Sunday, 8 August 2010

UFC 117 - The Morning After

It's nice to sit down and write about a deep UFC card that lived up to it's billing; as much as I'm still a little shocked at UFC 117, I enjoyed it. I was happy with the fights simply because there's a terrible trend of stacked cards producing boring fights, UFC 112 to name a recent one, but the main card provided some awesome contests.

Anderson Silva showed why he's regarded as one of the best in the world, Jon Fitch showed us why his nickname should be "Groundhog Day" and Roy Nelson showed he clearly has more heart than conditioning.

Anderson Silva: Being the Nail

There was so much hype surrounding this fight and for twenty three minutes of it Anderson Silva looked lost. He was swamped by the ground and pound and relentlessness of Chael Sonnen and even didn't look his usual laser accurate self on the feet. Although Sonnen said at the press conference, "I've never been kicked like that before", there can be little doubt that he was four rounds up and was winning the fifth when he got caught. The victory simply cements Anderson Silva's great legacy and position in the history of the sport. It's easy to win when you're the hammer, but tonight Silva was the nail. He took all Chael had to throw at him for nearly twenty five minutes and still managed to disfigure his Sonnen when he did land strikes. The most important element of all was that he landed the fight ending submission when it mattered. Sonnen was clearly dejected at the press conference and spoke about being "broken hearted",  but it was a great performance that saw him fall at the final hurdle. It's scant consolation but until someone stops Anderson, Sonnen will always be remembered as the man who came the closest to unravelling the spider's web.

Jon Fitch: The Price of Friendship

It was business as usual for Jon Fitch against a clearly drained Thiago Alves. Welterweight really does seem to be split into two categories; powerful grinding wrestlers and the others. It's not my place to criticise fighters as I respect anyone who gets into the cage and puts it all on the line but I am growing tired of seeing "The Welterweight Fight." These bouts usually start with some nervous looking striking until the dominant wrestler gets hold of the other and takes him down. The dominant wrestler will then move through a selection of positions and land minimal damage from everywhere and eventually take home a decision victory. The division is full of dominant wrestlers like GSP, Fitch, Koscheck and Hughes and a lot of times it feels like I'm watching the same fight but from a slightly different seat. What can't be argued, however, is the fact that it's effective and while the rest of the division can't deal with it, the dominant wrestlers will always have the edge when it comes to dictating fights and grinding out decisions.

Jon Fitch's position is a curious one when you look at his relationship with Mike Swick and Josh Koscheck at AKA. If Koscheck beats GSP, and he's probably got as good a shot as anyone if you'll excuse the pun, then where does that leave Fitch? He was guarded at the press conference and kept avoiding the questions but he can't duck them forever. That's why I put the Fatal Fury picture at the top; at some point even the Bogard brothers realised it was time to throw down and fight for the title. At what point does friendship stand in the way of achieving a lifelong dream, and at what point did these blogs start reading like the tag lines for mid eighties karate films?

The Heavyweight Picture

You can't deny Junior Dos Santos his title shot after he dismantled Roy Nelson last night. It's a testament to the heart of Nelson that he was able to make it through three very tough rounds with the young Brazilian. JDS will now sit with popcorn in hand as he waits to see the outcome of the Lesnar vs. Velasquez fight to see whether he has to prepare for a powerful wrestler or HUGE powerful wrestler. There really aren't a lot of people with better hands than Santos in the heavyweight division and this performance proved he has a phenomenal amount of potential.

Roy Nelson showed a lot of heart, he also showed a lot of stomach and quite a bit of cleavage. I find it so hard to accept that someone with that appearance can be taking his training as seriously as he claims to be. I'm in no way suggesting that he doesn't work hard in camp, but to maintain that physique he must be taking on some incredible calorific numbers. There's something about watching a huge fat guy struggle in an athletic contest that seems more Youtube than UFC. It was almost like watching a car stall on a railway crossing, it felt like a matter of when more than if. I do think that if Nelson could make the cut down to 205 he'd present a lot of people with a whole load of problems as he's strong in most areas. It'd also be a nice angle for the UFC to take in this day and age where there's such a rise in health problems related to weight.

Matt Hughes: Who's Next?

It's a curious one for Matt Hughes, as he steps into the twilight of his career, he seems to be putting together more and more consistent performances. Renzo Gracie was pure marquee but Ricardo Almeida is a legit contender at welterweight and Hughes was able to pull off the win. The manner in which he did it was very impressive as he dropped Almeida with a crisp left hook then put him out with a choke which looked more jaws of life than jiu-jitsu. It's never easy to admit when the party is over but for Matt Hughes, some of his most interesting fights may be just around the corner.

Thanks very much for taking the time and I hope that you enjoyed the event as much as I did, I'll be writing a lot more soon so stay in touch and take care.


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