• UFC 138

Leben forced to quit under Munoz storm

ESPN staff
November 6, 2011
Chris Leben could not continue at UFC 138 © Getty Images
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Mark Munoz and Chris Leben capped a great night of fights at UFC 138, and it was Munoz who came out on top after a corner's stoppage ended a two-round war in Birmingham.

In the UFC's first ever five-round non-title fight, it was Munoz's wrestling and ground-and-pound that did the damage to boost his middleweight title credentials. Improving his record to 4-0 in his most recent fights, Munoz battered Leben who was eventually pulled by his corner.

Leben came out swinging, as did Munoz, but it was Munoz who went for the early takedown and got it. He was then to be surprised though as Leben twice answered with takedowns of his own, but by the end of the round he was eating haymakers.

By round two Leben appeared to be gassing, and Munoz worked relentlessly on the body before unloading more of his trademark ground-and-pound. The doctor checked a cut above Leben's eye midway through the second stanza, and as Munoz prepared for the third Leben was pulled.

"Kind of hard to fight when choking on blood," Leben said. "I need to evaluate my ground game after that. Hats off to Munoz."

The victor, Munoz, simply called for a title shot: "Chris Leben is a tough competitor, he came with his left hand, I had to get rid of my brawling instincts and stick to my wrestling. I hit my single-leg and used my ground-and-pound," he said.

"I paid my dues and I think I deserve a title shot. Anderson Silva is by far the best pound-for-pound fighter but I think I deserve a title shot right now."

In the co-main event, Brad Pickett and Renan Barao put on one of the all-time great slugfests, but it ended in defeat for the Brit who was choked out after being dropped by a knee.

Pickett, making his UFC debut, came flying out of the blocks, entering into a stand-and-bang war with Barao that echoed a classic contest between Paul Kelly v Paul Taylor. With a such ferocious pace, something was always going to give, and it was Barao who locked on the rear naked choke at 4.09 in round one.

There was no shame in defeat for Pickett though, who entertained from the first second to the last, walking to the Octagon wearing his trademark trilby and reading a newspaper. A huge right knee scrambled his senses though, and Barao worked patiently to get the choke that propels him into bantamweight title contention.

If British MMA fans are crying out for a future champion, Terry Etim may just answer their prayers after he took just 17 seconds to choke out Edward Faaloloto in the lightweight division. Etim has been a frustrated man, losing ground after an injury cost him a crack at Joe Lauzon.

Launched back into the spotlight, Etim roared out at Faaloloto, landing hooks before exploding into a spinning heel kick. From there, Faaloloto desperately looked for a takedown, but Etim locked on a standing guillotine to finish the fight before leaping onto the cage to celebrate in Anderson Silva-like manner.

Joe Rogan has labelled Etim the lightweight Anderson Silva in the past, and it's a prophesy that is gathering momentum once more.

In the welterweight division, Thiago Alves produced a potentially career-saving performance to choke out Papy Abedi for the first submission victory of his UFC stay. The Brazilian, having lost three of his last four, was desperate for a win and, on the same English soil on which he once beat Matt Hughes, the Pitbull turned on the style.

Abedi was confident and aggressive, but the end was sparked by a straight right that had the undefeated Swede doing the chicken dance. From there Alves pounced on the floor, unleashing some ground-and-pound before sinking in a rear naked choke at 3.32 of round one.

In the other fight on the main card, Anthony Perosh showed the enormous holes in Cyrille Diabate's ground game, submitting the Frenchman at 3.09 of the second round via rear naked choke. Diabate cut his foe early, but Perosh transitioned beautifully to mount once the fight hit the floor in the second, eventually taking Diabate's back for back-to-back victories.

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