UFC 148: Talk is Cheap; Action will Break Your Nose

The build towards UFC 148 is an example of why so many older pro wrestling fans have migrated over to UFC.  UFC can now out hype the WWE.  Wrestling used to be all about creating grudge matches, and then building up the tension to the point that fans start begging for the match to take place.  You almost always had a villain you wanted to see get demolished and a hero you wanted to see get his revenge.  This played out perfectly in the buildup to the UFC Middleweight championship match between Champion Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen.  UFC tried to pimp this as the biggest card in UFC history with the most anticipated main event ever.  This was pure hyperbole and definitely not truth.  But it will likely get the highest buy rate of the year, and was definitely the most anticipated fight in a long time.  It was a dream grudge match, and many looked forward to the champion finally shutting up the villainous challenger.  But there were apparently other matches on this card too, so here is the whole main card.

Bantamweight Division Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton:  Easton comes out in an Incredible Hulk mask, because he either doesn't know how to read a calendar or he has now watched The Avengers 45 times in the cinema.  Either way, his entrance was the most entertaining part of this fight, and it really wasn't that exciting.  As I'm slowly getting into this sport, I've now learned the one fighting strategy that annoys me to the point of near human combustion.  It is the strategy where one fighter essentially fights to get to the time limit and hope to have landed enough to get ahead on points.  This sport is about trying to win, and the best way to ensure a win is to finish the fight.  Judging is notorious for being unpredictable and robbing fighters, and so it only makes sense to want to get that finish.  Plus fighting for a finish is what makes the matches entertaining, and I pay the big PPV money to be entertained.  I was not entertained here.  Easton basically bobbed around the octagon for three rounds, and apparently, looked pretty enough to woo the judges.  I hear after the show, he took them all out and they played super heroes until the next morning.  Winner:  Mike Easton by unanimous decision

Featherweight Division Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie:  I love Cody.  I love how he is so relaxed and chilled.  He has a really unique kind of charisma that almost no other fight has.  There is a star quality about him.  I love that he is a one move fighter, yet he still keeps on winning with that one move -- the guillotine. What I don't love is that he got dropped by a punch to the pecs in less than a minute and got trounced in this fight.  McKenzie got exposed pretty badly in this one, and Mendes ended too quickly to prove what he has.  Obviously, on one of the most watched PPVs of the year, Mendes got the exact kind of win to make the casuals think this guy could be a threat.  Winner: Chad Mendes via TKO   

Welterweight Division Demian Maia vs. Dong Hyum Kim:  In the pre-fight video package, there was this clip that looked like Kim hit a piledriver on one of his past opponents.  He instantly skyrocketed up the list of my favourite fighters.  Then he got finished in less than a minute after it looked like he broke a rib after a takedown.  Winner:  Demian Maia by ref stoppage

Middleweight Division Patrick Cote vs. Cung Le:  Cung Le is 40 years old, which makes it unbelievable that he is in such great shape.  I realize he isn't the first 40 year old fighter to be in great shape, and in boxing, George Foreman even won his last World Heavyweight title at 45 years old.  But it is still always impressive when you can see a fighter at 40 years old still put on a great performance.  Le has great stamina, was moving well, and threw out some great kicks.  The man can kick, which I guess shouldn't be a shock since he is actually a pretty big martial arts movie star over in Asia.  It is cool to see that some of these movie stars actually have real credibility.  Le threw out some devastating kicks, and had amazing foot speed for his age.  Cote also deserves a lot of credit in this fight, because the man took some explosive shots to his head.  Cote may have a head of cement.  At one point in the fight, Le threw out this amazing spin kick that nailed Cote right in the head, and it was one of those spectacular type of knock out kicks that get replayed over and over.  Except it wasn't a knock out, because Cote just took it and kept on fighting.  I don't know if Cote has ever been knocked out, but it'll take someone packing a jackhammer.  This ended up being a pretty fun fight with both guys dishing out some powerful blows and trying to work for big takedowns so they can get some submissions.  In the end, the power of movie stardom and age prevailed.  Winner:  Cung Le via unanimous decision

Light Heavyweight Division Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin:  Ortiz just got inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame the night before, and he claims this will be his last ever MMA match.  Ortiz is a definite UFC legend even if he hasn't been a threat for several years.  The crowd was pumped for this one, and it was clear they wanted to see Ortiz retire with a big win.  This was also the rubber match in the series between two stars that really helped path the way for the current crop of light heavyweights.

Ortiz started off strong by taking down Griffin, and seemed to show a kind of fire that has been missing for years.  We then got a pretty explosive exchange of fists, which Griffin landed the better amount, but Ortiz still looked strong.  As the first round progressed, Griffin started to gain more control with a solid take down and hitting some head rocking punches.  Ortiz responded back with some pretty key shots, but Griffin was the clear aggressor.  The round ended with Griffin pounding away, but Ortiz definitely hung with him and landed his fair share.

