UFC 146's main card is about heavyweights, but the smaller weights made their mark on the preliminary card in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Jamie Varner scored an early upset with a TKO of previously unbeaten Edson Barboza. Taking the fight on short notice, Varner fought in the UFC for the first time since 2007. He gave Barboza trouble early with a takedown. Later in the first round, he pressured him against the fence, and peppered him with punches until Barboza fell to the ground. The bout was stopped at 3:23 in the first round.
"I can't believe it's me. It's so surreal. I just knocked out Edson Barboza, who was this monster in my mind," Varner said after the fight.
Dan Hardy broke his losing streak impressively. After losing four straight bouts, Hardy knocked Duane Ludwig out with a nasty left hook and followed with three elbows to end the fight at 3:51 in the first round.
"It felt great out there. You can put all the work in and if it goes wrong for 15 minutes then none of it matters. I've had a bad run. I took some time off and then I changed everything - new team, new training. It feels great. When you connect with the right shot you know its over. I put my arms up in celebration a little prematurely but when he looked back up I wasn't going to let it slip away so I went in and got the finish," Hardy said after the bout.
C.B. Dollaway used takedowns and ground control to get a unanimous decision win over Jason "Mayhem" Miller, 29-28, 30-26, 29-28. Miller had strong stand-up early but couldn't keep Dollaway's takedowns at bay. This is Miller's second loss in a row.
Diego Brandao and Darren Elkins fought a bruising, bloody fight to end the preliminary card with a 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 decision win for Elkins. In the grappling-filled bout, Brandao was strong in the first round, but the momentum swung in Elkins' favor in the second round. With a bloody ear, Elkins controlled the final round.
Glover Teixeira had plenty of pre-fight hype going into the UFC 146 prelims, and he lived up to it with a dismantling of Kyle Kingsbury. He used nasty ground and pound to beat up Kingsbury before finishing him with an arm-triangle choke at 1:53 in the first round.
"I'm really happy a debut in the UFC feels like my debut in MMA. It was that exciting to me. I'm just so happy to be here and after Dana's speech last night I just went out there and decided to go for it. I wanted him to remember my fight, and me," Teixeira said.
Paul Sass got in on the submission game with a slick armbar/triangle choke combination over Jacob Volkmann in the first round. Former WEC champ Mike Brown returned to vintage form with a unanimous decision over Daniel Pineda.