November was a shocking month. I think we witnessed a little bit of everything last month, from massive upsets to shocking departures from the sport to new talents springing to attention. November was memorable for many reasons, no doubt about it. These just happen to be what I consider the 10 most significant events to transpire during the tumultuous 30 day stretch.
We all expected a thrilling encounter when Cung Le and Rich Franklin entered the cage at UFC on FUEL TV 6. I doubt many of us expected to see Franklin sprawled out face first on the canvas in less than three minutes though.
Franklin entered the fight as a favorite in the eyes of most. His significant experience advantage and level of past opposition suggested he’d batter the shorter Le en route to a late stoppage or one-sided unanimous decision.
Instead, Franklin fought recklessly, and around the two minute mark, he threw a low kick while keeping his fists as far from his head as possible. It wasn’t exactly a brilliant display of technical defense. Cung saw the opening and hurled one savage right hook at the former champion’s face and it was all over.
I doubt anything other than nightmares ensued in those brief moments of unconsciousness for “Ace.”
Is anyone really surprised by this? Thiago Silva seems to have the tools to be a perennial top contender at light heavyweight. He just can’t seem to get his life together away from the cage.
The man’s failed more than a single drug test in his day. In fact, he’s spent the better portion of the last two years on the shelf as a result of tainted urine samples. He failed his drug test at UFC 125, and just two fights later, he repeated that trend. Once, performance enhancers, twice, marijuana, thrice, you’re outta here?
After more than a year and a half on the shelf, welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre made his return to MMA at UFC 154. Standing opposite him inside the octagon was wild card interim champ, Carlos Condit.
Given Condit’s aggressive nature and GSP’s lengthy layoff, it seemed an upset could indeed unfold in the cage. Not many truly expected that, though, and after two rounds of dominance, it looked like GSP would batter the “Natural Born Killer” until the fight had reached its close.
Then came the third frame, and in the blink of an eye, GSP just about relinquished his position as head honcho at 170 pounds. Carlos threw a left high kick that St-Pierre never saw, and in a split second the champion was on his back being battered by Condit.
It looked an awful lot like GSP’s first bout with Matt Serra; however, this time, the champ fought through adversity, recovered and resumed the beating he’d been enforcing for the previous ten minutes.
This fight looked like a B-rated action flick. Seriously, the punch that Johny Hendricks landed on Martin Kampmann seemed…comical. Well, not the punch so much as Kampmann’s response. The Dane went sailing halfway across the octagon in what looked like a poorly exaggerated fight sequence from the latest Steven Segal flick.
Keep in mind that I am in no way insinuating that Kampmann exaggerated in there…I think we all saw the truth for exactly what it was. “Bigg Rigg” hits like a big rig, and Kampmann’s slender frame is prone to flight under that level of force.
Highly touted prospect Tyrone Spong has a lot left to prove inside the cage. With just a single professional fight on his ledger, he’s still quite inexperienced and untested in many different realms of combat.
That didn’t stop him from looking like a bona fide cyborg in his debut against Travis Bartlett at World Series of Fighting 1.
The bout lasted a mere 3:15, and Spong looked indestructible in the process. It’s important to note that Bartlett not only looked like he showed up for a paycheck and hadn’t seen a gym in a decade, but he hadn’t even competed in more than two years.
Just the same, Spong’s speed, reflexes and power looked otherworldly. If he’s developing a standout grappling game and some solid jiu jitsu skills, this kid is going to be terror on two feet inside of two years.
I don’t even know exactly what to say about this...
First there was the situation with Hallman’s wife, then he pulls another weight fiasco, then he’s cut from the UFC, then the poor guy’s house burns down…the day before Thanksgiving.
Dennis Hallman may very well be having the worst year of his life.
That’s right, two years after parting ways, on seemingly unpleasant terms, with the UFC, Todd Duffee is back on the roster.
While Dana White never unleashed any horrifically disparaging comments about the man, it seemed pretty clear White wasn’t a fan of the confident young fighter. Many MMA insiders have labeled Duffee an arrogant guy, and White’s attitude suggested agreement.
After being completely blitzed by Alistair Overeem in his first fight outside of the promotion, the future looked bleak for Todd. One win and two years later the man’s got a surprising second chance. Let’s see how he handles the bright lights this time.
"Legionarius" looked moments away from stopping the extremely durable Patrick Cote at UFC 154 when, apparently, his brain completely shut down. Sakara had Cote in a world of trouble after a few elbows to the head left the Canadian on wobbly legs. The Italian looked victory right in the face, and decided to unleash an absurd series of strikes to the back of Cote’s head and neck.
And referee Dan Miragliotta stood back, watched the insanity unfold, never issued a warning, waved the fight off and ultimately decided to disqualify Sakara.
Definitely one of the strangest things I’ve seen inside a cage in quite some time.
It was only a matter of time.
Ronda Rousey is a remarkably skilled fighter who’s managed to finish all six of her bouts inside of a single round with her patented arm-bar. She’s also got three amateur fights that unfolded in the same fashion, I should add.
She’s brash when she speaks, fights aggressively at all times and just so happens to be stunningly gorgeous. In short, she’s a marketable fighter. Dana White saw that, and his long standing decision to steer clear of women’s MMA changed dramatically when he got a look at Ronda’s star power.
The ladies are likely here to stay for a while. Ronda will sell pay-per-views, make no mistake, and Dana White loves his cheddar.
On November 23, Nick Denis announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. While it’s wise of the man to know when his health is at serious stake, it’s a serious downer for his fans. Denis has been around for six years, and he’s been putting on fantastic fights that entire stretch.
The man proved his worth when debuting at UFC on FX by completely throttling Joseph Sandoval, and he followed that performance up with one of the year's best fights when he slugged it out with Roland Delorme at UFC on FOX 3 in May. It was an absolutely amazing performance that had most fans super glued to seats.
To say that fans were looking forward to Denis’ next fight is a bit of an understatement. This guy fought his heart out, and he fought not only to win, but to please the fans as well. An awesome guy who put everything on the line, it’s a shame to see Denis walk away from the game.
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