Let me first start off by saying this was a great night of fights. Knockouts, slick submissions, some better production values from the UFC in terms of hyping the big three fights, and a conclusive ending to a great main event title fight. Solid A- in my book. Let’s get to it..
Where does B.J. Penn go from here?
A welterweight clash with St. Pierre? I hope not. There are still many intriguing fights left for Penn in the lightweight division and it’s my opinion that he needs to clean out the division before he thinks about moving back up. What he did to Sean Sherk tonight was nothing short of surgical. Sherk played right into Penn’s hand with his gameplan and stood just a bit too long with him and paid dearly. Do I think any of the contenders at 155 lbs. pose a valid threat to Penn’s crown? No. Do I think it would benefit Penn’s legacy to clean out a division? Absolutely. Penn, when focused and in shape, is made for 155 lbs. and that’s never been clearer in his career than right now.
What was Sean Sherk’s gameplan?
Sherk’s gameplan in the first two rounds was smart. Set up the striking game, wear Penn out, take it to the later rounds, and then use the established striking game to take Penn down. But during the third round, when it clearly wasn’t going Sherk’s way anymore, where were the shots? The guy has the quickest shot in all of MMA and he only tried to take Penn down once. It was almost as if he had it drilled into his mind that trying to take Penn down was futile. But that’s Sherk’s bread and butter. He has to go to that well more than once in the fight to be successful and he didn’t. He stood with Penn for too long and eventually paid the price for it. Like I said, Sherk’s gameplan from the outset was smart, but at some point he needed to switch it into a higher gear and at least try to take the fight into his own territory. On the ground is where the fight was going to be won for Sherk, not on the feet.
Is the real Wanderlei Silva back?
I’m not ready to go out on a limb and say that “The Axe Murderer” is back and ready to tear up the division. He beat a very good opponent in Keith Jardine in less than a minute’s time. Extremely impressive. But did he show you tonight that he has what it takes to climb the steep ladder at light heavyweight back to title contention? To me, he didn’t. I give credit to Silva for dominating Keith Jardine in devastating fashion. The hand on the throat and subsequent punches was the vintage Wanderlei that we’ve all seen before. That being said, there’s lots of matchup problems for him at the top of the division and until he strings together at least two in a row I’m not willing to climb back on the Wanderlei Silva bandwagon just yet.
Keith Jardine’s chin is extremely questionable
To me this is the biggest storyline coming out of this fight. I thought that the fight against Houston Alexander was an anomaly. Silva proved that to be incorrect. Jardine’s chin now becomes something that people will talk about in fight breakdowns whenever he fights from here on out. He’s been destroyed by hard hitters in Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva. To survive in this division you have to be able to take hard punches and dish them back out. Unfortunately for Jardine that may be the thing that keeps him out of title contention. A weak chin in this sport, and especially the UFC’s light heavyweight division, does not bode well for “The Dean of Mean.”
Tito Ortiz did not rule out a return to the UFC.
He clearly stated to Joe Rogan afterward that he had not made a decision on his next career move. He stated that all the beef between he and Dana was “bullshit.” He praised the Fertitta brothers. That sounds to me like a man that would consider coming back to the UFC for the right amount of dough. There is plenty of money to be made between Ortiz and the UFC, probably more than he can make elsewhere. I know he’s bitched about the money that the UFC has paid him in the past, but where else is he going to be put on a pay per view on the last fight of his contract? Andrei Arlovski didn’t even get that honor. He is marketable, the UFC is the biggest game in town, and they can both benefit from his staying.
Lyoto Machida continues to impress.
Some hate his style. Some like it. Hate it or love it, though, he’s as technical as they come. He’s extremely elusive, he has power in his punches, unreal takedown defense, and a style that frustrates the piss out of his opponents. You could see in Ortiz’s face that he was visibly frustrated by Machida’s style. Some people in the chat room likened him to Kalib Starnes. I don’t think that’s a valid comparison. Starnes simply ran away from Nate Quarry. What Machida does is stifle your offense, pick his spots, capitalize on opportunity, move away from trouble, and not make mistakes. He doesn’t run. He just makes you play his game and after a round or two that becomes extremely frustrating. Machida is on a roll, boring or not, and at some point they will have to recognize that he is a legitimate contender in the division, especially now that he’s beaten Ortiz. No one may want to see Machida with a strap around his waist, but it is a very real possibility.
– Thiago Silva got his jaw tested tonight and passed with flying colors. Once he recovered from that head kick and made a smooth transition to mount it was all over for Mendes. Credit to Mendes for coming out firing but Silva has the tools to do a lot of damage in the light heavyweight division.
– Goran Reljic was impressive in his victory over Gouveia. I thought he was out at one point during the second round but he bounced right back and dished it right back out to Wilson Gouveia. Everything about Reljic impressed me. His kicks, his striking, his smarts, everything.
– Sokoudjou bounced back but didn’t look so great in doing so. He landed the big punch that put Nakamura on his ass but looked tentative during much of the fight. Whether that was due to his knee, I don’t know but with a win he’s kept himself in the picture in the UFC. Shogun vs. Sokoudjou is something PRIDE fanboys would love to see.
– Bye, bye War Machine. I doubt we’ll see this kid in the UFC again. He’s got heart but in that division he’s going nowhere right now. Yoshida was lights out with the judo throw and the subsequent anaconda choke. He’s one fighter from overseas that’s going to do well in the UFC. He has talent, cage experience, and now a win under his belt. Look out for Yoshiyuki Yoshida.
– Rousimar Palhares’ transition from the rear naked choke to the armbar was a thing of absolute beauty. I could watch it over and over again. To UFC’s credit, they’re trying to really beef up their middleweight division and Palhares is definitely one to keep an eye on. Salaverry was there to pick up his check.
– And finally, Shane Carwin. What power. Wellisch is no joke and Carwin knocked him out cold with a picture perfect punch and subsequent airborne mouthpiece. Carwin’s bread and butter is wrestling and ground and pound. He didn’t even need those tools to demolish Wellisch. That, to me, is the scariest part of all.
– And on a personal note, I went 9 for 11 on my picks for the evening. Djeeeeah.