MMA’s super Saturday delivered on all levels

Ricardo Lamas picked up an impressive win over Dennis Bermudez at UFC 180. (Christian Palma/AP)

Three different promotions, three separate events and a multitude of solid performances highlighted a rare weekend where MMA fans got more fights than they could possibly handle…all within a four-hour time span Saturday night.

The UFC made their debut in Mexico where 21,000 fans at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico saw an interim UFC heavyweight champion crowned, while other divisional contenders solidified their place in the rankings.

Fabricio Werdum, who was supposed to fight heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, took on Mark Hunt instead after The Super Samoan stepped in for the injured Velasquez on just a few weeks notice. Despite Hunt getting the better of Werdum in the first round, Fabricio landed a monstrous jumping knee–a rare move for this weight class–and following up with punches to pick up the second-round TKO victory and earn the interim belt.

The card also saw a few other fighters put forth some awe-inspiring performances, most of which MMA fans will keep in their back pocket for future water cooler debates.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Kelvin Gastelum is officially a contender now. His first-round rear-naked choke of Jake Ellenberger sent a clear message to the 170-pound division and I’m confident it was heard loud and clear.

Featherweight Ricardo Lamas was expected to suffer for 15 minutes versus the relentless Dennis Bermudez. Instead, he protected his top-four ranking by stunning everyone watching has he tapped Bermudez with a guillotine choke finish at 3:18 of the first round.

There was so much more on the card that raised an eyebrow or two, including: Jessica Eye’s victory over Leslie Smith courtesy of the latter’s cauliflower ear nearly being ripped off; Augusto Montano’s stellar first-round win over Chris Heatherly as well as Yair Rodriguez and Alejandro Perez winning the TUF Latin America featherweight and bantamweight tournaments, respectively.

Everything that happened at UFC 180 isn’t even the whole story, as MMA fans had to juggle what was going down at Bellator 131 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

In the main event, UFC Hall of Famers Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar duked it out for three rounds, with Ortiz earning a split decision over “The American Psycho.” It may not have been their best performances, but it was enjoyable from the opening bell.

Will Brooks became the “official” Lightweight Champion defeating Michael Chandler by TKO, but not without controversy. It was a strange finish to say the least, as Brooks nailed Chandler with a right in the fourth round that had Chandler backing away and waving the fight off. The ref, along with everyone else watching, was momentarily confused. The only one who wasn’t, was Brooks, who pounced in and kept throwing bombs to Chandler’s wide open face. The ref eventually stopped the bout, but it took awhile to make sense of it all.

Two other bouts stood out for me, as Joe Schilling knocked out Melvin Manhoef in the second round with right-left combo that froze Manhoef in mid air. It was dubbed a one-punch knockout, but that’s a term I’ve never understood. Schilling had been throwing punches all night–eventually, the correct one(s) landed, and thus, the body of his work produced the finish he desired.

But the one guy that stood out for me, was Mike “The Marine” Richman, who needed just forty six seconds to dispose of UFC veteran Nam Phan. If you haven’t seen the bout, the striking precision was awe-inspiring. His jab was laser-like. It was incredible to see. The finish, even better. Hopefully, we can see him get a crack at the bantamweight title soon.

We weren’t done there, though, because World Series of Fighting 15 also went down.

In the main event, David Branch disposed of fellow UFC veteran Yushin Okami by TKO in the fourth round at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.

Despite my personal sense that the co-main event was somewhat anti-climactic, lightweight champion Justin Gaethje defeated Melvin Guillard by split decision, while women’s strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar pulled off the unanimous decision victory over Kalindra Faria.

It was a busy Saturday night to say the least, but if you are an MMA fan, it was a dream come true. It was a rarity with three promotions going head-to-head-to-head for your time, but thankfully, modern day technology makes it a whole lot easier to enjoy and never miss a punch.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.