After months of intense buildup, the UFC middleweight title rematch between Chris Weidman and the man he defeated to win the belt in July, Anderson Silva, figured to have a memorable ending.
But no one was expecting quite what went down Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Warning: Graphic video above).
In the second round of their UFC 168 main event, Silva threw an innocent-looking kick with his left leg, which landed awkwardly on Weidman's knee. Silva immediately screamed and hit the mat. He was removed from the cage on a stretcher.
Replays showed a gruesome injury around the shin area, which could be career-ending for the 38-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil.
Weidman (11-0) retained the title via injury TKO at 1:16 of the second round.
"That was the No. 1 thing I got hit with in the first fight," Weidman said of Silva's low kicks. "I knew if he was going to go really hard on his kicks, it could land on my knee and hurt him."
Up until the stunning finish, Weidman was handily winning the fight against Silva (33-6), the man he knocked out to win the title in July. A big right hand early in the first round gave Weidman, of Garden City, N.Y., a top control position on the mat. He utilized it for the remainder of the round, landing several elbows and punches.
The humble Weidman had kind words for Silva, whose six-year, nine-month title reign was the longest in UFC history.
"He's still the greatest of all time," Weidman said. "Lots of props to Anderson Silva. I wish him the best."
In the co-feature bout, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey put the exclamation point on her rivalry with Miesha Tate and all but guaranteed her spot as the company's biggest villain in one fell sweep.
After two action-packed rounds in which Rousey got the best of things and Tate had her moments, Rousey came out in the third and finished the underdog Tacoma, Wash., native with an armbar at 0:58. She then refused to shake Tate's outstretched hand after the fight, causing her entire post-fight interview to be drowned out in the jeers of the sellout crowd.
Rousey (8-0) defeated Tate (13-5) in March 2012 to win what was then the Strikeforce championship. Since then, Rousey has become the star and first champion of the UFC's inaugural women's division. The two squared off again Saturday after opposing stints coaching on the UFC's flagship "Ultimate Fighter" reality series.
Rousey, a Glendale, Calif., resident and 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, has won all eight of her pro fights via armbar. This was the first time in her career she was pushed past the first round.
Hawaiian Travis Browne stated his case in the UFC's heavyweight division with a swift and vicious finish of former UFC champion Josh Barnett. The Maui native needed precisely a minute to score the knockout.
Barnett (33-7), of Los Angeles, was going for a takedown when he walked right into a huge knee to the head. As Barnett slumped to his knees, Browne landed four big elbows to the side of the head, causing Barnett to go limp and the referee to stop the fight.
Browne (16-1-1) is next expected to fight veteran Fabricio Werdum in a No. 1 contender's fight. The winner of that bout will get the next shot at heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who is currently rehabilitating from shoulder surgery.
"There's a new breed of fighter here. I'm coming for you," said Browne, the winner of three straight. "It looks like Werdum and I have a date. I'm ready whenever you are, sweetheart."
New Jersey veteran Jim Miller stopped Brazil's Fabricio Camoes in the first round of their lightweight bout. The bout was a fast-paced, back-and-forth scrap, and Camoes (14-8-1) appeared to be in a strong position as he scored a takedown and had top position. But the crafty Miller stayed calm and maneuvered into a winning armbar from the bottom, getting the submission at 3:42.
"You've seen me fight really aggressive like an animal; you've seen Mr. Hyde," said Miller (23-4, 1 no-contest), who won for the third time in his past four fights. "But tonight you saw Dr. Jekyll and he's a killer, too."
In the main-card opener, Louisiana's Dustin Poirier dispensed a bit of frontier justice to Diego Brandao (19-8). Brandao missed weight Friday for their featherweight by a disgraceful seven pounds. But the Brazilian tired by the midpoint of the first round Saturday night, and Poirier delivered a hellacious TKO finish, with the fight waved off at 4:54.
"Diego missing weight really sucked because I busted my butt to make weight," said a peeved Poirier (15-3), who won for the third time in his past four fights. "I didn't get to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas because I'm a professional and making weight is what we agree to do."