The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s journey to Portland, Oregon provided a stellar card with an absolutely phenomenal main event, leaving the Rose Garden exploding with cheers of approval.
The fighters that made the card as successful as it was include Nate Marquardt and Thiago Silva, who were the events biggest winners, while Keith Jardine, Demian Maia, and Chris Leben now watch as they fall back in the division. The event’s winners and losers now see where they stand with the rising, or falling, of their respective fighter stock.
Marquardt has already fought Anderson Silva, and did not fair as well as he hoped. At UFC 102, he fought the man some were saying could beat Anderson Silva, simply because of his Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizardry. However, Marquardt made quick work of Demian Maia, setting himself up for a potential title shot.
However, another top contender and victim of Silva’s believes he deserves the fight against “the Spider”. Dan Henderson stated that if he is not given the title shot, he would move up to the 205 pound division. However, the most sensible fight would be one for top contendership between Henderson and Marquardt.
If Henderson moves up to the light heavyweight division, that would seem to be the green light for Marquardt to face Silva once again. However, the curveball of the story is the fact that Anderson Silva only has three fights remaining on his contract, and the UFC wants to make each one of them worth every penny. The rumor that Silva could be staying about 200 pounds (either at Heavyweight or Light Heavyweight) makes the situation all the more interesting.
If that is the case, Silva may choose to give up his belt for future endeavors outside of the middleweight division. That would leave Marquardt and Henderson the best matchup for a title fight. However, whether or not Silva gives up his belt, Marquardt and Henderson makes complete sense. The UFC is not going to waste one of Silva’s remaining fights on someone who they feel needs to prove himself further.
Marquardt and Henderson having already lost to Silva does not help either’s case in getting the fight they both extremely desire.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:
Nogueira’s performance at UFC 102 displayed that everyone who thought he was done was dead wrong. “Minotauro” brought his thought to be extinct boxing prowess, along with his ever-dangerous ground game into the fight, and left with a unanimous decision victory over Randy Couture.
However, the winner of Lesnar versus Carwin seems to be out of the question for Nogueria. He will likely be matched up in a fight with the winner of Dos Santos-Cro-Cop, or perhaps even the winner of Velasquez-Rothwell, though the latter seems more unlikely. A matchup with Gabriel Gonzaga, while also unlikely, would have perfect timing, along with being an interesting matchup in itself.
Although a future opponent for Nogueira remains unclear, his performance last evening was the true victory. Displaying great standup, and even better ground game, Nogueira has once again proven that even though at times he may be down, he never is out.
Thiago Silva’s last fight ended with a brutal knockout at the hands of current divisional champion Lyoto Machida. At the time of the bout, Machida had not gained the reputation he now can claim, sending Silva further down the light heavyweight rank.
However, the dominance of Lyoto Machida displayed at UFC 98, along with Silva’s equally dominant performance last evening has launched the powerful 205 pounder well into the top ten of the division to once again be tested by divisional elite, possibly beginning with a former light heavyweight champion.
Forrest’s Griffin’s first round fallout to Anderson Silva leaves the first Ultimate Fighter with something to prove. Having always been placed against the highest of competition, Griffin may end up against the rising Thiago Silva.
This fight would allow Griffin redemption against a fighter who in one night has been launched into the top tier of the division. At the same time, Silva would be given another opportunity at one of the division’s top five.
The UFC will undoubtedly look to bank off of Silva’s skyrocketing stock, while Forest Griffin remains a fan favorite. The fight, like every one of Griffin’s, will garner tremendous hype. The recent success of Thiago Silva will only aid in making this fight a bout the fans cannot wait for.
Other possible opponents include Luiz Cane, Jon Jones, or Brandon Vera, as Silva and the other three look to make a run for the division’s top five.
Couture may have lost his battle to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira last night, but after three exciting rounds, Couture showed everyone why he is one of the most popular figures in mixed martial arts.
While Couture’s post fight interview with Joe Rogan left everyone with a feeling of uncertainty, the post fight press conference alleviated all doubts. Couture has signed a six fight contract over 28 months.
