Event of the Year: UFC 139

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Dan Henderson. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC.

The usual pre-event hype for UFC 139 just wasn't there. The UFC's first foray into the San Jose area following their surprising acquisition of Bay Area mainstay Strikeforce happened to be sandwiched in between the organization's network television debut on FOX, pitting Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos in a UFC heavyweight title bout, and the finale of the fourteenth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" the show's last on Spike.

It wasn't as if the fight card was lacking. Dan Henderson's return to the Octagon against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was a barnburner of a headliner. Wanderlei Silva facing Cung Le and Urijah Faber going up against Brian Bowles aren't bad co-main events either. The advertising just wasn't there.

Still, UFC 139 delivered to say the least...

If you haven't seen it yet, you're missing out big time. Henderson's five-round war with "Shogun" was the best fight of 2011, and dare I say it (and I haven't been the only one), possibly the best fight of all-time. It was 25 minutes of blood, sweat, punches, knees, kicks, near finishes, submission attempts, dominant positions and heart.

Henderson took it to Rua over the first three rounds to say the least, nearly finishing his fellow former PRIDE standout multiple times courtesy of his trademark right hand. If the fight was a three-rounder prior to the UFC's new rule of making all main events five-round fights, Henderson would have walked away with as one-sided a decision win as we've seen in a long time.

However, kudos to the UFC for making such a drastic change. The two extra rounds allowed "Shogun" to mount a comeback for the ages, controlling Henderson in the fourth and mounting the Team Quest co-founder for almost all of the fifth, leading some to believe that the final round should have been scored 10-8 and the fight potentially called a draw. Henderson walked away with the decision, but both fighters reaped the benefits that night and certainly will for years to come.

It wasn't just the main event that made UFC 139 so special. The rest of the main card was entertaining and even some preliminary bouts caused the crowd at the HP Pavilion to stand and shout.

In the co-main event, Wanderlei Silva engaged in a striker's delight with hometown hero Cung Le and picked up a career-saving victory, finishing off the Sanshou champion with a barrage of knees and punches in the second round. Urijah Faber claimed a summer rematch with UFC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz,  becoming the first fighter to submit former WEC champion Brian Bowles.

Other highlights from the night included Martin Kampmann finally being on the right side of a judge's decision against Rick Story, Stephan Bonnar continuing his winning ways against Kyle Kingsbury, Ryan Bader KO'ing Jason Brilz and rising prospect Michael McDonald knocking out Alex Soto in less than a minute.


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