UFC 103: Things I Learned Last Night
1. Something Like a Phenom-Enon
I have no problem admitting I was dead wrong about Vitor Belfort.
While the trouble he had making the 195 pound catch weight limit still worries me, there are no questions remaining about what Vitor Belfort has returned to the UFC and the type of danger he presents for everyone in the middleweight division.
Glancing blows dropped Rich Franklin before a fast-paced flurry ended things. It's hard to train for a fighter with that kind of hand speed.
2. Next Up: Anderson Silva
The middleweight champion has shown little interest in fighting Dan Henderson or Nate Marquardt, so Belfort's impressive performance Saturday night should skyrocket him to the the top of the title contenders list.
Now, we've said before that different fighters could cause problems for Silva and repeatedly been proven wrong and Belfort may be no different. But Belfort may be the first guy to stand across the ring from "The Spider" who possesses the same kind of deadly striking ability as the undefeated Pound-for-Pound king.
Hopefully, all sides are interested and we can make this fight come to fruition early next year.
3. Cro Cop is Finished
He looked spent from the time the second round started, throwing very few strikes and showing no real defense against the attacks of Junior dos Santos.
As much as the Mirko Cro Cop highlight reel is still one of the most impressive collections of knockouts around, those days are gone, as is the opportunity for the UFC to use his as a headlining name anywhere other than overseas.
His decision to enter the arena wearing an old Pride t-shirt says it all; those were the glory days and when he was at his peak, but unfortunately, those days and that organization are long gone.
4. Cigano Is the Real Deal
Junior dos Santos continues to impress inside the Octagon, running his UFC record to 3-0 and bringing down another high profile name.
The key will be how the UFC proceeds from here; while you certainly can't have him take a dramatic step back in competition, a lot of the top level heavyweights are currently contracted to fight.
While he's not quite ready for a title shot, he's definitely leapfrogged Cain Velasquez in my books and could make for an interesting fight against Frank Mir if (when?) MIr disposes of Cheick Kongo.
5. What to Do With the Welterweight Division?
First, Josh Koscheck scored the impressive knockout he needed to erase the memory of Paulo Thiago starching him last February.
Then Paul Daley made things even more interesting by laying a beating on Martin Kampmann, announcing his presence in the UFC in impressive fashion.
So now what do you do? Mike Swick is still needs a top-tier challenger after missing out on the action last night in Dallas, and there is no one cemented as the No. 1 Contender to Georges St-Pierre's throne.
My bet is that Koscheck gets a title shot simply because Jon Fitch got pounded on too recently to get a rematch and no one else fits the bill.
6. If Nate Diaz Wants a Top Five Talent, Give Him Tyson Griffin
After his victory over Melvin Guillard at UFN 19, the brash Diaz proclaimed he was ready for a step up in competition.
I say feed him to Tyson Griffin, who looked outstanding in executing a perfect gameplan to earn the finish many were waiting for over Hermes Franca.
With Gray Maynard looking like the next challenger for the lightweight title, another solid performance over a name brand fighter would put Griffin right in the mix and Diaz offers just that; a name casual fans know, but not enough offense to derail the Xtreme Couture powerhouse.
7. Drew McFedries Needs to Go
I've actually known this for quite some time, as have many others I would bet. But after last night's performance against Tomasz "Gorilla" Drwal, this has got to be the end of the line for Drew McFedries.
He's a one-trick pony who fails to perform that trick more often than not. If the UFC can wave goodbye to Thales Leites one fight removed from a title shot, they can certainly show McFedries and his 4-5 record the door.
8. Rob Emerson Is Going to Be Walking Funny For a Couple of Days
Did you see how jacked up his left leg looked? Yikes!
Rafael Dos Anjos laid a beating on the inside of Emerson's left leg and looked good for a third straight performance. While he lost the first two, he showed well before taking the "Uppercut from Hell" from Jeremy Stephens, and pushed Tyson Griffin to a decision that was closer than the scores suggested.
Emerson, on the other, can join Drew McFedries on the unemployment line as far as I'm concerned. Somewhere, Jason MacDonald is scratching his head, wondering exactly how he got cut while "The Saint" still remains in the UFC?
9. K2 Interview Series Curse Update
Basically, I'm poison.
While the record remains at 0-2 with one canceled bout, both Kryzsztof Soszynski and Cole Miller has agreed to interviews with me before failing to deliver the goods. Both also lost.
Heading into UFC 104, I say we put this thing to the test and see if I can take down Lyoto Machida. Whattaya say?
10. Welcome to No Man's Land
I saved this one for the very end in hopes that some of you who read my "Rich Franklin: The Under-Appreciated Superstar" piece earlier in the week would miss it.
Well, the former middleweight champion of the world is officially the Mayor of No Man's Land. While a win could have sent him into the Top 5 of the Light Heavyweight division, his loss leaves him without any real role in the company.
Perhaps he should take a meeting with the other residents and see what they have to say. Somebody get Franklin the numbers for Keith Jardine, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin and find out if the boardroom is available next Thursday.
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