This Weekend in Fights (December 31st) definitely capped off 2011 with one of the biggest “dream” bouts of all time with Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeem as the main event of UFC 141. Once UFC 141 came to a conclusion DREAM wrapped up their year with the Japanese MMA return of Fedor Emelianenko.
UFC 141 kicked of the weekend on Friday night with some great fights introducing Ross Pearson to the Featherweight Division, the return of Efrian Escudero to the promotion and the debut of Alistair Overeem.
Highlights from the facebook prelim card included Dong Hyung Kim’s one sided beat down of Sean Pearson, where Stun Gun attempted to pull a page out of Anderson Silva’s book, with a highlight reel crane kick finish. With several attempts from Kim, only one kick landed, dropping Pearson, but he was saved by the bell. To the surprise of many Pearson continued to battle it out throughout the third round, but the damage was done as Kim scored a unanimous decision. Although, Erian Escudero trains with great wrestlers like Aaron Simpson and Ryan Bader, he was no match Jacob Volkmann, as he spent the majority of the bout on his back. Volkmann welcomed Escudero back into the UFC with a tough decision loss.
On the final Spike TV prelims for the UFC, Ross Pearson kept his fight with dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Junior Assunsao standing, displaying superior striking for the win. Also in a a very close bout, last minute replacement Danny Castillo edged out Anthony Njokuani with a split decision.
On the main card many fighters looked impressive, with Jim Hettes imposing his will on Nam Phan in a one sided beat down that proved that Hettes is a serious player at 145; although not being able to finish Phan, Hettes delivered a humbling beat down that turned heads. Trash talking Nate Diaz delivered Donald Cerrone his first UFC loss ending his four fight win streak and stopped Cerrone from making five in a row in 2011. Johnny Hendricks shocked the world and Jon Fitch for that matter with a 12 second knockout in the opening round. In another impressive knockout, Alexander Gustafsson took out Vladimir Matyushenko, when Matyushenko ran into a jab.
In the main event of UFC 141 Alistair Overeem picked apart Brock Lesnar with his superior striking for a first round TKO. The former/current (never lost titles) the STRIKEFORCE & DREAM Heavyweight champion and 2010 K-1 Grand Prix champion forced Lesnar to drop after possibly breaking his rib with a combination of punches, knees and a solid left kick to the liver of the former UFC Heavyweight champion. Continuing the barrage of strikes, the referee stopped the action in under three minutes; Post fight, Lesnar announced his retirement from the UFC and MMA. (Full UFC 141 Event results below.)
When the UFC concluded, DREAM New Year 2011 began from the Saitama Super Arena with a card that included the semi-finals and finals of the DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix, Dream title defenses in the Lightweight and Featherweight divisions, kickboxing match ups, mixed rules match ups, and pro wrestling matches.
Fedor Emelianenko returned to Japanese MMA after a four year absence and reminded the MMA community why he was such a force in the Heavweight division. Emelianenko averted clinching and take down attempts early on and won in classic Fedor fashion with a first round knockout of 2008 Olympic Gold medalist Satoshi Ishii.
DREAM Lightweight champion Shinya Aoki defended his title against Satoru Kitaoka in about that went the distance. Although, Aoki is riding a seven fight win streak, this was only his third title defense since winning the championship back in October of 2009. The other championship bout of the evening also came by way of judges decision as DREAM Featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya defeated Takeshi Inoue.
Bibiano Fernandes won the DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix, thus becoming the inaugural DREAM Bantamweight champion. Fernandes defeated Rodolfo Marques in the semi finals via unanimous decision, while Antonio Banuelos defeated Masakazi Imanari via split decision to advance to the finals. In the finals Fernandes destroyed Banuelos in a 1:21 of the very first round with a TKO victory.
Former UFC Heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia was slated to take on Brett Rogers in MMA action, but due to Rogers being unable to obtain a visa to go to Japan, the bout was scrapped and he took on Jerome Le Banner in a IGF rules pro wrestling match in a losing effort. Also in IGF rules match ups Josh Barnett defeated Hideki Suzuki via pin fall, Kazuyuki Fujita defeated Peter Aerts via leglock, and the tag team of Kazushi Sakuraba and Katsuyori Shibata defeated Atsushi Sawada and Shinichi Suzukawa. (Full DREAM New Year 2011 Event results below.)
Alistair Overeem def. Brock Lesnar via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 2:26
Nate Diaz def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Johny Hendricks def. Jon Fitch via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:12
Alexander Gustafsson def. Vladimir Matyushenko via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:13
Jim Hettes def. Nam Phan via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Spike TV prelims:
Ross Pearson def. Junior Assuncao via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Danny Castillo def. Anthony Njokuani via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Sean Pierson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jacob Volkmann def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Diego Nunes def. Manny Gamburyan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Fedor Emelianenko def. Satoshi Ishii via KO (punch) – Round 1, 2:29
Champ Shinya Aoki def. Satoru Kitaoka via unanimous decision – (retains lightweight title)
Champ Hiroyuki Takaya def. Takeshi “Lion” Inoue via unanimous decision - (retains featherweight title)
Bibiano Fernandes def. Antonio Banuelos via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:21 – (to win world bantamweight grand prix and title)
Megumi Fujii def. Karla Benitez via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:15
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Kazuyuki Miyata via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:54
Ryo Chonan def. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai via unanimous decision
Bibiano Fernandes def. Rodolfo Marques Diniz via unanimous decision – bantamweight grand-prix semifinal
Antonio Banuelos def. Masakazu Imanari via split decision – bantamweight grand-prix semifinal
Yusup Saadulaev def. Hideo Tokoro via KO (slam) – Round 1, 0:42 – bantamweight grand-prix reserve match
IGF Rules/Pro Wrestling Bouts:
Josh Barnett def. Hideki Suzuki via pin fall
Kazuyuki Fujita def. Peter Aerts via leglock
Kazushi Sakuraba and Katsuyori Shibata def. Atsushi Sawada and Shinichi Suzukawa (Tag Team Match)
Jerome Le Banner def. Tim Sylvia via middle kicks
DREAM/K-1 Mixed Rules Bout:
Katsunori Kikuno def. Yuichiro Nagashima via TKO (punches) – 2:34 – Round 2
K-1 Max Rules Bouts:
Yuta Kubo def. Nils Widlund via TKO (head kick & knee) – 1:10 – Round 3
Masaaki Noiri def. Kengo Sonoda via Unanimous Decision