UFC 100 Post Script
The biggest, most historic and most anticipated UFC event in history is now in the record books. Sadly, the leading story Monday morning has nothing to do with the fights themselves (which I’ll get to in a moment) but rather:
Brock Lesnar’s post-fight antics
If you were to take a checklist titled “Things not to do in a post-fight interview from a PR perspective” I don’t think you could have done worse then Brock did on Saturday night. Brock owned the checklist. He is the checklist. Let’s do a run down, shall we? First, he commenced to talk reams of profanity laced trash about his opponent, who he had just defeated. Then, he proceeded to flip off the entire crowd, moved on to publicly shitting on the UFC’s biggest sponsor, and finished up by making lewd sexual comments about his wife. It’s pretty safe to say that Brock’s, uh, “acceptance speech” is the talk of mainstream media and Sherdog nerds alike in the days since the landmark event.
It’s a shame, really, because the many statements Brock made overshadowed the truly profound one he made in the Octagon minutes prior. Brock Lesnar is for real. You can hate him all you want (and most certainly do, especially after his blowup) but there is no denying he is an elite level heavyweight who poses significant problems for anyone in the division. Of all the purist, pro-Mir fans who were disappointed following his win and ensuing antics, I admire Michelle most of all for at least being honest with herself over why she hates Brock. In her words, “Great. Now Brock Lesnar is gonna hold down and pummel everyone he fights. I can’t wait.” Exactly. The dominance of his performance, the way he showed such improved control, awareness, and submission defense from the first fight with Mir, is to me a signal that the Heavyweight division is in for a long championship reign. In the last blog, I wrote about the “Machida era,” and with this win, I feel safe in predicting that the “Lesnar Era” is upon us. In his case, I don’t this the era refers to just him, but rather his style of fighter - huge, athletic freaks with strong wrestling backgrounds who combine strength with explosive speed and cut to make 265. In much the same way GSP and Anderson Silva are the “mold” from which future fighters in their division are made, so I believe Lesnar will be the “mold” for the future standard UFC heavyweight fighter.
As for his antics, I agree that they were shocking, and potentially offensive. I can understand the controversy that could arise when he, as the headliner of the UFC’s biggest match ever, goes so far overboard in his post fight comments.
I was laughing my ass off, personally.
Yoshiro “Sexyama” Akiyama, the Michael Jordan of Japanese MMA (if you believe the commentary) himself, finally made his UFC debut against the tough if unspectacular Alan “The Talent” Belcher (who officially snatched the “Worst Tattoo in MMA” award away from Brock Lesnar’s ‘Penis Chest” with his grossly distorted “homage” to Johnny Cash). The fight was a tough one, and a there was a fair share of people, including Joe Rogan, who cried foul when the split decision went Akiyama’s way. Personally, I called it for Akiyama 29-28, but the room I watched it in was pretty much evenly divided on which way that 29-28 went. I had it an even fight going into the final frame, and I felt Akiyama’s trip and takedown earned him enough points to squeak out the win. Regardless, it’s the kind of fight that benefits both guys regardless of weather or not they win - a knockdown, drag out battle that showed off the toughness of either guy.
What’s Next: Belcher should face an aggressive, attacking striker even more willing to engage then Akiyama, to truly test Belcher’s muay thai and because of the potential fireworks. I say Drew Mcfrederies, or Chris Leben would both offer intriguing and exciting matchups for “The Talent”. As for Akiyama, he should face someone who offers a good mix of skills and a depth of experience to truly test “Sexyama”. I think Denis Kang is the perfect choice. Well rounded, world class experience, and a proven if not spectacular resume. It would be the perfect test to see if Akiyama could contend at the championship level.
Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson
This one went down exactly like Henderson, and every obnoxious “USA! USA! USA!” fan said it would. Bisping on his bike, sticking and moving while carefully picking his shots, against Henderson, who put his chin down, his hands up, and waded in looking to land a power shot. And like they all said it would, the more experienced Hendo caught Bisping in a rookie mistake and put him to sleep in what could be the knockout of the year. Bisping showed unforgivable nerves, ignoring the advice of his corner while continuing to circle away to his left, setting him up perfectly for the signature Hendo right hand. While he is undoubtedly a skilled and well rounded fighter, his performance showed he still needs some time to tighten up his mental game and gain increased octagon poise. As for Hendo, most of the post fight talk has centered on his finishing blow, as an airborne Henderson came crashing down fist first on the already unmoving Bisping. Yes, it was certainly a brutal shot, but I don’t think Henderson meant it in intentional malice - what would be the point first and foremost? Fighters are trained to fight until pulled off by the referee, and that’s exactly what Henderson did. He also cemented himself in highlight reels for the next year.
