Last night showed that even when there aren't "name" fighters on a card, the UFC still has enough depth to put on a fantastic event. From top to bottom and without any overstatement, UFC on Versus 5 was the best show so far this year. It is time to look back and see who were the biggest winners and losers on the night.
Chris Lytle - If anyone could have planned out a better retirement fight for the man who at times would sacrifice an easy win to entertain fans, I'd be extremely surprised. It is difficult for athletes to walk away from competition with their motor skills and wits. Chris Lytle showed that with the proper motivation (his family) that it is possible to leave on top. The two bonuses and motorcycle probably made the retirement all the sweeter.
Ben Henderson - Holy crap did Ben Henderson look good. I got to see his fight with Anthony Pettis live and I can say in these past eight months, he is a totally different fighter. I don't know what the UFC does with him at this point. Last night Clay Guida used MMAMath to explain why he shouldn't fight Ben Henderson. If Clay Guida is scared then the rest of the division is terrified. That was the best Ben Henderson and at the rate he's improved, he's only going to get better.
Donald Cerrone - Remember when the WEC lightweight division was supposed to be garbage compared to the UFC guys? Cause I do. I remember when many writers and fans discounted Cerrone as an entertaining yet mediocre fighter. He just made everyone eat crow. He looked fantastic against a legitimate prospect in Charles Oliveira and is now someone that the UFC needs to push.
Ed Herman - Speaking of fighters who have improved, did anyone expect that kind of chain submission grappling from Ed Herman? I sure as hell didn't. He's still young enough that he is an intriguing fighter to watch in the next couple of years.
Joseph Benavidez - That was some legit punching power. Didn't expect it and he made Eddie Wineland look worse than Urijah Faber did at UFC 128.
Dan Hardy - A four fight losing streak against some legitimate opposition makes your title shot against St. Pierre look all the more ridiculous. You're lucky that Lorenzo Fertitta likes you because everyone else in the world believes you should be jobless. Take some time off and figure out what kind of fighter you want to be.
Jim Miller - The biggest loser on the night. You had an all but guaranteed title shot coming into this fight. All you had to do was win. Instead you sacrificed position for submission attempts and in doing so allowed Ben Henderson to beat the hell outta you. I don't know how far this fight drops you out of contention but it took 7 straight wins to get the shot, I doubt you're one or two fights away at this point after that performance.
Czech Wrestling - Karlos Vemola is a six time wrestling champion right? Because his wrestling is atrocious. Getting outwrestled by a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter is ridiculous if you have elite wrestling. Obviously there is a reason the Czech Republic doesn't medal at the Olympics.
I really can't say this enough, last night was the best UFC event of the year. It had everything you could ask for and had the added benefit of being free. The shame is that it is likely that less people saw Ben Henderson's performance or Chris Lytle's retirement than if the fights were on a Pay Per View but such is life.
The crowd last night was fantastic. Didn't hear any booing and they seemed knowledgable. I hope the UFC returns to Milwaukee and promotes an event with some Roufus fighters to give the hometown crowd some people to cheer for.
Before the live card went live, I felt kind of awkward having found out that Shawn Tompkins had passed away. I had the opportunity to speak with Shawn a couple of times and in person at WEC 53. This was before HeadKickLegend, when I was a lowly writer on Unintelligent Defense. He didn't big time me and spent the better part of 10 minutes talking. For those that have dealt with athletes and coaches from other sports, you can understand why I would appreciate this. From all accounts he was a great guy and it's a shame he died so young.