1. Best Entrance Music Ever
Before breaking down the fights, let's get one thing clear: the choice of "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba as Forrest Griffin's entrance song was awesome.
Coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Anderson Silva, there was no better song for Griffin to walk out to than one whose chorus states, "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down."
Well played, Forrest Griffin. Well played.
2. Play It Again, Sam
Chances are, we'll see Forrest-Tito Round 3 somewhere down the road, just because: (a) it's a 1-1 series and you have to have a winner, and (b) both of these guys bring in the crowds and would make for a great No. 2 or 3 fight on a stacked card.
While it might not be warranted in some people's estimations because Griffin was clearly the victor last night, while Ortiz eeked out a decision in their first fight, they seem to enjoy fighting each other and match up well against one another, so why not do it again down the road?
You have to admit, this was far better than Ortiz vs. Coleman would have been.
3. Sorry Tito, But You Missed the Evolutionary Bus
No, I'm not saying Tito is a caveman or anything disparaging when it comes to the real world application of the word evolution. But in terms of Mixed Martial Arts, Tito missed the bus in a big, big way.
Back when Tito dominated the 205-pound division, being outstanding at one skill could propel you to numerous victories, and Tito was a prime example. His wrestling was tremendous and few could defend his double leg takedown. From there, a little Tito ground and pound and the fight was done.
But we're creeping up on 2010, and being one dimensional isn't going to cut it today. Even a guy like Forrest, who started out as a brawler, has evolved. He has tightened up his striking, adding some Muay Thai and developing a very underrated ground game under Robert Drysdale.
If Tito wants to have any success moving forward, he's going to have to disprove the theory that you can't teach and old dog new tricks.
4. Not Quite Ready to Rumble
He's close, but Anthony Johnson just isn't quite there yet and Josh Koscheck showed that last night, by utilizing his strong wrestling base and superior submission skills to force the Cung Le protegee to tap in the second round of their much-anticipated bout.
What a novel concept, using your strengths in accordance with your opponents weaknesses to earn a victory. Why didn't someone think of that sooner...or at least tell Jorge Gurgel?
Results aside, this was an ugly fight. Both guys got poked in the eye and we were extremely close to seeing the fight end in a disqualification thanks to Johnson's blatant and brutal knee of a downed Koscheck.
Regardless of what the replays showed and however you want to spin it, Johnson should know better, and until those mental errors are erased and he develops his defensive skills against submissions, "Rumble" will remain an outstanding prospect who can't quite get over the hump.
5. That Was Fight of the Night?
As entertaining as the Koscheck/Johnson tilt was, am I the only one wondering how a fight filled with fouls and accidental eye gouging was awarded Fight of the Night?
My understanding of things is that the $60,000 bonus should go the bout that provided the most action throughout or was the most evenly contested fight of the evening, not a scrap that didn't see the third round and was stopped repeatedly for rest and regaining clear vision.
Griffin/Ortiz and Thiago/Volkmann were far more deserving of the money in my book, but this isn't my book we're talking about.
6. Speaking of Jacob Volkmann...
Two things I liked from the debuting Minnesota Martial Arts Academy welterweight:
1. His nickname
As Joe Rogan said, we have enough pitbulls and spiders and guys with menacing names who are far from menacing, so now we have a guy his friends call "Christmas" and I love it. Even better is that it comes from his ever-so-slight resemblance to Jim Carrey's character "Lloyd Christmas" in Dumb & Dumber.
2. D'Arce Choke off His Back
Yeah, you don't see that one every day, especially against a guy who is known for having a great jiu-jitsu game of his own. While he wasn't able to secure the choke or score the win, pulling out moves like that is certainly a glimmer of hope for future fights with the UFC.
7. The Best Part of Phil Baroni's Performance...
...was his entrance.
Honestly, someone needs to tell me why Baroni was given an opportunity to collect whatever money he made last night while countless fighters are denied chances to fight on pay-per-view cards or even fight in the UFC at all.
Remember, the UFC re-signed "The New York Badass" after Strikeforce had released him, so it's not like he was a big-name talent who could have helped the competition. This was brutal, just as everyone outside of the Baroni family knew it would be.
8. Sadollah Looked Solid
Actually, he looked more than solid. He looked strong, and despite my history of ragging on the former Ultimate Fighter, I won't even qualify that with an "against the equivalent of a human punching bag in Phil Baroni."
His Muay Thai was terrific; powerful kicks and well-placed elbows that would cut up anyone, and he showed a killer instinct to keep pushing the fight when he clearly could have coasted through the final round.
While the memory of the Johny Hendricks fight still lingers, it's not as salient, and I look forward to seeing what's next for Sadollah.
9. Introducing Antonio Rogerio "Minotouro" Nogueira
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lil' Nog. Nog, meet the UFC fan base.
This was one of the best debuts I can remember, as Nogueira made quick and easy work of a very game opponent in Luis Cane, showing those who were unaware that there are two talented Nogueiras in the game.
Unlike Koscheck/Johnson, Rogerio was more than deserving of his $60,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night, and the rest of the light heavyweight division has officially been put on notice that a new knockout artist has arrived.
10. Still A Couple Judging Questions
As always, there are a couple points of discussion concerning scorecards and judges.
a) Did anyone else think Phil Baroni won a round besides the one judge who scored it 29-28?
b) I still don't know how you can have a fight scored 30-27 Griffin and 29-28 Ortiz...
c) If ever there were a 10-8 round it was Round 3, right? Ortiz did zero...
While there are always going to be a couple questions, at least we didn't have a main event that yielded a controversial decision!
On to The Ultimate Finale!