UFC 139 recap: HendoShogun lives up to legendary status

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UFC 139 recap: HendoShogun lives up to legendary status

SAN JOSE -- There are few times when the word epic can be used to describe a sporting event and be used correctly. Saturday night it defined the UFC 139 battle between Mauricio Shogun Rua and Dan Hendo Henderson.

It was a fight that fans had been hoping to see since the pair's days in PRIDE and, even after almost a decade, Hendo and Shogun delivered a fight that fans will remember forever. The five-round light-heavyweight battle had everything you could imagine. Both fighters looked like they went through an absolute war.

The fight was tipping towards Hendo after the first two rounds. He had the Brazilian Rua bloodied and reeling, but couldnt land the knockout blow. Mid-way through the third it seemed like Rua got another shot of adrenaline. The fight started to look even as each threw punches, landed kicks and went for finishes.

As the rounds changed, so did the momentum. Shogun started taking over and Hendo was the one reeling. Roles had reversed, but the intensity remained. The crowd began to get louder and more raucous as each minute passed. By the end of the fifth and final round HP Pavilion was going insane.

As is the case with a lot of epic bouts, this one went to the scorecards. It was a hard fight for many to call as each fighter had advantages and looked to be in control. The fight ended in a unanimous decision for Dan Henderson. All three judges had it 48-47.

This is one of those sports moments that comes around very rarely. UFC President Dana White called this bout one of the top-3 of all-time, going on to say it is our Ali-Frazier 3.

For one night, San Jose was the epicenter of the MMA universe and the UFC did not disappoint. On a night of great fights, the epic main event between Hendo and Shogun stole the show.

Undercard notes:

Le vs. Silva: The co-main event of the evening was a bout between two legends. Wanderlei Silva took on San Joses Cung Le in this middleweight fight. The first was pretty even as Le knocked Silva down early, but was unable to build on that. That left an opening for Silva, who took advantage.

The end of the first and all of the second belonged to Silva. After a bit of back and forth, Silva landed several punches that rocked Le. Le ended up against the cage where Silva teed off with knees and more punches. Le was unable to counter anything and the ref stopped the fight. It was Silvas first win since 2010 and puts the legendary title back on his resume.

Faber vs. Bowles: Two former WEC champs took the stage in this bantamweight bout and its easy to say the fight did not disappoint. The California Kid Urijah Faber, who fights out of Sacramento, dominated early and rode a strong wave of punches and knees to a second-round finish.

After Bowles opened the second with a straight jab, Faber countered with a vicious uppercut. That began the end for Bowles. The fight ended with Faber the winner via submission by way of guillotine. He is now the number one contender for the UFC bantamweight title.

Kampmann vs. Story: In what started as a brawl, Kampmann won by split decision after a technically dominant second and third round. He was able to slow the tempo and control the fight on the ground.

Kingsbury vs. Bonnar: Bonnar defeated the San Jose native Kingsbury by unanimous decision. Crowd booed as Bonnar kept fight on the ground and used his Jiu-Jitsu to control the fight.

Knockout of the Night: Michael McDonald
Submission of the Night: Urijah Faber
Fight of the Night: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua and Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.

It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.

The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.

They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.

Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”

In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.

“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.

“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”

The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.

So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.

The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.

The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.

“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”

That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.

Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.

“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.

“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

BOX SCORE

The Warriors avenged yet another loss Friday night, rolling into Houston and laying a 125-108 beating on the Rockets at Toyota Center.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling 32 points to lead the way. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points, Klay Thompson with 16, Draymond Green with 15 and Zaza Pachulia added 10.

The Warriors (37-6) suffocated Houston’s high-powered offense, which is predicated on 3-point shooting, holding the Rockets to 20 percent (7-of-35) beyond the arc. The Warriors forced 15 turnovers, off which they scored 19 points.

Backup center Clint Capela scored 22 points to lead Houston (33-13). MVP candidate James Harden was held to 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-5 from 3-point distance.

Having beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors this week evened the ledger against two elite teams. They lost to Houston on Dec. 1 in Oakland, 132-127, in double overtime that accounted for one of only three losses at Oracle Arena.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

The entire starting lineup played well, but Durant proved too much for anything the Rockets threw at him.

Durant’s line: 32 points (12-of-19 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from deep, 6-of-7 from the line), seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-25 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After Houston trimmed their lead to five (64-59) with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run, punctuated by a 28-foot 3-pointer by Curry to go up 87-67 with 5:58 left in the quarter.

The Warriors led by 20 entering the fourth quarter, and the Rockets got no closer than 15 over the final 12 minutes.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) was listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) was listed as questionable but upgraded to available. He was in the starting lineup, but played only nine minutes before leaving for good.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Sunday in Orlando, where they face the Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific.