Lesnar proves his toughness

A bloodied Brock Lesnar celebrates his win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116 in Las Vegas Saturday, July...

A bloodied Brock Lesnar celebrates his win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116 in Las Vegas Saturday, July 3, 2010. (UFC Photo)

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

LAS VEGAS – Brock Lesnar showed what he's made of at UFC 116.

In the build-up to his UFC heavyweight championship unification match with interim title holder Shane Carwin at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night, Lesnar's chin came into question. Since the former WWE wrestler had never been tagged by a powerful striker in any of his previous five MMA fights, many speculated whether he could take a punch.

Not only did he survive Carwin's (12-1) biggest shots in the first five minutes, Lesnar (5-1) came back to pull off an impressive submission victory in the second round.

In the first round, Carwin caught Lesnar with a series of big punches against the cage, causing Lesnar to drop to the mat. Carwin continued to pound away but Lesnar managed to survive the round by blocking most of the shots and using his legs to kick off the former NCAA Division II champion.

“You know, he hit me pretty good and for a second I didn't know how I ended up on the ground,” Lesnar said at the post-fight press conference. “I just had to go into survival mode and stay busy. I really have to thank the referee for allowing that thing to go on. I wasn't really hurt. I could feel Shane slow, his punches slowing.

“He's a beast, you know. He definitely won the first round.”

Early in the second round, Lesnar took Carwin down, secured full-mount and then slapped on an arm-triangle choke for the victory.

“We kind of suspected that he would be prepared for my ground-and-pound, so Comprido (Rodrigo Medeiros) pointed out this submission hold,” Lesnar said. “(He said), 'Listen, this is something that's very easy for you to do. Basically, it's a headlock.”

Lesnar's MMA career almost came to an end last November after he was diagnosed with diverticulitis. The illness left a hole in his large intestine and doctors' thought they would have to remove a portion of his colon. However, Lesnar's fever broke in the operating room and he narrowly avoided surgery. After completely revamping his diet, he was given a clean bill of health and was able to return to the gym.

“Honest to God, what I've been through since November up until this point, it feels like it's been 10 years,” Lesnar said. “It's been a gruelling, gruelling road.

“To be here, it really is truly a miracle. To come back from all that, to be here and to win … words just cannot describe it. I really feel like I'm in a dream.”

UFC president Dana White said he was blown away by Lesnar's display of toughness.

“Lesnar's been in there dominating everybody since he came to this sport,” White said. “To date, the toughest fight he had was really (Randy) Couture. Couture gave him a little bit of a wrestling bout, Couture roughed him up a little bit and tonight he just got absolutely dominated in that first round by Shane Carwin.

“You find out how tough a fighter really is when they face adversity. When somebody's on top of you, dropping punches down that would knock a lot of other people out … you know, but Brock stayed in there. He came back in that second round and pulled off a submission.”

White confirmed Lesnar's next opponent will be undefeated heavyweight Cain Velasquez (8-0). A date for that fight has yet to be announced.

LEBEN SHOCKS AKIYAMA

In a huge upset, Chris (The Crippler) Leben submitted Japanese MMA star Yoshihiro Akiyama with only seconds remaining in the final round.

Leben (21-6) was brought in to replace injured Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva only two weeks before UFC 116. He was coming off a win over Aaron (A-Train) Simpson at The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 Finale on June 19 and had little time to prepare for Akiyama (13-2).

“(I feel) overwhelmed,” Leben said. “It's been a long road and a somewhat bumpy one for me. This is just huge for my career. My life is basically better than it's ever been.”

With each fighter taking one round on the judges' scorecards, it was anyone's match going into the last five minutes. Akiyama was able to use his grappling skills to take Leben (21-6) down and control him for much of the round, however, Leben remained active on his back and was able to sink in a triangle choke for the win.

Leben said he felt he was losing the third round before pulling off the submission.

“I feel like I was probably out-striking him from my back, but he kept his head down to keep me down,” Leben said. “It's hard to tell what these judges are going to do. Honestly, I thought I was out-working him, but maybe because he had the takedowns he might have been up on me.

“I do think a lot when I'm fighting, believe it or not. When I went for the armbar, after that I realized he was letting me lock my legs and leave them up there. I thought, 'This guy's going to let me triangle him.'”

BONNAR STOPS SOSZYNSKI

Stephan (The American Psycho) Bonnar did not waste his second opportunity against Krzysztof (The Polish Experiment) Soszynski.

The two went toe-to-toe and swung for the fences in a wild brawl that had the fans on their feet. Neither was able to gain an advantage, but midway through the second round Bonnar (12-7) dropped Soszynski (21-10-1) with a big knee. After a series of unanswered strikes on the ground, Bonnar was awarded the TKO victory.

“I'm on cloud nine right now,” Bonnar said. “You have no idea. I'm about as high as you can get. I've got to give Krzysztof some credit. He put a good fight on. I don't remember when it was, but at one point he hit me so hard, my head went back, I saw the lights and when I tried to refocus I couldn't see anything for a good 45 seconds.

“You know like when Rocky said, 'I'm seeing three of him,' That's what I was thinking, is this guy real? Because I can't see s---.”

The two first met in an entertaining bout at UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia. In the third round, the two accidentally clashed heads, resulting in a large cut on Bonnar's forehead. The fight was stopped and a TKO victory was awarded to Soszynski.

Bonnar appealed the decision to the Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales, but failed to get the result overturned.

“The last fight is a loss on my record, but I didn't lose that fight,” Bonnar said. “There was four minutes left and it was a tied-up fight in the third round. It shouldn't have been stopped. And there was a head-butt. The good thing about that is it gave me a lot of motivation. When I didn't feel like going to the gym, I just thought of that and it made me go train.”

FIGHT NIGHT BONUSES

Lesnar was awarded “Submission of the Night” for his victory over Carwin, while Gerald (Hurricane) Harris won “Knockout of the Night” for his stunning slam on Dave Branch.

The Bonnar-Soszynski and Leben-Akiyama bouts both earned “Fight of the Night” honours.

All six fighters took home an additional $75,000.

FULL UFC 116 RESULTS

Brock Lesnar def. Shane Carwin by second-round submission (arm-triangle choke)

Chris Leben def. Yoshihiro Akiyama by third-round submission (triangle choke)

Chris Lytle def. Matt Brown by second-round submission (straight armbar)

Stephan Bonnar def. Krzysztof Soszynski by second-round TKO (punches)

George Sotiropoulos def. Kurt Pellegrino by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Brendan Schaub def. Chris Tuchscherer by first-round TKO (punches)

Ricardo Romero def. Seth Petruzelli by second-round submission (straight armbar)

Kendall Grove def. Goran Reljic by split-decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)

Gerald Harris def. Dave Branch by third-round knockout (slam)

Daniel Roberts def. Forrest Petz by split-decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Jon Madsen def. Karlos Vemola by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


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