Crowd was really behind Ortiz in the second round, and my MMA expert friend said this was one of Ortiz's best outings in over 5 years.  You really could tell the guy wanted to end with a big win. The second round saw another vicious exchange of punches, and for a good portion of it, Griffin was landing the majority.  Griffin also ended up stuffing two of Ortiz's takedown attempts, which continued to make Griffin look like the fighter in control at this point. Even though Griffin controlled much of the second round, Ortiz landed a massive punch that knocked Griffin down, but didn't put him out.  Ortiz wasn't able to follow up enough to finish the fight.  Griffin was clearly rattled by the punch, and it was probably the most important blow of the round, because it was really close to being a knock out if Ortiz was able to follow up. On some days, the shot probably would have put a fighter out.  Griffin stuck in there, and was able to control most of the round after that major blow.

By the third round, I absolutely loved this fight, and felt both guys were showing why there were once top caliber fighters.  Griffin started in control again with some hooks and front kicks, but then Ortiz came back with a big take down.  Ortiz was then able to land big elbows from the take down position, and finally, he had a round that he was clearly in control.  Both guys then tried various submission moves from the ground, but nothing was cinched in.  The round ended with guys exchanging big haymakers, but not able to get a finish.

Then in a weird moment, Griffin walked out of the octagon before the winner was declared.  I'm not sure if Griffin felt he lost the fight, and just wanted to get out of there.  Or if his brain was a little rattled after Ortiz's last big haymaker, and thus Griffin was a bit of a zombie.  Eventually Griffin got back in the Octagon, and was declared the winner of the fight.  Then in a humorous moment, Griffin took the mic and began to interview Ortiz rather than the usual Rogan interview the winner ritual.  It was also a cool gesture as Griffin acknowledged Ortiz as a true legend and got the fans to give him one last big moment.  Winner:  Forest Griffin by unanimous decision

UFC Middleweight Title Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen:  The crowd was incredibly jacked for the intros.  A really, really, really hot crowd.  You knew you were watching a major sports event, and I haven't felt this kind of energy for a fight in ages.  The buildup was perfect for this fight, because it is clear that everyone was highly anticipating what would go down.  Sonnen came out to boos, and was the clear heel.  He had a great angry/intense face, and he look super focused.  Silva came out to mostly cheers, and he was looking really calm.  Considering all the things he promised to do to Sonnen, you wonder if it was the same kind of calm you would see in an assassin or hit man.  It was at this moment that I questioned Sonnen's survival.

The guys don't touch gloves to start the fight, but after all that has been said and the fact everyone really believed this was a grudge match, you would have been disappointed if they did.  Sonnen got the take down right away and landed several punches to the body and head.  The fact is that Sonnen was in complete control of the first round.  But it was one of those really weird situations where it almost seemed like Silva was giving him this round.  Silva just seemed eerily calm, and not worried at all that Sonnen was controlling the round.  Silva did try for a triangle and a few things on the ground, but for the most part, it just seemed Silva was doing enough to avoid any crazy, surprise finish from Sonnen.  I could be wrong, and Sonnen may really have been outmaneuvering Silva here, because he was a top notch amateur wrestler.  To me, it seemed like Silva was just biding his time and not worried about losing one round.  Of course, it is a really risky strategy if Sonnen continued to control other rounds and got ahead on points or trapped him in a submission.

In-between rounds, Silva's corner said something like, "You felt him out for a round.  Now, it is time to really fight and finish this fight."  My wife claims this is just what any corner man would say.  I feel it is justification for my belief that Silva was playing with Sonnen in round one, and now he was going to exact his revenge for all the nasty things Sonnen said about him and his country.  It was time to collect his bounty.

Sonnen tried a take down this time around, and Silva stuffed him right away.  Then Silva unleashed the pain and started nailing Sonnen with powerhouse punches.  Sonnen tried another takedown, but Silva let him know that shit was for round one, and it is now his time to play.  Sonnen then missed a spinning back fist and landed right on his ass.  Silva felt this was a great time to introduce his knee to Sonnen's chest.  He then laid out more furious punches, but to Sonnen's credit, he got back up.  He only got up to be served more punches and be completely taken apart.  Silva rained down blows of pain to finally end the fight and the building exploded with cheers.  I mean, "My team just won the championship and now I'm going to get laid by a supermodel" kind of cheers.  Awesome.

Silva then patches things up after the fight by stating he realizes everything was done to promote the fight and put on a good show.  He even invited Sonnen to a BBQ.  I'll tell you this, Sonnen learned what happens when you piss Silva off.  That was a crushing win for Silva in that second round.  This is what you call sweet revenge.  WWE couldn't have scripted this fight better, because this went exactly how it should have gone and gave everyone the right pay off.  Winner:  Anderson Silva by TKO

Final Thoughts:  The atmosphere and energy of the main event was enough to make this an unforgettable show.  The second half of the main card was all really great stuff.  You got to see a gutsy performance from both Cote and Le.  You got one of Ortiz's best fights ever, and both guys put it all out there to get a win.  Anderson Silva exacted sweet revenge on UFC's number one heel.  But the question now, is what do you do with Silva?  The man has destroyed his competition, and I can't see anyone who is a legitimate challenge for his title.  Maybe he can start fighting bears?