November 12th. 2011, the Ultimate Fighting Championship hits the mainstream in North America. The promotion seal a lucrative seven-year deal to appear on the FOX Network for their ‘Fight Night‘ events, and launch proceedings with a heavyweight pairing of Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos with championship gold up for spoils. It was a major development for the promotion as they found immediate partnership after they split from Spike. After the deal with FOX expired at the turn of this year, the organization landed another incredibly lucrative deal with North American powerhouse, ESPN.
On a ten fight card, we witnessed a huge re-shuffle at the top of the heavyweight pile, as Brazilian puncher Junior dos Santos knocked out reigning champion Cain Velasquez just over a minute into their main event meeting. ‘Cigano’ and Velasquez would go on to score a memorable trilogy over the next two years, with the championship changing hands. Brazil’s dos Santos had barrelled through the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy Nelson, and Shane Carwin on his way to the title tilt, while Velasquez had maintained an undefeated record with wins coming against Brock Lesnar, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The pairing of Velasquez and dos Santos marked a major shift in the future of the heavyweight division, with strikers beginning to take a foothold at the top of the division for the next handful of years.
In our co-main event, the next challenger to Frankie Edgar’s lightweight throne was to be determined as veteran fan-favorite, Clay ‘The Carpenter’ Guida clashed with talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson. Over three rounds, Henderson out-pointed Guida to earn his first promotional title fight. Henderson would go on to beat Edgar before lodging a promotion best three consecutive lightweight title defences.
Then still competing at 145-pounds, future interim lightweight champion, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier managed a second round D’Arce finish of Pablo Garza. Poirier secured interim gold this year and holds notable victories over Justin Geathje, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Jim Miller, and has twice bested current featherweight kingpin, Max Holloway.
One-time featherweight title challenger, Ricardo Lamas lodged an arm-triangle submission of Cub Swanson within seven minutes of their high stakes featherweight matchup. Lamas, would further go on to beat both Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch to earn a a crack at 145-pound icon, Jose Aldo.
The since retired DaMarques Johnson earned his final Octagon victory at the Honda Centre that night, as he knocked out Clay Harvison in the opening round. Johnson made it all the way to the final of The Ultimate Fighter 9 in 2009, where he finished as runner-up to James Wilks.
At bantamweight, Darren Uyenoyama claimed a unanimous decision over the late ‘KID’ Yamamoto. Uyenoyama would pick up only one more win in the promotion, beating Phil Harris, before he suffered losses to Joseph Benavidez and then Alp Ozkilic.
A meeting at featherweight between Robbie Peralta and Mackens Semerzier ended in a ‘No Contest’ due to an accidental head-butt in the third and final round. Peralta picked up three more wins in his Octagon stint, beating Jason Young, Estevan Payan and Rony Jason before a 2015 move to WSOF.
The always entertaining Alex Caceres featured at 135-pounds against Cole Escovedo at the event, where he picked up a 30-27 unanimous decision. Caceres’ victory over Escovedo marked his first in the promotion.
At 170-pounds, Oregon native Mike Pierce scraped by with a split decision against Paul Bradley after Aaron Rosa opened the card with a majority decision over Matt Lucas in a light heavyweight matchup.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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