UFC 112: What's Next?

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IApril 11, 2010

Understandably, many fans are outraged by the main event of UFC 112 which took place in Abu Dhabi on April 10.

In what was built to be a classic striker vs. grappler fight, where one slight mistake could have ended the night of either fighter, fans struggled to get over the embarrassing tactics displayed by middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Let's forget about the reasoning behind Silva's actions. Let's throw it out the window and seal that pane of glass shut. If the pathetic performance starts chucking pebbles at the glass, call authorities and have it taken away.

Casual fans may have expected more, but UFC 112 offered more than what meets the eye. Great finishes and unexpected performances should be getting the spotlight over the dark cloud that's festering above the top of the UFC's middleweight division.

So that's where the rest of this article will go. With fellow analyst, Robert Gardner swamped for time, I will be covering what's next for both the winners and losers this time around.

Kendall Grove vs. Mark Munoz

This fight was pivotal for the middleweight division in more ways than one before UFC 112 took place.

Kendall Grove was looking to reestablish his credibility among the top ten of the division following a string of bad performances.

Meanwhile, Munoz was looking to upgrade his status from up-and-coming prospect to potential contender with his third straight win.

Early on, the fight looked like it was going to be another head-smashing route by Munoz. However, Grove showed resiliency to keep the fight on the feet and had Munoz on the ropes shortly after with a well-timed uppercut.

Munoz struggled to survive the first round, where he ate a number of painful shots while he searched for a takedown attempt. Grove even latched onto a few guillotines throughout the round, making it appear that Munoz wasn't ready for that type of step up in competition.

The second round comes, and it appeared that Grove would continue in his domination. He had Munoz's back, and all but sunk in the hooks to obtain the dominant position, but it was the lack of hooks that cost him.

Munoz seized the mistake, turning Grove onto his back. Moments later, Munoz was raining down bombs like it was Pearl Harbor all over again.

The willpower and heart of Munoz shined as he mounted a tremendous comeback over Grove. Despite his excellent comeback performance, Munoz still needs some work before testing the deep waters of the division.

His next matchup should come against fellow wrestler, Gerald Harris, who is currently riding a nine-fight win streak.

With both fighters being a fan of the ground-and-pound style of fight, someone is surely getting grounded out by a taste of their own medicine.

Should Munoz win in impressive fashion, a big step up in competition would be justified, while a loss would prove that he's still too inexperienced for the elite of the division.

As for Grove, despite losing to Munoz, he doesn't need to step down at all. His performance before winding up on his back was admirable.

His next fight should come against a guy who lost to a better fighter last time out as well, despite their skills. Someone like Tomasz Drwal fits that mold perfectly.

Both guys are great fighters that just haven't put everything together yet. Whoever wins between the two could really put on an impressive winning streak on their way into the top ten.

Terry Etim vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Despite having numerous submission finishes in his past fights, the biggest weakness of U.K. prospect Terry Etim has always been his ground game.

When tested against superior wrestlers or grappling machines, Etim has always struggled. At UFC 112 against submission expert Rafael dos Anjos, things were no different.

Etim struggled to keep the fight standing against dos Anjos, finding himself on his back on multiple occasions. There were even a few mounted attacks by the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt fighter.

While Etim was struggling to prevent the transitions, dos Anjos latched onto an arm in the second round, finishing the fight seconds later via armbar.

The U.K. prospect will now go back to the drawing boards as his hype was officially smashed for the time being.

If Etim really wants to live up to his potential, he needs continual testing in his biggest weakness, which is his ground defense.

Pit him up against fellow UFC 112 fighter, Matt Veach who is coming off of a loss himself.

Veach is a strong wrestler with a relentless attack. Since Etim needs to learn how to fight from his back better, a fight against Veach would be perfect in determining where the Brit really stands in a competitive lightweight division.

Dos Anjos, on the other hand, has proved that he was unable to showcase his skills in his first two UFC fights.

Since dropping two straight, dos Anjos has rattled off three straight wins inside the division. The man deserves a big step up in competition for his efforts, a fight against fellow grappler Nate Diaz immediately comes to mind.

Diaz, who is coming off of a welterweight fight, has expressed interest in returning to the lightweight division and would offer dos Anjos a tough war in a similar match-up of styles.

Both can strike, but are more known for their grappling credentials. If dos Anjos could overcome the challenges presented by the scrappy, young Diaz, then he would most certainly prove that he's only a few fights away from being near the top of the division.

Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie

Well, Matt Hughes, whether you like him or not, came in once again with an extremely smart game-plan.

Normally known for his explosive wrestling, Hughes avoided testing the shark-infested waters of Renzo Gracie's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by being content with a stand-up fight.

A fight that was hard-pressed for action, Hughes avoided nearly everything that Gracie threw his way with the exception of a few strikes.

Utilizing a powerfully crippling leg kick, Hughes controlled the action for a good chunk of the fight before ultimately finishing his second Gracie fighter by TKO in the third round.

If he wanted it, Hughes could have a huge step up in competition. But it seems that Hughes is more content with padding his record, opting out for fights against guys who have a name, yet no chance in making a run at the title.

Since it appears that Hughes only wants to fight guys who have already established a name, mainly a name in the old days of the UFC, his next fight will likely come against Dennis Hallman.

Many fans that watch the sport may have no clue who Hallman is, but there are quite a few who know that Hallman put two of the seven losses on Hughes' record.

