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UFC 81 Winners and Losers

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Last night was a fantastic evening of fights with drama in spades.  Let's take a look at the winners and losers from the night.  These are in no particular order of winnitude or loserhood.

Winners:

  1.  Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - Not only did "Big Nog" pull off the win to become the interim heavyweight champion, he did it in the same way he always has.  Sylvia had him rocked badly in the first round but like everyone else to rock the Brazilian he just couldn't put him away.  Sylvia was controlling the distance the fight took place at and landing more punches but, as Luke continually said on this site, it's too long of a fight for it to never go to the ground.  And once it went there the "miracle sub" was locked in.
  2. Frank Mir - Mir got manhandled for about 1:20 of the minute and a half bout.  He was taken down, pounded on, knocked back down by a right hand, pounded on some more but when Lesnar made a mistake Mir was able to grab it.  I wouldn't bet on Mir to beat too many guys on the upper end of the heavyweight division, but last night was his night.
  3. Brock Lesnar - Sure, he lost the fight.  But he didn't look like he can't compete at this level.  There really isn't a lot of shame in getting caught in a submission by a guy with Frank Mir's skills, even if it was a pretty avoidable leg lock.  In addition to proving he belongs, Brock won over a good portion of the crowd with his post-fight attitude.  Admitting that he made a mistake and Mir is the better fighter changed most of the boos he was receiving into a decent amount of cheers.  Brock is an attraction, and if people actually like him it can only mean good things for the UFC business-wise.
  4. Ricardo Almeida - It's pronounced "hicardo" fellas.  But seriously, Ricardo proved me wrong and showed that his head was in the right place.  It's hard to say too much about Almeida based on the fight being against a last minute replacement, but his ground game is still tight and he looked to be in good shape.  In this division, that's enough.
  5. Tim Boestch - Had to decide if I wanted to put Boetsch or Marquardt on the list but I'll give it to Boestch based on the fact that there wasn't a second of his fight where he wasn't in control.  Up until he threw Heath like a ragdoll and dribbled his head like a basketball.  That was a hell of a first impression for the UFC fans...on short notice no less.
Honorable Mention - The Fans - Eight fights were broadcast on PPV.  If you're going to raise the price of your broadcasts you'd better start using every last minute of the three hour timeslot.  Kudos to the UFC for giving the fans what they payed for.

Losers:

  1. Tyson Griffin - This sport is tough, and I don't just mean physically.  Mr. Fight of the Night was booed by the crowd after taking yet another fight to a decision.  All the pre-event talk was that Griffin needed to start finishing people to take that next step in the packed 155 division but Tibau is a tough dude.  Griffin won the fight but he lost some of the fans, and that isn't what the UFC wanted to come out of the fight.
  2. Jeremy Horn - In his 101 fights Horn has only been stopped 9 times.  The problem is that three of these times have been in his last four fights.  I like Horn and he remains a guy that can give anyone fits, but he may just have too many miles on his body to keep up with higher end fighters in this sport.
  3. Keita Nakamura - Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye.  We're not going to see Nakamura back in the UFC anytime soon.  With only three losses in his career and all three coming in the UFC it is easy to see that it just isn't the promotion for him.  Nakamura was too small to fight with the beasts of the UFC at 170 and looked too slow to hang with Rob Emerson at 155.  He is likely better served to stay in Japan and fight at 170 in the fight climate there where fighters that walk around at 190 aren't fighting twenty pounds lighter.  K-Taro remains a skilled guy, but the UFC just isn't for him.
  4. Terry Martin - Speaking of goodbye...is this the last we'll see of Terry Martin?  I haven't had a chance to watch the fight against Marvin Eastman yet, but a second straight loss and unimpressive performance can't bode well for Martin.
  5. David Heath - And continuing our theme of goodbyes...David Heath got roughed up badly.  Supposedly the striker coming into the fight Heath ate front kicks, right hands, jabs and a lot of knees before he took a bite of the cage and canvas when ragdolled by Big Tim Boestch.  Now 2-3 in his UFC career I don't think we'll be seeing Heath back in the octagon any time soon.
Dishonorable Mention - Me - Another night of fights, another horrible record on my predictions.

Update [2008-2-4 16:23:26 by Nick Thomas]: Ouch!