1 month (and 1 day) ago, the UFC made it's highly anticipated return to Brazil with a card stacked full of Brazilian talent. The first few days after any UFC event is always a bit of a fallout period where everyone is talking about it, analyzing it, and making the most extreme conclusions about what transpired. Hyperbole takes hold in many cases. I figured an interesting thing to do would be to wait one month, let the heat die down, let the MMA community sink their teeth into newer events, and then break down with a fresher and possibly more grounded vantage point.
The Main Card
Luiz Cane vs Stanislav Nedkov - Coming into this bout with Cane, Nedkov was possibly under the worst circumstances one could be under. He was making his UFC debut, he was fighting for the first time in 15 months, he was returning from a layoff caused by multiple injuries, he was debuting on the main card of a PPV, and he was fighting in Brazil against a Brazilian.
Nedkov didn't look particularly amazing in the fight...but all things considered, I would say his performance was more then passable. He threw his right hand often and he threw it hard...eventually it landed and a followup left landed immediately after. Those strikes had Cane doing a stanky-leg pounce into the cage where Nedkov immediately followed up with finishing shots
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Brendan Schaub - On paper, this fight looked like one thing, 'Over the hill legend being fed to a young up and comer'. Schaub in particular had been getting this type of treatment for a while, before this matchup, he faced Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop...two guys coming off of knockout losses that simply hadn't looked stellar. Rodrigo was a bit more of the same, lost two of his last 3, was finished both times even though he was previously known as 'unfinishable', and on top of that, he had a long layoff where he had several major surgeries. It was also a known fact that he rushed his return and came in at less then 100% just so he could fight on the Brazil card.
The odds couldn't have been worse...the stars were aligning for Nog getting knocked out brutally in the first round in front of his home country. But everyone seemed to forget, Nogeuira is quite possibly the comeback king, and if he hadn't earned that title before then he most certainly earned it after that night. Nogeuira's career was in the same situation that Nogueira himself found himself in multiple times during fights. Time was running out, victory didn't seem possible, nobody in his position could be expected to have much of anything left. But as always, Big Nog pulled a 180 on the world and it was he who scored a first round 'knockout of the night' performance over Brendan Schaub. For any hardcore fan, it may have been one of the most pleasently surprising victories ever.
Ross Pearson vs Edson Barboza - This was a classic 'Up and comer' vs 'Up and comer' matchup. Ross Pearson came into the bout sporting a 12-4 record with a 4-1 mark in the UFC while Barboza was undefeated at 8-0 and a perfect 2-0 in the promotion. The two had a very technical back and forth standup battle that won 'Fight of the Night' honors and ended with a split decision victory for Barboza.
For Pearson this won't be a huge set back, certainly nothing like his 2nd round loss to Cole Miller, and for Barboza it doesn't exactly make one crave for him to receive a huge step up in competition. A lateral move, as opposed to a notable step up or down, for either guy can probably be expected.
Mauricio Rua vs Forrest Griffin - Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua just can't seem to find the long term success that he seemed so destined to achieve. On the heels of winning the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, his streak was ended when he suffered a broken arm while being taken down by Mark Coleman. He built himself back up with 4 great wins, but came into the UFC in less then prime condition and was tapped out by Forrest Griffin in the 3rd round of Shogun's debut. Forrest went on to win the title while Shogun built himself back up. When Shogun finally received his title shot, many people felt he did what was impossible, get the better of Lyoto Machida. Unfortunately the fight was left a little too close for comfort, and his momentous victory was spoiled with a unanimous decision defeat. Shogun FINALLY claimed the title in the rematch. His time was now, the destroyer was the champion...but his knee injuries struck back. Shogun returned roughly 10 months later to defend his title and was thoroughly decimated by the young Jon Jones. Life just wasn't fair.
But Shogun was given a chance to do a little bit of damage control on his legacy by potentially avenging his loss to Forrest Griffin. Shogun's footwork and overall movement seemed a little off or slow in the match, but winning is what counts, and he did that in emphatic fashion, separating Griffin out in less then 2 minutes.
Anderson Silva vs Yushin Okami - Like the co-main event, this was also a rematch. This was a rematch of long reigning champion Anderson Silva's most recent decent...which came in the form of DQ due to an illegal upkick against Yushin Okami. Okami was a long time staple of the UFC middleweight division, but took the long road to a title shot. It seemed as though he always lost the fight that would likely have earned him his title shot. When he beat Nate Marquardt he finally earned it. For Okami this was a chance to pull off a massive upset, for Silva, it was a chance to wipe his most recent loss off of his record and prove he was really the better man.
And boy did he prove it. After a first round that mostly saw Okami holding Anderson up against the cage, but having little offensive success there, the 2nd round told a completely different story. Anderson came out in the 2nd round like a death machine. He had accumulated all of the necessary information on Okami that he would require for his in cage destruction and proceeded to go to work. Anderson dropped his hands, and baited Okami into an exchange where Silva dropped him with one of the fastest and most accurate punches that may have ever graced the Octagon. Okami went down, and for the moment he was falling, I personally thought he was out. That wasn't quite the case though. Silva let him back up, and proceeded to rinse and repeat...wait for Okami to swing and drop him with a well placed shot. Only this time Silva did not let Okami off the hook...he attacked until referee Herb Dean stepped in and called a stop to the action.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...