In the immortal words of Will Ferrel as Mugatu in Zoolander: "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" This was one of the most underwhelming cards I have ever seen from the UFC and it made for a very inauspicious start to 2009. There were no good endings and only one decent fight on the whole televised card. If I was Dana white I'd be kicking ass and taking names right now but instead he makes one of the most rash and bone-headed moves in UFC history. But more on that later. Let's quickly recap the fights because none of them deserve much attention:
Denis Siver v. Nate Mohr: Siver wins by KO in the third getting KO of the night. I got this one wrong.
Tomasz Drwal v. Ivan Serati: Drwal wins by KO in round 1. I picked this one right on the nose.
Eric Schafer v. Antonio Mendes: Schafer wins by KO in round 1. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Martin Kampmann v. Alexandre Barros: Kampmann wins by KO in round 2. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Thomas Egan v. John Hathaway: Hathaway handled himself very well in this fight not succumbing to the pressure of the crowd or his first fight in the octagon. He controlled the fight everywhere it went and Egan looked absolutely overwhelmed. Hathaway won by KO in the first round. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Marcus Davis v. Chris Lytle: In what was the only good fight of the night both guys went toe to toe like they promised and even when the other guy went down they both allowed each other to keep the fight standing for the crowd. It was a great slugfest that really could've gone either way but Davis pulled out the split decision. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Alan Belcher v. Denis Kang: Again, I get caught up in the hype of another promising fighter from the Japanese circuit coming over and fizzling out in their first UFC fight. Kang continuously took Belcher down and actually looked good in the first round. Unfortunately in those take down attempts it was obvious even to a BJJ novice like me that Kang left his neck out far too much and didn't respect Belcher's guillotine (which he broke twice before being submitted). This was a great win for Belcher over a former top ten middleweight and Kang will most likely get one more fight to prove he belongs before being unceremoniously dumped after this lackluster performance. I got this fight wrong but big props to Belcher for also taking home submission of the night.
Jeremy Horn v. Rousimar Palhares: Palhares looked really good in this fight. He absolutely dominated Horn on the ground in the first two rounds. Horn couldn't stay standing or launch any offense on the ground which is surprising given his experience and training. It was just Palhares' superior strength and BJJ that won the fight. Horn launched a little offense in the third round as Palhares started to gas out a little but it just wasn't enough as all three judges still gave Palhares the third round as he won a unanimous decision. This was a great bounce back fight for Palhares over a quality opponent after a tough loss. I got the pick right but not the prediction as Horn put up a much better fight than I expected.
Mark Coleman v. Shogun Rua: In what will easily be remembered as the worst fight of 2009 (and yes - it's only January folks) Coleman came out and gassed out in the first round (expected) but was still able to land double leg takedowns and survive all the way to the third round before literally a stiff wind (okay - maybe it was a Rua uppercut) knocked him down. Coleman is WAY over the hill and should not be licensed to fight anymore. Rua on the other hand was the most unbelievably disappointing thing I've seen in the octagon since, well, Shogun's last fight in the octagon! Shogun was once a world renowned light heavyweight who had only lost one legitimate fight in 4 years! Now he comes in and gasses out in one round and can barely take out a 44 year old wrestler!? I don't know what they've done with "Shogun" but wherever he is hiding we want him back. More on the fallout from this fight later. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Rich Franklin v. Dan Henderson: This was an interesting fight but not a good one. Both guys looked good. Rich had his striking game going and Dan landed some good takedowns. It was a very strange split decision win for Hendo who got two rounds from two judges but one judge gave Franklin all three rounds (huh??). I felt really bad for Franklin but honestly I don't blame him for not looking hungry. I really didn't see the motivation for him here. Henderson looked very happy to have won. He gets to coach TUF which Franklin obviously didn't give a crap about. Also, it sets up a fight between Bisping and Henderson which will probably determine the number one contender for Anderson Silva's belt. I just felt bad for Franklin though. This loss at 205 (and there is no shame in losing to Hendo) really sets him back. I mean, if he can't beat Hendo, how can the UFC seriously put him up against the top 10 light heavyweights in the world right now? I'm not sure what the UFC is going to do with Franklin. There is going to be a serious re-evaluation of what to do with Franklin now. In any case I got this fight wrong.
This was not a night to remember for the UFC. Although I came out ahead sporting a 7-3 record with two bonus points for getting one prediction right and for picking fight of the night - Chris Lytle v. Marcus Davis. However, speaking of fight of the night let's talk briefly about how Shogun v. Coleman also took this award home. What the f*** UFC!? This was easily the worst fight I've seen in years and you give them more money for a performance like that!? Dana white must've been drinking too much Guinness over there for him to pull off a brain dead stunt like this. These two guys looked like drawn out, washed up, over the hill losers standing and trading whiffs and bogus takedowns and you're going to reward them for that!? When I read the news this morning I literally let out a WTF. I could not believe my eyes. And then on top of that I read that Shogun and Liddell will headline UFC 97... seriously UFC? Seriously? Shogun loses his first fight in the UFC, barely beats Mark Coleman, and now you're making him the main event against Chuck Liddell? Did I miss something here? Since when was Shogun this huge fan draw that all the UFC fans want to see after his last two performances?? And why all of a sudden is Shogun being put on the old timers club tour? He gets submitted by Forrest Griffin and all of a sudden he's not allowed to fight anyone under 35?
The worst part about all of this was that this was pre emptive. White announced the Liddell v. Rua fight BEFORE his fight on Saturday. White, doing something he never does, assumed Rua was going to go into the cage and mop the floor with the UFC hall of famer and instead he looks like crap so in order to keep the PR monster spinning he bogusly awards them fight of the night. I've never, EVER, missed a UFC card since I've become a fan. But I might actually boycott this UFC between Shogun and Liddell. This is a traveshamockery if I've ever seen one and Dana White and his whole UFC posse should be ashamed of themselves for falling into the same trappings so many other promotions have fallen into: counting their chickens before they hatch. I thought the UFC was better than this. I thought that they were a business but a business who actually cared about putting on the best fights for the fans. This is not what making this fight says to me. This is about selling out the arena and pumping up PPV numbers and it's pathetic. Yes, I'm being very harsh and calling them all out but they need a wake up call on this. Normally the UFC sets a good example and really sets the bar high but they really screwed the pooch on this one and they can't back down now. They're stuck. Hopefully someone with a bigger voice than me will get through to them to let them know that they can't do this again because this type of promoting will lead to a decline in their following and their sport overall if they get caught up in their own hype and think they're too big for their britches. Okay, tirade over.
As you can tell this whole night was severely disappointing and I can only hope GSP v. BJ Penn in a couple weeks can improve my spirits about the UFC. I don't see how it couldn't but after last night my faith is slightly shaken so I'm going to be more cautious about my buildup to the next card. Fortunately there are two cards next weekend that will hopefully take my mind off the UFC for a couple weeks. So please stay tuned for my Affliction and WEC previews coming soon. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...