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Brock Lesnar Mirrors Life Comeback With Come-From-Behind Submission Win

LAS VEGAS -- In a comeback that mirrored his real-life struggle and triumph, Brock Lesnar overcame a horrific opening round that nearly saw him finished before rallying to defeat Shane Carwin in a career-defining, second-round arm triangle submission at UFC 116.

Overcome with emotion, Lesnar immediately dedicated the win to his family, the doctors who helped him through his recent health scare and the training team that helped him rebuild to championship status as he won over the MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd that went from booing lustily to a standing ovation upon the finish.

"It's just great to win," Lesnar said after the fight. "Honest to God, what I've been through since Nov. 6 to this point, it feels like it's been 10 years. It's been a grueling, grueling road. I can say this: I remember when I was lying there, [my trainer] Marty Morgan at my hospital bed from day one. To be here, it really is truly a miracle. To come back from all that and to be here and win, words cannot describe it. I feel like I'm in a dream."

Lesnar's stirring win capped off a thrilling night that should easily capture event of the year honors in the MMA world.

It was just last November when Lesnar was in a Canada hospital room for 13 days, and his doctors diagnosed him with diverticulitis that at one time was expected to require career-threatening surgery. After changing his diet, in January Lesnar was pronounced healthy by doctors at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, who termed the self-recovery a "miracle."

In his first bout back, he was paired with the surging Carwin, who came in with a perfect 12-0 mark, never needing to go past the first round. In the early stages of this one, it seemed Carwin was going to extend the remarkable record.

Carwin dominated Lesnar in the opening five minutes, hammering Lesnar with left hands against the fence and eventually working over the champ after getting him to the ground. Carwin pounded on Lesnar for an extended period of time under the watchful eye of ref Josh Rosenthal, who appeared to be close to stopping the fight on several occasions as Carwin continued the battering.

By the end of the frame, all Lesnar could do was cover his face as Carwin tried to break through for the finishing blow, landing 47 ground strikes in the onslaught. Lesnar held on until the final bell and rose from the canvas with cuts over his left eye and next to his right eye. The round was lopsided enough that MMA Fighting scored it for Carwin 10-8.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride all over," said Lesnar, who needed stitches after the fight. "The thought crossed my mind while I was there, that I've been through a lot. I thought this isn't how it's going to end. He was strong on top. He outboxed me, he got me. I'll be the first one to tell everyone. That's how it is. It's been a crazy year, but I wasn't going home without [the belt], that's for sure."

Between rounds, though, things began to change as Carwin's body locked up with cramps. At the start of the second, Lesnar came out with a smile and touched gloves with Carwin before finding his footing. He took Carwin down quickly and moved to half-guard, his favored spot. But he surprised Carwin by advancing to full mount and bypassed the expected ground-and-pound attack, instead sinking in an arm triangle. Carwin fought for a while, thinking he had room to breathe, but Lesnar readjusted the hold and Carwin was trapped, eventually tapping out to give Lesnar the first submission of his young career.

"I stand before you a humbled champion, but still the toughest SOB around, baby," said Lesnar (5-1).


Lesnar said he'll take time off to be with his family (his wife Rena is pregnant and due in two weeks), hunt white-tail deer and farm his land, but a date with previously named No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez awaits him. That of course, and revel in a remarkable comeback that gives him claim as the top heavyweight in the world.

Carwin, who fought out of the first round for the first time in his career, suffered his first defeat, dropping to 12-1. He was taken to the hospital later for precautionary reasons but MMA Fighting has confirmed that he was cleared and released soon after.

"Honored for the chance and ready to get back on the road to redemption," Carwin told MMA Fighting after leaving the hospital. "Brock did what he needed to do to win the fight. I will be back."

Chris Leben wins second fight in two weeks
Yoshihiro Akiyama's first instinct was to turn down the proposed match with Chris Leben. It turns out he should have listened to his gut. Leben gave Akiyama a war for nearly three rounds before finally catching him with a triangle choke just 17 seconds from the final bell.

The scorecards were all even after two rounds, and Akiyama spent most of round three in a good position with Leben on the mat. Even from the bad spot, Leben fired off offense, including elbows from the bottom and an armbar try as Akiyama tried to close out the round.

Suddenly as the clock wound down, Leben slipped into the triangle and Akiyama -- likely worn out from the battle -- gave little resistance before tapping. Leben said he realized at an earlier moment in the fight that Akiyama was open for the choke and went for it.

"I heard my corner yell at me to stand up, but I knew the sub was there," he said. "He let me set it up."

