UFC 125 is officially history, a good card made special by one of the UFC's best fights of all time. I watched it again last night and it reconfirmed two notions:
1. Yes, the bout between "Mr. Lay and Pray" Gray Maynard and "Mr. I Should Really Be a Featherweight" Frankie Edgar really was that good. The technique was excellent, the storyline bordered on the unbelievable, and the right call to grant a rematch was made in the aftermath. Great fight.
2. Draw was the correct decision. I often go back to fights and realize that I didn't properly score things the first time around. It's easy to miss things in the heat of the moment, which is why proper judging is easier said than done. But in this case, I saw it the same way a second time: rounds one and three for Maynard, rounds two, four, and five for Edgar.
There were a lot of interesting outcomes this weekend and since Joe Silva is busy swinging on the monkey bars or reading comic books, I will step in as honorary matchmaker to book some fights going forward.
1. Clay Guida versus Sean Sherk: Guida has won three in a row and derailed the Takanori Gomic Express. He's also the UFC's most popular fighter in the lightweight division. The time for a Guida title shot is now, but granting him an opportunity at the big gold belt is questionable with his current resume. He needs one more big win to solidify his contender status and who better to grant instant credibility than a former champion?
Sherk's excellent wrestling should negate one of Clay's major strengths, so we'll get another chance to see the Greg Jackson product's improved standup. It's a winnable fight for Guida, one that could catapult him immediately into a title bout after the Maynard/Edgar/Pettis morass is sorted out.
2. Thiago Silva versus Tito Ortiz/Rogerio Nogueira winner: I've never seen Thiago Silva look better than he did Saturday against Brandon Vera. Almost a year removed from his last fight in January 2010, Silva shellacked Vera standing, stood in and took punches when they came, and absolutely brutalized the Greco specialist in the clinch and on the ground. I loved the mean streak he showed, slapping Vera in the head with an open hand, signaling his dominance in the most primitive way. Silva has real star potential; The Diaz brothers can take mean mugging lessons from this guy. A fight with the Ortiz/Nog winner is a good, high profile, winnable fight to see if Silva is what we think he is, or if Vera has just fallen that far.
3. Dustin Poirier versus Leonard Garcia: Garcia won Fight of the Night honors three times in 2010 and this one would be a hell of a slugfest. Poirier dismantled the number featherweight contender Josh Grispi. A win over the tough Garcia would signal his star is most definitely on the rise.
4. Dong Hyun Kim versus Josh Koscheck: There are two logical choices going forward after Kim's broken English challenge of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. You can give Kim a fight you think he can win and get ready to book the match, or you can give Kim a fight you think he'll lose, trying to slow him down. I think the UFC will go with the latter. Kim is an excellent fighter, but he's not especially exciting, doesn't exude charisma, and seems built for the decision. Kim has gotten by with great top control - that's a harder game to play with Koscheck than it has been with any of his other victims.
5. Anthony Pettis versus Jim Miller: As Luke Thomas explained, it may be difficult for Pettis to wait around for a promised title shot against the UFC lightweight champion. If he wants to keep fighting and stay in the mix, what better than a fight with another top contender? Miller is scheduled to fight Kamal Shalorus this March in his home state of New Jersey. I think there's still plenty of time to scratch that match and book this one as a number one contender match. Then, if he wins, Pettis will go into his title shot with more than a highlight reel kick on his resume. He will go in as a legitimate contender.