We do what we can to find your Bay Area or California ties here at SB Nation Bay Area, and there were five fighters with ties to California in action tonight on the Ultimate Fighting Championship's "UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort" card. But first, a quick recap of the explosive main event because I'm a sucker for MMA. Vitor Belfort was supposed to be the guy who came in and seriously challenged Silva in the standup. He was the first real striker that Silva would be facing in some time.
Yeah. About that.
In actuality, it was pretty close. Belfort actually looked at first as though he was going to give Silva a run for his money. They didn't engage for about two minutes, and when they did, Belfort appeared to get the better of him. Belfort connected with a leg kick, and then actually pulled off a punch combo before Silva backed off. The two stood in front of each other and then ... Silva flicks his leg up in the air and lands the most unholy front kick to the face I've ever seen. Belfort goes down, and Silva stops like he's going to wait for him to get up, but then Belfort falls down some more and Silva realizes the fight is over. He swarms, lands a couple punches and is pulled off.
All I can say to that is "Wow!" I've never seen a front kick like that render someone basically unconscious like that, especially someone like Vitor Belfort. That's the strength of Anderson Silva though, his striking is so unconventional, you don't know where something is coming from. Just brutal.
Kyle Kingsbury, born in Sunnyvale, Calif., and fighting out of San Jose, won his fight in dominating fashion. He landed a beautiful left hand on Ricardo Romero as he tried to escape from being pinned against the cage, and was immediately swarmed before the fight was stopped. It was Kingsbury's third straight win, all in the UFC.
Things didn't go so well for Gabe Ruediger though in his bout with British striker Paul Taylor. Ruediger, the Topanga Canyon, Calif., native (fighting out of Van Nuys, Calif.) found himself thoroughly dominated by the ultra-precise striking of Taylor, and in the second round succumbed to a vicious one-two punch combo with a head kick to finish things off.
Antonio Banuelos, a Tulare, Calif., native and fighting out of Arroyo Grande, Calif., found himself thoroughly frustrated by the striking style predicated on an insane reach advantage of former champion Miguel "Angel" Torres. Banuelos was unable to get within striking distance for the majority of the fought and lost a unanimous decision.
The most impressive win for a Californian came for Chad Mendes out of Sacramento, Calif. Mendes faced Michihiro Omigawa, a highly touted fighter from Japan, and dominated him through three rounds. Mendes used crisp, power striking to hurt Omigawa in the second round and he never seemed to recover. Add to that a superior wrestling game that Japanese fighters have yet to overcome, and Mendes is now creeping up on a future title shot against featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
2-2 for the California boys tonight, folks.