One champion’s arrival in the Octagon spelled the end of an era for another.
So was the story of the main event of UFC 141, the promotion’s final card of 2011. Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar couldn’t overcome the powerful knee strikes and kicks of the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix winner, Alistair Overeem. Following his defeat at the hands of Overeem, Lesnar officially announced his retirement from the sport of mixed martial arts.
While Lesnar’s career as a mixed martial artist only spanned eight fights and a 5-3 record, it’s hard to argue with Lesnar’s impact on the sport. During his time in the UFC, he captured the heavyweight title and fought against top-tier competition, as well as establishing himself as the UFC’s top pay-per-view draw.
The evening’s main event featured the return of one of the UFC’s biggest stars and the arrival of one of the world’s top heavyweights, as Brock Lesnar welcomed Alistair Overeem to the Octagon. In the end, Overeem’s striking would bring a quick end to Lesnar’s night and a conclusion to his Octagon career.
The two started things with a feeling out process, and Lesnar even threw a few kicks. Lesnar did not look comfortable in the stand-up however, and attempted a takedown that was easily stuffed by Overeem. Lesnar continued to be more active, as Overeem patiently waited for the right opportunity to attack. During these opening exchanges, Lesnar managed to open a cut above Overeem’s right eye, drawing blood.
It was at this point that Overeem started pushing forward a bit more. He clinched with Lesnar and landed a knee to the body. The two separated, but Overeem came forward again, clinching with Lesnar and delivering several more knees to the body and strikes to the face of the former UFC champ. Lesnar threw a few jabs, but Overeem shifted his head to the side and avoided the strikes.
Overeem then moved forward for the kill. He landed a knee and followed with punches before delivering a kick to Lesnar’s midsection that doubled the wrestler over. Overeem charged in and pummeled Lesnar with punches as Brock tried to cover up. After Overeem delivered several more blows, referee Mario Yamasaki had seen enough and brought an end to the bout, awarding Overeem with the TKO at the 2:26 mark of the first round.
With the win, Overeem earns a title bid against current UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
Following the bout, Brock Lesnar announced his retirement.
“I’ve had a really difficult couple of years with my disease. I’m going to officially say that tonight was the last time you’re going to see me in the Octagon,” Lesnar said in his post-fight interview with the UFC’s Joe Rogan. ”Brock Lesnar is officially retired.”
Lesnar’s retirement comes as no surprise following reports from The MMA Corner in August that Lesnar was considering hanging up his gloves as a result of his struggles with diverticulitis.
In the evening’s co-main event, Nate Diaz gave one of the best performances of his career in taking a decision victory over Donald Cerrone.
Both men came out of the gates with aggressive striking, but it was, by far, Diaz who got the better of the exchanges. Diaz routinely landed combinations to the face of Cerrone in the opening round.
Cerrone found some success in the second frame by utilizing leg kicks to knock Diaz off his feet. However, Diaz continued to land combinations with seemingly increased effectiveness, even rocking Cerrone late in the round.
Diaz taunted Cerrone as the two prepared to engage in the final round, raising two middle fingers. The gesture didn’t spark Cerrone into a more aggressive attack, as Diaz continued to get the better of the exchanges. Cerrone again kicked Diaz’s legs out from under him on a couple of occasions and finished strong, though still not effective, as the bout came to an end.
The judges awarded Diaz with the win, with two judges seeing all three rounds in Nate’s favor. Diaz and Cerrone took home Fight of the Night bonuses for their efforts in the amount of $75,000.
As if to make up for the lack of finishes preceding his fight, welterweight Johny Hendricks landed just one punch against opponent Jon Fitch to score the knockout win.
Just 12 seconds into the fight, Hendricks threw a left hand that connected and sent Fitch stiff to the canvas. Hendricks was able to land one follow-up punch before referee Steve Mazzagatti could dive in to save Fitch, who subsequently attempted to wrestle Mazzagatti to the mat.
Hendricks received the Knockout of the Night bonus of $75,000 for his performance.
Before light heavyweights Alexander Gustafsson and Vladimir Matyushenko stepped into the Octagon, every fight on the card to that point had ended with the judges tabulating their scores. The Swede would end that run however, scoring a first-round TKO of Matyushenko.
As the two fighters engaged in some early stand-up exchanges, Matyushenko walked forward and stepped directly into a left jab from Gustafsson. The punch was enough to send “The Janitor” to the ground. Gustafsson pounced on Matyushenko and rained down punches, forcing referee Yves Lavigne to intervene and bring an end to the bout at 2:13 of the first stanza.
Featherweight Jim Hettes attacked Nam Phan throughout the full three rounds on his way to a decision that saw two judges award the fight to him by scores of 30-25.
Hettes came out relentless from the start. He attacked Phan with both submissions and ground-and-pound in the first round, setting the tone for the entire fight.
While he would slow in the second, Hettes continued to dominate with more submission attempts and striking from the top position. Phan did end up on top for a short time, but was unable to take advantage.
Hettes’ relentlessness continued to pay dividends in the contest’s final frame as he continually grounded Phan, going for submissions and landing numerous elbows to Phan’s head.
Hettes moves to a perfect 10-0 with the win. It marks the first fight in which Hettes has not been able to stop his foe via submission.
Ross Pearson displayed superior striking in capturing a unanimous decision victory over Junior Assuncao.
Danny Castillo managed to eke out a split decision victory over Anthony Njokuani. Njokuani showed improved grappling against the Team Alpha Male fighter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Castillo’s wrestling abilities.
The Facebook portion of the preliminary card kept the judges busy, as all three bouts went the distance.
Dong Hyun Kim outpointed Sean Pierson en route to taking all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards for a unanimous decision win.
Jacob Volkmann’s grappling proved to be too much for Efrain Escudero, as the outspoken lightweight dominated the returning TUF champion for the majority of the contest. Volkmann survived an early guillotine choke attempt and a very tight choke in the closing seconds of the bout to emerge with a unanimous decision verdict from the judges.
Diego Nunes took two rounds on the judges’ scorecards to claim a unanimous decision victory over Manny Gamburyan.
The event was also to feature a welterweight contest between Matthew Riddle and Luis Ramos, but the bout was scratched from the card earlier today. Riddle was forced to withdraw from the bout due to illness.
- Alistair Overeem def. Brock Lesnar (TKO, 2:26 of rd 1)
- Nate Diaz def. Donald Cerrone (Unanimous Decision – 30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Johny Hendricks def. Jon Fitch (KO, 0:12 of rd 1)
- Alexander Gustafsson def. Vladimir Matyushenko (TKO, 2:13 of rd 1)
- Jim Hettes def. Nam Phan (Unanimous Decision – 30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
- Ross Pearson def. Junior Assuncao (Unanimous Decision – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Danny Castillo def. Anthony Njokuani (Split Decision – 29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Dong Hyun Kim def. Sean Pierson (Unanimous Decision – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jacob Volkmann def. Efrain Escudero (Unanimous Decision – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Diego Nunes def. Manny Gamburyan (Unanimous Decision – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Photo: Lesnar (L) faces off with Overeem (Rob Tatum/Bleacher Report)