Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
UFC 154 is in the books, and it was kind of a weird night. Overall the card was a lot of fun and the top two fights were great, but the event definitely dragged at times and some of the bouts did not live up to expectations. I felt like I got my money's worth though, and that's really what it's all about in terms of entertainment. The Montreal crowd was awesome all night (as usual) and the welterweight division is a gigantic mystery right now. Will GSP fight Anderson Silva? If he does, what does Johny Hendricks do? Intrigue is always fun to me, and there is a ton of it after last night's event. So with that in mind, let's look at some of the winners and losers from the show.
Georges St. Pierre: GSP surely silenced most of his doubters with his performance against Condit. Yes, he got caught and he didn't get the finish, but he looked pretty incredible for a guy coming off a devastating knee injury and he was way more aggressive than he did in his last couple of fights before the injury. He retained (or regained?) his status as the best welterweight in the world, and now we'll have to wait and see if his next bout is actually at welterweight or not.
Johny Hendricks: We all know he hits hard, but I always saw his KO of Fitch as a bit of a one-off. Clearly it wasn't. He blasted Kampmann with a short but brutal shot that laid him out in exactly the same manner as Fitch went down. He even landed in the same spot in the cage. Hendricks had a pretty funny line at the post-fight press conference - "I'm a wrestler and I can knock people out. That's pretty sweet, huh?" It sure is, Johny. It sure is.
Rafael dos Anjos: No one, not even lightweight champ Ben Henderson, has ever controlled Bocek like that. It was a thoroughly dominant performance that showed Dos Anjos can still be a force in the division despite some setbacks. He's very well-rounded, and his takedown defense was excellent last night. He'll be stepping up in competition next, and I can't wait to see it.
Pablo Garza: Garza's a bit of an enigma - he seems like he has a ton of talent, but he didn't look good at all in his last two fights before last night. Well, he turned it around by showing off a facet of his game we hadn't really seen before - wrestling and solid top control. Hominick brought it in the first round and it was very exciting, but Garza just totally took over by getting the fight to the ground and it was the right thing to do. He definitely still has some solid potential at featherweight.
Ivan Menjivar: Menjivar's always been one of my favorites, but when he got taken down right away by Gashimov I got worried. I shouldn't have been. It's easy to forgot how dynamic he can be from the bottom because he's just not there all that often. That armbar was brutal and awesome at the same time, and I jumped out of my seat when he started torquing on it and the referee was a bit out of position. Either way, great win for him and there are a bunch of potentially exciting bouts for him on the horizon.
Carlos Condit: I had to put him here because, let's face it - he lost a lot tonight. He's not a champion anymore. He failed to beat GSP. He will have to scratch and claw his way back up to another shot, and the division is so deep that it might never come. But he did a lot of good things tonight as well. First and foremost, he came really close to finishing St. Pierre. He also cemented his reputation a a warrior, fighting through a crimson mask and doing everything he could to win the fight even though he was on his back a lot. Where he goes from here is anyone's guess, but I still think Condit is awesome. And so should you.
Martin Kampmann: I don't think many people thought Kampmann would get laid out like that. The only guy that ever stopped him by TKO at welterweight was Paul Daley (well known as a heavy hitter) and he couldn't even knock Kampmann off his feet. Hendricks put him out with one short punch. Unfortunately for Kampmann, a super-deep division means he falls back into the middle of the pack and it's tough to see him ever putting together a real title run after this. But stranger things have happened.
Tom Lawlor and Francis Carmont: That was a really, really boring fight. Lawlor was content to clinch against the cage, vainly looking for takedowns. And Carmont didn't show much urgency at all when he was given room to strike. When you combine the two, you get a major dud. Lawlor probably did deserve the decision, but the fight sucked so bad that no one really cared about the scores five minutes after it ended. All I know is that while Carmont is 4-0 in the UFC, he still has no place on main cards of PPV's.
Chad Griggs: Dude, you got submitted by a pure striker. Submitted. How bad is that?
Dan Mirgliotta: The blind man of the night award goes to Big Mirg for his awful refereeing in the bout between Patrick Cote and Alessio Sakara. Blatantly ignoring about 342 strikes to the back of Cote's head? Really guy? Mirgliotta claimed that he actually warned Sakara twice, but that seems like a dubious statement at best. How about actually STOPPING him from doing it? The whole DQ thing was a pretty bizarre situation, but a better ref would have handled that with much more authority. That was not the case last night.
Joe Rogan: "Martin Kampmann comes from behind more than Lance Bass." Really Joe? A gay joke on the FX broadcast? I'm not generally one to get outraged by classless humor, and I'm not exactly mad about this either. I'm just dumbfounded by the idiocy of when and where he chose to drop a line like that. It was just really boneheaded.