The UFC rolled into Memphis Saturday night without the hometown draw Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. However, with a submission and a knockout in the two fights to start off the evening, the Tennessee crowd was brimming with energy.
When the main card rolled around, about 30 minutes after Alan Belcher desolated Wilson Gouveia with a first round technical knockout, the Memphis fans were joined by the millions watching at home, as Stefan Struve and Paul Buentello were set to kick off the main card festivities.
Five fights later, a former champion found redemption, the greatest force in the lightweight division continued his tear through mixed martial arts, and two former top contenders took another step to get back to the top.
The Memphis event may have answered several questions, but it certainly brought up several more.
Where Does BJ Penn Stand in the Pound-for-Pound Rankings?
Penn’s complete domination over Diego Sanchez is just another title defense for the best lightweight fighter on the planet. Sanchez was considered a legitimate contender, yet Penn stifled everything sent his way.
Not only was Sanchez a legitimate contender, but he was one of the final challengers available for Penn, who finds himself atop a division filled with fallen contenders.
What we can be sure of is that BJ Penn is the most dominant lightweight of all time. However, victory after victory, Penn’s name still fails to make it into the same class as the likes of Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and Fedor Emelianenko. Yet, Penn is the only one out of any of them to hold a belt in two different weight classes
The single greatest factor for Penn, falling short of the pound for pound trinity, will possibly forever remain his two losses to Georges St. Pierre. However, both those fights were at the 170-pound mark, Georges St. Pierre’s kingdom, and out of the 155-pound comfort zone Penn has thrived in.
While Emelianenko, Silva, and St. Pierre have all earned their spots on the pound for pound list, Penn’s inclusion into that top tier is long overdue. His challenges at lightweight are becoming scarce, which will not help his case in the rankings. But his complete annihilation of the UFC lightweight contenders list, along with his successful welterweight career must hold some weight in the pound for pound rankings.
Yet even after all his accomplishments and continued successes, Penn still finds himself outside of the league of Silva, Emelianenko, and St. Pierre. One can only wonder if he will ever gain access to that exclusive club.
Where Does Frank Mir’s Win Place Him in the Heavyweight Division?
Mir’s bout with Cheick Kongo was hyped as a fight between a ground wizard and a powerful striker. Apparently, that was the wrong tagline.
Mir was able to obliterate Kongo on the feet with just one punch, which sent Kongo down to the mat. The ground wizard went to work, locking on a guillotine from half-guard and putting his opponent to sleep.
After one of the most dominant performances in his entire career, Mir has made a rubber-match with current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar a very marketable opportunity for the UFC.
However, with Lesnar injured, the UFC heavyweight division is at a stand-still.
Shane Carwin is next in line to fight Lesnar for the heavyweight belt, but aside from his knockout power, Carwin’s does not have as much to offer as Mir.
First off, Mir has beaten Lesnar. Something no one else has been able to do. Secondly, the former heavyweight champion has put on a significant amount of weight, and it is no secret why. If he can cut down the size disadvantage, Mir could better his chances against Lesnar quite significantly.
However, for the time being, it is hard to not give Mir the number two spot in the heavyweight division. At this point, it seems Lesnar is the only man who can beat him.
When Is the Next Time Alan Belcher Will be on an Undercard?
It should be a very long time.
Belcher is notorious for putting on exciting fights and was livid that he was on the undercard for UFC 107, as the UFC gave Paul Buentello and Stefan Struve the final main card slot.
“The Talent” continues to display his worth as a middleweight. His fight with Akiyama won Fight of the Night bonus out of all the stacked matchups on UFC 100 this past July. It should be a long time until he is thrown back onto an undercard for an event.
He may not be a top fighter in the division just yet, even though he feels he should be considered a top-10 middleweight. However, he fights the way the UFC wants fighters to, and does so every time he steps into the octagon. It is only a matter of time before that is rewarded.
When Will the UFC Make the Move Back to Memphis?
The Memphis crowd was electric Saturday night, as they were treated to one of the best cards of the year. The action was intense, and yes...there was a lot of blood.
The card began with two brawls that each ended in finishes, and the card was rounded out with two of the last for fights being finished within the first two rounds, while the lightweight championship was stopped due to a vicious cut on Diego Sanchez’s forehead.
With “Rampage” Jackson set to make a return to the UFC, Memphis once again sounds like a great city to feature the long anticipated bout between Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson.
Hopefully this time “Rampage” will stick around long enough to fight in front of his hometown crowd.