The UFC returned to the UK to host UFC 138 at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.  Headlined by a middleweight bout between Chris Leben and Mark Munoz, the main card aired via tape-delay on Spike TV, while the preliminary card streamed live on Facebook.

Munoz proves to be too much for Leben

The night’s main event featured a pair of fighters looking to move their way up the 185-pound ladder, as Ultimate Fighter alum Chris Leben battled with former national wrestling champion Mark Munoz.  The bout served as the first five-round, non-title affair in UFC history.

In the opening frame, the fighters traded takedowns and unleashed ground-and-pound on one another.  Leben nearly ended the fight with a tight guillotine choke, but Munoz escaped and was able to take advantage of being in the top position.

Leben looked to let his hands go in the second round, but Munoz closed the distance and brought the fight to the ground.  More ground-and-pound from “The Filipino Assassin” opened a big cut over the left eye of Leben.  Leben again tried for a choke, but Munoz defended.  The doctor’s were called in to check Leben’s eye, but the fighter declared he could see.  Late in the round, Munoz gained the full mount and rained punches.

Between rounds Leben proclaimed he couldn’t see and the doctor’s waived off the fight following the second round.

“I’ve paid my dues in this weight class and I think I deserve a title shot,” Munoz said while speaking to Joe Rogan.

Barao dismantles Pickett

The co-main event featured an important bantamweight fight as Brazilian Renan Barao matched up with British fighter Brad Pickett.  Barao entered the cage riding a 16-fight win streak, while Pickett made his Octagon debut, returning to action for the first time since WEC 53 in December of last year.

In a fast-paced fight, both fighters came out swinging.  An early exchange saw both fighters score.  A spinning back kick from Barao landed, but Pickett took it in stride and answered with a right hand.  Barao looked for a takedown, but Pickett kept the fight on the feet.  The pair continued to exchange until Barao connected with a right knee, right hand combo that sent Pickett crashing to the mat.  The Brazilian flurried, but Pickett somehow survived.  Barao, a Nova Uniao black belt, latched onto the back of Pickett and locked in a rear-naked choke that ended the fight.

Alves overwhelms Abedi; gets submission win

Brazilian Thiago Alves was selected to welcome undefeated Swedish-based fighter Papy Abedi to the Octagon.

The former title challenger Alves quickly established his range and used his technical striking to attack the promotional newcomer.  Abedi attempted to counter Alves’ technique with power and aggression, but that would ultimately spell his doom.  Alves wobbled Abedi with a right hand and unloaded with a follow-up left hook and right straight that sent Abedi crashing to the canvas.  Alves followed him to the ground and effortlessly moved to the full mount.  Abedi gave up his back and Alves locked in the fight-ending rear-naked choke.

Perosh chokes out Diabate

A pair of light heavyweights battled on the main card as Frenchman Cyrille Diabate faced off with Australian Anthony Perosh.

Diabate, a veteran Muay Thai practitioner, kept Perosh uncomfortable for the majority of the opening round.  Diabate’s lethal strikes and reach advantage kept Perosh from getting close for the first four minutes of the round.  Perosh caught a knee late in the round and ended in side control.

In the second frame, Perosh found his timing and ducked under a Diabate punch to score a takedown.  Perosh moved to the full mount and then Diabate’s back and looked for a rear-naked choke.  Diabate defended, but Perosh rained punches before locking in the choke and forcing Diabate to tap.

Etim dispatches of Faaloloto in 17 seconds

After a lengthy injury recovery, Liverpool’s Terry Etim returned to take on fellow lightweight Edward Faaloloto in the opening bout of the UFC 138 main card.

Faaloloto charged forward aggressively to start the fight, but Etim jumped for an arm-in guillotine choke immediately.   Faaloloto winced in pain as he slowly collapsed to his knees.  The deep choke forced Faaloloto to tap, just seconds into the fight.

“I’m ready to make an impact on this lightweight division,” Etim said after the fast win.

Undercard Summary

British welterweight John Maguire survived getting rocked by TUF alum Justin Edwards to put on a grappling clinic and score a decision win in his Octagon debut.

In a slow-paced heavyweight fight, Phil De Fries used his superior grappling skills to take out fellow Brit Rob Broughton.  Broughton made things interesting in the second round by obtaining a mounted crucifix, but De Fries survived and took a decision.

Michihiro Omigawa finally got his first UFC win as he took a decision over Jason Young.  The judo black belt simply outclassed Young in the grappling department to score the decision win.

UFC newcomer Che Mills needed less than a minute to put his stamp on the welterweight division.  The British striker destroyed TUF alum Chris Cope with a combination of knees and punches.

Chris Cariaso spoiled Vaughan Lee’s UFC debut by showing off a ground attack to earn a decision win.

FULL RESULTS

Mark Munoz def. Chris Leben by TKO (corner’s stoppage). Round 2, 5:00

Renan Barao def. Brad Pickett by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:09

Thiago Alves def. Papy Abedi by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 3:32

Anthony Perosh def. Cyrille Diabate by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:09

Terry Etim def. Edward Faaloloto by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 0:17

John Maguire def. Justin Edwards by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Philip De Fries def. Rob Broughton by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Michihiro Omigawa def. Jason Young by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Che Mills def. Chris Cope by TKO (knee). Round 1, 0:40

Chris Cariaso def. Vaughan Lee by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Photo: Mark Munoz (Sherdog)