UFC 109: 10 Things We Learned on Saturday

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UFC 109: 10 Things We Learned on Saturday

1. Randy Couture Fights for the Title

While there was no formal announcement came from Dana White, one line of thinking going into last night's main event was that a stellar performance would catapult Couture into a title fight against the winner of May's Lyoto Machida - Mauricio Rua rematch for the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

Mission: Accomplished on the Couture front, as the ageless wonder put a serious beating on the exceedingly aged Mark Coleman.

In the process, Couture continued to show why he is such an incredible figure, not only in MMA, but sports in general.

Who does these kinds of things at his age? He really does look like a fighter who is still learning new skills and adding new wrinkles to his game, even as the wrinkles add up on his nearly 50-year-old face.

Yes, it was a dominant performance against a fighter who has very little left to offer, but it was a dominant performance nonetheless.

He might not be able to offer the same kind of fight against Machida, Rua or the big boys of the 205-pound division, but he offered it last night and that is what counts right now.

 

2. Mark Coleman Has One Fight Left

As soon as the fight ended, I think most people assumed we had seen the last UFC battle of Mark Coleman's career. He looked every bit of his 45 years and had next-to-nothing to offer against Randy Couture.

Then Tito Ortiz opened his exceptionally large mouth, Coleman responded with choice words on a live broadcast, and a fight was instantly made.

For those who either (a) don't know the backstory or (b) didn't catch the comments from Coleman, it goes like this:

  • Tito called Coleman a sissy for pulling out of their UFC 106 contest. Apparently, having a torn MCL makes you a sissy in Tito Ortiz's world.
  • Coleman's manager fired back at Tito's missus, Jenna Jameson, basically saying Coleman was only afraid of catching some serious illnesses from Ortiz thanks to Ms. Jameson's previous professional endeavors.
  • Fast forward to last night, and Tito shouting, "Payback is a bitch!" to Coleman, as if Randy Couture laying an ass-whoopin' on Mark Coleman gave Tito some form of karmic justice.

One F-bomb / D-bag combo later, Coleman vs. Ortiz is just about a certainty so long as Ortiz doesn't beat the bejesus out of Chuck Liddell in Vancouver this summer. The extreme ill-will between the two will make it an interesting fight.

 

3. Chael Sonnen Walked the Walk

For the weeks leading up to his bout with Nate Marquardt, it was widely assumed that Chael Sonnen was talking out of his ass. There was no way this generally one-dimensional wrestler who was riding a two-fight upset streak was going to beat the multi-dimensional title threat Nate Marquardt.

Then he took the fight to "Nate the Great" and backed up all his big talk with a big time performance at UFC 109. If the world is fair and just, a shot at the Middleweight title should be in Sonnen's future, preferably against Anderson Silva.

And before everyone writes off Sonnen's chances against Silva, think back less than 24 hours to Sonnen's performance against Marquardt. The Greg Jackson / Trevor Wittman student is as big and strong as they come at 185 and Sonnen stifled him for nearly 15 minutes. His wrestling and control from top position is vastly underrated.

We've always said that it is going to take a strong wrestler to dethrone Anderson Silva, and Sonnen showed last night that there isn't a better wrestler in the division. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but Chael Sonnen has been upsetting the apple cart a great deal lately. At this point, I won't put anything past him.

 

4. People are Pissed with Nate Marquardt

In the aftermath of his beating from Chael Sonnen, some people were putting Nate Marquardt in the company of championship choke artists of all-time. Did I miss something?

While he certainly got beaten badly as a heavy favorite, lumping him in with long-term failures like the Buffalo Bills, city of Cleveland, and various other perennial failures.

Sure, this was a great opportunity and he fell flat, but can we really say that losing to Anderson Silva falls into the "failing in big fights" category?

Besides, Nate Marquardt has been in a title fight before and there was another fighter on the UFC 109 card who can't say the same...

 

5. The Mike Swick Lovefest Needs to Stop...NOW!

Yes, I am very biased here, having picked Paulo Thiago to win last night. But even before this fight, I was never sure why Mike "Quick" Swick was always so highly-regarded by fight fans. Last night's performance confirmed to me that it was nothing more than unwarranted praise.

As I've said this whole time, Swick is good at everything and great at nothing, and those type of fighters are perennial gatekeepers. Keith Jardine, the Mayor of Gatekeeperville, will be happy to show him around.

What made last night even more interesting to me was that "Quick" Swick has disappeared. He's now Mike "Measured" Swick, setting aside his trademark bat-outta-hell openings in favor of picking and choosing his spots.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work against top level competition. Dan Hardy was Exhibit One, and Paulo Thiago was Exhibit Two last night.

 

6. Paulo Thiago is Legit

He's still missing the sound technical boxing that you would like to see from a guy who spends so much time standing, but going 2-1 against the AKA welterweights is no easy feat.

Scoring the wins in very different ways further illustrates why the rest of the welterweight division needs to be afraid of the Brazilian anti-terrorist officer.

The question at hand, however, is what's next? Jon Fitch has already outwrestled Thiago the way he outwrestles everyone hoping to climb the welterweight ladder. Thiago Alves, the fighter Thiago was originally slated to meet, is now facing Fitch at UFC 111 .

Josh Koscheck is booked against Paul Daley on the same night, and everyone under Koscheck would be a step back of sorts.