What’s Next: There’s no denying Bisping’s star has dimmed a notch or two following this setback, but he is still a huge star in his native England and a big name to fans the world over. He should get back in the cage with someone who could test both his mental and physical ability to bounce back, while providing for an exciting fight. I’d make him Wanderlei Silva’s first opponent at 185. This fight would be the ultimate test of where either man was in their career - champion or contender, relevant or over the hill. It would be an exciting fight, with Bisping looking to stick to a similar game plan to Rich Franklin, and Silva attacking as always. Set it up in England, and you have the perfect main event for the UFC’s next forray to the UK, rumored to be this November. As for Hendo, the obvious question looms - does he get a title shot? Personally, I want to wait for Nate Marquart/Demian Maia to happen first, and see if one of those men makes a more emphatic statement in victory - though Henderson’s timeless knockout almost guarantees that won’t happen (flying gogoplata Maia! Let’s do it!). Barring that, I feel Henderson should be the next opponent to challenge for “The Spider’s” middleweight title once his fight with Forrest is over.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves
Aside from any personal preferences for a particular fighter, I loved this matchup because its exactly the kind of contest that combat sports should be all about, but rarely seem to be: the number one guy in the division faces the number two guy in the division. In this case, Georges St. Pierre cemented his place as the number one by thoroughly dominating Thiago Alves over the course of five rounds. It was an impressive performance, even more so because from the third round onwards GSP suffered from a torn adductor muscle. The injury left him wincing and limping after the bout, but to his credit he gutted through it during the fight and it didn’t seem to slow him down any more then Thiago did. The American Top Team fighter, who shrugged off takedowns from Hughes and Koscheck, was taken down at will, and was reluctant to pull the trigger on the feet because of it. GSP also made good use of his longer range - Thiago’s signature leg kicks were whiffing air all night. To the Brazilian’s credit, he showed both skill and raw power in rising to his feet time and time again and shaking off a grappler the caliber of St. Pierre. He also showed great heart and was a threat in all five rounds, and like Jon Fitch before his career will only benefit from this fight.
What’s Next: Anderson Silva. No name was dropped as much following UFC 100, and following St. Pierre’s win it has become the most anticipated fight in MMA. That will only increase if Silva beats Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 in August. If I were Joe Silva, this is the fight I’d book next for St. Pierre. I know, I know, a lot of MMA fandom thinks Silva would steamroll St. Pierre, but I think given proper time to adjust and bulk up properly to 185, St. Pierre’s aggressive ground and pound could give Silva real trouble. The addition of this injury gives GSP an extended time off - perfect to start bulking up to the higher weight. However, my read is that the UFC is going to make both men defend their titles one more time before a fight can happen. During the broadcast, Joe Silva mentioned to Rogan that the winner of Swick-Kampmann is the new #1 contender, but I can’t see either of those guys posing any new problems for St. Pierre. Assuming Silva beats his next challenger, look for this fight to come in the summer of 2010, as the UFC usually puts on a big money matchup during the summer (UFC 100, for instance). As for location, I don’t know, throwing it out there…Toronto? Fight sanctioned MMA event in the province, seventy thousand drunk Canadian fans packing the Rogers Center, as the Canadian homeboy tries to become the baddest dude on the planet. Call it wishful thinking, but that scenario makes the UFC a ton of money, and Dana White knows it.
As for Thiago, his performance proved his is an elite level fighter, and he should rebound against an elite level fighter. Matt Hughes expressed interest in a possible rematch with Thiago. Call me crazy, but I would make that the next fight for both men. For Thiago, it’s a good chance to re-solidify his status, and for Hughes the fight could serve as a “last hurrah”, a last chance to prove he can hang with the best and be relevant. Get a determined Hughes and an on weight Alves, and it could be an interesting fight. Do it in Chicago to take advantage of the sentimental home state crowd supporting Hughes, and it’s a lucrative one as well.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
And as a closing note, here’s props to Mark Coleman, who gutted out a unanimous decision over Stephen Bonnar in the undercard to the enthusiastic cheers of fans in attendance. That he did it at UFC 100 is fitting. That he did it in the same way he always has - constant takedown attempts, ground and pound, and near total exhaustion in the octagon - is perfect nostalgia. Way to go Hammer.
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