The new champion of the UFC heavyweight division.
Wow. That was quite a night. I went 4-1 in the main card picks while my brother Josh went 0-5. I sure picked a winner for the first guest predictions piece, huh? We both went 4-2 in the prelims though, to bring my total to 8-3 and his to 4-7. I win. In we go with thoughts coming out of UFC 121.
- For all the outrage there was regarding the UFC's decision to market Cain Velasquez based on his heritage, I look forward to seeing how well he will draw as the heavyweight champion. His performance was amazing and was no doubt seen by a lot of people. Now we'll get to find out how much the "first Mexican heavyweight champion" campaign paid off when he goes up against Junior dos Santos in his first title defense. For what it's worth, JDS has never been in a main event fight in the UFC. Side note - my early favorite in the fight? JDS.
- If you followed along with the live blog or just read through it, you saw that I scored the Jake Shields vs Martin Kampmann fight for the Hitman. I understand exactly why the judges saw fit to award the decision to Shields. I just don't agree with it. Positional dominance should only get you so far. As Kampmann said after the fight, Jake did no damage to him during the contest. Martin was attempting submissions, he was easily winning the standing exchanges and he rocked Shields multiple times with knees from the clinch. Joe Rogan constantly made note of the fact that Shields will let his opponents attempt submissions in order to gain superior position. But how far does it go if he gets a takedown, passes to half guard, gets side control then full mount but never does any damage along the way? Then his opponent manages to stand back up and blast him with a knee that drops him. Who do you score that for? Personally, I give it to the fighter doing real damage. It wasn't a robbery but I definitely feel like the wrong guy got the nod in this one. By the way, does anybody really want to see Shields fight Georges St. Pierre now? Maybe a fight with Jon Fitch really is the way to go.
Diego Sanchez doesn't know how to have a boring fight. I really love watching him work. The first round was all Thiago, who was really working towards a D'arce choke all night. He was controlling the fight and frustrating Diego with his reach. But once the second round hit, it was all Sanchez. Watching him get flipped over by Thiago and then answer by picking him up, screaming like a banshee and then slamming him to the mat was the greatest part of the night. He took it to Thiago in the third to earn himself the decision victory. He said afterward that it's up to Dana White if he fights at 155 or 170. I would love to see him at both. Whatever fight is interesting for him, he should get.
- Tito Ortiz is done. It's over. He has nothing left to offer as a professional fighter. That's sad to say but it's the truth. What makes it really sad is that he didn't look horrible in this fight. By no means was he manhandled by Matt Hamill. He's just a one trick pony and that trick is no longer good enough to win in today's UFC. The caliber of fighters in the 205 lb. division are just too well rounded for a one dimensional fighter like Ortiz. He won the first round using a wide array of kicks and landing a few good combinations. But once Hamill decided to make it a wrestling match, which is normally Ortiz's bread and butter and happens to be his one trick, Tito was completely taken out of the fight. He's a veritable legend in the sport but his day is done. Dana White was asked if he will be kept around and he said, "You know what happens when guys lose 4 in a row."
Brendan Schaub impressed tonight against Gabriel Gonzaga. He wasn't reckless and never allowed himself to get into any trouble. He applied pressure when the time was right and he backed off and played defense when he needed to. He executed a brilliant gameplan and should get a nice step up in competition in his next fight. Not quite sure who that would be but he deserves a solid opponent. I get the feeling they'll match him up with Cheick Kongo, the heavyweight division's other resident gatekeeper. A fight I like better is against Pat Barry. As for Gonzaga, he's the second gatekeeper at heavyweight and never seems to learn from his mistakes. He did like I thought and wilted the longer the fight went on. It's almost insane to think that he challenged for the title just a few years ago.
- Wrestling dominates all. Patrick Cote is a good fighter but he never met a wrestler he could deal with. Jake Shields won his fight using superior grappling. Diego Sanchez did the same, as well as Matt Hamill. Wrestlers ruled the night and the better MMA wrestler won in the main event too. It may not be the most exciting thing to watch at times, but it's definitely the most effective fighting style in the world today.
- Court McGee, I'm impressed.
- Gilbert Yvel, I am not impressed.