They did it again! The UFC again delivered on a card that I didn’t have the highest hopes for. I was never a believer in Yushin Okami, I had no interest in a rematch between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Forrest Griffin and I really didn’t want to see another MMA legend take a beating.
It might not make a lot of sense, but these are the cards that usually turn out to be some of my favorites. The cards where I seem to have the lowest expectations, more often than not deliver the best results.
UFC 134 delivered right from the first fight on Spike TV. Rousimar Palhares and Dan Miller fought one of the better fights of recent memory to get the night started. Palhares in the end won by unanimous decision, but Miller stood in and exchanged with one of the strongest guys in the middleweight division.
I can’t wait to see what is next for Palhares since he has lost to the two biggest name guys he’s fought (Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt). I think his next fight will go a long way in determining if Palhares can hang with the best fighters in the world.
After Thiago Tavares knocked out Spencer Fisher in the 2nd round of their fight, it was time for the PPV portion of 134.
I don’t know about you, but guys that seem a little too cocky on their way to the octagon bug me so much I immediately start to cheer against them whether I know anything about them or not.
That was the case for me with Luiz Cane who had this very smug look on his face as he made his walk to the cage. Maybe it was the excitement of fighting in front of his hometown fans that caused Cane to look so arrogant, hell if 14,000 people were screaming our names we might look the same way. Still, I became a fan of Stanislav Nedkov at that very moment.
Cane looked like a guy who deserved to be cocky early on as he stalked Nedkov and opened a cut along the side of the nose that really seemed to bother Nedkov. Just as I started to lose hope for my new favorite fighter, Nedkov doing his best “My Bodyguard” impression, stood up to the bully and knocked Cane out. Knockouts happen all the time and we always say there is no disgrace in losing a good, clean, tough MMA fight. Still, it was kind of funny to see Cane do a running leap off the cage after being clearly hurt by Nedkov’s punch.
I may have cheered for Nedkov this past Saturday night, but I think I will bet against him in his next fight. He takes too many punches, and I am pretty sure a better fighter may have finished him.
I thought Ross Pearson did enough to hand Edson Barboza his first loss, but the judges saw it different giving Barboza the win by split decision. The good news for Pearson came at the end of the night when Dan White deemed this fight of the night and gave each fighter a $100,000 bonus.
I am bummed I wasn’t a bigger fan during the glory days of Pride. I remember reading about Fedor, Mirko Cro Cop and the Nogueira brothers, but I wasn’t interested enough to buy the PPV’s or DVDs of some of those legendary fights.
Still, I knew then as I know now that the Nogueira’s had played a big part in the development of the sport. Both brothers have an easy smile and seem to carry themselves with nothing but class, so like so many fans I didn’t want to see “Big Nog” get hurt in his fight against the younger and stronger Brendan Schaub.
Schaub had looked good in his last fight when he knocked out Cro Cop and a lot of people (myself included) expected the same result here. I can’t remember a fight where I was happier to be wrong. Schaub looked good early, but Nogueira drove the Rio crowd into a frenzy when he knocked Schaub out at 3:09 of the first round.
It was a great win and for the 35 year old “Minotauro” and for me was the highlight of the night.
“Shogun” Rua walked right through Forrest Griffin, knocking out the popular fighter in just 1:53. It goes to show how quickly things can change in this sport. While Griffin has always been known most for his funny personality, he was as tough as there was on the UFC roster. Griffin now looks like his chin is shot as he was knocked out for the third time in his last five fights.
Griffin now joins guys like Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva in a group of fighters that appear to be able to be knocked out after one solid punch. The good news for Griffin came after the fight with news that his wife was in labor about to deliver a baby daughter. Nice move by Dana White getting Griffin on the UFC’s private plane to try to get him home in time for the birth.
While it may be the end of the road for Griffin, it was a nice rebound win for Rua after losing by knockout to Jon Jones in March. Rua could be in line for a fight with current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson, with the winner getting a shot at the title.
Anderson Silva won for the 15th time in a row as he destroyed Yushin Okami at 2:04 of the 2nd round. Okami might be the last guy to have defeated Silva, but he was grossly outclassed the second time around.
With all due respect to GSP, Silva is the man right now in the UFC and Dana White has a (good) dilemma on his hands as he figures out what to do next with his middleweight champion.
There is the idea of a super fight between Silva and GSP. From a business standpoint this makes the most sense as it’s the fight fans want to see. How will GSP do going up in weight against a guy as crafty as Silva?
With St Pierre set to fight Nick Diaz at the end of October the biggest issue is time. Would Silva be willing to wait to fight the smaller man.
Next is the possibility of a rematch with Chael Sonnen who was the guy to come closest to defeating Silva. There is no love lost between these two, and the hype would be off the charts. Sonnen has a fight set for October 8th against Brian Stann and my guess is, if Sonnen wins we see the rematch possibly before the end of the year.
The dark horse in all of this is Henderson who lost to Silva at UFC 82 three years ago. Henderson has been on a nice roll in Strikeforce, but now finds himself a free agent with all signs pointing to a UFC return.
Henderson has won his last three fights in convincing fashion, but those fights were fought at 205lbs. the 41 yr old Henderson prefers to stay at light heavyweight, but would go through another weight cut for another shot at Silva.
Any of these three fights would be great, I just wonder which one happens first.