Decade in Review: 2012

UFC News

In March, a new weight class officially arrived in the UFC, as the Fight Night event in Sydney, Australia saw the first two bouts of the 125-pound flyweight division. Four of the top competitors in the world – Demetrious Johnson, Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez and Yasuhiro Urushitani – would battle it out for the first UFC flyweight crown, and while Benavidez easily punched his ticket to the tournament final with a knockout of Urushitani, his opponent would take a little longer to determine, as Johnson and McCall fought to a draw.

Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson was the obvious choice to headline the UFC’s first visit to Stockholm on April 14, and he didn’t disappoint as he decisioned Thiago Silva, kicking off his move into the contenders’ race at 205 pounds. Of course, the champion of that division, Jon Jones, wasn’t slowing down any, as he proved when he defeated Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 145 on April 21, defusing the feud between the former friends and teammates.

At UFC 146 in May, another young champion with a bright future, Junior Dos Santos, made it look easy in his first title defense, knocking out former two-time titleholder Frank Mir in the second round. Waiting in the wings for “Cigano” was the man he beat for the title, Cain Velasquez, who made a triumphant return in the co-feature, stopping debuting former Strikeforce star Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the first round.

On June 1, a successful but stressful experiment came to a close, as the first live season of The Ultimate Fighter finished up with Michael Chiesa defeating Al Iaquinta. The finale show capped off a 13-week season, the longest in TUF history.

A week later, Johnson and McCall met again, Johnson taking a decisive decision win to earn a spot alongside Benavidez in the UFC’s first flyweight title fight later in the year. That business settled smoothly, but that wasn’t the case for UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as several changes to the card left fans wondering what was going to happen on fight night. Eventually, things settled, with Rich Franklin defeating Wanderlei Silva a second time and Brazil’s first two Ultimate Fighters, Cezar Ferreira and Rony Jason, being crowned.

There would be no upheaval in the highly-anticipated UFC 148 card in Las Vegas on July 7 though, as the most highly-anticipated rematch in history took place. Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen engaged in a classic the first time around in 2010, but in the return bout, “The Spider” put it on Sonnen and stopped him early in the second round. In the co-main event. Forrest Griffin decisioned newly-minted Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz in the final bout of their trilogy.

Sidelined by a knee injury that forced him out of his UFC 148 rubber match with Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz revealed that he was going to be out for a while, prompting the promotion to establish an interim title fight between Faber and Renan Barao that took place at UFC 149 on July 21. The unheralded Barao was dazzling that night in Calgary, as he won a clear-cut five-round unanimous decision and the belt.

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