So this was supposed to be the biggest UFC card ever. Probably not, but no doubt it will be highly successful. So considering the headliner, are we to assume that many casual fans and FOLs (fans of Lesner) bought the ppv? If so, and I agree, then the UFC may have struck gold. They had a card full of exciting fights that would surely impress even the least knowledgable viewers. I think that even if this doesn't approach UFC buy records, it will be a giant success that will boost the sport even more in the future.
Let's start at the top:
Brock--UFC HW Champion. Like it or not, he is. Brock is improving every time out, and the fact that he could stand and hold his own in the striking department is pretty scary. This sets up a big fight with Mir, which can be touted as the revenge match OR it sets up a huge match with Big Nog, which is what I expect to see. I give Brock props, but also keep it in perspective. He fought a 45 year old guy that hadn't been in the cage for a year. If he next beats Mir, I will be pretty convinced and if he beats Nog, I will be completely convinced. Of course, even then, there is the one thought I always end up with no matter who we are talking about...could he beat Fedor? We can only hope one day, to have all our questions answered. I think the UFC is doing a pretty good job of doing as much as they can to give us some of these answers.
Randy--So many questions. Certainly, can he still fight, is not one of them. Dude is a freak to be doing this at 45. Unfortunately, to an extent, he is a man without an island. At this point in his career, I see him having a lot of trouble with guys like Lesner, Carwin, etc.. Big explosive guys need a class of their own. I am all for a 206-235 weight class, maybe cruiserweight. It would extend the careers of guys like Randy and Chuck and set up the opportunity for even more "superfights". It would also give the UFC the opportunity to promote another title fight for their cards and shrink a huge division that currently spans 60 pounds. I think this has to get done and would have many benefits with few drawbacks. I don't see Randy as a LHW anymore and I don't think he can win regularly against the future of the HW division. If he continues fighting, it will have to be in carefully selected fights. Randy is no gatekeeper.
Florian--Is this guy the least scary looking fighter out there, lol? But you better believe he is for real and should never be overlooked. Unfortunately, I think he "poked the bear" last night and will get hammered by BJ. Of course, losing to BJ is no demeaning thing. This was the most impressive victory of the night for me. Was it his BJJ? No. His striking? No. It was the apparent added strength he displayed. Joe is strong, and Ken seemed to control him with relative ease. Ken deserves the title shot, and may hold the belt someday if BJ vacates. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would like to see a Ken/Sherk rematch at this point.
Stevenson--Sometimes, even great fighters need to take a step back. Something just doesn't look right with him. Not sure if it his mindset, his gameplan or what, but I think he may need to take a break and re-evaluate his training, technique, coaching or something. Maybe he just needs a break. I still think he is very dangerous, but he definitely needs a change of some type.
Hazelett--Shave that creepy beard, lol! What a fun guy to watch. UFC needs to do a good job of promoting him, as he is entertaining and a fan favorite. Would anyone like to see him fight Condit in the UFC?
McCrory--6'4"?? Damn, some more good training and that could get him places. I hope the UFC has some patience with him. And "The Barncat" has got to be one of the best nicknames around.
Gonzaga--The exit of Werdum opens a huge door for GG, imo. Honestly, this is the guy that should be the future of the HW division. He has good striking, powerful kicks and amazing BJJ. He is big and strong and athletic. If he had Florian's mindset, he would be unbeatable. Hopefully he has regained his mojo, can face either Mir or Nog (whomever loses) and get in the mix for a title shot. Anything but wearing the belt is underacheiving for him, in my eyes.
Maia--I absolutely love watching this guy fight. He has proven himself to be a legit top 10 type of fighter, so let's see some of the matches we know will be great. Almeida, Palahares, Marquardt, etc... Just like the LWs, imo, take the top guy away and the division is very competitive. Not ready for Anderson...yet.
Quarry--I think we all knew what was coming for him last night. Maia is just to good on the ground and he is on a roll. Get Quarry a fight to keep him on track and let's see him in entertaining slugfests where he excels.
Gurgel and Robinson--Please get these guys in the WEC. Gurgel can take a beating and Robinson has a lot of heart, but it is clear they do not belong in the UFC.
Bocek--He needs to get his game rounded out, but his BJJ is awesome. I hope he lasts long enough to develop.
Riley--Some great striking, could provide us with some entertaining fights before he faces BJJ guys that actually use their ground skills.
Brown--Definitely a tough guy, but I see him as a .500 fighter in the UFC. I hardly recognized him without his goatee, lol.
Dos Anjos--I think he has a future, but...
Stephens--...look out for the uppercut!!! All I have to say is, DAMN!
So, overall, i would say this was a very entertaining card. We saw about everything there is to see, without a lot of controversy and negatives. I think what we witnessed was a preview of what should be a very interesting 2009 for the UFC and the sport of ultimate fighting...I mean mma, lol.
And finally, if you are declaring the sport tainted by the fact that Brock was a wrassler, then you clearly have issues. This guy is a world class athlete, great wrestler and developing mma fighter. If anyone thinks just any pro wrestler can cross over into mma, then they are ignorant to the sport. Many of today's mma fans originated as pro wrestling fans, and found something real and better in mma. I think this will only continue as the sport grows.