Ok, so we knew going in, that January 2009 would be a huge month for the sport. Two UFC ppvs, Affliction ppv and the WEC on VS. Additionally, there were regional shows (Ring of Fire for me), M1, HDNet highlight shows, UFC preview shows and about anything else you could want. I also enjoyed a great seminar from Royler Gracie on the last day of the month.
Now we have to break it all down and see where we stand.
-Ring of Fire was fun, but not the best card I have seen from them. It seems they are in the midst of losing big names like Eliot Marshall, Alvin Robinson and so forth, and cultivating the next wave of regional talent like Cat Albert and Tyler Toner. This has always been a solid promotion and I expect there to be a lot of growth at this level across the country in the near future.
-Yesterday I was privileged to attend a half day seminar with an all-time great, Royler Gracie. The fact that his father passed away a matter of hours prior to this, in no way held him back. Royler was funny, entertaining and a great teacher. He inspired us to try and achieve as much as we can. While most of us will never be able to fill the footsteps left behind by people like Master Helio, we should all try and follow them. Royler was the first Gracie I have been around, and he far exceeded any expectations I had. What a great guy. I was lucky enough to go eat with him and a small group after the seminar, and getting to be around him in that more relaxed atmosphere only gave me more insight into what a genuinely good guy he is.
-Franklin looks better at 205. Henderson seems more of a fit at 185. So despite the result, I think this is what we will see in the future. I still think if this was a 5 rounder, Franklin would have pulled it out.
-Coleman is done. Give him a farewell fight in Columbus, then let him coach or fight elsewhere, but he should move on from the UFC.
-Shogun...while disappointed, I will reserve judgement for a year. let him recover and see what we have. This was a tougher fight than people may have thought. Coleman is hard to finish and is still a great wrestler.
-Kang? Kang? I know you are out there, we are waiting for you.
-Kampmann is a good fighter and may have a good future at 170.
-I love watching Palhares fight, I'm just afraid reach/height is going to pose a big problem for him in the future.
-Belcher deserves a big fight. A win puts him on the contender list, if he isn't already.
-Decisions..decisions...PAYDAY! While I thought the card in about no way, lived up to the potential, I have little doubt that Zuffa lines their pockets off this one. I have never seen excitement like this in the weeks leading up to a card.
-GSP was to big, to strong and to good for BJ. Anyone who thinks he is just a great athlete, is a fool. He is a great fighter. GSP is the best WW and perhaps the best period. How much better can he get???
-BJ was in fine shape. I don't care who you are, if you have to contend with a guy like GSP on top of you, you are going to wear down. That said, BJ is the best LW in the world and a top P4P guy, now stay at LW!!
-Lyoto. Most impressive performance of the night, imo. Was it enough to remove the stigma that has become attached to him? Not for the people looking for a train wreck every time out. So what now? How about the most elusive LHW in the game against the most athletic LHW in the game? If you aren't pumped about possibly seeing Rashad vs Lyoto, then...
-Nate. The inevitable finally happened. I'm not a Diaz brothers fan, but Nate is definitely talented. Last night he ran into the guy that held him down and neutralized much of his game, without getting caught in a triangle. Many people have predicted this every fight out, but Nate always found a way to pull out the win.
-Clay. I just don't think he has the tools to be an elite UFC LW. I think he will always be the guy that strings some wins together, then loses before the title shot. I like him, and I hope I am wrong.
-Jon Jones. I love watching this guy strike, just crazy moves. I think he has a future for sure.
-Bonnar. Good fighter, but can't overcome great athletes. He will always be in the mix as a gatekeeper, imo.
-The card. Honestly, I was disappointed. Not so much because it was bad, but I think I had set almost unrealistic expectations.
-Cowboy and Varner. great fight. Need a quick rematch. Does anyone recover from big shots as fast as Cerrone??
-Pulver. Still a top guy, but not THE top guy.
-Faber. He is who we thought he was. Like him or not, he is the best 145er and he will hold the belt at the next opportunity.
-The card wasn't as good as usual for the WEC, and the presentation on VS dragged at an almost unbearable pace. Good thing the title fight was exciting.
-I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was the best card of the month. To bad it carries little relevance.
-Fedor is...Fedor. I don't see anyone beating him anytime soon. Sure Arlovski was doing pretty well, but Fedor doesn't make the mistakes that seemingly, every other fighter does.
-AA. Nice payday, congrats. Can't wait to have you back in the UFC.
-Vitor is back and Lindland may be done. The age difference and the fact that Matt will never be back in the UFC are the big factors, imo.
-Jay Heiron was robbed! And so were the fans! Until Inside MMA. Another guy that should be fighting in the UFC.
-Lauzon. Ice bin is over there.
-Barnett not very impressive. Buentello pretty impressive. Yvel hung in there pretty good, despite the bad position and Barnett had trouble fnishing him. Buentello picked Baby Fedor apart. We need to see Fedor vs Barnett asap. And Hell, why not Beuntello vs Yvel?
-Babalu, call AA and catch a ride with him back to the UFC.
So there it is, my thoughts on what was a very busy month for MMA. I think 93 lived up to and probably surpassed expectations to a degree. 94 missed wide left and lost on decision to extremely high expectations. Affliction was pretty darn good and exceeded most expectations. Of course the one expectation that Affliction will probably, unfortunately meet, is its demise. The WEC also fell short, imo, but they have been on a roll, so I can give them a pass. Still a great month to be a fan and probably a sign of what we can expect as the sport continues to grow.
Now, take a breath and get ready. UFN 18 is Saturday on Spike and there are some decent fights to sort out some young fighters. Then 2 weeks later is UFC 95 on Spike and Diego's move to LW.
What is your vote for event of the month??
One final R.I.P. to the legendary Master Helio Gracie.