Brock Lesnar defended his heavyweight title in his uniquely brutish style at UFC 100 Saturday night, capping the sport’s landmark weekend with a second-round stoppage of Frank Mir.
Georges St. Pierre defended his welterweight title with a showcase of his inimitably well-rounded mixed martial arts skills in an unanimous decision over Thiago Alves, while Dan Henderson knocked out Michael Bisping with a single punch in a middleweight upset as the UFC rolled its odometer into triple digits on a celebratory night for the proliferating sport.
Lesnar (4-1) ended the main event with a relentless series of right hands into the face of Mir, who handed Lesnar his only loss nearly 18 months ago.
Lesnar, a hulking former pro wrestler with a mercurial temperament, then taunted his opponent while Mir still was on the ground. He added a two-handed obscene gesture to the booing sellout crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, putting an entertaining but unflattering end on the highest-profile show in the sport’s history.
There were no theatrics or poor sportsmanship from St. Pierre, the classy Canadian star considered the UFC’s pound-for-pound best. He was the superior fighter from the start, steadily punishing Alves with punches, kicks and repeated takedowns in his third title defense.
Nearly 16 years after Brazilian MMA pioneer Royce Gracie won three fights in one night to triumph at UFC 1 in Denver, the sport reached a centennial of sorts before a frenzied sellout crowd in the UFC’s hometown. The league has grown from a bit player in a fringe pastime to an estimated $1 billion company, and the weekend’s festivities reflected its success despite the widespread skepticism it still faces from other sports fans and some states’ lawmakers.
The 100th showcase was broadcast live in 75 countries, and thousands of fans without tickets for the event packed into closed-circuit shows all along the Strip. Tens of thousands attended the first UFC Fan Expo, immersing themselves in the lifestyle built around the sport.
Lesnar, who turns 32 on Sunday, again moved upward in the eclectic trajectory of a former college wrestler who performed in the WWE and briefly suited up for the Minnesota Vikings before embarking on an MMA career just over three years ago.
Mir (12-4) beat Lesnar with a knee bar at UFC 81, forcing Lesnar to tap out 90 seconds into his second UFC fight. Lesnar, whose name recognition and menacing approach earned him lightning-quick shots at the sport’s biggest prizes, recovered by beating Heath Herring and then stopping Randy Couture last November to claim the heavyweight belt.
Lesnar used his 265 pounds to take position on top of Mir early, and Lesnar stayed on top throughout a dull first round, throwing punches that mostly did little. Mir made a bit of headway in the second, but was trapped against the octagon by Lesnar, who kept throwing right hands until Mir’s defense wilted.