by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
In one of the most dominant and impressive performances in recent MMA history, Anderson Silva showed why he is arguably the best striker in the middleweight division with an absolutely destructive victory over Chris Leben in the main event of the Ultimate Fight Night broadcast on Spike TV.

Anderson Silva was touted as a phenomenal striker, and when the UFC announced his signing, many hardcore MMA fans salivated at the thought of the Brazilian heavy hitter competing among the ranks of the UFC’s top middleweights. At the same time, many new fans to the sport were starting to think of Chris Leben in that very same light. The line could not have been drawn more clearly as to who was the more dominant fighter after Silva’s 47-second knockout victory over Leben.

In the opening moments of the fight, Silva moved in the way that he usually does, bouncing back and forth; waiting for the moment to unleash his strikes. As Leben moved closer, Silva popped him with a couple of jabs that made Leben’s head noticeably snap back. A few more shots landed and knocked Leben down.

It seemed as though referee John McCarthy was going to step in and stop the fight, but he didn’t, so Silva again moved in to finish the fight. Leben did recover long enough to eat a few more shots from Silva, culminating in a Muay Thai clinch that resulted in the knee strike that put Leben down for good. Silva was the winner by KO, just 47 seconds after the fight started.

While Leben looked dejected after his loss, it appears as though UFC truly has a new star with Anderson Silva now roaming in the middleweight division. Any and all fighters in the UFC’s middleweight division should take notice.

In the semi-main event position, Rashad Evans continued his winning ways with a one-sided decision win over Stephan Bonnar. However, the bout was somehow scored 29 to 29 by judge Dalby Shirley (who must have gone for drinks during the fight), giving Evans a majority decision victory instead of a unanimous decision victory.

While his performance wasn’t flashy, Evans controlled every facet of the fight. Bonnar was expected to try to unload some heavy shots and work his jab, mostly because he is five inches taller than Evans, but he was never able to take advantage of his reach. Evans, on the other hand, moved extremely fast and got takedown after takedown, a few of which were full-fledged slams that put Bonnar on his back. When the fighters did hit the ground, it seemed like Evans was trying to stay close to Bonnar so that he could avoid any potential submissions, but Evans did control his opponent for virtually the entire fight.

When the judges’ scorecards were read, Joe Rogan didn’t agree with the 29 to 29 scorecard, and he brought it up again a few more times during the broadcast. The fact is that Rashad Evans dominated from start to finish, and there should have been no question whatsoever about who won the fight.

In the opening bout of the live telecast, Ultimate Fighter season two participant Jorge Gurgel returned, this time as a lightweight, to take on Mark Hominick, who was last seen in the UFC taking out Yves Edwards a few months ago. The two fighters engaged in a stand-up battle, and they remained in the stand-up position for the entire 15-minute bout duration.

Gurgel looked impressive with his leg kicks, but other than a couple of double-leg takedown attempts that were easily stuffed by Hominick, Gurgel never tried to clinch or push Hominick against the cage in order get him to the ground, where Gurgel holds a definitive advantage in skills. Hominick was more precise with his strikes, and at the end of the bout, the judges gave him the unanimous decision

In the swing bout of the evening, which actually took place live after the main event instead of before the main event, Jonathan Goulet returned to the octagon for the first time since he was knocked out by Duane “Bang” Ludwig, and he took on TUF 2 welterweight runner-up Luke Cummo

This was a back-and-forth fight in which both men gained the upper hand at different points in the fight. However, outside of a good right hook and a knee strike by Cummo in the second round, as well as a near-submission by rear naked choke in the third round, it was Goulet who controlled the pace of the fight.

With takedown after takedown, Goulet was able to move freely from inside of Cummo’s guard, landing good elbow strikes and punches on his way to a majority decision victory. Again, the judges’ scoring came into question after one of the judges scored this fight as a 29 to 29 draw, but at least there was some legitimacy to the closeness of this bout, which cannot be said for the Evans-Bonnar fight.

Overall, the latest Ultimate Fight Night broadcast was free MMA on cable television, and that is never a bad thing. However, outside of Anderson Silva’s remarkably impressive debut, the remainder of the show paled in comparison to the TUF 3 finale show that took place this past Saturday.

Prelim Bouts

In preliminary bouts that took place before the show went on the air, welterweights Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch were each dominant in their respective fights. Koscheck defeated UFC veteran Dave Menne by unanimous decision in a fairly one-sided bout. Outside of a big punch and some attempted leglocks, Menne was never able to gain much of an upper hand in the fight. On his way to the decision victory, Koscheck took Menne down throughout the fight and went for punches and elbows from inside of Menne’s guard.

As for Jon Fitch, he was victorious against Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. Fitch controlled the pace for the majority of the fight, taking Alves down and working from inside his guard. In the second round, Fitch once again completed several takedowns, but Alves eventually reversed him. Alves then stood up and got caught by two vicious upkicks from Fitch, the second of which basically knocked Alves out. Fitch jumped on his downed opponent, and the referee stopped the bout at 4:37 of Round 2.

In light heavyweight action, Jason Lambert improved his UFC record to 3-0 with a victory over Branden Lee Hinkle. Hinkle was able to take Lambert down with a big suplex that brought visions of Dan Severn vs. Anthony Macias to mind, but Hinkle wasn’t able to control Lambert on the ground. Lambert eventually got Hinkle to the ground, where he gained side control and landed multiple elbow strikes. This forced Hinkle to roll to his stomach, where Lambert landed even more punches. As the horn sounded at the end of the first round and referee Herb Dean intervened, it was clear that he was actually stopping the fight. A dazed Hinkle staggered back to his corner, and Lambert was declared the winner by TKO.

In a fight that ended up airing in pre-recorded form on the live Spike TV broadcast, TUF 2 contestant Rob MacDonald defeated TUF 3 contestant Kristian Rothaermel. Rothaermel went for multiple takedowns, but was stopped at every turn and was eventually taken down himself by MacDonald. After four solid takedowns, MacDonald got the mount and started landing strikes. Rothaermel tried to roll out of the position, but he got caught in an armbar and was submitted.

In the opening bout of the evening, which took place before 3:00 PM Pacific Time, Jorge Santiago had a successful UFC debut against Justin Levens. Santiago was able to take Levens down to start the bout, but eventually the fighters made their way back to the stand-up position. Shortly thereafter, Santiago clinched with his opponent and landed two heavy knee strikes that KO’d Levens, giving Santiago the victory.