FIVE YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: Reactions to action-packed UFC 132 “Cruz vs. Faber II” event

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Dominick Cruz (photo by Bob DeChiara © USA Today Sports)

Five years ago today, UFC 132 hit Las Vegas with one of the more action-packed cards of 2011. Featuring Carlos Condit’s flying knee victory over Dong Hyun Kim, Tito Ortiz upsetting Ryan Bader with a shocking first round submission, and Chris Leben knocking out Wanderlei Silva in 27 seconds, the undercard was packed with highlights. It was also capped off by a good, competitive fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber.

Check out Torch Editor Jamie Penick’s reactions to the event in this flashback article originally published on July 3, 2011.


PENICK: Post-Fight Reactions to UFC 132 – The Best MMA Event of 2011 (So Far)

Though UFC 132 isn’t going to bring in a massive pay-per-view buyrate, those who did tune in for the card were treated to the best night’s for MMA this year. I missed the first few fights live, catching up on the early pay-per-view fights and those on Spike on the DVR after attending a wedding on Saturday night. But after seeing Carlos Condit’s flying knee, Tito Ortiz demolishing someone not named Ken Shamrock, Chris Leben nearly murdering “The Axe Murderer” and Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber put on a show, it’s safe to say this main card produced one of the best and most memorable events in a long time in the UFC. Some bullet-point-style thoughts on the event:

-Urijah Faber played it too safe in the main event and it cost him a real opportunity to win the fight. Cruz was scoring constantly with his movement and quick combinations, but when Faber connected he was doing damage and scoring the more jarring blows of the fight. That was clear in his three knockdowns in the fight. However, he never capitalized on the knockdowns and was unable to keep the pressure on Cruz in a fight where the judges were not going to be kind to him.

-On that note, Cruz fought a typical Dominick Cruz fight. His speed and combinations put a blinder on for the judges who then tend to miss a lot of what his opponents are scoring with. In both this fight and Cruz’s second bout with Joseph Benavidez in the WEC, it was Cruz’s speed and movement that were the difference, despite being beaten in other areas by both opponents. It’s a style that’s hard to contend with, but Cruz has become very much a point-fighter that isn’t going to threaten many opponents with real, fight-ending damage.

-Because Saturday simply evened the score, an immediate rubber match between Cruz and Faber would be welcome. The top two other challengers, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Brian Bowles, should face off against each other to determine the next fight after that. Bowles picked up a decisive yet not entirely impressive win against Takeya Mizugaki on this card, and since many still believe Johnson should have lost the decision to Miguel Torres in May, having them face off while Faber and Cruz settle the score would make the most sense at this point.

-Wanderlei Silva needs to retire. He’s lost six of his last eight fights, and four of those losses were particularly brutal knockouts. Though the loss to Chris Leben in 27 seconds only marked the first KO loss since his third fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in December of 2008, he’s taken far too much damage in his career and recently hasn’t backed up the losses with subsequent victories. He’s in Chuck Liddell territory, and while the UFC may consider allowing him one more opportunity to fight, it’s probably the end of “The Axe Murderer.”

-There will be some who believe Saturday’s result puts Leben back into the top end of the division, but while it is the biggest win of his career, it really may not have much relevance outside of the personal feelings of Leben. He still got beat decisively by Brian Stann in January, and with Silva’s chin being what it is, he played right into Leben’s strength. Leben is capable of stopping a lot of fighters, but when it comes to competing with the best of the best in the middleweight division, he may be past that time.

-There is a large segment of the fan base that for one reason or another does not like Tito Ortiz, but regardless of what side you’re on it’s hard not to feel good about what he did on Saturday night. Ortiz took on a legitimate top ten fighter who had only been beaten by the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Not only did he beat him, he did it decisively and in under two minutes. Seeing Ortiz not only drop Bader with that short right inside, but patiently choose the best course of action on the ground to lock in his first win in five years and his first submission win in over ten, was nothing short of fantastic. It was a feel good moment for a guy who hasn’t had a lot of them over recent years. With the winless streak against tough competition, a release from the UFC assured with a loss and very public problems on the home front, Ortiz needed this more than I’m sure anyone will ever know fully, and it was a great moment for him to get his hand raised. I echo Rich Hansen’s thoughts from his report on Saturday, and I’m very happy for Tito today.

-Carlos Condit is a beast. His flying knee KO over Dong Hyun Kim was a thing of beauty, and in smashing a fighter who came in with an undefeated record so decisively, he’s going to get consideration as a title challenger. However, with Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz not fighting until October, Condit will be back in the cage before a belt is on the line. He said as much at the post-fight press conference, stating he’s planning on fighting before the year is out, and he knows it won’t coincide with a title shot. Still, if he picks up one more impressive victory like the one he had on Saturday night, the UFC probably won’t hesitate to leap frog him over Jon Fitch or B.J. Penn. Condit’s really coming into his own, and he’s a legitimate threat to anyone at 170 lbs.

-Three lightweight fights on the card brought out their fair share of action, and in the case of Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman, a little controversy. There were a number of reasonable scores for that fight, as Siver certainly could have won the first and third, and Wiman decisively won the second, so there was no robbery in Siver taking a 2-1 decision. Still, Wiman destroyed him in the second round and didn’t get a 10-8 on any judges’ scorecard.

-As for the other two lightweight fights on Spike TV, Melvin Guillard did what was expected of him and ran through Shane Roller. Guillard was out for blood from the start of the round, and after dropping Roller early, he was vicious with his follow-up on the ground. Guillard needs to garner serious consideration in the mix of potential title challengers in the division, and I’d like to see him get a top, top opponent next. George Sotiropoulos is going in the opposite direction in the lightweight division. After bringing himself to the cusp of title consideration and being halted by Dennis Siver, Sotiropoulos followed it up with a brutal knockout loss to Rafael dos Anjos. The one-punch knockout was especially destructive, with Sotiropoulos’ head snapping from one side to the other before he crashed to the mat. It was a huge upset for dos Anjos, and pushes the Aussie a ways down the ladder.

It was a fantastic and entertaining night of fights, and those who chose to tune in were treated to more than their money’s worth. It was a great way to close out a crazy six week stretch of major MMA action, and now MMA fans can catch their collective breath for a few weeks until Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson square off at the end of the month.

[Photo (c) Bob DeChiara via USA Today Sports]

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