The first fight of his new contract will likely pit “The Natural” up against another heavyweight, and a good one at that. With the young Cain Velasquez fighting at UFC 104, the timing may work out for those two heavyweights to meet, while several other potential opponents would remain. Depending on the outcome of the Mirko Cro-Cop-Junior Dos Santos fight, Couture may find an opponent in one of those two fighters.
Also, Todd Duffee stated after his record-breaking knockout performance that he wanted the fast track towards the top. A bout with Randy Couture would be an interesting matchup, allowing Duffee’s rise to continue, or leaving Randy Couture with another win over someone nearly half his age.
However, if Couture decides to move down to light heavyweight, the possibilities seem nearly endless. Couture would obviously gain a skilled opponent from the division’s top ten. With Brandon Vera and Thiago Silva each gaining wins at UFC 102, Couture could be placed up against either one, though a bout with Vera seems the more likely of the two.
Brandon Vera may have won his fight over Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 102, but, in a fight that garnered boos from the Portland fans, Vera did little to show that he will be able to roll with the top tier of the division.
That being said, Vera will likely net an opponent in the top ten of the division, giving him a chance to prove his worth.
The timing aspect would make a fight with Thiago Silva or Jon Jones a possible matchup. Those two fighters are on the brink of breaking into the division’s elite, and the UFC will have some weeding out to do.
With an unimpressive victory last evening, Brandon Vera will have to prove himself in his next fight. If he would have ended the fight early, it would have been a different story. However, after completely controlling that fight, his inability to finish “The Polish Experiment” has brought up more questions of Vera’s ability to make a run at the divisional elite.
Jardine falls into the unfortunate column of “Falling Stock”, but he his time with the UFC is far from over. Jardine has never been much of a contender for the belt, but his ability to roll with, and even defeat, some of the division’s best makes him an incredible asset for the UFC.
To further aid Jardine’s case, he faced a very tough opponent in Thiago Silva. Silva’s only loss came to current champion Lyoto Machida, a loss which garnered more negative energy for Silva than it every should of, given Machida’s status.
Jardine has always fought the best in the division, and the trend will not be ceased. “The Dean” will find a future opponent in another one of the stacked division’s top ten. A fight with Luiz Cane or Jon Jones would be a sensible matchup for the UFC to make. However, newcomer Antonio Rogerio Nogueira could find Jardine as his “welcome back”, with each fighter looking to declare their legitimacy in fighting the division’s elite.
Jardine’s loss to Silva may have been an enormous disappointment. However, his continued willingness to fight the best, and sometimes even beat them, will allow Jardine to stick around with the organization for a while.
Maia was hailed by several as the man who could potentially defeat Anderson Silva, although it seems more like hype now than a legitimate statement. Maia entered the fight with Marquardt with poor standup, and lost because of it.
While he remains one of the greatest submission artists in the sport, his lack of skill in several other areas leaves Maia with a lot of work ahead of him. If he can gain solid striking, and even better striking defense, along with solid takedown offense, Maia will be able to potentially defeat fighters similar to Marquardt.
However, his next fight will be up against another one of the division’s best. Yoshiro Akiyama would be a great matchup for Maia and the UFC. The timing is excellent, and each fighter has something to prove.
If Maia should win his next bout, whether it be against Akiyama or someone else, he still has an enormous amount of work ahead of him if he ever wishes to be a contender, let alone a champion. His submission offense is arguably the best in mixed martial arts, but when that is your only strong point, it rarely proves to be enough to beat fighters like Nate Marquardt.
Leben’s disappointing loss to Jake Rosholt leaves a lot of questions for “The Crippler”. His striking looked very good, and he had Rosholt running from him at several moments in the fight. However, an anaconda choke in the third round left Leben unconscious.
Leben once again takes a step back in the division, leaving him miles back of where he was just a few years ago. However, he was fighting a phenomenal wrestler in Rosholt. When Leben can brawl, he usually can pull out a victory. However, Rosholt was having none of it, or at least trying his best not to.
Leben will now find himself up against a middle of the pack middleweight. A likely matchup would be a fight between Leben and Alan Belcher. Belcher is coming off a close decision loss to Yoshiro Akiyama at UFC 100. Each fighter has quite a lot to prove, making a fight between the two extremely important for each one’s career.