UFC 112 Fallout: What Happens Now?
I apologize for not updating about UFC 112 right as it happened, I just couldn’t find the words. I was literally stunned into silence after witnessing perhaps the biggest display of arrogance and disrespect I’ve ever seen in the octagon. I mentioned earlier how important this event was for the UFC. They were being hosted by Abu Dhabi, a country who had just invested over 100 million dollars to have a 10% stake in the UFC company. If ever there was a need for a good first impression, this was it. Up until Anderson Silva graced us with his presence, things were going well, but then it all went to hell in a handbasket.
I’ll start with the good. The night opened well with an extremely entertaining bout between Kendall Grove and Mark Munoz. In what would eventually win the Fight of the Night award, Grove dropped Munoz early with an uppercut and went for the kill with multiple submission attempts. Munoz somehow survived, and in round two, he gained top position and just as I predicted, he grounded and pounded until the ref stepped in and stopped the fight.
This fight should do nothing to hurt Grove, who put on a hell of a show in the first round, and nearly came away with a victory. He’ll continue to fight middle of the road guys or rising prospects. His job will be safe. Munoz definitely needs to add something to his game if he wants to be a contender. His ground and pound is as good as there is in the UFC, but his striking and submission defense are abysmal. As seen in his 2009 fight with Matt Hamill, he can’t stand and trade with anyone that has excellent takedown defense. If he can improve those facets of his game, he’ll have a chance someday.
Another fight with intriguing prospects was a lightweight match between Britain’s Terry Etim and Rafael dos Anjos from Brazil. Both fighters were excellent submission artists, with dos Anjos holding a slight advantage. Etim tried to lock in a guillotine choke early, but dos Anjos patiently waited it out, leaving just enough space to keep circulation going. In the second round, dos Anjos took over and after obtaining dominant top position, dos Anjos ended it with a beautiful armbar that won him a Submission of the Night award.
For Terry Etim, he’ll have to start all over. He’d been building some momentum with wins over lower tier guys, and it looks like he’s not quite ready to get in there with the top lightweights in the UFC just yet. He still has holes in his striking to clean up before anyone will be ready to take him seriously. Dos Anjos, on the other hand, this was some redemption for him after his first two UFC fights ended up in disappointing losses. He looked very relaxed out there and I think he’s ready to step it up a notch. Perhaps a rematch with Jeremy Stephens is on the horizon, or someone even higher up the food chain.
The legendary matchup between Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie went just as expected. Gracie wanted to give the fans a stand up war and Hughes was concerned about Gracie’s submission skills on the ground, so up this fight stayed. The first round was decent, with Hughes and Gracie both throwing punches aggressively, but it was the second where Hughes took control. Renzo was not protecting his lead leg and Hughes started going to work on it. Time and time again he would pound Gracie’s left thigh with leg kicks. By the third round, Hughes was buckling Gracie with the leg kicks, and knocked him down at least two times that I can remember. After letting him get back up, Hughes went in for the kill and finished off Gracie with some vicious heavy punches.
Hughes looked very good with his striking in this fight, but you have to take into account how poorly Gracie was defending. Landing those big bombs at the end was pretty easy once you’ve turned you opponent’s legs into jelly. Gracie promised he would return, and hopefully he comes back with some leg kick defense and a better gas tank. I’m not sure where Matt Hughes goes with this, it appears he would rather face the older welterweights than call out the younger contenders in the division, but he did call out Thiago Alves so we’ll see what happens with that.
The co-main event of the evening was a lightweight title fight between BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar. No one was giving Edgar much of a chance, hell, I would be surprised if his own friends put down a little money on Penn, but Edgar came in with a solid game plan and was not intimidated. From the opening bell til the close, Edgar used terrific movement and came in at angles to pop Penn with short jabs or combinations. Penn stayed in the middle of the cage like an old wolf stalking his prey, but he never seemed to get into a rhythm. By the third round, Penn had some pretty big welts below each eye and his corner was telling him to take the fight to the ground. Penn was the bigger, stronger man, but he refused to take the fight to where he had the advantage in the clinch or on the ground. By the 5th round, Penn looked tired and Edgar was still just as fresh as the start of the fight, even scoring a takedown, however brief it was. In the end, the judges announced a unanimous decision for Edgar, crowning him the new UFC lightweight champion.
This fight was considerably closer than what some of the judges scored it, and easily could have gone either way. Afterwards, the UFC announced that a rematch was in the works down the road, sometime mid to late summer. Edgar has to be on cloud 9 right now, but that feeling will be short-lived if he lets this win go to his head. Defeating BJ Penn is one thing, but doing it twice will be even tougher. Hopefully he stays motivated and makes his title defense just as entertaining as the first one, if not more so.
Now on to the main course. By now, you’ve seen article after article after article bashing Anderson Silva for how he acted at UFC 112 against Demian Maia. I felt no different. I was angry that I had to pay a $10 cover charge to see that nonsense, how do you think the people felt who bought the pay per view for $55 or even the live tickets which cost up to $1000? Silva did his best impression of footloose in the first two rounds, occasionally attacking Demian Maia when he felt like it, and the last three rounds he completely failed to engage whatsoever. He was even warned by referee Dan Miragliotta that he would be deducted a point if he continued to run. I gave the fifth round to Maia because at least he was trying to fight. It was sad, but it’s not like this is the first time. Each of Silva’s last three title defenses at middleweight have been awful.
Who knows what’s really going to come out of this? Dana White promised in an interview on ESPN yesterday that he would cut Anderson Silva if he ever acted like that again. I doubt he’ll actually do something that extreme, but at least he’s getting his point across. Silva is expected to defend his title against Chael Sonnen around UFC 117, and Sonnen has had many choice words for Silva in the past year. If Silva thought Maia disrespected him, Sonnen will show him what a real verbal beating is. Whether he can do it to him in the cage will be another question.