UFC 134, Silva vs. Okami, is over and done with and the UFC could not have planned a better return trip to Brazil. The fans in Rio de Janeiro went crazy for their Brazilian fighters, particularly because Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Antonio Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira and Anderson Silva all had huge knockout victories.
Having watched every fight on the card, I can say this is probably the best mixed martial arts event that was put on this year. There wasn't a single boring fight and it was filled with spectacular finishes.
Yves Jabouin and Ian Loveland put on a really fun bantamweight bout to start off the card. I played the "How many different ways is 'Jabouin' pronounced?" game and ended with four. This was the only card on the fight to not feature a Brazilian, but it was a great back-and-forth battle that resulted in a split decision victory for Jabouin.
Next up, Yuri Alcantara overwhelmed an inexperienced Felipe Arantes to easily take a unanimous decision victory in their featherweight bout.
Alcantara and Arantes were similarly matched on the feet, but Alcantara easily controlled the 23-year-old Arantes when the fight hit the ground. Arantes' purple-belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu was no match for the black belt of Alcantara, who consistently managed to pass his guard and do damage.
Still, Arantes is young and could learn a lot from the loss.
Erik Silva and Luis Ramos had the most memorable fight on the Facebook prelims, as it lasted just 40 seconds.
Silva and Ramos are both welterweight champions of their respective leagues in Brazil, therefore this was something of a super fight for the fans. Silva, however, made this one pretty decisive, landing a huge overhand-right that dropped Ramos. He then threw his opponent's legs aside and finished the fight with punches on the ground.
Silva looked great and he definitely deserves another shot in the UFC if only because his back flip off the cage post-fight was perfect.
Although Raphael Assuncao took a 30-27 decision from Johnny Eduardo, the fight was much closer than that. Eduardo, who fittingly has "Muay Thai" tattooed across his abdomen, pretty clearly held the advantage on the feet.
Still, Assuncao, having been in there with the likes of Urijah Faber and Diego Nunes, kept his composure and displayed his clear advantage on the ground, even taking Eduardo's back. It was Assuncao's bantamweight debut and his frame seems perfect for this weight class.
Paulo Thiago, despite being just 3-3 in the UFC coming into his bout with David Mitchell, is one of the top welterweights in the division, having faced the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez. His experience showed at UFC 134, easily winning the stand-up exchanges and threatening with submissions on the ground. Thiago showed just how well-rounded he is, dominating Mitchell and taking a unanimous 30-27 decision.
On the first bout of the Spike TV portion of the prelims, Rousimar Palhares and Dan Miller put on one of the craziest bouts I've ever witnessed in the UFC.
Palhares had Miller badly hurt with a head kick in the first round and subsequently swarmed him with punches. For some reason, "Toquinho" thought the fight was stopped when it clearly wasn't, and walked away, began celebrating and actually jumped on top of the cage. Herb Dean took a second, probably to confirm that Miller hadn't tapped, and informed Palhares that the fight hadn't been stopped. As soon as the fight began again, Miller dropped Palhares and nearly finished the fight himself.
The second round was an absolutely dominant one for Palhares. He controlled Miller and nearly ended the fight with his vicious ground-and-pound. He did not, however, help his reputation as a dirty fighter by repeatedly grabbing the cage despite multiple warnings. Herb Dean even had to rip his hand off from the fence at one point. He should have been deducted a point, but it also should have been a 10-8 round.
The last round I scored for Dan Miller. Both fighters were clearly exhausted and Miller barely got the edge in the stand-up exchanges. Still, the fight was a dominant victory for Rousimar Palhares, despite his embarrassing error in the first and grabbing of the cage in the second.
Dan Miller has more heart than anyone I've ever seen and it's a pleasure to watch him fight, but he's just 2-5 in his last seven bouts. Palhares, on the other hand, is 6-2, with his only losses coming to Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt.
