know I’m sick in the head.”
Acknowledging and embracing that condition made for great viewing even if it also serves as an admission that Bonnar isn’t going to try and progress past what he is.
Pellegrino Realizes He’s In Too Deep
At the end of the second round the camera zoomed in on Kurt Pellegrino and he looked like a lost kid standing in the food court of a random shopping mall.
Down two rounds to brilliant Australian grappler par excellence George Sotiropoulos, “Batman” was hit with the sudden realization that he wasn’t going to win this fight. A third round rally got him a round on more than a few scorecards, but any real hope Pellegrino had of winning left the building at the end of that second round.
The mental game is often considered the unseen aspect of sports, but this was one of those rare snapshots in time where it was laid bare for all to see.