The results from UFC on Fuel 10 have had a few hours to marinate in my brain, and I'm still not sure how impressed I am. Sure, the card had a ton of quick finishes and all that. But everything felt a bit anti-climactic to me, even when Fabricio Werdum submitted Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the second round of their main event bout. I'm a big fan of fights with decisive outcomes, but I guess I'm more interested in results that I couldn't see coming from a mile away. That could be the Crown Royal talking though, so you should probably take everything said in this post with a grain of whiskey. Anyway, onto the real winners and losers.
Fabricio Werdum - Vai Cavalo has gone from the fighter that got Donkey Kong KO'd by Junior dos Santos to a legitimate contender, and it's hard not to get behind the guy. He has now submitted the two greatest heavyweights in Pride history (Fedor Emelianenko and Big Nog) and out-struck a top 10 heavyweight in Roy Nelson, all in the last three years. He's clearly next in line for a title shot, and while people might not see him as a huge threat to Cain Velasquez or JDS, he has most definitely earned his spot. Combine that with his ability to make fun of himself and you have someone that fans can easily get behind. Some guys deserve their success, and Werdum is definitely one of those people.
Leonardo Santos - I'm not going to say the win was super amazing or anything, but the BJJ wiz now has a UFC contract in hand. The interaction with Jose Aldo was way more dramatic than the actual fight and Santos seems like a really cool guy outside of the arena, but I'm not sold on the whole deal. Nonetheless, he's your Ultimate Fighter and the TV show earned him a bunch of recognition in his native country. No one could ask for much more than that, so he's a winner in my book.
Thiago Silva - I don't care if Feijao blew his wad early or whatever - that was the best Thiago Silva I've ever seen, especially when it came to the striking game. I cringed at Bruce Buffer announcing him as a "striker", because it magnified the fact that Silva had lost track of his roots. The man had some striking for sure, but he was a submission grappler at heart that fell in love with his hands when he started to find some success. And he never seemed to focus on not getting hit, which was a big hole in his game. Surprisingly though, he looked like a complete fighter in Fortaleza and it paid off in spades. He can still be a force at 205, and I'm happy about that. Too bad Fuel cut off his throat slash, because that's the best part of his persona in my eyes.
UFC in Brazil - It's easy for North American fans to bash the booking on this card, and I did it myself in my post-fight analysis. I'm surprised I'm saying this, but Jonathan Snowden said it best on twitter - this card was about building the brand in Brazil, and all of the people watching at home in America or Canada were an afterthought. This wasn't about us. It was about establishing a market presence, and TUF Brazil fighters getting quick and dominating wins helps with that. Love it or hate it, they're building a brand and that's a viable way of doing it. I hope we get to see more competitive fights next time for sure, but I get what they were trying to do here.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - It's weird watching a superhero revert back to being a mortal human being. Let's face it - everyone that watched Pride holds Big Nog on a pedestal as one of the greatest of all time, and he 100% deserves that adoration. But watching Frank Mir break his arm was horrible, and watching him verbally submit to a Werdum armbar was only slightly less devastating. It's rare that fans truly fall in love with fighters, but Big Nog was that fighter to a lot of us. His career resurgence against the likes of Brendan Schaub and Dave Herman made us all warm and fuzzy inside, but we need to face the truth - this is a 37-year-old man that has gone to war more than the Screaming Eagles, and it might be time to hang up the gloves.
Rafael Cavalcante - What happened? Feijao started off with well with the bombing right hook and the fancy spinning elbow. He had Silva on his heels and was clearly throwing with much more power than his opponent. Then everything went sideways. It was either a huge adrenaline dump or an injury that ruined his training camp, but he totally gassed out after three minutes or so. And he got brutally knocked out as a result. I truly don't think he's as bad as he looked in his debut, but it's tough to give him much credit after that performance.
Jason High - The Kansas City Bandit didn't have the resume to chase off the haters, but he had improved hugely since his lone UFC bout against Charlie Brenneman in 2010. Unfortunately for him, Erick Silva absolutely schooled him when given the opportunity and ended their fight in 71 seconds. Can High be a guy that can knock off a welterweight or two in the UFC? Absolutely. He'll be back if he gets the chance. But stepping up to the plate against a top prospect instead of competing against Ildemar Alcantara didn't work out for him, that's for sure.