Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman squared off at UFC 162.
The community was pretty evenly matched, with one side lecturing the other on what their wrong-headed choice meant about their personal choices and station in life. There wasn't a lot of middle ground on this one.
After the event Saturday night, there's even less middle ground. But we'll get to that. Because believe it or not, there were actually several fights on the UFC 162 main card. How did the performers perform? Here are grades for every main card fighter.
Cub Swanson (right) defeated Dennis Siver at UFC 162.
Result: Cub Swanson def. Dennis Siver by TKO, 2:34 of Rd. 3
Early in the contest, Swanson was the smaller, weaker fighter. About midway through the first round, Siver brandished his underrated ground game, driving Swanson to the mat and handling him there. First round Siver.
Later in the contest, Swanson was the faster, better-conditioned fighter. As the anthropomorphic ice box that is Featherweight Siver began to lose its juice, Swanson began to hit the top of his power bar. Toward the end of the second, Swanson capitalized on a huge uppercut by hitting a beautiful throw and landing right in mount to end the round. Second round Swanson.
In the third, Swanson's heavy right uppercut was the beginning of the end. Combinations finished it off (with Herb Dean receiving the Late Stoppage of the Evening Award in the process). Either way, good on Swanson for earning this win, which probably lands the popular veteran at the very apex of the weight class.
Dennis Siver looked good in the beginning but simply tired over the course of the fight. It was only the second knockout loss of the German's career and the first since 2008.
Speaking of 2008, that was probably the last year in which "Last Resort" by Papa Roach was in any way interesting to anyone. Time for a new entrance song, brah.
Result: Mark Munoz def. Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision
It was the best win of Mark Munoz's MMA career. Coming into UFC 162, no one knew what he would look like, literally or otherwise, after a year on the shelf that included injuries, weight gain and depression.
That narrative ground is well-furrowed now. What's more important in any event is Munoz's furrowing of Boetsch's midsection with that heavy ground-and-pound and a much more, uh, neatly furrowed future for the Filipino Wrecking Machine. OK, I'll let the metaphor die now.
Boetsch probably won the first round, but got tired and seemed to fade over time.
The perseverance he showed in that come-from-behind win over Yushin Okami? It wasn't in evidence at UFC 162. He stayed turtled up for much of the final stanza, though I certainly can't blame him in light of that vicious thoracic fist-lashing.
Tim Kennedy (right)
Result: Tim Kennedy def. Roger Gracie by unanimous decision
Boy, did Kennedy ever need this. Gracie got a takedown and tried for a choke in the first round, but Kennedy fought his way out. That, as it turned out, was the high-water mark for Gracie.
In fighting out, Kennedy fought his way to a decision win and perhaps out of the UFC's doghouse, where he presumably landed last week after controversial comments on UFC fighter pay.
Kennedy was, simply, better in all phases. His advantage on the feet was no surprise. His edge on the ground was a little more so, and very impressive. And that's why he won. Sometimes, the MMA, it is not rocket science.
The door was open for Gracie when he went for that rear-naked choke toward the end of the first round. But he couldn't close the deal, and that was it.
He was grossly overmatched in the stand-up phase and wasn't dominant at all on the ground. He'll need to do more next time if he wants to prove he's a viable UFC middleweight.
Result: Frankie Edgar def. Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision
Everyone loves Frankie Edgar, and it's not hard to understand why. Giving up serious size to Oliveira, Edgar used his usual excellent footwork, accurate combinations and disproportionately powerful takedowns to outclass a very game opponent in 23-year-old Oliveira.
Charles Oliveira (right)
The young man showed toughness and endurance throughout. Oliveira kept up with Edgar's pace and acquitted himself well against the former champion. I especially liked the strategic wrinkle of trying to wrangle Edgar into the Thai plumm every time the ex-champ darted in for one of those sandpiper combinations.
He was ultimately outstruck, and just didn't do enough to win. A respectable outing nevertheless, and there are still plenty of good things on the horizon for "Do Bronx."
Division: Middleweight (for UFC middleweight title)
Result: Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva by knockout, 1:18 of Rd. 2
It wasn't just the knockout that earned Weidman the middleweight title. He fought through Silva's head games in the first round as well, earning a takedown and scoring with grounds strikes to win the opening stanza on points.
But as you probably know by now, it didn't ultimately matter, other than as a possibly useful data point illustrating the thorough nature of Weidman's win. Silva danced a little too close to the flame Saturday night, and Weidman burned him. The 29-year-old is now the first new UFC middleweight champion in almost seven years.
How to tarnish a legacy in six simple steps.
Don't get me wrong. Weidman should get plenty of credit for winning. It's just that Silva should also take blame for losing. Silva did his silly dancing-taunting thing within the striking range of someone who could put a stop to the silliness. That's not a good idea. It's a testament to Silva, his fans, the media, to something, that everyone (including myself) figured Silva had Weidman right where he wanted him as he bobbed and weaved just inches from Weidman's face and fists, his own gloves hanging uselessly at his waistline and his chin jutting defiantly forward.
We'll see where Silva goes from here. Maybe he'll sober up and start bringing his A-game into the cage again. Maybe he won't. To me, he's still in the MMA GOAT conversation.
Time, as they say, will tell. But at this moment, I do know that the other claimants in that conversation ever jeopardized their claims with frivolity and self-sabotage.
What a waste.