The eyes of B.J. Penn told the story tonight. Holding back tears, Penn told Joe Rogan and the crowd in the Acer Arena that he wasn't sure what he would do with his career if he had lost. He said that he would give Jon Fitch another fight if that's what Fitch and the UFC wanted, but his eyes told a different story.
B.J. Penn realized his limitations tonight. He's had to come face-to-face with the notion that the rest of the sport has caught up to him. He may have escaped Australia with a draw, but Penn knows in his heart that Jon Fitch got the best of him tonight.
It's a hard idea to come to terms with. It's hard enough for the average man to accept the fact that he will never be the at the top of his chosen field -- or any field, for that matter. It's harder still for the man who once stood on top of the mountain.
Another legend fell today.
- Jon Fitch looked noticeably thinner in the cage tonight, but it didn't seem to affect his performance with Penn. Fitch told Joe Rogan that he felt like his cardio was through the roof tonight, but I've never felt that was an issue for him to begin with. I don't think we'll know what sort of side effects the new pseudo-vegan diet will have until he fights some of the bigger welterweights in the division.
- If Penn had won this fight, there would be many things written about his decision to go on the offensive with his wrestling. For the majority of his career, Penn coasted through fights without having to worry about a gameplan, so seeing him implement one from the onset - and a genius one at that - was refreshing.
- Penn scattered moments of brilliance throughout the fight, but his inability to control Fitch from back control was surprising.
- FightMetric scored the fight 29-27 for Fitch, though Penn kept it very close in round two. It's interesting that both judges who scored the second round for Penn gave Fitch a 10-8 in round three (I'm presuming), while the lone Fitch card only awarded him a 10-9 in the frame.
- I wish Penn and Fitch had two more rounds to figure things out.
- OK. The Michael Bisping thing. I didn't see him spit at Rivera's corner, but it sounds like it's been confirmed by people at the event. It's rude and disgusting and unprofessional, and it's going to give a lot of people a chance to get on the moral high horse. It's not something I would do, nor would I be happy if someone spit on me. It doesn't rile me up, though. Jorge Rivera was right to call Michael Bisping a dick. That was never in dispute. He's a huge dick, and I like him for it.
- I've heard some talk about people wanting to give Rivera a rematch because of the illegal knee. I don't want to see it because I don't think the fight changes course much without it. Rivera has never risen above journeyman status, and I'm still confused why this fight was put together in the first place.
More thoughts and post-fight awards after the jump.
- Dennis Siver shrugged off George Sotiropoulos throughout the fight. Part of that was a strength advantage, but Sotiropoulos bending over and grabbing at Siver's legs played the biggest part. Any time Sotiropoulos grabbed a single leg, Siver pulled his leg out. Sotiropoulos never changed levels or exploded through takedowns or made any sort of adjustments throughout the fight.
- Speaking of returning to an empty well, Chris Lytle may have lost a fight on the sole basis of failed guillotine attempts. (The knee to the jaw didn't help matters.) Cranking on a guillotine is an easy way to gas out your arms, and Lytle worked hard to finish two chokes in the first round. Props to Ebersole for capitalizing on the opportunity.
- That UFC 128 trailer was brilliant. Probably the UFC's best work in that department.
- Ross Pearson impressed me with his clinch work. I also enjoyed his combinations: mixing in strikes with all four limbs to the head, body, and legs. I'm starting to turn the corner on him. Good stuff.
- I don't think I need to express my disgust with the Fukuda/Ring decision. Going back to FightMetric, they scored the bout 30-27 for Fukuda. This is another point that will be driven home by plenty of other people, but Dana White's outrage over the decision must come with the knowledge that the UFC handpicked the officials for the evening (as far as I'm being told, anyway). You get what you pay for, I guess.
- I mentioned it on my Twitter (why aren't you following?), but Joe Rogan needs to quit perpetuating the idea that a late takedown (or any takedown on its own merit) can steal a round for a fighter. It doesn't. A takedown (excluding big slams) is a means to an end. That's it.
- Going back to the fight, Nick Ring looked OK early, but became more and more plodding as the fight went on. This was not a good performance for him, and I wonder how much the knee injury played a part in that.
- That better be the last time I ever seen Jason Reinhardt fighting on a UFC event ever again.
Fighter of the Night
Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Lots of worthy candidates tonight, but Siver came into a partisan environment and did his business. I don't think Sotiropoulos finished one takedown, and I want to say he was well into the double digits in attempts. I'm not optimistic about Siver's long-term outlook, and at 32 what we see is what we're going to get, but this was a big win for him tonight.
Moment of the Night
Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
The Michael Bisping Magic Loogy 2011 came close, but B.J. Penn's reaction following this fight is something that will stick with me far longer than the outrage over projectile saliva.
Mike Goldberg Line of the Night
"Don't leave it in the hands of the judges." - Following the Ring/Fukuda fight and Joe Rogan's displeasure with the decision.
If you aren't going to criticize officials for glaring mistakes, don't say anything at all. And don't passively condone those mistakes with some hackneyed cliche that you're regurgitating straight from Dana White's mouth. Winning a decision is as legitimate an avenue to victory as a knockout or a submission, and a fighter shouldn't be held responsible for the ineptness of the ringside officials. Show some goddamn gumption for once.
Entrance Song of the Night
Lots of good choices tonight, but AC/DC is an F-18 that will destroy you in the air. Winning.
The Chopping Block
With a crowded roster, there's no room for error in today's UFC. Which fighters are candidates for pink slips Monday morning?