"Love when idiots shit on a card before it happens. It makes for great events :)" - Dana White, on Twitter.
Touche, Mr. White. Of course, while the card seemed like trash on paper, it ended up delivering in a major way given what it had to work with. In fact, the card was awesome by any measure.
However, the biggest "story" is Mark Munoz and whether or not he'll get the title shot he asked for. Against Chris Leben, he displayed his usual knack for supernatural ground and pound: seriously, his strikes on the ground are other worldly, and I have no problem mentioning Munoz and Fedor Emelianenko in the same sentence when it comes to ground and pound.
What makes Munoz' wish (which won't be granted: he's behind Sonnen and the winner of Bisping/Miller) interesting is his willingness to forego "friendship". Friendship is a broad term in the MMA world apparently. Either because you've been life long companions, trained with each other for two weeks, our have overcome the language barrier to be BFF (see Barnett and Fedor)...it seems difficult to predict whether Anderson Silva will be offended, or politely respond.
But Munoz' game is still raw. I haven't said anything about Munoz' chances against Silva because he doesn't have one. Against Leben, his defense leaves something to be desired, and for all of his wrestling credentials he still struggles for takedowns. However, it was a great fight for two rounds. It wasn't fight of the night. That honor goes to Kirkland/Angulo on HBO. But a right scrap, and a proper end to a fantastic main card.
- Two things: I love it when music illustrates character. If someone not named Robert De Niro removed my appendix out with a grapefruit spoon with no anesthesia, it would be a considerably better experience than listening to "Face the Pain" by STEMM. I don't have to care for the song. Not that Gary Jules' version of Mad World is bad. I just have to care that it's not on Zuffa's playlist. And so I enjoyed Leben's calm before the storm walkout. Kudos to Chris. About the second thing...
- What the hell was Marc Goddard doing? During the 2nd round, Goddard stops the fight to inspect the cut. Chris Leben tells him he can't see. Goddard responds to Leben when the doctor enters and tells him "if you tell me you can't see we're stopping this fight". Its a stupid thing to say because it's more demand than inquiry. All the ref has to know is whether or not the fighter is able to see. Nothing more. Time and time again MMA officials find a way to make even the most obligatory tasks seem difficult. Nobody's asking you to find the Higgs Boson. Just judge a damn prizefight.
- Renan Barao deserves the next title shot. He just beat Brad Pickett, who himself was on a short list of interesting BW contenders, having beaten one of those contenders in Demetrious Johnson. Why not? The guy is a beast. He overextends with his combinations, but his combinations are versatile. The fight started out brilliantly, and ended beautifully with Barao catching Pickett with a huge knee and transitioning to back control with the quickness. I also love that MMA fighters are learning how to pressure the jaw when battling for wrist control. Barao decided to crush Brad's jaw instead, and it worked. Fantastic, breakout performance for Renan. I'm not sure about his "I still sleep underneath a mobile" victory pose. Weird stuff. But I can't help but love the guy's enthusiasm.