(That kind of stuff isn't supposed to work at the highest levels. It just isn't.)
What. A. Card. Even though the Facebook fights had a distinct "Canada vs USA" vibe, it too delivered some gems. That's the first time since UFC 100 I've finished watching an event and said "man, I wish I was there." I'm going to make you scroll down to get my thoughts on the main event, however. Oh, and hey - we got him!
- I met Pablo Garza shortly after WEC 51 in Broomfield, Colorado. He was an incredibly late (5 days notice) replacement to face Zhang Tie Quan after losing to Michael Johnson on the first episode of TUF: GSP v Koscheck. He told me that night that, because he took the fight on such short notice, he would be given another shot at 145. Since then - and, of course, the UFC/WEC merger - Garza has scored two first round wins, one by a beautiful flying knee and another last night, subbing Yves Jabouin via flying triangle. Since that night in Broomfield, Garza is 2-0 in the UFC and has collected a rather absurd $159,000 in (official) bonuses. And they told me the merger wasn't good for the little guys.
- John Makdessi is a bad man. While he was probably fortunate that his wrestler opponent decided to go strike-happy instead of trying to grind, he sure did make Watson pay for that unfortunate game plan choice. The best part of giving him a couple more fights to develop? They'll probably end in epic fashion.
- I love Jason MacDonald. His grappletastic bout against Demian Maia is still one of my favorite displays of MMA ground work to show new fans - hey look, it's on the ground and it's not boring! That was the first time I truly appreciated the spectacle of this epic stadium crowd - J-Mac spun around and blew a kiss with both hands to his countrymen, looking to be in sheer awe of what surrounded him. That has to be a moment that he will never forget.
- I'm a little confused by what Ivan Menjivar is trying to accomplish with this comeback, but as long as he keeps shattering people's noses with close-range elbow strikes (nobody's told him they're only used for generating cuts and stalling), I wish him the best of luck.
- Somehow, our picks didn't get posted (cough Roth cough), but I'll admit that Claude Patrick made me look dumb. Ninja couldn't get his kimura, and while it was a fun fight, it showed how far Daniel Roberts has to go before he's a serious threat in the division.
- Jake Ellenberger, replacing the testicularly-challenged Brian Foster on short notice, absolutely pasted Sean Pierson in the first round with a beautifully timed left hook. This undercard featured two 170ers that a) I'm very big on and b) got jobbed against Carlos Condit: Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. I think either one (or both) will be in a position to take on anyone at welterweight within a couple of years.
- Nate Diaz got absolutely mugged by Rory MacDonald. Whatever Rory got paid for the fight, go ahead and add Nate's lunch money to it. I'd like to implore everyone to avoid the Chris Benoit references when talking about Rory's suplex clinic. Instead, use Kazuyuki Miyata. I'm of the opinion that Rory would do the same thing to Nate's brother - as would Rick Story, Johny Hendricks... man, 170's future looks bright.
Now, on to the main card.