|Junior Dos Santos takes down Shane Carwin during their fight at UFC 131. (Richard Lam/QMI Agency)
Between chants of ‘Go Canucks Go’ and ‘We Want the Cup’, the UFC crowned its new Number 1 heavyweight contender in Vancouver.
Heavyweight Junior dos Santos landed heavy shot after heavy shot on a bloodied Shane Carwin in Saturday’s UFC 131 main event.
The Brazilian split up his American opponent early turning his face to hamburger well before the first round ended.
Both fighters said the event would end in a knockout but after three rounds, dos Santos got the unanimous nod from the judges and a chance at champ Cain Velasquez in the month’s to come.
UFC 131 marked the fight club’s return to Vancouver following a successful show with UFC 115 last year.
Canadians fared well before a home crowd with London’s Sam Stout finally getting his first UFC finish and Team Canada as a whole winning three of four fights.
Stout, criticized for being unable to finish an opponent in ten UFC outings, caught Yves Edwards with a perfectly timed left counterpunch dropping the vet to the mat to thunderous roars.
“We’ve been working for several months on landing a left hook against a left-handed fighter,” said Stout.
“Tonight, it landed and it worked. It’s an amazing feeling to score a knockout like that in front of the Canadian fans.”
Calgary middleweight Nick Ring was the first Canadian of the night to take to the cage.
Opponent James Head caught Ring with a right that seemed to daze the Canadian but Ring recovered and rode out the round. In the second, Ring unleashed some nasty ground and pound slicing up Head to a point where referee Herb Dean asked the doctor check Head’s face. Ring continued to take Head to the mat seemingly at will in the third before cinching a rear naked choke and forcing Head to tap. Ring remains undefeated with a perfect 12-0 record.
Winnipeg’s Krzysztof Soszynski took on last-minute call-up Mike Massenzio in a light-heavyweight tilt that started slow and mostly crept along the cage in a clinchy affair.
Soszynski showed some great takedown defence and methodically damaged the American earning a unanimous decision and even scoring a two-point round on one of the judge’s card.
After the last bell, Soszynski apologized to the crowd for not finishing the fight.
Kenora middleweight Jesse Bongfeldt was the only Canadian to not walk away with a victory. He took on undefeated Chris Weidman and spent most of the first on his back before tapping out to standing guillotine choke with six seconds left in the first.
In other main event action, Kenny Florian’s featherweight debut came against the scrappy Diego Nunes who used a combination spinning backfists and kicks as well as ground control to keep Florian at bay. But that wasn’t enough in judges eyes who gave Florian a unanimous decision.
The renewed striking of middleweight Deniam Maia was evident but it did little to sway the judges. Mark Munoz showed he could control and outstrike Maia en-route to a unanimous decision victory.
A pair of heavyweights making their UFC debuts on the main card didn’t disappoint. Norway’s Jon Olav Einemo took on Dave ‘Peewee’ Herman shared a slugfest with Herman getting the stoppage in the second round following some nasty knees and fists.
Lightweight Donald Cerrone continuously stuffed Vagner Rocha takedown attempts, frustrating the jiu jitsu ace en-route to a unanimous decision.
In earlier action, featherweights Darren Elkins defeated Michihiro Omigawa by unanimous decision — much to the disagreement of the crowd and even UFC president Dana White who thought Omigawa was “robbed.” White said Omigawa will get his win bonus despite the outcome.
Joey Beltran traded bombs with Aaron Rosa before earning third round TKO stoppage and featherweights Dustin Poirier got a unanimous nod over Jason Young.