As DREAM hits us with our second intermission of an epic 9 hour long card and I hit my 15th straight hour of MMA coverage, it's time to look back at the events that took place at UFC 141. The UFC had a rough year with many of their PPV draws suffering injuries that caused poor PPV buys throughout 2011. Fortunately for the UFC, they promoted an event headlined by Brock Lesnar to close out 2011 and welcome 2012. As with every event there are winners and losers, so let's take a look at who are contenders and who are pretenders following UFC 141.
Alistair Overeem - The obvious winner tonight. There were questions if he would be able to stop Lesnar's takedown and if his cardio would hold up. Well we got an answer to the first when Overeem remained on his feet after several Lesnar takedown attempts. The first round stoppage was fantastic and Overeem earned a title shot in the process. Oh and he retired Brock Lesnar. Not bad for a UFC debut huh?
Nate Diaz - The fight against Donald Cerrone was the best performance of his young career. He landed an astonishing 82% of his punches and made Donald Cerrone look like a complete amateur. No idea where this places him in the division but it's likely he'll be fast tracked to a title shot or at least a number one contender match.
Alexander Gustafsson - Last night he made the move from prospect to contender with the fantastic stoppage of Vladimir Matyushenko. Alex has the physical tools to legitimately pose a threat to Jon Jones and showed that he's made massive improvements since his UFC debut. As one of the youngest fighters in the light heavyweight division, he'll be a top 10 fighter for years.
Johny Hendricks - He continued a trend that has become almost a joke during 2011: a fighter able to finish a former-GSP opponent who the champion fought to a decision. Huge knockout and probably got a locker room bonus as a thank you from Dana White for handling the Jon Fitch situation.
Luis Ramos - Since Matt Riddle got sick hours before the event the fight never happened. That doesn't matter though since Ramos still collected his show and win money. Getting paid to do nothing has gotta feel good. Merry Christmas I guess?
The UFC - The Fitch loss clears up the welterweight division and having Overeem retire Lesnar probably made the K-1 champ a new draw. The retirement of Lesnar will hurt in the short term but he wasn't going to be the future of the company.
The WWE - It is very likely that Brock Lesnar will end up on Wrestlemania in 2012. Even if he doesn't show up for a full time schedule, it's a win for the company that made Lesnar a celebrity if he'll make one-off appearances.
Losers and other thoughts after the jump...
Brock Lesnar - The obvious loser on the night. His retirement from MMA is actually a very Brock Lesnar move. The man just doesn't stick with things when the going gets tough. He quit wrestling, he quit football, and he quit MMA. He's made a boatload of money in his career so he'll likely take time off before going back to pro wrestling, if only for a one off appearance at Wrestlemania.
Donald Cerrone - He was likely fighting for a title shot. Instead he got completely out classed by Nate Diaz. His storied 2011 ends in a one sided beating. He's still made huge improvements since his time in the WEC but it just became clear that he isn't as good as we thought he was.
Jon Fitch - I know I said that Lesnar was the obviously loser of the night. That doesn't matter. Jon Fitch is the biggest loser of 2011. All that talk of 'I deserve another shot at GSP' just went out the window with that first round knockout. It also became very likely that he'll never ever ever receive that shot again. Bummer.
Nam Phan - He picked up his first win in the promotion at UFC 136 and looked to have turned a corner in his career. Instead he's completely clowned by Jim Hettes who is a BJJ purple belt. At some point being a nice guy willing to take a beating has got to get old.
Jacob Volkmann - Yes he won. Yes he was dominant. But calling out the UFC champion after a performance where he did absolutely zero damage and didn't work for a single finish is just a bad look. He lost fans tonight if he had any and also showed that he's terrible at cutting a promo after that pathetic joke about Obama. What is he good at anyways?
- Jim Hettes is the real deal. Perfect record and put on an absolute clinic. To think he's only a purple belt and performed that well against a legitimate black belt is absurd. The UFC hopefully won't toss him in the shark tank yet since he still has to develop his stand up but damn that kid has skills on the mat.
- Is it possible that Manny Gamburyan just doesn't belong in the UFC? He's dropped three straight and just hasn't looked good since April 2010. He definitely has a chin but I just don't see how he can remain relevant in the featherweight division.
- Dong Hyun Kim may not be as good as advertised. I understand that Sean Pierson has skills with his wrestling but these are the fights he has to win dominantly.
- Despite the boos Danny Castillo is a dark horse for most improved fighter of 2011. He took the fight on short notice and looked great against Anthony Njokuani. Hopefully fans will give him a shot, he's earned it.
- Welterweight is now wide open after the Fitch loss. The issue now is that it may be too open with so many fighters a couple wins away from a title shot. Georges St. Pierre's injury could be the best thing to happen to the UFC as it will allow the promotion to line up contenders.
- It may be time for Vladimir Matyushenko to hang up the gloves. He's 40 years old and just can't hang with the younger faster light heavyweight fighters.
- Anyone else have the feeling that Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are exhausted? They were off their games and it's affecting the live experience.
- That overhead wire camera is so awesome. Adds a ton to the production.
- Matt Riddle better have a great excuse for falling ill literally hours before his fight.