Another pay per view is in the books, and we have ourselves a new UFC lightweight champion. To say that I’m shocked about how the fight ended would be an understatement – everything about it, from the technique to the verbal tap to the aftermath – is just sort of surreal. I guess it just hasn’t sunk in yet. Pettis is just what the division needs though – someone with the flash and charisma to break through as a real star. That’s not a knock on Henderson, but he’s just not Showtime. Anyway, let’s get onto the winners and losers.
Anthony Pettis – I don’t think it should come as much of a surprise that he’s here. The guy just dethroned a champion that had three successful defenses before this, and he did it in a way that few would have expected. He showed that his ground game is just as good as his amazing standup and he’s really a threat from everywhere. The knee injury might sideline him for a bit, but I can’t wait to see him get back in there with one of the murderers row of lightweights waiting in line.
Josh Barnett – Other than the ref stoppage (which I have no problem with – Mir was on dream street for a second), Barnett’s night couldn’t have gone much better. He finds himself right in the hunt in the UFC heavyweight division now, newer fans got their first taste of a Barnett promo (picking up Rogan was funny to me), and he handled the questions about the stoppage the right way. All in a night’s work for The Warmaster.
Chad Mendes -Knocking outis pretty damn impressive. Clay’s been in there with some heavy hitters and that’s never happened before. Despite his three recent knockouts, I didn’t really think Mendes had dynamite in his hands or anything. Now though? There’s no denying that he’s one of the hardest hitters in the division, and he competely outwrestled a solid wrestler in Guida. Is he ready for Aldo again? Probably. Will it happen? I don’t know.
Dustin Poirier and Erik Koch – Poirier clearly won the fight, that’s not in doubt. But it was back and forth action with a lot of close calls and neither guy came out of that looking bad. I can’t believe that this didn’t win fight of the night either. How was Lim/Krauss better than this? Come on UFC, I hope both of these guys get some generous locker room bonuses or something. And I’d love to see them meet up again in the future.
Tim Elliott – 270 strikes in a 15-minute fight. Sure, over half of them weren’t deemed “significant”, but that output is pretty amazing. He handled Louis Gaudinot with ease, and he’s suddenly a contender in a new division. There are a lot of potentially interesting fights there for him, which is great. Plus, that beard.
Ben Henderson – He lost for the first time in the UFC, and his nemesis took his belt again. It must be incredibly frustrating to beat guys like Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez, but be unable to get over the hump twice against Pettis. That being said, he just got caught – his armbar defense was fine, but there was just nothing he could do. Unless his arm is broken, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again soon and he’ll go back to big fights with top guys. But I doubt he gets a sniff at that belt again anytime soon unless Pettis drops it to someone else.
Frank Mir – He can complain all day about an early stoppage, but he was getting owned no matter what. UFC heavyweights have figured out how to beat him – press him against the fence and unload. Mir has now lost three in a row, and it’s time to go back to the drawing board to see if he can overcome this weakness in his game.
Clay Guida – There’s no shame in losing to the number two featherweight in the world, but he’s never lost like that before. He got owned in every aspect of the game, and barely any of his strikes were landing anyway. At least he didn’t run away from the fight, I’ll give him that. But still, any hopes of a run at the featherweight title have been set back indefinitely and fans certainly don’t think of him as the invincible cyborg that fought Diego Sanchez any more, that’s for sure.
Brandon Vera – I was not a fan of his fight or his strategy. Moving to heavyweight meant he had to use the advantages he had in speed and technique. That makes sense. But all he did was circle away and circle away while throwing some kicks. Rothwell got sick of chasing for two rounds and finally just cornered him and beat the tar out of him. My guess is that he’ll lose his job after that, and I don’t think I’m going to miss watching him in the octagon. Especially if that’s how he’s going to fight at HW.
Soa Palelei and Nikita Krylov – I understand that Palelei had a broken rib coming in, and it takes a lot of heart to still take the fight knowing that. And yes, Krylov hit him where it hurt and it took all the wind out of his sails. But that might be the ugliest UFC fight I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. They both gassed so badly that they couldn’t even hit each other. Palelei gutted it out and won the fight, but it took a monumental effort to even put together a barrage of strikes against a guy that was completely done. I don’t expect to see Krylov in the octagon again, and I don’t expect to see Palelei anytime soon. And this doesn’t bother me in the least.
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