UFC 91 is in the books and before I even get into the main event, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the hustle and flow of the pay-per-view as a whole. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen every single fight of the night on the telecast before, but I’m not about to complain about it. Whether it was to make a good impression on ESPN or just a matter of the UFC having their business together, UFC 91 delivered in the face of a lot of hype and a seemingly underwhelming undercard. Let’s get to it.
Brock Lesnar is your Heavyweight champion. It still feels odd and unnatural to utter such a phrase without the letters WWE involved, but it’s true nonetheless. However, let us not take anything away from the achievement Lesnar made this evening. With only three fights under his belt and the added stigma of the pro-wrestling crossover, Lesnar came up big defeating a dual weight class champion and true master of the sport. Given, Lesnar is a genetic anomaly and Randy Couture is now 45 years old, but there were still many who gave Lesnar little to no chance in his most recent obstacle. There were many who said that Couture could not be caught with one of Lesnar’s big, slow punches- they were wrong. There were many who said that Couture could get Lesnar down and keep him down- they were wrong. And there were plenty who said that Brock Lesnar, who tapped from a knee-bar only a few months back, could simply not hold his own with someone as tactical and dangerous as Randy Couture- they were very wrong.
Like many throughout the blogosphere, I picked Lesnar on paper but rooted for Couture in my heart. Lesnar did earn me the right to gloat a little bit about my prediction (though I called it for the third, not second round) but like most MMA diehards, I am still a bit disappointed that Captain America could not pull off the big upset victory this time around. But everyone has their time, and Couture has certainly had his. His defeat tonight could never negate any of his legendary achievements. Even if Couture walked away from the sport tomorrow, there wouldn’t be any shame in going out on a loss to someone as gifted as Lesnar.
Whether you were rooting for Couture or Lesnar tonight, two key questions are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Can Lesnar defeat the winner of Mir vs. Nogueira, and will Randy Couture be back yet again? (and if so, at what weight class?)
Personally, I’m hoping Randy returns to mix things up in the LHW order. I think that would create a lot of really interesting match ups at 205lbs, and that The Natural could still pose a threat to several of the UFC’s top ten light-heavyweights.
So, can Brock Lesnar come up big against Nogueira or in a rematch with Mir? I say Brock can handle another date with Frank Mir, but would have to be on his absolute best behavior to hang with the likes of “Minotauro.” Brock’s sheer size will help him avoid the early submission attempts, but Nogueira has more than proved how absurdly difficult he is to finish and after five rounds, I find it hard to believe that Brock could come out of the cage without his arm in a sling. Only time will tell…
In other news…
Demian Maia and Kenny Florian are simply on a different level. Kenny has definitely earned his second shot at a lightweight title, but he will have to wait with zen-like patience thanks to the epic Penn-St. Pierre 2 at UFC 94. Of course there is the possibility that Penn beats St.Pierre and decides to hang around welterweight for a while, but that’s neither here nor there, yet….
As for Maia, this guy needs serious competition like a fat kid at a bake sale needs a quarter. I don’t want to say that Maia should get a crack at Silva just yet, but he isn’t too far off either. I’d love to see Maia tangle with Nate Marquardt, Thales Leites, Yushin Okami, or even the newly acquired Denis Kang. If he mops the floor with any of those fellas I say let him have at The Spider.
Gabriel Gonzaga proved he is still a very good fighter, I just don’t know where all this title contention talk is coming from. Gonzaga can probably pick up a UFC paycheck for a long time thanks to the slim pickens that is the heavyweight division, but I don’t see him ever being a real contender for the title again, let alone capturing one. Sorry, but wins over Justin McCully and a sloppy journeyman just aren’t convincing me.
Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett was an absolute terror for Tamdan McCrory to handle. Hazelett continues to impress with yet another brilliant submission (which won yet another submission of the night bonus), but can he break into the top ten? Dustin came up short against Josh Koscheck at UFC 82, but I think a match with everyone’s favorite gatekeeper Chris Lytle might just be in order. Though Lytle is fighting Marcus Davis at UFC 93 so maybe McLovin gets the winner of that one? A bold, yet cool move would be to see how Hazelett fairs against a Diego Sanchez or Karo Parisyan. Hey, it could happen.
Jeremy Stephens’ uppercut from hell was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen on television. It briefly reminded me of Chuck Liddell’s glory days when all he did was execute fools with ridiculously cranked up bombs; I almost forgot how much damage those things did to people.
Aaron Riley vs. Jorge Gurgel has to earn fight of the night honors. It just has to. That’s all I have to say about that.
Lastly, for those who still weren’t certain, let it be known that Couture vs. Fedor is officially dead in the water. It ain’t happening. No way. Though I suspect sometime in the near future chatter will inevitably begin about Brock vs. Fedor. Ahh, gossip.
Unrelated note: Hey, obnoxious guys at the bar wearing skin tight Affliction shirts and sporting blowout haircuts with line-beards: It still isn’t cool. No matter how many times you tell your buddies how well you would do if you were a fighter, you are still not a hard ass for wearing an overpriced skeleton tee and putting your friends in various choke holds. Sorry fellas. Though I’m sure the bartenders really dig it.