The amazing finish came after an equally exciting round two, which saw a series of momentum shifts and each man landing haymakers that had the other in trouble. At its close, the sellout crowd got to its feet for an ovation, unaware that the next five minutes would hold even more drama.

"It's so overwhelming," Leben said. "We train our whole lives for this. I laid in bed last night and cried because I didn't want to let anyone down. The emotion afterward, it's mind-boggling. There's nothing like winning a fight in the UFC. Nothing like it in the world. Nothing like it, period."

Sotiropoulos continues surge
George Sotiropoulos showed his win over Joe Stevenson was no fluke, extending his winning streak to seven overall and six in the UFC with a unanimous decision win over Kurt Pellegrino.

Sotiropoulos outboxed Pellegrino with a sharp jab and strong combinations, and fought him to a stalemate on the ground in earning the win by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. Before doing so, he had to withstand a scary moment at the end of the fight when Pellegrino floored him with a knee to the face. There was under 10 seconds left in the fight though, and Pellegrino didn't have enough time to finish him as Sotiropoulos survived for the victory, making him 13-2.

"I'm happy I won, but I wasn't happy with what happened at the end of the last round," he said. "I'm just happy to fight and win man, that's the important thing."

Pellegrino fell to 15-5, snapping his four-fight win streak. "Batman" had some good moments in the fight but was outworked in the standup.

Chris Lytle submits Matt Brown; Bonnar breaks losing streak
Longtime UFC veteran Chris Lytle beat Matt Brown for the second time in his career, using an inverted triangle/armbar combination to earn the victory.

Lytle came out a bit flat in the first before schooling Brown on the ground with the rarely-used combination.

"I didn't plan on setting it up, it just presented itself," Lytle said.

In another televised fight, Stephan Bonnar earned revenge for a previous controversial loss, earning a second-round TKO against Krzysztof Soszynski.

Bonnar landed a pinpoint knee to the head that knocked Soszynski down and followed him to the ground with a hail of vicious ground strikes until the referee saved Soszynski for the stoppage win.

"I'm on cloud nine right now, you have no idea," Bonnar said after collecting his first win since TKO'ing Eric Schafer at UFC 77 in 2007. "I'm as high as you can get."

Spike Prelim results
In the lead-up to his fight with Chris Tuchscherer, Brendan Schaub said he was ready for next-level heavyweights. He went out and proved it.

Schaub crumpled his sturdy opponent with a crushing right behind the ear, and followed up with unrelenting ground and pound for a first-round TKO stoppage in just 67 seconds.

The 27-year-old Ultimate Fighter alumni captured his second straight since falling at the hands of heavyweight contender Roy Nelson. The two wins have taken a combined time of less than two minutes.

Ricardo Romero made a successful UFC debut with a strong comeback in a wildly entertaining fight, defeating returning veteran Seth Petruzelli with a straight armbar in the second round.

Just moments before the finish, Romero looked like he was nearly out of gas, stumbling against the cage. He shot in for a takedown but Petruzelli looked for a kimura. Romero though, quickly reversed position and ended up on top. Using a sudden burst of energy, he advanced to side control and used it to set up a straight armbar. Petruzelli had no choice but to tap, and it appeared he may have suffered an arm injury in the process.

Romero improved to 11-1 while Petruzelli, who looked good up until the finish, fell to 12-5.

Unaired Prelims
Gerald Harris authored the early highlight of the evening with a third-round TKO of Dave Branch that came on a slam takedown.

Branch had tried to jump into a flying triangle, but Harris saw it coming and slammed Branch to the mat, and he fell unconscious immediately. Showing great restraint and sportsmanship, Harris pulled back a punch that was cocked back as soon as he realized Branch was out of it and the ref quickly stepped in to call a halt to the action.

"We trained that triangle scenario and I knew he was going to go for it," Harris said. "So I worked on staying out of those in practice."

Harris raised his record to 17-2 with his 10th consecutive win. He's also 3-0 in the UFC.

In a middleweight bout, the wildly inconsistent Kendall Grove returned back to the win column with a split decision over Croatian fighter Goran Reljic.

The fight was as close and tough to score as the final 30-27, 28-29, 29-28 scores indicated, as Grove found maximum effectiveness from the clinch with knees while Reljic was able to manage several takedowns. Interestingly, round two, which seemed to be Reljic's best round, went to Grove on all three judges' scorecards, flipping the fight in his favor. In that round, Grove spent considerable time on his back, and though he did land a few elbows from his back, judges often tend to give the round to the man with positional control.

Also, the "Ninja" outlasted the "Meat Cleaver" as Daniel Roberts earned a split decision over Forrest Petz, while Jon Madsen outgrappled the debuting Karlos Vemola to hand the Czech his first career loss.
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