I don’t give a fuck, that was fight of the year. An amazing, amazing spectacle which proves many things, among them that MMA at its best really can equal boxing for the greatness of an epic fight. Thoughts:
– Thanks to both guys for keeping the fuckery to a minimum. It was one of those deals where they had to go either over the top and create a ridiculous spectacle or else settle down and try to have a real fight, and they ended up going with option 2 and having an all-time classic. No one who bought this will be disappointed I think.
– Both guys are going to be bigger stars after tonight. A rematch is a potential million buy show.
– Anderson Silva answered a lot of questions tonight about his long-term place in the sport. As difficult as it was, in the end he defeated an elite wrestler who really used his wrestling for the first time; he also battled through 4 rounds of ass-kicking to come from behind after being hurt and finish a great challenger. He didn’t gas out totally, he didn’t mentally break, he didn’t quit and go home, he didn’t embarrass himself with histrionics- he was simply great. In many ways this is his best ever victory.
– That said, Andy ain’t what he was. He came thisclose to Roy Jones land in the first and his reactions look markedly slower. Time catches everyone eventually, and tonight the only thing which stopped Silva from being beaten like an old man was Chael Sonnen’s lapses of concentration from the top and Silva possessing the heart of a champion. Both Vitor and Chael in a rematch have a real chance against him, and It makes him a more interesting champion in my book. I cannot fucking wait for his next fight.
– At least Chael admitted he tapped… eventually.
– I feel semi-vindicated on my pick and on my analysis. That ended up being a mix of several listed possibilities: 5 round chess match, Chael falling asleep in top position, Andy looking old and Roy-esque and nearly getting beheaded early…. combine that with being 9-2 overall on my picks for the show and yeah, I’m pleased with myself. Ultimately both guys are in the they-are-who-we-thought-they-were pile: Sonnen is an awesome wrestler and a tough guy who after all this time still has lapses of concentration in top position and panics when threatened, and Silva is a great champion whose biggest- but not insurmountable- weakness is to high-level wrestlers. We’ve learned more about Silva’s mental strength and how much age has affected him, but the general outlines of this are as predicted by most people.
Thoughts on the rest of the show:
– I’ve turned the corner on Jon Fitch. At some point his Jon Fitchness becomes so predictable that it’s actually hilarious, especially against someone like Thiago Alves whose regular failures to make weight tend to paint him as the villain in most of his fights. In short: wrestling, goddammit.
– Speaking of Thiago Alves, what is up with him and weight? He looked to have dropped significant size for this fight and actually has a smaller frame than Fitch, yet he once again couldn’t make it all the way down to welter. He’s at the point where, after two missed weights and a test failure for a banned diuretic, he needs to either completely reevaluate his training and cutting process or else give in and admit that he’s aged out of 170 and into middleweight. Something has to give because it’s simply not fair to his opponents to keep booking him at a weight that he’s hit or miss to actually show up at.
– Matt Hughes is a million, million years old but he sure does keep winning, this time impressively with a rare and difficult submission to pull off. Three options for him now: first, you put him in there with a relatively top guy to try to maybe see if you can get him into a contender’s slot; second, if Matt Serra wins you make that rematch; and third… if he’s going to keep doing the semi-official seniors tour deal, fuck it- Hughes/Hallman III. Who can be opposed to this? All you need for the countdown special is to show the first two fights in their entirety, a short clip of Hughes saying “I’ll beat this man if it’s the last thing I do” and a clip of Hallman saying “nah”.
– I missed the first round of JDS/Nelson, but what I saw looked damn good. JDS continues to show solid takedown defense and he puts his strikes together expertly, but he’s got to work on his cardio if he’s really going to pose a threat to the Brock/Velasquez winner. I think Dos Santos, given his age and development level, is actually more likely to end up as champion in his second shot at the belt; right now I’m seeing him losing a competitive decision fight to superior wrestling next time out.
– Every time I look at Roy Nelson, I think: I wish I could be watching the light heavyweight career this guy should be having. At 260 he’s a fun gimmick performer; at 205, he might be a real contender.
Much more on this later, plus maybe boxing thoughts.