After his performance last night, the general consensus according to the rest of the MMA universe is now that Anderson Silva really is the best fighter around…period. Yet I cannot help but wonder, is Silva really that good? Or did Henderson have an off night perhaps? That’s my problem really, I need closure from Dan Henderson on why his performance was so…disappointing. I hate to use the word disappointing when referring to Dan Henderson but as one of my favorite fighters, watching him get choked out by the somewhat smug Anderson Silva was absolutely heartbreaking.
As you might know from my pre-fight predictions, I picked Henderson to win a long, tough decision. If not a decision victory, I could see Henderson losing the hard fought decision to Silva a la his Quinton Jackson fight, and that would have been okay. If Henderson were to have been knocked out in similar fashion to Rich Franklin, I would have been alright with that too. After all, there is no shame in getting beaten in the stand up by someone who has a superior stand up game. But on the ground, via submission, in the second round?!?! That I am just not okay with. Last night Dan Henderson managed to do something I never thought possible, he got beaten at his own game.
Sure Anderson Silva dropped some nice shots on Dan from the ground position, but I expected Henderson to grab Silva, keep him close, and work his world class wrestling. Not give up his back and get choked out. I mean, if anyone out there can defend a choke its Dan Henderson, so what in the world happened? In the first round the fight went as well as I could anticipate, Hendo employed the body lock and took Silva down for as long as he could. If that were to happen all night things would have been just fine, but of course that wasn’t the case. Though to his credit, Henderson did last a full two minutes longer with Silva than the previous record holder, Travis Lutter.
The worst part about all of this is that I am itching for answers I will probably never receive. Henderson gave no explanation for his performance in the post fight chat with Joe Rogan, and simply said that Silva was the better fighter tonight. Really? He was? Well that’s just great, is there anything else you can tell us Dan? What’s that? You also didn’t execute your game plan well and should have been more aggressive? Wonderful, though you said the exact same thing after the Quinton Jackson loss, so I’m starting to wonder if you simply fear change as opposed to losing.
All in all, I take nothing away from Dan Henderson because despite this performance, his record and accomplishments still speak for themselves. It’s just so difficult for me to digest the fact that Anderson Silva really is that good, to the point where Dan Henderson isn’t even a challenge for him. It might put me to ease if in the immediate future Henderson came out and said something to the tune of ‘Well I really couldn’t train hard for this fight because I had a horrible staph infection, I broke my hand,and I couldn’t see out of my right eye during the match’. But as many know, Henderson is a class act, has never made excuses before, and even if there was something wrong, probably wouldn’t mention it as a cop-out.
Now that I have vented my thoughts and frustration regarding Henderson, its time to figure out what will be next for Dangerous Dan as well as Anderson Silva. For Hendo, I’d recommend going back up to 205 lbs and competing there as long as the UFC will allow it. Dan may be a tad small for a light-heavyweight, but the fact is he has performed better in the past at LHW than at middleweight, and I don’t think that will change. Perhaps Silva-Henderson II would have been in the cards, but since Silva picked Hendo apart so quickly and easily, I doubt the UFC will make it happen any time soon. If the fight were to have gone at least three or four rounds an immediate rematch would have been a bankable possibility, but for now its just wishful thinking.
I cannot stress enough how much I do not want to have to see Dan Henderson grind things out in the UFC middleweight division. I hope that Dana and those in charge understand that the man simply performs better at light-heavyweight and deserves to be there. Also, for Dana White and Joe Rogan to repeatedly say that Henderson is a more natural and therefore better middleweight is absolutely absurd. The UFC is clearly pushing that statement because the middleweight division is so bare and the LHW is so stacked. I don’t care how much Hendo will help the barren middleweight division, he’s a better fighter at LHW, and should be permitted to hang there if that is indeed his prerogative.
As for one Anderson Silva, the UFC simply has nothing left for ya pal, so you can chill out on the Brazilian coast for a while. Seriously though, what can the UFC do for Anderson Silva? Put him in a rematch against Yushin Okami? That seems to be the only feasible option at this time. While cruising the blogs a few days ago, I came across a quick bloodyelbow post which quoted Silva saying that if he beats Henderson, he might go and challenge the current boxing champion in his weight class. I believe Silva already has a pro boxing record of 1-0, so this might not be such a crazy move. However it doesn’t do a heck of a lot for his MMA career. In the past, Silva has stated that he would never face WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho, because he and Filho are training partners and such good friends. If I were the UFC, I would scour the earth and other promotions for fighters that may help shake things up in the middleweight division. Or maybe convince Silva to take on his buddy Filho in a WEC vs. UFC match up. Silva says it wouldn’t happen, but every man has his price.
