Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 | 10 p.m.
Some UFC events come and go without a single knockout worth remembering.
The first card of 2012, Saturday’s UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro, featured two vicious finishes that surely will find themselves in the discussion for Knockout of the Year next December. Jose Aldo and Edson Barboza, two 25-year old Brazilian phenoms, showcased their one-strike knockout power in front of their hometown fans.
Aldo kept his featherweight belt and put an end to the night in an abrupt fashion, firing a left knee into challenger Chad Mendes’ face to knock him unconscious with one second remaining in the first round.
“I knew he was going to try to go for my legs and I knew how to throw that knee,” Aldo said through a translator. “Thankfully, I put it right in the right spot.”
Before the finish, Mendes failed to complete a takedown attempt and had Aldo pressed against the cage. Aldo broke free with no more than a few seconds to spare.
That was all the time the champion needed. Aldo, who has now won 14 fights in a row, couldn’t control his emotions.
He took off out of the octagon on a dead sprint into the HSBC Arena stands. It took a couple minutes for security personnel to retrieve Aldo out of the crowd that surrounded him.
“This is the spirit I wanted to come out with tonight,” Aldo said. “I can only thank everyone. This is why I do this. I can only be so happy to be fighting at home.”
Barboza opened the main card with a performance that likely topped Aldo’s showing. After dominating for two rounds, Barboza threw a spinning heel kick that made opponent Terry Etim’s body go limp the moment it hit him in the temple.
Barboza stayed undefeated with the victory that came out 2:02 of the third round. It was the first spinning heel kick knockout in the history of the UFC.
“I had actually done one similar to this before, but it didn’t work out that well,” Barboza said. “This one was definitely much better.”
Controversy denied another Brazilian prospect, 27-year old welterweight Erick Silva, his knockout victory. Silva stopped Carlo Prater 29 seconds into their bout with ground-and-pound strikes after landing a combination of a knee and right hand.
But referee Mario Yamasaki ruled that Silva had illegally struck Prater in the back of the head and disqualified him. The crowd booed — and UFC President Dana White tweeted his dissatisfaction with the call — but the fight officially goes down as a victory for Prater.
Prater failed to land one strike in the match.
“Everyone knows that wasn’t intentional,” Silva said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Las Vegas-based middleweight Vitor Belfort ensured Brazilians went undefeated on the pay-per-view portion of the card. Belfort submitted Anthony Johnson with a rear naked choke at 4:49 of the first round in their co-main event bout.
Combined with failing on Friday to make weight, the poor performance could cost Johnson his job. The former 170-pound fighter moved to the 185-pound division for this fight so he could make the weight limit easier.
But he still came in 11 pounds overweight during Friday’s weigh-in.
“I’ve fought big guys,” Belfort said. “I’m not scared of size. I’m not scared of men. I’m ready to fight whoever.”
Check below for the rest of the results from UFC 142.
Feared middleweight Rouismar Palhares went to his strength, leg lock submissions, early against Mike Massenzio and prevailed. Palhares defeated Massenzio by submission (heel hook) at 1:03 of the first round.
Thiago Tavares scored a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) victory over Sam Stout in a lightweight bout. Stout caught and nearly knocked out Tavares with 10 seconds remaining in the fight, but the surge came too late.
Former heavyweight top contender Gabriel Gonzaga enjoyed a perfect return to the UFC. Gonzaga submitted fellow Brazilian Ednaldo Oliveira via rear naked choke at 3:22 of the first round.
Yuri Alcantara won a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Michihiro Omigawa in their featherweight bout. Alcantara nearly submitted Omigawa in each of the opening two rounds, before fading a bit in the third.
Las Vegas-based welterweight Mike Pyle completed what he called his best finish in the UFC. Pyle defeated Ricardo Funch via TKO at 1:22 of the first round, after dropping the Brazilian with a knee and right hand.
Brazilian featherweight Felipe Arantes scored a minor upset to begin the night. Arantes took the final two rounds on all three judges' scorecards to win a unanimous decision over Antonio Carvalho.