In Part I of my UFC 81 review and recap, I gave you my overall event analysis. Now it’s time for me to talk about the fights, the fighters, and where everyone and everything goes from here.
1. Tyson Griffin over Gleison Tibau via unanimous decision - I really enjoyed this fight. It wasn’t non-stop action but it was very good, and even excellent at times. Tibau looked simply huge for a lightweight. Once again, I was impressed by Griffin’s boxing. He did pretty well considering he was giving up a lot of reach. I saw some excellent work with the body shots from him.
I think the biggest key right now for Griffin is to become a better finisher. I realize he’s working on it and took some chances with his punching in trying to end the match early, but he needs to stop letting so many of his fights go to the judges in order for him to take the next step.
Griffin’s win here really made me resent the April matchmaking of some of the lightweights. Frank Edgar vs. Gray Maynard and Joe Lauzon vs. Kenny Florian have the potential to be very good fights, but I feel like they are steps backward for Edgar and Florian. Why not Florian vs. Griffin or Edgar vs. Griffin II? I guess we’ll have to wait.
2. Ricardo Almeida submitted Rob Yundt via choke in round 1 - It’s really hard to evaluate Almeida in such a short fight against an opponent that wasn’t ready for him. But Almeida looked to be in great shape and his timing looked strong.
Was it just me or did Goldberg and Rogan completely undersell the ending sequence where Yundt tried to dislodge Almeida by slamming him only to see Almeida roll it into a flip and come out of it in better position? That’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a fight in a long time and was kind of underwhelmed by Goldberg’s fight call on that one. I know I wasn’t alone in thinking that move was amazing because the crowd popped for it during the replay.
I’d love to see Almeida vs. Marquardt next but it wouldn’t surprise me if they just re-scheduled Almeida vs. Alan Belcher for May or June.
3. Nathan Marquardt submits Jeremy Horn via standing guillotine choke in round 2 - I realize Marquardt is not easy to market but he’s just a great fighter and he looked solid in this fight. It’s a shame he didn’t turn in a better showing vs. Anderson Silva because I believe he’s one of the top middleweights in the world. This win puts him back in my personal top ten.