UFC 139 came to us Saturday night from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The majority of the main card was action-packed, and the main event is already being talked about as one of the best MMA bouts of all time. Here’s the recap:

Stephan Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury (205 pounds)
I had high expectations for this fight to kick off the pay-per-view with some fireworks. Unfortunately, it turned into a ground grappling contest, with neither fighter really trying to finish the bout. The fight begins with a left body kick by Bonnar. Kingsbury clinches Bonnar to the fence and throws a few quality knees. Bonnar connects with a short left to get free. After a brief separation, due to a low blow by Bonnar, Kingsbury regains control on the fence and lands more knees. Bonnar responds with a good knee of his own. After an attempted short right by Kingsbury, Bonnar scores a takedown with a full mount to end the round.

Bonnar starts round two with some good left jabs. Kingsbury lands a body kick, but Bonnar scores a takedown and gets side control. Bonnar is trying to do damage, but isn’t landing much solidly. Bonnar transitions to north-to-south position, but moves back to side control. Bonnar pins Kingsbury’s right arm, and moves to half-guard, working for an arm triangle. Bonnar rains punches to end round two.

Bonnar comes out for round three with good kicks to the body. Bonnar trips Kingsbury for a takedown, but Kyle is back up quickly. Bonnar scores another takedown, and tries another arm triangle. Bonnar moves to north-to-south position, but decides to transition back to side control. Bonnar is actively switching positions, but isn’t doing damage. Bonnar attempts a few strikes to end the fight.

Stephan Bonnar wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-37)

Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story (170 pounds)
Story comes out swinging from the heels, throwing wild punches that look like they’re from a video game. Story lands a great body shot in the process. Kampmann comes back with a short right, but Story fires back by throwing his whole body into his strikes. Story is pushing the pace, and throwing good body/head combinations. Kampmann has a cut above his forehead. Quick left jab by Kampmann, and now Story is cut (on the right eye) as the round ends.

Both fighters are feeling each other out to start round two. Neither is landing solidly. Story throws a left to the head, and a right to the body. A couple of Kampmann head kicks are blocked, but he lands a few short right punches. Kampmann scores a takedown, and gets half-guard. Kampmann drives Story’s head into the mat to end the round.
Right/left hand combination by Story to start round three. Kampmann attempts a takedown, but gets standing back control instead. Story escapes. Kampmann locks in a Muay Thai clinch and scores with knees. Story is fighting hard to avoid getting taken down. A professional wrestling-like belly to back suplex by Kampmann to take down Story, but he is up quickly. Kampmann scores another takedown, takes Story’s back, and locks in a guillotine as the round ends.
Martin Kampmann wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles (135 pounds)
The winner of this bout earns the next title shot against bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz. Faber comes out with early leg kicks, and shoots for a takedown but misses. Both fighters are mixing up strikes between the head and the body. Solid body shot by Bowles. Faber gets the clinch, but loses it before he can score with strikes. Huge takedown by Faber! Bowles pulls full guard. Faber stands up, but Bowles stays on the ground, attempting upkicks to end the round.

Faber lands a powerful uppercut to start round two, followed by a huge knee to drop Bowles! Faber pounces, and lands big punches to the face, and a solid knee to the body. Faber now has side control. Urijah gets up, and hits Bowles with a solid short right to drop him again. Faber sinks in a guillotine to score the tapout victory at 1:27 in round two.

Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva (185 pounds)
Wanderlei starts round one by constantly backing up. He seems concerned about the big kicks that Le is throwing. Good left/right hand combination by Silva. A flurried exchange is followed by a spinning backfist by Le. Le misses with a huge spinning back kick. Silva
is trying to respond to Le’s attacks with punches, but nothing is landing. Good body kick by Le, followed by a backfist that lands solidly. Silva battles back to open a cut on Le’s right eye. Wanderlei is starting to gauge Le’s attack distance as round one ends.
Cung Le starts round two with another backfist. Silva goes down, but it looks like a slip. Big right hand by Le, but Wanderlei is still standing. Le tries a crazy axe kick. Le’s strikes are so fluid, every one transitions right into the next. Good short right by Silva. Le tries to create some distance by throwing kicks to Silva’s upper leg and knee. Big uppercut by Silva, followed by a huge right that drops Le. Le fights his way to his feet, but Silva lands four great knees! Wanderlei lands a big left and another huge knee to drop Le again. Silva jumps on Le and lands huge bombs, causing the ref to stop the fight at 4:49 of round two.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson (205 pounds)
Two MMA legends face off in a main event ten years in the making. The fight starts with several leg kicks by Rua. Henderson lands a short right, followed by a huge knee that cuts Shogun. Henderson tries a guillotine, but Shogun slips out. Henderson follows up
with a huge flurry of punches with Rua’s back to the cage. Shogun flops to the ground, but Henderson doesn’t follow. Dan Henderson is the more active fighter, but Rua is blocking the majority of his shots. Shogun drops Henderson with a big right hand, followed by a barrage of punches on the ground. Henderson survives, and gets to his feet. Rua controls the grappling battle on the cage to end the round.
Both fighters pace the cage to start round two. Shogun again controls the grappling battle on the fence. Both men land strikes solidly as they separate. Big left hand/right hand/right uppercut combination by Henderson. Rua moves forward to control the clinch on the fence. Both men swing wildly as they separate. Now Henderson gets clinch control on the cage, and scores with a short right followed by a big uppercut as the round ends.

Round three starts with another big uppercut by Henderson. Shogun now has cuts on both eyes. Big damaging right hand by Henderson drops Rua. Henderson is now dropping huge bombs on Shogun! A big leaping punch by Henderson nearly ends the fight. Somehow, Rua survives the assault, and actually grabs a heel hook to nearly end the fight in his favor! Both men get up, and both look absolutely exhausted (particularly Henderson). Dan Henderson gets in close, and lands good elbows to the side of Rua’s head. Shogun comes back with big lefts that rock Henderson. Both fighters drop their hands, and are breathing from the mouth, as the round ends.

Shogun seems to have recovered somewhat during the break, but Henderson looks absolutely gassed. Rua tries a takedown, but lands several good punches instead. Henderson works to get Shogun’s back, and sinks in a guillotine, but Rua escapes. Now Henderson scores with a takedown, and gains side control. Henderson attempts a choke from top position, but Shogun pulls guard. Henderson gets to his feet, and Rua invites him back to the ground. Henderson obliges with a big right hand. Both men are up, and Henderson is shaking his hand (which looks to be injured, possibly broken). Rua smells blood, and scores with big punches. Henderson is staggering around the cage, and looks hurt. Shogun knocks him down and pounces, trying to end the fight. Henderson somehow slips out to take top position to end the round.

The final round begins with a Shogun takedown with side control. Henderson is trying to push off the cage with his feet to escape. Big ground knees to the side of Henderson! Shogun now gets a full mount. Henderson is simply trying to survive, but Rua is dropping bombs. Henderson tries a desperation guillotine from the bottom, but Shogun earns another mount. Rua is causing major damage, but Henderson is still coherent. Rua takes Henderson’s back, then transitions back to the mount. Henderson gives up his back again, but can he survive this onslaught?! Shogun is back to the full mount with one minute left. Somehow, Henderson weathers the storm to survive.

Dan Henderson earns the close unanimous decision victory in an instant classic (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).

Reflections: This was, quite simply, one of the greatest fight cards in MMA history. Aside from the Bonnar/Kingsbury snooze fest, all of the bouts were electrifying. Urijah Faber has earned a rubber match with Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight crown. He will need to change his strategy from their last fight, if he wants a chance to defeat the evolved Cruz. Despite his victory, we may have seen Wanderlei Silva in the cage for the last time. Dana White has made clear his desire to see Silva retire, due to the large amount of knockouts he has suffered recently. Going out with a quality victory over an opponent like Cung Le would be a fitting sendoff for the former Pride FC legend. The Henderson/Shogun fight had more twists and turns than a Six Flags coaster. Henderson proved that he is still clearly able to hang with the younger generation of cage fighters, and seems to be in line for a title shot at either Jon Jones (light-heavyweight) or Anderson Silva (middleweight). Shogun Rua could possibly be paired with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at the February card in Japan. It would be a rematch of former Pride FC stars that are still enormously popular in the Orient, and surely wouldn’t disappoint.

Thanks for reading.

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