Well, there's not too many doubts about who the light-heavyweight champion really is now after UFC 113 in Montreal. Once again, the UFC shows how competitive their light-heavyweight division is as the title shifts hands for the fifth time in three years.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua stormed through Lyoto Machida with a flurry of punches early, before ultimately finishing him with strikes with under two minutes left in the first round.
The quick and brutal fashion in which the fight ended is just amazing considering the skill of both warriors. Shogun just evolved his game to the next level and executed a solid attack in the fight.
In the night's co-main event, Josh Koscheck implemented a perfect strategy against the dangerous striking of Paul Daley. Fooling Daley with stand-up intentions, Koscheck used his vastly superior wrestling to outwork his British foe for all three rounds.
Another tremendous performance came in the opening bout as Alan Belcher walked through the powerful punches of Patrick Cote before landing an awkward yet vicious slam and finishing the Canadian with a rear-naked choke in the second round.
The UFC 113 winners were impressive, but now it's time to see where their opponents should go from here.
The homeland fighter looked impressive in front of the Montreal crowd in his return from the knee injury.
Cote was loose on his feet, showing excellent movement around the cage in and out of striking range, but the footwork wasn't enough as Alan Belcher continually kicked the lead leg and body of Cote.
The Canadian did land a considerable amount of punches to the face of Belcher, but they weren't powerful enough to drop him, and Belcher relied on his trusty kicks throughout the fight, forcing Cote to shoot for the takedown.
After a weird, semi-powerbombesque slam, where his face smashed into the canvas, Cote was dazed long enough for Belcher to sink in the rear-naked choke.
As stated, Cote did look good in his return from injury, but unfortunately, he left the fight against Belcher with another injury. This time it was his right hand.
With time needed to heal, Cote's next opponent should be able to accommodate that. In July, at UFC 116, two fierce opponents will battle it out as Wanderlei Silva takes on Yoshihiro Akiyama.
The loser of that fight would fall near the same position of Cote in terms of rank, as well as offer up an interesting matchup of striking styles. A fight against either would really determine where Cote sits in the middleweight division as well.
You have to respect the fact that Kimbo Slice accepted the challenges issued by Dana White regarding his path to the UFC.
That being said, Kimbo being cut from the company was the right thing to do. He was only there because of the name recognition to the masses, but you can only milk that money cow for so long.
Especially when he loses to a guy that now stands at a whopping record of 2-0, no offense to Matt Mitrione.
Kimbo's knees were targeted from the beginning, quickly succumbing to the Duke Rufous-trained leg kicks of Mitrione.
After being chopped down, Kimbo had no explosiveness left in his ground game to escape the advantageous positions of Mitrione. The referee was forced to stop the fight near the end of round two due to a TKO.
Being cut is tough, but Kimbo's name value will land him a lucrative, yet unwise contract with another company. There's already been rumors of a possible fight against Herschel Walker over at Strikeforce, but who knows.
You might as well change Sam Stout's nickname to "Mr. Fight of the Night," because this guy seems to be involved in one every time he fights.
Coming in as the favorite, Stout was battered by the speed and power of Jeremy Stephen's counter rights.
The fight was expected to be a stand-up type of fight, and for the most part, they delivered, but Stephens was getting the better of the exchanges, forcing Stout to look for a different strategy involving the ground game.
Stephens' sprawl was too good and he kept the fight standing where he primarily controlled the fight. However, there were moments where Stout appeared to find his range and rhythm.
Although Stout never slowed, and never backed down, his moments in the fight were few and far between as he was unable to match the pace of Stephens.
Two of the three judges agreed that Stephens had done more in the fight to win, awarding him a split decision.
Stout is still young, and has a promising career in his future, but he seems to be stuck in a gate-keeper type of rut.
He deserves to test himself against a fighter with all sorts of hype behind him, someone like Ross Pearson.
Both guys like stand-and-trade strikes, and the outcome of the fight would do wonders in determining where each guy sits in the rankings.
The public's general consensus was that Josh Koscheck would have lost if he was arrogant enough to trade punches with Paul Daley. Many people believed he was, but he had them confused.
Daley stalked Koscheck around the cage with a very low, wide stance to prevent the takedowns. As Daley threw more punches, he began to feel a little bit too comfortable in thinking it was going to be a stand-up fight.
When Daley eased on his low stance, Koscheck capitalized and drove him to the ground with tremendous force.
Here, Koscheck controlled the pace of the entire fight with over-whelming control and the occasional ground-and-pound.
The fight occasionally got back to the feet, but Koscheck repeated the takedown scenario through all three rounds, scoring the win and the spot opposite Georges St. Pierre as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 12.
However, during the last 30 seconds of the fight, Koscheck decided to crawl under the skin of Daley while he had him pinned to the ground by talking some trash. The tactic apparently worked, as Daley threw a sucker punch well after the final bell sounded.
His heated decision cost him big, as he was immediately cut, as well as banned from the UFC's roster following the incident.
Daley has issued an apology to Koscheck, the UFC, and the fans for his actions, but will have to await further punishment from the Quebec Athletic Commission.
After he serves whatever punishment that is dished out, Daley will just have to move on in his career. He has a very promising future ahead of him, and will surely be a highly-sought after free agent in the market.
If Daley keeps his act together with other companies, there is a slight chance that Dana White may fold on his decision to ban Daley. After all, a guy like Gilbert Yvel, who has done a number of horrible things, is fighting with the UFC.
Lyoto Machida was unable to keep the championship this time around against Mauricio Rua.
From the beginning, Rua appeared to have Machida's timing down to the smallest of fractions, to the point that the fight looked like it picked up from the same momentum that the original fight ended with.
Machida was slower to the punch and was forced to clinch up with Rua and look for the takedowns, which he scored twice. But Rua's ground game was too good and the fight was back on the feet moments later.
Machida was under constant pressure from Rua and was forced to attack to try and create some space, but Rua landed with some well-timed counter strikes.
One was an over-hand right that floored Machida and he was mounted seconds later. After a number of strikes pummeled his face, Machida went out cold and Rua stood to celebrate before the referee even reacted to pull him away from the unconscious fighter.
There will be no rubber match for a while here. Machida lost in dramatic fashion and will have to work his way back to the top. With his first fight back, there are a couple of options.
The first one involves the loser of the main event of UFC 114 between Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson. The winner of that fight has a great chance of challenging for Rua's championship.
People probably aren't interested in a Machida and Evans rematch, but Machida fighting Jackson would be intriguing.
Jackson has got some underestimated speed aiding his knockout power, and if he could find Machida in his range, things could get dangerous. But Machida offers up that elusiveness and those explosive counter-strikes.
The second scenario could be against Randy Couture after his proposed fight with boxer James Toney at UFC 118.
Couture has gone on and said that he has a great interest to challenge for the light-heavyweight championship once again.
While Couture has done a lot for the sport, he isn't quite deserving of the title shot quite yet, so a fight with Machida would make sense.
If Couture wins, a title shot would be justifiable. If Machida wins, he adds a much-needed win to his resume over the man with tremendous game plans.
Check out Robert Gardner's article for his take on who the winners should fight next.
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