LAS VEGAS — Brock Lesnar rallied from a brutal first-round beating to stop Shane Carwin with a choke in the second round, defending his heavyweight title at UFC 116 on Saturday night.
Lesnar won his first fight in nearly a year despite taking a pounding in the opening minutes from Carwin, the previously undefeated interim champion.
Lesnar, an intimidating former professional wrestler and the UFC's biggest pay-per-view star, took down Carwin in the second round. He got Carwin in an arm triangle choke, forcing Carwin to tap out at the MGM Grand Garden.
Lesnar canceled two previous bouts with Carwin after developing an intestinal illness that nearly killed him.
On the undercard, Chris Leben stopped Yoshihiro Akiyama with 40 seconds left in the final round, earning a dramatic victory in his second fight in two weeks.
After taking more punishment than he delivered in the first 2½ rounds, Leben got Akiyama in a triangle choke, forcing the touted Akiyama to tap out of his second UFC bout.
Welterweight Chris Lytle beat Matt Brown, and veteran Stephan Bonnar stopped Krzysztof Soszynski with a second-round flurry.
Two weeks after beating Aaron Simpson, Leben returned to the octagon as an injury replacement for Wanderlei Silva. Despite one of the quickest turnarounds in recent MMA history, Leben survived Akiyama's skill and landed superior strikes before the last-minute stoppage.
"It doesn't matter if it's on my feet, on the ground," said Leben, who demanded to fight Silva next. "If I'm in the fight, I get the job done."
Lytle stopped Brown with an armbar in the second round of their welterweight bout.