Quick Thoughts On Other Fights:
Heath Herring vs. Cheick Kongo
I was right about this prediction and couldn’t be happier for Heath Herring. Kongo took everything he had to Heath but came up short in the end because for some crazy reason, he thought staying on the ground with The Texas Crazy Horse was a decent idea. While Heath said that he didn’t train grappling hardly at all for this fight, he still performed phenomenally well on the ground, neutralized Kongo’s attack, and earned a tough decision. Cheick Kongo, as usual, looked very strong in the stand up and is getting slightly better on the ground, but if he doesn’t already, the man needs a dedicated BJJ and wrestling coach in his gym. I think given his size, strength and striking ability, Kongo will be a huge heavyweight threat once his ground game blossoms a little more.
Chris Leben vs. Alessio Sakara
Another fight I managed to pick correctly. Alessio Sakara does seem a little more fluid at middleweight, but I don’t think he ever really stood a chance against someone as crazy as Chris Leben. Throughout the fight you could see that Leben wanted to throw the knockout punch every time, while the more technically sound Sakara threw straight, uniform punches that did little to Leben’s iron jaw. Also, I still believe that Chris Leben could move down to welterweight if he wanted to. Though his performance was solid, Leben again looked a bit soft at 185 and I wonder if he has ever considered dropping to welterweight.
Evan Tanner vs. Yushin Okami
Oh Evan Tanner, you come all the way back from a two year hiatus and they throw you to the wolves. It’s not fair really, but I must give Yushin Okami huge respect, instead of laying and praying he employed a nasty Thai clinch that would make Spider Silva proud.
I can only imagine what would have happened if Tanner never got stuck in that clinch, but odds are he would have gotten caught with a flurry at some point and that would have been the end of it. Either way, Tanner wasn’t ready for Okami and I suggest he take a long, intense training camp to iron out the wrinkles in his game. I truly believe that Evan Tanner has the potential to come back and be a force in the UFC again, but not without some serious polishing.
Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson
Wow, by far the second-most surprising fight of the night for me. I expected Fitch to take Wilson down with ease then apply a choke at some point. Low and behold, Wilson frustrates Fitch with excellent sprawls, and the fight ends with Fitch stuck in an almost secured triangle choke. This fight does little for Fitch as he was expected to mop the floor with the late replacement, but does a great deal for UFC newcomer Chris Wilson. I say if Wilson isn’t under contract yet, have the lawyers write something up for maybe three fights over the next ten months. If the guy can hang with Fitch that well, he can easily be thrown into the mix with some of the better UFC welterweight talent.
Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett
This fight also does little for the anticipated winner, Josh Koscheck. I can say it pleases me to see Koscheck finish a fight, but Dustin Hazelett wasn’t really ready to face Josh Koscheck at this point in his career. Sorry Dustin, even though Koscheck is kind of lame, you have to remember he is actually a pretty good fighter.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien
Man was it painful not being able watch Andrei Arlovski fight for the first time in almost a year. So what did I do? I just caught the live results recap and apparently, Arlovski punished O’Brien with strikes in the second round, earning himself a TKO victory which many expected. Hopefully Arlovski will be able to work out a deal with the UFC so the next time he takes the octagon, we’ll be able to see it. Hopefully.
Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden
Good job Diego, you beat the hell out of someone who had no business being in the cage with you. I’d say this fight proves that given a terrible opponent, Diego Sanchez can work wonders. Why don’t we put Sanchez against a half decent opponent next time and see what happens?
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Coleman?
By now most everyone has heard about Mark Coleman claiming that he will be Brock Lesnar’s opponent at UFC 87 in August. Coleman made this announcement after being inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame at last nights pay-per-view in Columbus. Under normal circumstances, I’d say Mark Coleman is just too old and under skilled to come back into the octagon at the ripe age of 43. But against the under experienced meat head that is Brock Lesnar, this bout should prove to be the UFC’s version of Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott. With Brock playing the role of Kimbo and Coleman being a more athletic version of Tank, we will see if Brock Lesnar can defeat an over-the-hill veteran who probably just wants the fight purse.