In the last preliminary bout, Thiago Tavares came out with something to prove after his devastating knockout loss to Shane Roller in a fight he was easily winning up until that point. He played it safe against Fisher, controlling "The King" on the ground and peppering him with punches.
Fisher was unable to mount any sort of offense and seemed very listless in the fight. Tavares landed enough unanswered blows in the second round for the referee to stop it. Fisher, despite being in the UFC for nearly six years, is now 1-4 in his last five bouts and risks being cut after another lackluster performance.
In the first bout of the main card, Luiz Cane took on UFC newcomer Stanislav Nedkov. Despite controlling the stand-up exchanges throughout most of the first round, Nedkov continuously landed his overhand-right and was able to wobble Cane. Cane lost his footing, stumbled toward the cage and was finished with strikes in the first.
It was the first fight in which a Brazilian lost to a foreigner and the crowd went silent. Cane was quite emotional following the loss. Despite being very talented, Cane's suspect chin cost him another fight. He's 1-3 in his last four, with every bout ending by TKO in the first.
In one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the evening, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira put on an unexpected and emotional performance in front of his hometown, knocking out Brendan Schaub.
As much as people wanted to believe Nogueira still had it, his last few bouts didn't really make that belief possible. His wars caught up to him and his historic career appears to be coming to an end. Someone forgot to mention that to Minotauro; he walked through several huge punches from Schaub that rocked him, using great head movement to stay in the bout, and was able to land a one-two combination of his own that spelled the beginning of the end.
As Kenny Florian put it, "The crowd is going bananas." One of the greatest fighter to ever come out of Brazil—one of the greatest fighters ever—just shocked everyone. Nogueira's knockout earned him "Knockout of the Night" and $100,000. It was his first knockout victory in six years.
While it was nearly impossible to follow up such a performance, Ross Pearson and Edson Barboza certainly tried, putting on a "Fight of the Night" performance that earned them each an additional $100,000. This was an extremely close bout that Barboza took by split decision, but I personally felt it deserved to go to Ross Pearson in a 29-28 decision.
While both Pearson and Barboza showcased their amazing striking abilities, it was Pearson's aggressiveness and "Octagon control" that should have earned him the victory. According to FightMetric, Pearson out landed Barboza, 62-55, in total strikes. Either way, both fighters are very much deserving of their additional paycheck.
In a rematch of their 2007 bout, Shogun Rua took on Forrest Griffin in a battle of former light heavyweight champions. Shogun more than compensated for his disappointing performance against Forrest the first time around by knocking him out at 1:53 into the first round.
Yes, yes, Shogun is back.
I get that.
He looked great and completely outclassed Griffin, but I'm more concerned for Forrest. I used the word "listless" to describe Spencer Fisher, but that's even more fitting for Griffin. He didn't even appear to care at all. He couldn't be bothered to put his hands up at the weigh-ins and has completely lost all the spirit and heart that made him one of the most popular fighters in the sport.
Forrest has been successful. He's been light heavyweight champion and that's ruined his career. He doesn't appear hungry any more and it's not nearly as fun to watch him fight these days.
Shogun didn't necessarily answer all the questions regarding his knee and stamina issues, but he finished a very worthy opponent quickly. It's not clear if he's capable of competing with Jon Jones, despite his history of doing well in rematches, but it was a huge victory in front of the Brazilian crowd.
In the main event of the evening, Anderson Silva successfully defended his title for the ninth-consecutive time. He made Yushin Okami look scared and helpless, despite being one of the best middleweights in the world.
Similar to the Forrest Griffin fight, "The Spider" kept his hands at his sides and showed just show dominant he is. After a round of gauging Okami's abilities, he finished him effortlessly in the second. Click here for a more in-depth analysis on this fight.
Overall, it was an extremely entertaining card, top to bottom, in Rio de Janeiro.
Anderson Silva proved he is the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira proved that he still has some fight left in him and Shogun Rua proved that he is still one of the top light heavyweights in the world.