UFC 168 ended in a disappointing fashion with Chris Weidman defending his title with a horrific leg break injury suffered by Anderson Silva. That is not to say the card disappointed, it was an excellent night of fights but it was a terrible way to see Silva's run of title fights come to an end. As awful as an end as it was, it is drawing a huge amount of attention for the fight.
The Anderson Silva leg break was the lead story on SportsCenter and the top story on ESPN.com overnight, and in the end this could end up being a net positive for the UFC in terms of exposure for this event. While there may be a bright side to this, it doesn't make watching Anderson Silva writhing on the ground in pain any easier to bear. It was an awful sight to behold.
On to other thoughts on the night:
- At no point was Silva winning the fight, Weidman again dropped Silva and had him in serious trouble in the first round. Indeed Weidman appeared to be well on his way to dominating Silva in this fight before the injury struck. There should be no question on if Weidman is a deserving Champion, he is the only man to drop Anderson Silva twice and has won every round he has contested with the Middleweight GOAT. It is also important to note that the leg injury was not a fluke but rather the result of proper technique on Weidman's part.
- With Anderson Silva firmly out of the title picture, the Middleweight division is set free and for Chris Weidman there are interesting match ups all over the place including Jacare Souza, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold just to name a few. Just because Weidman has taken the belt for Anderson does not mean Weidman is an established king of the Middleweight division, there will be many worthy and hungry challengers for that throne. For Chris Weidman the real work is about to begin.
- For Silva this very well could be the end of his career, and it is not the way one would hope for a great career like his to end. He was rushed out of the arena for immediate surgery, and I wish him a speedy and full recovery.
- Ronda Rousey's stint on The Ultimate Fighter caused a lot of people to turn on her and root for Miesha Tate, but there is no way Tate was closing the skill gap between her and the Champion. Tate had next to no offense in that fight, and was in survival mode for all two plus rounds. So while it is something a moral victory for Tate, she was not threatening to Rousey really at any point.
- Rousey got a real chance to show how much deeper and technical her game is than in previous fights, she showed off a full arsenal of throws and attacked several submissions. She is a highly skilled grappler and her boxing was tighter than in past fights. She is working in more striking in the clinch and on the ground. She is improving as an MMA fighter, which is a terrifying prospect for future challengers.
- Rousey did lose a great chance to earn some good will back among fans when Tate went to shake hands. I can understand why Rousey didn't want to shake hands, but it is an example of her lack of public image savvy.
- At the post fight press conference it was announced that Rousey is to face Sarah McMann in the main event of UFC 170. This is the sensible match to make as McMann's Olympic wrestling background makes her a natural foil for Rousey. However it is very early in McMann's development as a fighter, as she has not taken to MMA with the same natural ease as Ronda. And while McMann is a silver medalist in Wrestling, it is important to note that the depth of competition in Women's wrestling at the international level is not nearly the same as in Women's Judo, which is a more established international sport, which be seen in the Women's Wrestling was only admitted to the Summer Games in 2004, while women's Judo has been a part of the Games since the late 1980's.
- Travis Browne continues to show the old guard of the Heavyweight the division out of contendership. Barnett has been competing in MMA since the 1990's, it should not be shocking that he struggled mightily with a much larger athlete like Browne, who continues to round out his game. Browne has earned the right to test himself against the cutting edge of the division and the UFC plans to match him with Fabricio Werdum which is a worthy fight for Browne.
- Jim Miller hit an armbar that was all kinds of slick, a very clever piece of guard work that will be Judo Chopped. Miller looked solid this fight, he was getting hit a bit on the feet. Miller again flashed his excellent grappling with a flat out awesome armbar. Miller isn't likely going to be a contender for a title again but he is going to put on some fantastic, high level Lightweight fights.
- Dustin Poirier straight up knuckle dusted Diego Brandao at the end of that first round. Brandao was his regular, wild self and landed a few big shots but Brandao clearly tired very quickly and the straighter punches of Poirier took their toll. Poirier is still young and still improving, he beat the snot out of Erik Koch and now this fight, and he is on his way to being a serious contender at Featherweight.
- Uriah Hall came out with a smart game plan, moving well, and countering when Leben over extended on strikes. It was a solid fight for Hall, but his biggest issue in the Howard fight was him pot shoting one strike at a time from the outside and he didn't seem to adjust that at all, not stringing together any two strikes. It worked but that seemed more because of favorable style match up than anything else. Not a step back by any means but more of a lateral move than a step forward.
- Chris Leben is shot. He made the right call to the stop the fight, just sad that he had to make the call and his corner couldn't see that he was in position to keep fighting.
- Michael Johnson continues to make strides as a fighter as his footwork was very smooth and his striking very crisp. It was Johnson's 10th fight in the UFC and he needed right the ship after some ups-and-down performances. It really seems like Johnson is finding a groove and could warrant a higher level of Lightweight to fight as Tibau is a pretty reliable gatekeeper for the upper level of the divisions.
- Dennis Siver won, but he won ugly. He engaged with Manny Gamburyan on the ground far more than I expected him to and won by a far narrower margin that he could have by keeping things at range. It was an odd approach to the fight, but it worked out for Siver.
- John Howard started off a little slow against Siyar Bahadurzada, but his plan seemed to be to make Siyar dip into his gas tank and that plan paid dividends as Siyar slowed down badly and Howard took the fight over the longer the fight went. Siyar is not a high level Welterweight, but he has the power to pull out a huge win every so often. But the crowd was treated to a good fight and comical moment with an audible passing of gas caught by one of the microphones mid-fight.
- William Macario looked very impressive, showing very crisp and quick striking, and he beat the tar out of Bobby Voelker. It was a very impressive showing for Macario despite Voelker's recent struggles in the UFC. For Voelker this seems to the culmination of his taking so much damage as the trajectory of his career has taken a huge dip.