If anything, this fight gives Hughes an opportunity to avenge two of his losses, as well as pad his record a little bit more.

Moving on to Gracie. The man appeared old and out of shape in the fight. Whether it was his 43 years of age or the three years of ring-rust, Renzo Gracie was hardly impressive against a fading legend in Hughes.

It's hard to see Gracie offering anymore exciting fights in his storied career. If this writer's opinion meant anything, it would probably just be best for Gracie to retire and stick to what he really does best, which is to teach young fighters his extensive knowledge of the sport.

B.J. Penn vs. Frankie Edgar

No chance in hell.

That was what many fans were saying about Frankie Edgar's chances heading into this fight.

The much smaller Edgar had no chance in hell and should probably drop down to the WEC's featherweight division after his one-sided loss to the pound-for-pound great B.J. Penn.

In a closely contested contest that could of been easily scored as a draw, Edgar managed to keep the champion guessing through five rounds as to what the next attack would be.

The quick and nimble footwork kept Edgar out of Penn's range for much of the fight. Add in improved head movement on the fly in the later rounds, and fans saw Penn begin to fade as he tried to keep up with Edgar.

Much like the highly-controversial decision between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua, Edgar and Penn exchanged strikes whenever they got close to each other.

Penn won certain exchanges with more powerful attacks, while Edgar won others with quicker hands and the ability to avoid any sort of counter attack.

Edgar even managed to do something only much larger fighters have been able to do, which was to score a few takedowns on Penn. Even if it was for the slightest of seconds, he bypassed the extremely agile takedown defense of Penn, which is a feat in itself.

After five rounds, many fans waited impatiently for the official decision from ring announcer Bruce Buffer. Many of them were in the mind-frame that Penn has secured yet another title defense.

Then, Buffer announced the winner as Frankie "The Answer" Edgar. Some fans were shocked, many were ecstatic to finally see a changing of the guard, especially in a division where the was no end in sight.

Penn's welterweight aspirations have most likely been smashed now due to his recent loss. Seeing as how Penn looked to the 170 pound weight class for tougher competition, his last performance will likely motivate him to train that much harder in the division that he has owned for the last seven years.

With the loss, the rematch between Penn and Takanori Gomi appears to be closer than what fans once thought.

The first fight took place seven years ago and many of the Pride vs. UFC fans have been awaiting for the second fight since both fighters have improved drastically since the original meeting.

Like any other fighter, Penn is going to have to earn his rematch with the champion. A fight against Gomi would offer great name value for fans, as well as being the first step needed in his rise back to the top.

As for the newly-crowned lightweight champion, the division's biggest (or should we say smallest) underdog needs a challenger for his championship strap.

Since many fans were crying about Edgar receiving the title shot before the only man to have ever beat him in Gray Maynard, it seems the only logical solution is to settle the score once and for all in Edgar's first ever title defense.

A huge cliche in the world of combat sports, you're not the champion until you defend the belt. What better way to prove this true for Edgar by defending his crown against the man who put the single mark in his loss column.

This fight would prove how much Edgar has improved since their first meeting, or it would prove that Maynard really is the better fighter between the two.

Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia

No recap here, everybody knows what happened. Silva not only embarrassed the sport, but himself as well, regardless of whatever point the greatest P4P fighter was trying to prove.

Maia, like most opponents of Silva, was sticking to a smart attack that wouldn't have him running into one of Silva's counters. Near the end of the fight, fans switched sides and were cheering on Maia for his determination to fight.

Although the victor was highly-predictable, Maia deserves credit for staying in there and doing whatever he could to make the fight exciting in the latter rounds.

He deserves praise for doing what a fighter should do, which is to fight and not to run away for an entire round in Kalib Starnes-like fashion.

Keep him at the top of the division and give him Yoshihiro Akiyama next, even though Akiyama is already tied up in a fight with Maia's training partner Wanderlei Silva in July.

Maia revealed that he suffered a fracture in the eye socket, as well as a possible broken nose during the first few rounds of actual action. So he is going to need time to recover, making a fight with the Japanese superstar possible in the future.

An accomplished Judo practitioner against the UFC's best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter makes for an extremely pleasing chess match. Both guys are very smart fighters that know how to pick up the pace, as well as fall into counter mode when needed.

A win for either fighter puts them right in the mix of the UFC's black sheep division.

As for the champion Silva, give him Chael Sonnen. It's often been said that Silva's true test will come in the form of a much larger wrestler and Sonnen fits that bill.

Add in that Sonnen thinks Silva is a dirtbag, and the pre-fight talk will sell the fight despite the harm that the champion has done to his reputation.


    Real Winners and Losers from FN 132

    MMA logo

    Real Winners and Losers from FN 132

    Scott Harris
    via Bleacher Report

    Edwards Beats 'Cowboy' by UD at FN 132

    MMA logo

    Edwards Beats 'Cowboy' by UD at FN 132

    Alex Ballentine
    via Bleacher Report

    Cerrone Almost Called Off Main Event Due to Illness

    MMA logo

    Cerrone Almost Called Off Main Event Due to Illness

    MMA Fighting
    via MMA Fighting

    Report: Machida, Bellator Have Multi-fight Deal

    MMA logo

    Report: Machida, Bellator Have Multi-fight Deal

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report