Tito Ortiz (file photo) is back in the mix. | Photo: Sherdog.com
With an exciting five-round battle, UFC 132 delivered a solid event overall. In addition to Dominick Cruz’ long-awaited revenge over rival Urijah Faber, Tito Ortiz scored his first win since 2006, while Chris Leben delivered an impressive stoppage of Wanderlei Silva.
Here’s a closer look, with the UFC 132 Stock Report.
Dominick Cruz: He waited four years; and debuting in the UFC as the champ in a headliner bout, delivered big. Cruz’ performance tonight showed how much his game has matured, as he utilized his trademark slick standup, with the threat of takedowns to finish strong to take a unanimous decision. While judge Sal D’Amato’s card of 50-45 was off (this writer had it 48-47 for Cruz), the 135-poun ace closed hard down the stretch as a champion should.
In addition to getting payback for the sole loss of his career, Cruz, now 18-1, performed the neat trick of simultaneously jump-starting the UFC’s bantamweight division with a good championship fight, while setting up a rubber match that is promotable as well. All in all, a great start for the UFC 135-pound titlist.
Tito Ortiz: With a stunning submission win over favored Ryan Bader, Ortiz recouped from a 0-4-1 slide, injecting much-needed life into a career that faced a certain release from the UFC if he’d lost. A polarizing figure throughout his 14-year career in the UFC, Ortiz’ post-fight celebration had to make even the most hardened critics a little nostalgic; working his patented gravedigger routine after getting the tap from Bader, Tito looked every bit like a hard-traveled veteran who appreciated the spoils of a big win.
It’s been a while, and this one gives him firm promotional footing for at least two more fights. As an added bonus, we can look forward to more Twitter awesomeness between he and UFC President Dana White.
Chris Leben: In a classic Lebenesque showing, the middleweight slugger was drilled early and came back huge, rebounding with his big left hand to stop Wanderlei Silva. Fighting an idol in a high-profile bout, Leben showed why he’s always a punch away from being in the winner’s circle and a promotional favorite. The biggest win of his career, it also removes the bad taste of his stoppage loss to Brian Stann in his previous outing.
Melvin Guillard: Clinical, laser-sharp and destructive, Guillard was like a bomb going off against Shane Roller. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he’s the most physically gifted lightweight in the world, and a handful for anyone. The big question is, can he adjust in tough fights against the very best? We’ll soon find out. He’s probably the worst guy in the division to make a mistake against, given his power and ability to exploit openings.
Carlos Condit: Faced with a potentially daunting style matchup, Condit showed why he’d finished 25 opponents in 26 previous wins -- by going for it and damning the consequences. With a gorgeous flying knee he stunned Kim and took him out with a follow-up attack. Now a proven top-tier welter, he’s
also becoming highly marketable off this win and his
one-punch blowout of Dan Hardy.
Dennis Siver and Matt Wiman: While Siver took a unanimous 29-28 decision, the lightweight bout between mid-tier contenders was largely inconclusive. Siver took the first with his counters and takedown defense, while Wiman rebounded in the second, bloodying Siver with ground and pound and consistent top control. The third saw both largely run out of gas -- like a high school kegger that started strong and then fizzled when the power went out and the parents came home. Not necessarily a bad showing by either guy, but none of the elite lightweights are going to lose sleep watching a replay of this one.
Urijah Faber: In a close bid to take Cruz’ bantamweight belt, Faber fell just short in an exciting bout. Over the five-round distance, the champ’s mercurial style and overall volume proved the difference, though Faber clearly landed the harder and more effective shots. Interestingly, Cruz got the better of the wrestling battle, threatening over the last half of the bout with several, from which Faber consistently scrambled up and away from. A third match is a natural with these two; it will be up to Faber to adjust his tactics accordingly.
Brian Bowles: With his oft-injured right hand tweaked again against Takeya Mizugaki, Bowles could only offer a so-so showing, taking a decision win. Style-wise, this seemed like a winnable fight for him, but the hand clearly affected his ability to operate. The former champ definitely needs time to heal up.
Wanderlei Silva: Silva simply hasn’t looked his old self. Whether it’s the weight cut at the advanced age of 34 (he turns 35 Sunday) or the numerous battles, he’s not the same fighter he used to be. Taken out by Leben in 27 seconds, the once-stout resilience and fighting machine that terrorized Pride is no longer the guy in the cage. Like another legend and all-time great, Silva’s venturing into Chuck Liddell territory if he continues to fight. Now 2-4 with the UFC, is he still too big a name to release, for fear that another promotion could pick him up? We’ll soon find out.
Ryan Bader: After being dominated by Jon Jones, on paper, Bader couldn’t have gotten a better opponent in terms of risk-reward than Ortiz, a name ex-champ who hadn’t won in five fights. Hurt by a right hand and submitted in the first, Bader’s stock takes a hit here, as this was the kind of fight a guy in his position is supposed to win.
Shane Roller: Blitzed out by the dangerous Guillard, Roller was simply outmatched on the feet. A mid-level 155er in the WEC with a potential upside, his striking remains very raw, leaving him dangerously exposed, something Guillard exploited.
Dong Hyun Kim: Going into the Condit bout, Kim was 14-0-1, and probably the least-hyped unbeaten fighter on the UFC’s roster. Handed his first loss, it’s back to the drawing board for the South Korean.
Takeya Mizugaki: Laconic and uninspired against Bowles, Mizugaki can’t seem to get over the bantamweight hump. Since his gutty title fight decision loss to then-champ Miguel Torres, he’s gone 3-3 and didn’t fight with much passion tonight.
Jason Probst can be reached at Jason@jasonprobst.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.