On July 3, 2010, UFC 116 was held and lived up to its billing as one of the best UFC cards ever.
The main event featured Lesnar vs. Carwin for a highly anticipated heavyweight title bout. Carwin had emerged as the best striker in the heavyweight division. However, there was much debate as to whether Carwin could last past the first round if necessary. At the same time, fans were interested in seeing whether Lesnar would be able to stand up to Carwin’s punching power and survive more than one round. As it turned out, Lesnar was able to battle through numerous blows from Carwin during the fight’s initial round. Eventually, Lesnar was able to wear down Carwin on the canvas; Lesnar would win the fight when Carwin tapped out due to an arm triangle from Lesnar. Lesnar’s victory united the heavyweight championship and Lesnar was humble in his victory.
The match-up between Chris Leben and the heavily favored Yoshihiro Akiyama became a crowd pleaser right off the bat. During the first found, the two stood toe to toe while trading blows with one another. As the fight progressed, the two went to the mat where Akiyama took advantage of his superior grappling skills. However, Leben was able to remain poised and find his way out of corners on several occasions. Eventually, Leben was able to get Akiyama in a triangle choke and force the Japanese star to tap out in the final round of the fight.
George Sotiropoulos took on Kurt Pellegrino at 155 pounds. Sotiropoulos dominated Pellegrino with a commanding ground game during the first two rounds. Pellegrino made a bit of a comeback during the third and final round of the contest. However, it was far too little and Sotiropoulos easily won the decision. The victory signaled Sotiropoulos’ rise as a contender within the 155-pound division.
A light heavyweight bout pitted Stephan Bonnar against Krzysztof Soszynski. Bonnar had lost three consecutive fights coming into the night and he appeared to realize the importance of this fight. He set a quick pace and Soszynski was unable to keep up with it. It was not a pretty fight and Bonnar came out on top in the end. Soszynski had been on the verge of becoming a top contender in the division before the bout. For whatever reason, he just could not get things going that night. Bonner won this match via a second round TKO.
The only other fight on the card saw the once promising Matt Brown fall to Chris Lytle. Lytle had strung together three straight wins coming into the fight while Brown had lost his last two contests. Lytle was able to establish control early during his bout and, during the second round, place an arm-bar on Brown. Brown was eventually forced to tap out due to the submission hold from which he was unable to escape. The loss by Brown had many wondering if his career was in jeopardy since he had now lost three straight contests and had not looked sharp in any of them.
Overall, UFC 116 was a card which lived up to its billing. The night will always be remembered for the fairytale comeback by Brock Lesnar. He was able to return from a serious stomach illness that caused him to miss several fights. He also proved that he could take a punch from the top striker in the heavyweight division. Lesnar unified the championship for his weight class and became its undisputed champion.