Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
Well, that was certainly an average card. I'd use more positive words like awesome or incredible, but I'd be lying if I did that. Other than the top two fights, the event was pretty pedestrian overall. The prelims were flat, the big bantamweight fight was dull, Dong Hyun Kim got hurt right away, and Patrick Cote didn't bring it like he could have against Cung Le. Everyone will remember the Silva/Sonnen and Griffin/Ortiz bouts though, so it's all good overall. Plus, the event did their biggest US gate ever (6.5 million), so they've got that going for them. Anyway, let's get onto the winners and losers.
Anderson Silva: Clearly he cemented his case as the best fighter in UFC history, possibly MMA history with that win tonight. After a rough first round, he fought off Chael's takedowns in the second and took advantage of his mistakes. He showed the calculated killer instinct that so many fighters lack and finished the fight when he had the opportunity. There really isn't much left for him to prove, but it's always magical to see the stuff he can do in the cage. The haters will cling to flimsy excuses (the knee caught Chael's chin, the vaseline, the shorts grabbing, etc), but Silva won. As always. That should be enough to shut y'all up.
Tito Ortiz: Yes, I know he lost the fight. But he went out on his shield, dropping Griffin twice and putting up the best fight that his broken-down body was capable of. He was classy, respectful, and humble on his way out. Tito's one of the main reasons a lot of us are so into this MMA stuff. He was the biggest star during the dark ages and without someone like him, the sport might not be where it's at. Like most fans, I always had a love/hate relationship with Tito, but I'm glad that this is the way he went out. Thanks for everything, Mr. Ortiz. You'll be missed.
Cung Le: The 40-year-old picked up his first win in the UFC, and showed off his flashy striking game to a much wider audience. I'm not going to go as far as Brent and say I would like to see him fight Anderson (non-title or whatever) because I think he'd get absolutely slaughtered in about two minutes, but he can still be placed in crowd-pleasing fights for as long as he wants to continue fighting. He's a lock for the UFC Macau card later this year. Who will he face? I don't know, but I can think of a few good candidates.
Chad Mendes: Everyone know that his bout with Cody McKenzie was a mismatch, and that's exactly how it played out. I didn't think he'd drop McKenzie with a body shot but I'm sure he's happy with the payday for 31 seconds of work. Dana White admitted it was bad matchmaking at the post-fight press conference, and that Mendes would get a much bigger test in his next bout. I should hope so.
Demian Maia: No one wants to win the way that Maia won, but let's throw the Kim injury out the window for a moment. He's a winner in my eyes because of how he fought before the early stop. He charged right across the cage and grappled. No sparring sessions in the cage this time. He went straight for a takedown, took Kim's back, and fought through a judo throw to get that takedown. That's the Maia we all want to see, the guy that can threaten almost anyone on any given night. I have my doubts about Maia at 170 but I sure liked what I saw tonight, albeit briefly.
Losers after the jump.
Chael Sonnen: And it all comes crashing down. All the talk, all the antics. And he lost. Again. He was extremely professional and sportsmanlike in defeat, which was necessary for anyone to ever give a damn about him again. But he's not getting another shot at the title, and he's probably not even going to main-event again. He is still a tough middleweight to beat, don't get me wrong. But what else does he have to fight for? I'm not saying he'll retire or anything, but people are going to find it very hard to care about his next fight unless it's against Wanderlei Silva.
Forrest Griffin: Yes, he won his fight. But his stupid post-fight antics are getting really tired and I think they're doing some damage to his fan support. Taking off like that was one thing. But inserting himself in Tito's final octagon moment and taking over the post-fight interview was selfish and ignorant. The win doesn't get him any further up the ladder, and the BS hurt his standing with Dana White. Not a good night for Forrest overall.
Patrick Cote: I know he was a late replacement and it's never really been his style, but he just wasn't aggressive enough. Le was circling into Cote's power hand and he still couldn't land it with any regularity. I've always liked Cote and I think he's a solid fighter. It just seems like he didn't scout Le that well, or wasn't capable of adjusting his game in the cage.
Cody McKenzie: The 31-second loss was one thing. But Dana taking a big steaming verbal dump on him at the post-fight press conference might have been even worse. It seemed like everyone but Sean Shelby (not Joe Silva, as some are saying) thought Cody didn't deserve that fight, and everyone was right. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he got cut.
Dong Hyun Kim: Just terrible luck for the Korean judoka. The nature of his injury hasn't come out yet (at least that I've seen) but it looked pretty bad. I don't know if they'll give Kim a second chance at Maia once he heals up, but I'd love to see it. Just 40 seconds of Kim/Maia had me excited. I want more.