On most nights, I'd start a post like this discussing the main event. But the biggest story of the night for the UFC is Frank Mir, who decked Kongo with a left and choked him unconscious. It was shocking in the week leading into this show how much Mir helped hype it. He made people care about Cheick Kongo, which is a first. Tonight he proved that his comeback was not a mirage, and he made a clear case for getting a rematch with Brock Lesnar. If you told me two years ago that Mir would become a contender and a top drawing card for the UFC I would have scoffed, but here we are heading into 2010 and Mir has emerged as the best hype man in the sport.
Assuming Lesnar returns, there are serious points to be made on behalf of a number of guys getting a shot. Shane Carwin got a shot originally because they needed a main event for 106, and there were no other strong options.He essentially got the shot by default. Things are different now. Shane Carwin needs to take a fight in order to keep his contender status. If Lesnar comes back in July, that is potentially a 16 month layoff for Carwin, who's been healthy the majority of that time.
In my view, the right fight for the UFC is Mir/Lesnar III. The buyrate will be astronomical, and taking the chance of losing that kind of huge number makes no sense. It's not like Carwin is so clearly the number one contender that it would be a travesty to give someone else the shot. The right move for Dana White is to do Lesnar/Mir 3 and put Carwin against the Nog/Velasquez winner for the next title shot after that.
BJ Penn completely outclassed Diego Sanchez tonight. The fight was almost embarrassing, BJ was toying with Sanchez and taking his time out there. It almost felt like he let Diego recover in the first round because he wanted to fight some more. Who's next for BJ? Frankie Edgar is one possibility in his hometown of New Jersey. Another is Gray Maynard if Maynard beats Diaz. I will admit something Rogan brought up about BJ being able to fight at 145 struck a chord with me. I'd rather see BJ Penn fight Jose Aldo in a superfight than fight Frankie Edgar, but I know it won't happen.
Elsewhere, the card was filled with pretty good fights. Jon Fitch had another underwhelming 29-28 victory that did nothing to increase anticipation for a rematch with Georges St. Pierre. I think a rematch with Thiago Alves in March or April should be next for him.
Stefan Struve deserved the win, but still has a lot of holes in his striking game. Thankfully he's only 21, and has such a freaky look that he's going to gain a fanbase over time.
Finally, Kenny Florian showed a new and improved game that lived up to the hype. The biggest difference was his wrestling ability, which was a huge liability for him in the past. The time training with the Montreal Wrestling Club and St. Pierre paid off; rarely have we seen Clay Guida outwrestled. Florian's next opponent will probably be Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard, depending on who gets the next shot.
This was the event the UFC needed it to be. After a series of weak shows they needed an exciting show with a big Mir win, and that's exactly what they got.