There is no rush to make a match, and perhaps the best plan of attack is waiting to see what gets sorted out after New Jersey and go from there.

Paul Daley would certainly be an interesting option, and a rematch with Koscheck is remains a possibility. Regardless of who he fights, people should have stopped underestimating Paulo Thiago by the next time he steps inside the Octagon.

 

7. Phil Davis = Rashad Evans with a Higher Ceiling

Wrestling background? Check. Rudimentary stand-up to start? Check. Boatloads of potential? Check.

Davis dominated Brian Stann for just about every minute of their fight last night, showing why everyone who made a Top Prospects list for 2010 had Davis near the top.

His wrestling is phenomenal, as expected, and his jiu-jitsu looked pretty good, transitioning to Stann's back and mounting him a couple times, as well as that nasty armbar at the end of the fight.

Like Rashad Evans, his striking will be the last part of the puzzle and it will evolve over time; working with Lloyd Irvin and the team at Alliance MMA in San Diego will certainly pay dividends in that regard. The reason I think Davis has a higher ceiling than Evans is two-fold:

  1. Evans was a very good wrestler coming out of MSU and into the UFC. Davis is better at this stage than Evans was.
  2. Humility; Davis was in awe of this experience all week and being humble and appreciative of the opportunity before him will serve him well. I love Rashad, but he seems to be falling in love with being a star.

And for the record, Jon Jones would smash Phil Davis to bits right now, regardless of what Rogan and Goldie think. Jones is light years ahead of Davis...

 

8. Rolles Gracie: EPIC FAIL

Man, that was brutal.

While I am not a fighter and have never had to get into "fighting shape," yet alone "shape" in my life, how a man who makes his living competing in cage fights can enter a bout in the biggest organization in the business in such poor condition is beyond me.

You want failures from UFC 109, forget Nate Marquardt and Mike Swick; Rolles Gracie is your man. With the vaunted history of the Gracie family on his shoulders (fairly or not), Rolles fell as flat as humanly possibly, literally, ending the fight spread across the canvas with Joey Beltran raining down blows.

Kudos to "The Mexicutioner" for performing so well on short notice. I look forward to his next opportunity. Rolles Gracie shouldn't get one.

 

9. Maggie Hendricks Meltdown on Twitter

I tweet while I watch fights. If you're a Twitter user, follow me at @ESpencerKyte. Yes, I'm plugging myself. Deal with it.

Anyway, following the Thiago choking of Mike Swick, Yahoo! Cagewriter Maggie Hendricks tweeted that the score was now "Paulo Thiago 2, AKA 0." She had forgotten about Jon Fitch, and everyone who follows her tweets let her know about it.

In response to what was surely a flood of "What about Jon Fitch?" replies, some which were probably much more colorful, Hendricks unleashed an "I wish I was perfect like the rest of you!" response that was the Twitter equivalent of a child taking their ball and going home.

Yes, the reaction of the masses was probably a serious pain in the ass and overkill, but here's the thing, Ms. Hendricks:

You're in a position that thousands of aspiring cagewriters want to be in, so when we can recall the results and you make a mistake in a public setting, it frustrates the bejesus out of us.

I don't get paid a cent and have to be able to take criticism from cloak-and-dagger commentors who think I should quit writing, so someone with as influential a platform as you have must accept that criticism will come fast and furious when you make a mistake, especially on a medium designed for fast and furious usage.

 

10. Regretting Those Anderson Silva Comparisons Yet, Dana?

Remember when Phillipe Nover was kickin' ass and taking names on TUF 8, and Dana White kept referring to him as a lightweight version of Anderson Silva or something equally stupid?

Well, the lightweight version of Anderson Silva got beat down by Rob Emerson last night and could very well be receiving a pink slip later in the week.

Yes, Dana's penchant for hyperbole during TUF is well-known, but this one is rather embarrassing. Nover has seen his stock go from sky-high before the TUF 8 Finale to the bottom of the barrel in a little over a year. Yikes!

 

Bonus Lessons

11. Frank Trigg is Done

Good thing Trigg has all kinds of other options, because fighting for the UFC won't be one come the middle of the week.

Back-to-back losses will mark the end of his second stint with the UFC, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the 37-year-old veteran hang'em up for good to pursue other endeavors.

 

12. Demian Maia Won...and Not By Submission

It wasn't pretty, but Demian Maia earned a unanimous decision over Dan Miller in a fight that took place primarly standing. This bout confused me more than Kimbo and Houston Alexander not ending inside the first minute, especially because Maia assured me that he had no interest in proving to people that he has improved his striking.

I know he can't give away the gameplan, but where was the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu philosophy, Demian? Just kidding.

I actually like that he stayed standing for the most part and got the win the way he did. Why? Proves that my line of questioning and thinking heading into our interview as right on target...yep, I'm giving myself praise.

 

13. As Always, Judging is Being Questioned

Apparently the Chris Tuchscherer / Tim Hague decision was horrible. I haven't seen the fight, but all accounts indicate that Hague dominated the third round to the point of 10-8 being a real possibility and did enough to earn 10-9 in the first. Yet, the results came out 29-28 twice and 28-28 once in favor of Brock Lesnar's teammate.

I'm going to try and talk to Hague this week, and track down the video. When I do, I'll pass them along.

 

Originally posted at FiveKnuckles.com

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