It would be irresponsible to point at the death of Jack Shields for tonight's result. Surely, the tragedy altered Jake Shields' mindset, if not his training, and it had some affect on Shields tonight. But if we are objective, we must recognize that Dan Henderson dropped Shields in April of 2010. That Shields looked less than spectacular in his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann. And that Shields did little to threaten Georges St. Pierre until the latter received an errant (?) thumb in the eye.
I'm not playing revisionist history with Shields either. He won despite setbacks in the Henderson and Kampmann fights. And he wasn't exactly blown out of the water against GSP either.
The point is that we should value Jake Ellenberger's victory appropriately. Jake Shields is a legitimate top ten fighter at 170 pounds, though he isn't the world beater the UFC tried to sell us heading into his UFC debut and his fight with St. Pierre. And while Shields may not have been 100% mentally, we can't hold that against Ellenberger.
The victory should launch Ellenberger into the top ten, probably slotted somewhere in the five to seven range. He follows Rick Story, who beat perennial top five welterweight Thiago Alves back in May. The following month, Story stepped in on short notice for Anthony Johnson to fight Nate Marquardt, who pulled out of the fight himself. Charlie Brenneman stepped in for Marquardt and derailed Story's surge.
Ellenberger should prove to have more staying power, if only in the sense that it's unlikely that he'll find himself fighting next month. (Though perhaps the UFC finds a spot for him on the UFC on Fox undercard.) In my mind, it's likely that Ellenberger fights the winner of Brenneman-Johnson at next months Versus show, with the winner set to fight another top five welterweight in the future.
- This card delivered on the badness that it promised on paper. There were a few bright spots -- the main event and Alan Belcher's return mostly, but the rest of the show proved to be the irrelevant, superfluous filler that it looked to be. It doesn't help that UFC shows on Spike TV have always FELT like "B" shows, which is due in large part to Spike TV's presentation of the shows. Tape-delayed on the West Coast, loaded with commercials and in-fight ads, no pre- or post-fight shows. MMA fans should be grateful for the chance Spike TV took on the UFC back in 2005, but the modern day fan deserves better.
McCoyMcGee and Dongi Yang fought in an existential battle of meaninglessness. My notes for the fight are blank, and the general feeling on Twitter was one of disinterested restlessness.
- The New Orleans judges made the right decision in giving Erik Koch a unanimous decision over Jonathan Brookins. The concept seemed to stump Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, but "aggression" and "Octagon control" should only come into play if you provide effective offense. Brookins provided no such offense, Koch did, and the decision went to the right man.
- In our staff predictions, I felt that Alan Belcher would win so long as his eye injury didn't come back to haunt him. A detached retina is serious business, and there was no guarantee that the worry of re-injuring the eye wouldn't come into play. Belcher, however, appeared confident and looked good in his first fight back.
- The UFC aired a taped interview between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during the show. Two things to note: 1) Jon Jones came off guilty as all hell, whether he actually has a spy in Jackson's camp or not. 2) Quinton Jackson is far more entertaining taking a fight camp seriously than when he is motorboating women backstage at UFC events.
- Vanger Rocha submitted Cody McKenzie by rear naked choke at 3:49 of round 2...Evan Dunham blasted Shamar Bailey with the same one-two combination en route to a unanimous decision...Lance Benoist survived a broken nose and a poor third round to win a decision, to the live crowd's jeers...Ken Stone choked out Donny Walker at 2:47 of round 1...Seth Baczynski looked bigger and better than Clay Harvison, winning by rear naked choke at 1:12 of round 2...T.J. Waldburger chained submission attempts before locking Mike Stumpf in a triangle at 3:52 of round 1...Robert Peralta continued where Edson Barboza left off and chopped Mike Lullo's legs to a unanimous decision...Justin Edwards upset Jorge Lopez in the opener, winning by unanimous decision.