It's the morning after which means some of you are just returning home from your walk of shame. For others, our walk of shame was tuning into Ultimate Fight Night 25 on a Saturday night instead of going out and potentially having a real walk of shame. With the fights in the books, let's reflect on the event and talk about the biggest winners and losers on the night.
Jake Ellenberger: Really the only big winner on the night. Ellenberger took a massive step up in competition last night and put a stamp on the event doing what Dan Henderson and Georges St. Pierre couldn't which is finish Jake Shields. The win catapults him into the top of the division and adds new blood into what was a stagnant weight class.
Alan Belcher: Last night was a big night for Alan Belcher. Returning from what should have been a career ending eye injury, he looked as good as he's ever been in the UFC cage against a very game Jason MacDonald. Belcher's ground and pound was brutal and he showed no signs of ring rust. He could be the biggest winner on the night breathing new life into the middle weight division.
Erik Koch: Looked great against a mediocre Jonathan Brookins. His takedown defense was solid and he was dynamic in his strikes. It's a little bit of a concern that he constantly allowed Brookins to body him but he did a good job keeping the fight standing. He's definitely got a future at 145 and could be an interesting match up for many guys at the top of the division.
Bud Light: Last night was a commercial for America's best selling beer. It's not super tasty but they marketing around this event was built on the Bud Light brand. If there was a big winner, it was definitely Bud Light.
Jake Shields: He gets a bit of leeway for the performance due to the death of his father in the last weeks of his training camp. That said, he didn't look good at all in the fight. He failed to keep his hands on Jake Ellenberger on takedown attempts. When he did come forward to clinch he was kneed in the gut and face. Saying he wasn't out in the post-fight speech was a little ridiculous as well since he was trying to takedown the referee just minutes before. 170 may not be the best weight class for him in the UFC. Hopefully he returns to 185.
Matt Riddle: What the hell was he thinking coming out to "Rock You Like A Hurricane" in New Orleans? And he had a big goofy smile on his face while doing it. He had a nice showing in the third round but looked awful in the first two. He's hit his ceiling as a fighter and it's a shame since he is so young.
New Orleans Fans: The fans were terrible last night. The booing during Riddle/Benoist sticks out. Granted they didn't exactly received the best UFC card ever, but it was still headlined by Jake Ellenberger and Jake Shields. Those that did pay for tickets are probably wondering why they spent the money on such a crappy event.
Spike TV: Last night proved that it's a bad idea to play hardball with the UFC. Dana White said that he'd get them back for counter-programming UFC on Versus and last night was the comeuppance. The ratings will be awful and with just one more live fight card this year, this relationship has gone sour.
Georges St. Pierre: He didn't even fight on the card nor was he in the building but it is now the second time this year that lesser fighters in the welterweight division were able to stop his former opponents. Fans were outspoken with the Chris Lytle submission over Dan Hardy. They should be furious that Jake Ellenberger knocked out Jake Shields. Excuses start to add up and it will be harder and harder for the UFC and GSP to convince fans that he isn't fighting safe. It was already apparent in Toronto that Canadian fans are beginning to turn on him. He needs to put on exclamation point on his next title defense and find a way to finish Carlos Condit.
This wasn't a good card at all. We as fans of the sport joke about the mediocrity of regional MMA and how the UFC has always been the home for the best fighters in the game. Last night's card was similar to the Legacy Fighting Championship card that aired on HDNet just 24 hours earlier. The UFC usually delivers big but they can't expect to continue to promote cards like last night and have fans lining up to purchase tickets. I joked earlier that last night was a walk of shame but there is some truth to it. We're giving up our Saturday nights to support this sport. If there isn't reciprocation, we're the suckers and the UFC are the carnies ready to take our money.