Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 8:55 p.m.
Note: Full results from the rest of the card are available at the bottom of the page.
Chael Sonnen declared himself the best fighter in the world to anyone who would listen less than a week ago.
By Wednesday night, Sonnen wouldn’t even put his name at the top of his weight class. He didn’t bestow that honor upon Anderson Silva, who blitzed him with a second-round TKO last Saturday, either.
Sonnen anointed Chris Weidman as the 185-pound fighter to beat after the undefeated prospect routed Mark Munoz with a second-round knockout in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 4.
“Chris Weidman, present company included, you are the best middleweight in the UFC,” Sonnen said on the broadcast.
“There is no debate right now. The nail is in the coffin. That’s the No. 1 contender.”
Sonnen campaigned louder than the 28-year old New Yorker did for himself after the fight. Instead of running his mouth in hopes of getting a bout with Silva like Sonnen, Weidman just threw his elbows.
Weidman, who has won all nine of his bouts despite only starting to fight three years ago, timed an advance with a standing elbow that sent Munoz crashing to the ground.
“We started just doing some small glove stuff the other day,” Weidman said. “I was playing with elbows. I’ve got the long reach for it. Jon Jones pretty much gave a good blueprint on how to use them. I just try to follow that order. Thank God it landed.”
Even if Weidman would have missed, the direction of the fight was clear. Weidman took Munoz down on his first attempt and nearly finished the 34-year old veteran with a number of submissions in the opening round.
A pool of blood formed below Munoz’s head after Weidman followed his knockdown with brutal ground-and-pound strikes. Blood gave way to tears as Munoz bawled on his way backstage.
For Weidman, it was a display of brilliance that left no room for debate on whether he’s viable challenger to Silva’s throne.
“Every single time I’ve had a full training camp, I’ve finished my opponent dating back to my first MMA fight,” Weidman said. “Give me a full training camp against Anderson Silva and I’m pretty confident I’m going to go in there and not only get the ‘w’, but get a finish against one of the best fighters of all-time.”
Sonnen’s response: “Co-signed.”
James Te Huna won a unanimous decision over Joey Beltran in a light heavyweight bout that earned Fight of the Night honors. Te Huna won every round on all three judges’ scorecards despite valiant comebacks and a knock down from Beltran.
Aaron Simpson’s first appearance at welterweight went off without a hitch. Simpson beat Kenny Robertson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) by controlling the wrestling. “I’ve got to finish guys at this weight. That’s what this business is built on and I want to be one of those athletes,” Simpson said.
Welterweight prospect Francis Carmont appears to have developed other parts of his game to go with his already high-level striking. Carmont out-grappled Karlos Vemola en route to a submission victory at 1:39 of the second round.
T.J. Dillashaw is starting to live up to the hype as a future contender in the bantamweight division. Dillashaw submitted Vaughan Lee with a rear-naked choke at 2:33 of the first round to win his second straight.
Rafael dos Anjos used more than his heralded grappling in a lightweight bout against Anthony Njokuani. Although dos Anjos converted on six takedown attempts, he also out-struck the local kickboxer. The judges identified the dominance, awarding dos Anjos a unanimous-decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Njokuani, who may have suffered a broken hand.
Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres continued to showcase his rapid improvements in his third bantamweight contest. Caceres submitted Damacio Page with a triangle choke at 1:27 of the second round.
Every flyweight fight the UFC has presented since implementing the 125-pound class three months ago has delivered fast-paced, memorable action. Chris Cariaso and Josh Ferguson kept the trend alive in San Jose. Both fighters had their moments, but Cariaso notched a unanimous-decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Ferguson in the end.
Undefeated middleweight prospect Andrew Craig is beginning to make a name for himself, especially after his performance against Rafael Natal. Craig knocked out Natal at 4:52 of the second round with a head kick after enduring an onslaught that nearly finished him earlier in the frame.
Marcelo Guimaraes defeated Dan Stittgen by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a welterweight bout. Guimaraes came on late to claim the decision by trapping Stittgen against the cage and throwing strikes from the clinch while grunting wildly.
Brazil beat Japan in a bantamweight contest to open the card. Raphael Assuncao scored a TKO victory over Issei Tamura 25 seconds into the second round.